July 9, 2017 Long Drives, Smokey Skies and a Happy Reunion!

We decided to get out of Velmount by 7am and head to Kamloops to be sure to get through the smoke area and hopefully not get redirected east.
The drive was so lovely despite the heavy layer of smoke that engulfed the area. The mountains were so pretty and the pasture lands were peaceful looking. As we neared Clearwater , BC the smoke really became thick and smelled strongly of fire.

Not too many people heading our way so traffic wasn’t bad Scott just had to keep a keen eye for people passing in the oncoming lanes. There are some very aggressive drivers.
Once we made it to Kamloops we decided we may as well just head home. We can get there and pick up Gizzy from the kennels and enjoy a campfire in our yard. We are all a little sad to end it this way but with a fire ban in BC and no clear idea on where to stay the night we are calling the trip done.

I have had a lot of fun with the kids, Scott and my parents. This could be one of our last longer trips with kids getting older and schedules getting busier. I am hoping for many more great times in this RV with these Rollin Rorvigs! Thanks for reading 🙂

July 8, 2017 To Prince George, to Hixon and back to Prince George…

Wouldn’t you know that we woke up to beautiful clear sunshine! Seriously, we miss it by a day each time 🙂
Off to Prince George to fill up on gas at Costco and then south to 10 mile Lake Provincial Park.
The drive was really pretty, the sun was warm and the traffic not bad. We got our gas and things in Prince George then headed south…until we saw a digital reader board on the side of the road saying that 97 was open northbound as an evacuation route. An evacuation route? What? We decided to pull off the road and figure out what is happening. I had service and we weren’t sure if it would still work if we kept going. Come to find out that there were numerous major wildfires that had been sparked from all the lightning the night before. There was a really big one near Quesnal (right where 10 mile lake is) and they had shut down the southbound highway. We looked at a map…not many options. We continued five more miles to Hixon to where we had stayed on the way up. They were full but said there was one spot they could let us stay at if we wanted. Our options were stay and hope the road reopens tomorrow or head back to Prince George and then go hwy 16 further east to avoid the closure and then take hwy 5 south to Hope. Instead of waiting out the reopening of 97 south we decided to back track to 16 and drive as far as we could. The Canyon Creek Hideaway RV park owner was just so nice and very accommodating…if you ever go to Hixon, B.C you should definitely stay there. She let us use the dump and fill up with fresh water for free (she usually charges $10 if you don’t stay there) which was really nice and necessary since we really didn’t know where we were going to end up and we were out of water.
Scott drove and drove and we ended our day at Valemount in an RV park that was clean with great showers (also another necessity 🙂 ) I had made dinner while we were driving (love an RV for that!) so we all just hit the showers when we arrived. Scott smoked me at cribbage 😦 and the girls jumped rope a bit. Ben tried to download a book off of the terrible “free Wi-Fi” and ended up heading to bed around 10:30 or 11pm.
Tomorrow we have to decide what to do. The roads are open to Kamloops still but there are wild fires on each side. There are smoke slow down areas along hwy 5..just praying they don’t close the hwy or we are going to have to head even further east and come down near Ellensburg, WA. We will see what happens.

I didn’t take any pictures!  What?  Darn!

 

July 7, 2017 Sunshine, Huge Rocks and Lightning!

We left our horsefly campground by 6:30am, no reason to stick around here plus we had that long road before the highway to navigate. We are going to head to Moberly Lake Provincial Park today. It is supposed to be warm and sunny and hopefully we can enjoy the lake beach and have a camp fire.

With all the construction that is happening on the roads and the huge logging trucks we feel that we have been pelted by a bit of flying gravel way too often.  Today we had a good size rock hit high on the right side of the windshield and it took out a nice divot of glass.  Bummer.  Not long after this a huge rock hit right below Scotts wiper and made the loudest bang!  It almost came all the way through the window!  There were shards of glass left on the dash and three huge cracks quickly began traveling up the windshield.  Bigger bummer!  These logging trucks go so fast and with all the loose gravel it seems bound to happen.


