Dawson Creek, British Columbia

Day 738

     We have arrived back at Dawson Creek, mile 0 of the Alaska Highway, and the end of our Alaska adventure.

     We have been together 65 days, have traveled 6,423 miles, with pulling the Sphinx 5,427.7 miles and 995.3 miles sightseeing.

     We have been asked what was our favorite site or thing we did during this trip. The scenery in British Columbia and Alaska is the most spectacular we have seen in the World, including the Swiss Alps. We especially liked the ice-fileds of Jasper, Alberta, Canada. The most exciting thing we did was fly with the mail to remote villages by the Arctic Circle. 

     After that flight, we talked with the pilot for about a half hour where he told us how he became a bush pilot, his job in flying around the arctic, both carrying mail and passengers. When he asked us about RVing, we told him of our plan to travel for 5 years around the US and Canada, and things we have done over the past 2 years. He said “Wow, I would sure love to do that!” And I am thinking, “Wouldn’t it be great to be a bush pilot?” I guess the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence.

     Well, the old gang is breaking up, each going their separate way back to the States.

     We have been abandoned and are alone in a foreign Country. Oh, woe is me. What will become of us?

Technical Stuff:

Fort Nelson, Yukon Territory to Dawson Creek, British Columbia: 280.9 miles

5 hours 41 minutes

9.4 MPG

Diesel: $1.42 Canadian/liter

Liard Hot Springs, British Columbia, Canada

Day 689

Milpost 475      

     The Liard River Hot Springs is located on the Liard River in British Columbia and is the largest natural hot springs in Canada.

     Water temperatures ranges from 108 to 126 °F.

     It’s name is derived from the French word for “Eastern Cottonwood” (a kind of poplar) which grow in abundance along sections of the river.

     We stayed at a campground directly across from the springs. There is no cell phone or internet coverage in the area, nor electricity. Power to the campground were these generators. 

     They were insufficient to supply electricity to the 19 Rv’s, and power kept shutting down.

     We are definitely in a remote area of the Country. With no power or cell phone coverage there is no way to call for help if you are in trouble. You are on your own, just like the mountain men of a 100 years ago. 

Technical Stuff:

Fort Nelson to Liard River Hot Springs: 188.5 miles

4 hours 36 minutes

9.4 MPG

Diesel: $1.47 Canadian per liter

Fort Nelson, British Columbia, Canada

Day 688

Milpost 300

     Fort Nelson, was established in 1805 as a fur-trading post by The Northwest Trading Company. It was named for Horatio Nelson, the British Naval hero of the Battle of Trafalgar. There was never a fort here in the traditional sense, although in 1942 it was used as an airbase during the construction of the Alaska Highway.

     Marl Brown grew up in Delburne, Alberta, Canada, and came north in 1957 to work as a mechanic for the Royal Canadian Army at Mile 245 of the Alaska Highway. He moved to Fort Nelson in 1957. He stayed here, helping to preserve and explain the history of the area. We visited with him in The Fort Nelson Heritage Museum where he shared with us his collection of cars and his experiences with the ALCAN.

Technical Stuff:

Dawson Creek, British Columbia to Fort Nelson, British Columbia, Canada: 281.1 miles

6 hours 6 minutes

10.1 MPG

Diesel: $1.47 Canadian / liter

The Alaska-Canadian Highway (ALCAN)

DAY 687

     The rest of our RV caravan group has now joined us here in Dawson Creek, British Columbia, Mile 0 of The Alaska Highway, also known as the Alaska-Canadian Highway (ALCAN). We are beginning our journey along the entire Highway, to Fairbanks, Alaska. This part of our trek is 1,422 miles and will take us to Delta Junction, Alaska, the end of the ALCAN. It should take us 12 days.

     Their are 19 RV’s and 37 people, plus their animals (dogs & cats). It seems most RV’ers we have met, have animals.

     Each RV is numbered, from biggest to smallest. We are #5.

     There are 3 Class A,

another 5th wheel larger than us, down to the smallest, a Class C.

     Some of the campgrounds we will be staying during the next 12 days are small and primitive. The Assistant Wagon-master, called “The Scout”, will leave before all the other RV’s so that he can arrive at the campground first and organize the parking of the 19 rigs. The numbering tells him our size so that an appropriate place will be waiting for us when we arrive.

