Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Elk Island National Park

Shadow and I didn’t have to go far or wait long for our first wildlife sighting of the day. We spotted a white tailed deer in our campground on our 6:00 a.m. walk. There was nothing in the campground rules stating you could not wash your RV so I took the opportunity to hose down the back end of Harvee Too and at least get rid of some of that Alaska Highway dirt.

Our string of sunny, warm days came to an end as it started to rain shortly after we left the campground at 9:30. We continued east along hwy 43 to hwy 37 east, a secondary highway, in order to by-pass Edmonton north of the city and enter Elk Island National Park through the north gate on hwy 831, the Elk Island Parkway. We stopped in Fort Saskatchewan to have lunch and used Rhonda to direct us the remaining 27 km to the park. No problem or so we thought as we motored along a paved township road with other traffic. We didn’t get excited when the pavement ended and became hard packed tarred gravel like the Alaska Hwy. Talk about back roads Alberta, Jean loved it, great photography. We did become a little concerned when the road changed to dirt with 7 km to go. Then that “Oh no!” moment  as we came to a red barrier: ROAD CLOSED. We were less
than 4 km from the north gate to the park. We wisely chose to turn north on another township dirt road, more mud than dirt from recent rain, which ran along the western  perimeter of the park. We soon arrived at the west gate to the park and followed a muddy, rutted dirt road which eventually met up with the Elk Island Parkway but not before  we came upon a bison eating at the side of  the road.

We also drove the Bison Loop Road where we saw a small herd of bison. We stopped at the Visitor Centre and learned that the park bison are both plains and wood bison, the latter being the largest land mammal in North America. Elk Island is Canada’s only fully fenced national park created in 1958 for the recovery and conservation of bison. The park sends bison to other parks and reserves across North America and the world.  Today there are more bison at Elk Island than existed in the whole of North America in 1890.

We exited the park onto hwy 16, the TransCanada, and drove as far as Vegreville, pop. 5,700. A 277 km day.  We stopped to grocery shop at Walmart before arriving at the Elks/Kinsmen Community Park. Another bargain; for $25, we have a site with 30 amp power and Wi-Fi at the park office. The Pysanka, a giant Ukrainian Easter Egg, built in 1974 as a monument to honour the RCMP, is located in the park. It measures 25.7 ft. long, 18 ft. wide, and stands 31 ft. high.

We had our first weather advisory since the wind warnings, this one for the potential of funnel clouds!! The heavy rain held off ‘til I had finished bbqing pork chops for dinner. It was the first time I needed my WWI bug bonnet to ward off the mosquitoes.  Harvee Too got a much needed power rinse.

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