Since we were backtracking we decided to take the Hudson’s Hope Loop road and see the W.A.C. Dam. Originally we had wanted our stop to be pretty quick because the Moberly Lake campground is popular and there are only so many sites that are first come first serve…and it is a Friday. Once we arrived at the dam we were able to drive across it which was both freaky and cool! The W.A.C. Dam is one of the biggest earth filled dams in the world and Williston Lake (the dam reservoir )is the largest fresh water lake in British Columbia. They were resurfacing the road across the dam so it was really washboardy (if that is even a word) and when you are 29 feet long it is a crazy feeling!
We then headed to the visitors center which is a fairly new addition to the dam. It was such an interesting display.

So many hands on things to learn about hydroelectricity and power. Lots of facts about the building of the dam , the native people who lost everything because of the dam and how much power the dam actually creates. It produces over 25% of the hydroelectric power for British Columbia…and the W.A.C dam is only one of 36 dams in B.C.. That is pretty impressive. With the Visitors Center fee we were also given a 45 minute tour of the dam itself. So cool! It began with a 15 minute video which was really good, then we put on orange vests and loaded into a big school bus to head down to the dam base.

Our tour guide was really informative on the way to the dam and we then drove into the dam at a spot that was about 500 feet underground. The dropped us off 14 mile into the tunnel and had us all grab hard hats and ear plugs. We were then shown the area where they have the 10 generators that spin to create the electricity. The whole system and process is fascinating! DSC_1214We then saw the area called the manifold which is where the water is slowed down after going through the turbines and then sent out into one of two chutes to empty back into the river below. It was so loud in there with the rushing water! Ben thought this was a definite highlight to the trip and I think we all agreed.DSC_1220 As impressive and helpful as this dam is it was a pretty sad story about the native people who inhabited the area. The filling of the reservoir took 5 years and by filling up this valley it covered much of their native site and burial grounds, took away the land they harvested and caused their main food sources (fish and caribou) to die off. The caribou no longer could migrate across the river and the now lake changed the weather patterns. Many villages lost contact with one another and the native people began to leave and look for somewhere else to live. It was a sad story and I a so glad that they shared it and acknowledge the loss for these people. They had some of their handmade items in the store for purchase. By the time we had finished our tour and looking around it was near 3pm and the campground was still an hour away. The weather on my phone said it 78degrees and overcast at the lake. Still good for us! We headed there and found a good spot along the back that afforded a bit more space and privacy. Really nice place, lots of sites. We purchased a bundle of wood from the registration guy then went down to the lake front. Beautiful lake a little bit bigger than Lake Whatcom. The skies were very overcast now and it was getting a little cooler. Ellie really wanted to swim and eventually convinced Katherine to join her. It was FREEZING water!

They did swim though, they were a bit chilly and decided to get out because the thunder was coming and some rain drops were sprinkling down. I honestly feel like this rain is following us! Super frustrating because this is such a nice place to hang out. UGH! By the time we were back at the RV the rain was pretty steady…then came the louder thunder…then the lightning. So much lightning and thunder for hours! Torrential rain pouring down. Stuck in the RV again! We turned off all the lights to watch the campground light up again and again. We called it a night early and enjoyed the fact that it was now dark at bed time 🙂 Helps with the being tired before you go to bed.
Tomorrow we are going to head for 10 mile lake then to Cache Creek then home. Feels pretty strange that this month has gone by so quickly. I would love to keep going.