     The remaining rigs will leave in groups of 4 or 5, called “pods”. We will leave in 30 minute intervals so that we all don’t arrive at the campground at the same time and overwhelm them. Tomorrow, I will be leaving in the last “pod” so that all the smaller RV’s can be parked first, as the “big” sites are on the perimeter. This varies by campground. 

     It will be interesting to see how we will function, as some of these primitive sites have no sewer hookups, and only 15 amp electric. We are a 50 amp unit. I have converter plugs so we can hookup to the 15 amp. Barbara will have to give up some of her conveniences, curling iron, hair dryer, microwave.

Tumbler Ridge, British Columbia, Canada

Day 686

     Since we are in the Canadian Rockies, and the snow on the mountains are now melting, we wanted to see some waterfalls. We went to the area known as Tumbler Ridge, named by explorer Edmund Spieker in 1920. We hiked for about 2 hours

to find Quality Falls.

     Wanting to see larger falls, we drove 40 more miles to find Kinuseo Falls, on the Murray River. Kinuseo means ‘fish’ in the Cree Indian language, owing to the great numbers of trout both above and below the falls.

     We saw no fish. Barbara did taste the water for fish poop.None.

     The locals say the falls is over 200 feet tall (70 meters), and therefore taller than Niagara Falls (50 meters), although the volume of water is less. They must be doing the metric conversion wrong, as it did not appear to me taller than Niagara Falls.  Or, maybe they are referring to the Canadian side of Niagara.

     During our drive, we passed through a turbine windmill farm.

     Upon making a wrong turn, we ended up at the transfer station where they had stored replacement blades for the windmills.

     When we measured their length, it came to 200 feet. That is as high as Kinuseo Falls.

 

Dawson Creek, British Columbia, Canada

Day 683

Milepost 0

     Continuing our travels through the Canadian Rockies

we arrive at Dawson Creek, British Columbia. So far, this has been our longest drive pulling the Sphinx, 328 miles in just under 8 hours. 

     Dawson Creek derives its name from the creek of the same name that runs through the community. The creek was named after George Mercer Dawson by a member of his land survey team when they passed through the area in August 1879. George Mercer Dawson was born August 1, 1849 in Pictou, Nova Scotia and was a Canadian geologist and surveyor, who gained notoriety for mapping western Canada. Dawson Creek was incorporated on May 28 1921.

     Dawson Creek is most noted as the starting point of the Alaska Highway. 

     The Alaska Highway, also known as The Alaska-Canadian Highway, or ALCAN, was constructed as an American military road during World War II for the purpose of connecting the contiguous United States to Alaska. It begins at the junction of several Canadian highways in Dawson Creek, British Columbia, and runs to Delta Junction, Alaska, about 1700 miles. The start of construction took place on March 9, 1942 and was completed 8 months later on October 28, 1942. Since The Alaska Highway was built for American military purposes, the distance markers are in miles and not kilometers.

     Over the last 76 years, the ALCAN had been modified and improved. In Canada, each community in which the ALCAN passes is responsible for maintenance, and most have modified the original road to reroute and straightened out numerous sections to make the road more convenient for modern travel. This has resulted in the shortening of the overall length of the road by about 300 miles.

     One of the last vestiges of the original road is at Milepost 21, just outside of Dawson Creek. A bridge was needed to cross the Kiskatinaw River.  Kiskatinaw is Cree for “river with steep banks”.

     Of 133 bridges, the Kiskatinaw Bridge is the last wooden bridge left from the original construction of the ALCAN. This three-span timber truss bridge has an amazing nine-degree curve – a curve that engineers designed to accommodate the highway’s steep change in grade on the west end, and the need to land at a notch in the cliff on the east end. At the time, it was the first wooden curved bridge to be built in Canada.

     The Kiskatinaw Bridge was bypassed in 1978 as it could not support modern trucking. 

     Barbara thinks the surveyors may have made a mistake. 

     Food for Thought:

Technical Stuff:

Jasper National Park, Alberta, Canada to Dawson Creek, British Columbia, Canada: 328.5 miles

7 hours 55 minutes

10.3 MPG

Diesel: $1.28 Canadian/per liter