July 6, 2017 A New Axe, Lots of Bears and a Plague of Horse Flies

We have a couple of pretty long driving days ahead of us so we got moving out of the campground just before 8am. We needed to stop for gas at Lake Watson city center area and also pick up a new axe 🙂

They had a Home Center there that sells lumber and tools so it was the perfect place to buy an axe. We also had cell service so we could check email and things.
We are headed back the way we came and this means we have to stop about Fort Nelson area. The RV park on the way through Fort Nelson the first time left much to be desired. I am hoping that there is something else we can find. It seems that the closest park is before it but we prefer to go past since these two days are long . We will see.
Scott had prayed that God would just let us see some wild life on the drive because it has been pretty sparse for the last couple of weeks. Wow, did He deliver 🙂 On our 300+ driving day we saw 13 black bears, 5 stone sheep, 2 bison and 1 cute fox.DSC_1138 It was really neat to see the fox especially. It was so small and just ran behind us, then next to us and then cut across in front of us. It had a small animal it had killed in its mouth.DSC_1124
The sunshine was out and it was getting warmer! Lots of road construction which results in long, dusty gravel patches with lots of flying rocks. Our RV is soooo dirty! At lunch time it was perfect that it also coordinated with a stop at Muncho Lake. This lake is beyond beautiful. It has a similar color to Crater Lake…a deep blue green with really clear water. We pulled into the provincial park (this is where we stopped to try fishing on the way to Liard Hot Springs on the way up) and found an open campsite to use for our lunch break. I would love to spend time here if we had more time for this trip.DSC_1155 The weather was ideal at 70 degrees, no wind and such a peaceful and lovely setting. We ate lunch and the kids tried fishing. There was one fish who kept jumping just past where Ben could cast…taunting him 🙂


After lunch we hit the dusty construction road again. We pulled into Fort Nelson about 5:30pm and decided not to stay at the Triple G Hideaway RV park. There was one regional park the MilePost talked about outside of Fort Nelson but it also had a warning that it may not be suitable for large RV’s or trailers. We thought this may be an option but we weren’t sure what “big” RV means. Ours is 29 feet which seems pretty big but then you see these huge ones that are well over 40feet long and we look rather puny. We headed to the visitors center and got great Wi-Fi to upload to the blog and Scott went and got gas and filled up our water tank. The kid working at the visitors center said he had stayed at the Andy Bailey Campground and that he thought that it wouldn’t be a problem for us. We decided it was worth the chance so that we would save some money and maybe be able to have a fire outside.
The drive to the turnoff was about 15 or 20 minutes. The book said it is 6.5 miles off the road. That is far on a dirt and gravel road. The road conditions were not all that bad but man was that road long! It seriously felt like we were going and going and going. I saw zero evidence of any lake so far. Eventually there was a lake and since this had only 14 sites we were hoping our later arrival doesn’t cause us to not get a spot. Honestly, the next spot to stop without going backwards is 120 miles away. The way that they have set up this campground is a bummer. Basically two levels and each spot shares a site with another one. Site 1 and 2 are at either end of a rectangle of space, then 3 and 4 are the same and so on. This kind of arrangement lends itself to people taking both sites for themselves. With only 14 total sites we were left with two to choose from…both shady with no view of the little mushy lake that we drove 7 miles off the road to camp by. We stop at the first available site and make our way down a long trail to the lake…nothing that appealing so this site doesn’t have that pull. Its rather small and we are being swarmed by these big black flies. I am not exaggerating when I say swarmed! Ellie wouldn’t even get out of the RV because of them. Ben, Katherine and I run up to the second level of the campground to see if there are as many flies there and no joke we were being hunted! I was freaking out running and swatting! Katherine felt like she was bitten and they were pinging off of us. These flies were so big! I would say the size of 4 large house flies in one. I am pretty sure they were horse flies and they were so aggressive!!! I was nearing panic mode because there seemed to be more and more that were on attack mode and swarming us. As soon as Scott stopped the RV we jumped in as fast as possible. I don’t know why I didn’t get a video of these things…it was crazy! They were literally surrounding the RV and banging into the windows and doors! Yuck, yuck, yuck! Ben and Scott got out to go and pay our fee but took the bug spray with them. When they were back even Scott was saying we are not going outside this RV. We were prisoners by flies! Bummer since we were experiencing our first really nice sunny and hot day on this trip. I was disappointed but there were no other options for camping and there was no way I was going to head outside with our flying insect prison guards 🙂
We made the best of it with a good dinner and family games. Ben read jokes out of one of the cheesiest joke books ever which was entertaining too 🙂DSC_1176
Headed to Moberly Lake Provincial park tomorrow…hoping for a way better lake and site and less bugs for sure!

July 5, 2017 Laundry, Saying Good bye and Crazy Family!!

We woke up a bit later this morning…7:15am, must be the hot springs 🙂 Mom and Dad have decided that they are going to go on to Haines, Alaska today. We have a schedule to keep in order to make it home on July 11th so we are not able to go with them. We all head into Whitehorse to do laundry, get gas and do a little grocery shopping. The Laundromat was great, nice guy working and it was close to the grocery store and the gas station. We got all our laundry done in about an hour and we grabbed what we needed for the next few days. We said our good byes to Mom and Dad and loaded up. I was pretty sad and Katherine and I were crying as we drove away.

We have had such a fun time having them along and we loved the fires and hanging out…it’s just hard to imagine tonight without them. It is really neat to see how they enjoy being around each other and have fun on their adventures.

I love watching them with the kids and the kids have really enjoyed more concentrated time with them. I know they will have so much fun as they continue to explore Alaska and Canada.
We are headed to Watson Lake area today. We had originally wanted to drive the Cassiar Highway home but after some reading and talking with people who had we decided to just go back the way we came.
Really a nice drive overall. We did not really get started until almost noon and pulled into Watson Lake Yukon Territory Park at about 5:30pm. Great park set about 3 miles off the road. Two loops of camping spots some with lake views. We ended up not getting a spot with a view but we did get a great site. They give you free firewood at the Yukon campgrounds which is so nice! They do mark it so that you if you take it from the camp and someone notices you will be fined. This wood was pretty dry but our light little hatched could barely get the job done. Ben worked hard and ended up getting us enough to work with. The site next to us had three young guys in it. One of them came over to ask if they could borrow our axe. We said sure but good luck! Small and light and hard to do much. We got a great fire going, Dad you would be proud 🙂
While we were sitting around enjoying the warmth of the fire we could hear the guys swinging that hatchet trying to split the wood. No much later the guy came over carrying a piece of wood with the hatchet head buried in it and the handle of the hatchet in the other hand. He felt very bad. We laughed and told him not to worry. Guess we will see what kind of axes they sell in town tomorrow 🙂
We enjoyed a simple dinner around the fire and the girls made their own little fire with tiny sticks and paper.

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Ellie comes up with the funniest things out of the blue!  Had everyone laughing!!

The mosquitoes were kinda annoying and those little black flies were really pesky so we went into the RV and played Quirkle. Ben smoked us! It was a fun night even though we missed mom and dad. The kids were pretty fired up and we finally got them to settle around 11pm.
Tomorrow we are going to head to Fort Nelson. There is little in the way of Provincial Parks so we may have to stay at the place we did coming up to Alaska. Hoping to find something different but we will see. The weather looks as if it may be nice tomorrow…a welcome change!

 

July 4, 2017 No Fireworks, Hot Springs and Stacey smokes Scott at Cribbage!!!

Happy 4th of July! The kids are not all too happy to be missing the fireworks this year since we are currently in the Yukon Territory of Canada. The idea is to enjoy our day by spending tonight at the Takhini Hot Springs. The weather has been cool and we are looking forward to enjoying the warmth of the natural springs. Hoping this will kinda make up for the lack of explosives 🙂


We left the campground a little after 8am and had a long day of driving ahead of us. We think if we only have a few stop breaks we should be there around 3:30pm.
Filled up with gas shortly after leaving the Dawson City and ready to go.
The drive was really nothing to speak of. Straight highways and not a stitch of wildlife! We can hardly believe how little we have seen on this trip. Nothing in days! The host a few nights ago (Klaus) said that that is what other people have complained about as well. At least we are not alone in our disappointment.
Scott and Dad are used to the crazy pot hole avoidance game and the roller coaster waves of the past couple of days so this long straight road really got them sleepy. We stopped a couple of times just to wake up and stretch.
There are so many pretty places to pull off and enjoy a lake, river or view. This MilePost book has been really helpful in finding places or getting bits of information or history about a place. If you are ever headed to Alaska I would highly recomend it!
We made it to our campground at 3:45pm and got a nice site with Mom and Dad. We all got set up and headed to the hot spring pool. This place was so different than the Liard Hot Springs. It was basically a couple of cement pools. It did not have near as much beauty or charm but it was still wonderful! No smell at all either, bonus 🙂 DSC_1091
We had dinner and I made cupcakes to make it feel a little more festive. We had an after dinner swim and then Scott and I played cribbage (I totally won…not usually the case so it was fun for me) then we watched Alexander and the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day. Such a cute family movie!
Tomorrow we are going to split off from my parents and say good bye to them. They are going to go see Haines, Alaska and we are going to start making our way back home. So sad to not be traveling with them after today. It has been so fun to spend time with them, make campfires at night and roasting smores and for the kids to really be around them for a long time. These are the things that make the memories. We have loved our time and all the things that we will be able to look back on and talk about. I am so glad they decided to come with us and it is so neat to see them having such fun together.
Off to bed….after 11pm and bright as ever outside!

July 3, 2017 Chicken, Crazy Roads at the Top of the World and another Great Camp Site!

These no dark nights are really a weird thing they have in Alaska. It really plays with your mind….at night you don’t realize how late it is and in the middle of the night you think its morning. I bought everyone sleep masks before we left so that it might be a little easier to go to sleep. I use mine every night! Well this morning I woke up and looked at our little clock (not digital) and realized it was 6:30am. I woke up Scott because I thought we were leaving earlier today..around 8am. He informed me not until 8:30am. Okay, I am still tired..but I couldn’t fall back asleep and either could Scott. We got up and made coffee and did our devotions, I wrote my day before summary and then Scott asked what time it was. We had been up at least an hour. I looked and it said 6:11am. Hmmm, that clock must be wrong..another clock…6:11am. Oh boy, my sleepy eyes read our clock wrong and I woke Scott up way too early! I think it was actually 4:30am when we got up! No wonder I feel more tired than usual! With this much time I got lots organized and cleaned before we were leaving at 8:30am. We could have left earlier but we are headed to Chicken Alaska and its only 17 miles away so we don’t want t o arrive before anything opens.
Once we finally get out of the campground we realize that the road to Chicken is not good. Lots of potholes and damaged road and a huge construction project that a pilot car had to bring us through. The sunshine seems to be attempting to shine so that is awesome! We are all so ready for some warmth 🙂
Thr 17 mile drive took us about 30 minutes and we arrived to open businesses. Our first stop is the giant metal chicken someone made.

It was actually pretty cool. They also had a huge dredge on the property that they had moved here to preserve. These dredges are huge and were used to mine for gold. They would float on a pond of their own making and used a bucket scoop system to did the dirt or rock then it would go through a wash and screening process and whatever was too big to go through the screens would be dumped on a conveyer belt and emptied out the back . It was a very efficient way to mine for gold. It is really crazy to see all the mining in the area. It really changes the landscape.


It was neat to see one of these dredges close up. We checked out the little gift shop then headed to the next store that had a gift shop, a saloon and a cafe. Of course they had every kind of chicken paraphernalia you could possibly have. It is funny since the town was not named chicken after the chickens we know….I don’t think this would even be a stop if not for our interpretation. Ptarmigan just doesn’t allow such fun and silliness 🙂 This town has about 15 residence in the winter and it soars to 30-50 in the summer. They have no flushing toilets and they have no cellular service. They have seen -85F in the winter before!!! Hard to believe but they say it is true. They get mail twice a week by plane. Amazing that people can do this..I feel extremely spoiled!
We had a cinnamon roll at the cafe and the kids and my Dad tried panning for gold at the table they had set up. I loved sitting outside this little cafe in the sunshine…it was sooo nice! 20170703_113231_1499385693761_resized
We left Chicken to head towards the border and make our way into the Yukon Territory. This is Highway 5 which is also called Taylor Highway and then turns into Top of the World Highway. This is not a highway like I am used to highways. It began right off with massive construction. Huge trucks and big deep grooves, soft shoulders and long distances down the hillside if we were to go off the edge.DSC_0934 The “highway” was an experience all its own. Super stressful driving for Scott! The whole thing was just packed dirt and at one point there was even a new tuck that had gone off the side! As the Taylor Highway gave way to the Top of the World Highway the elevation increased along with the views but also the fear factor. I am not usually afraid of heights but this was a stretch for me. It was hundreds of feet down with no guardrails and no shoulders. I don’t think I would want to do this drive a second time.
It felt like we were driving and gaining elevation the whole time. We finally made it to and through the border and took a stop on the other side for some pictures. We were over 4, 500 feet up. It was really beautiful to look for miles and miles. The temperature was nearing 70 degrees which was exciting too 🙂


The road to Dawson City was another 60 miles of gravel and not nearly as bad as Chicken to the border. The thing with going to Dawson City is that you have to take a ferry. This is a tiny ferry that can carry about 4-6 cars or two giant motor homes. We got into the line that we thought was correct (really tricky to figure out) and we got on right away! They say that you can have to wait up to 3 hours during busy times.

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Our little ferry ride

There were not many people waiting and we felt super thankful to not have to wait. Our 7 minute ride was fun. The ferry worker chatted with us the whole time and gave us a little city map that was helpful. We met Mom and Dad at the visitors center then just decided to walk around the town. Pretty touristy but cute.20170703_171125_1499385694132_resized
Dawson City was the home of the gold rush when gold was discovered in Bonanza creek in 1889. The land had been home to the native people Tr’Ondek Hwech’in before the discovery and they were quickly pushed out. The town became a bustling city with rapid growth and was the first capital when the Yukon became a separate territory. 100 years later the Tr’Ondek Hwech’in negotiated the return of self governance and now have a heritage site as well a National Historic Site of Canada. The city did have a lot of historical buildings but you needed a park pass or tickets to hear about them. Unfortunately we arrived in town near 4pm and most things were shutting down at 5pm and some earlier due to the Canada celebrations (Canada Day is July 1st). We were able to see the SS Keno which is one of two paddleboats that survive in the Yukon. The Palace Grand Theater has been reconstructed to its past grandeur. It is lovely from the outside and is probably just as lovely on the inside but again we had no ticket so we just got the outside view. We walked into numerous souvenir style shops and even enjoyed an ice cream cone while we sat in the park and soaked up some sunshine. The area is fun to see and I am glad that we were able to make it here.

 


We pulled out around 5:30pm and headed to our campground the Klondike River Yukon Campground. We found two nice sites that were surrounded by trees…and lots of mosquitoes and these little black flying things that looked like a gnat. We had dinner and a campfire and the kids and Mom and Dad walked down the interpretive nature trail to see the river.

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Adding a sticker to our really clean bumper…notice the message Katherine wrote in it 🙂

We lost an hour on our way into the Yukon Territory so we will be going to bed an hour early for us….good thing Scott and I were up at 430am 🙂

 


Tomorrow we are headed to Takhini Hot springs where they also have an RV park. I hope this sunshine holds and that the roads are not too bad because its over 300 miles away. Only a week left on our travels and I am looking forward to what we have left to see as well as being at home. Always a mix of feelings at the end of our trips.