Saturday, June 17, 2017

Manitoba

 I made good use of the Wi-Fi at the campground office and the good location for walking Shadow outside the campground before we left at 10:10. We continued in a southeasterly direction on hwy 16 through several small towns and
communities, each  with its "Tourist Attractions" posted. We stopped a few times for photo ops. We got a good impression of the way of life in rural Saskatchewan.



We entered Manitoba and Central Time, losing  one hour and stopped in Russell at the Visitor Centre with Arthur the Bull.  A young man was very helpful providing lots of information. We ate lunch there  and motored on with another stop in Strathclair at a school where I played Frisbee with Shadow. Another great workout for her.

At Minnedosa, we took hwy 10 south the remaining way to Brandon but turned back to Hwy 16 because the highway was  in such terrible condition. At Neepawa, we took hwy 5 south to hwy 1 and had to back track several km to Brandon. Our detour added about 75 km to our route but was worth it to spare Harvee Too.
We stopped at 4:45 at Bry-Mar RV Park and Campground, another Good Sam campground 6 km east of Brandon. We have full hookups and excellent Wi-Fi at our site but just one channel, CTV, all for $30.24. It was cloudy and cool all day, only 18º but rain free as we motored 352 km.  Harvee Too's odometer went over the 150,000 km mark.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Travellin' The Yellowhead Highway

The Yellowhead Highway was named after a Métis guide,  Tete Jaune. It was officially opened in 1970. It stretches 2,960 km across the four western provinces beginning in Winnipeg. There are five national parks, 90 provincial parks and numerous national historical sites on its route.

Before leaving the campground, we set up our servicing app’t at Freightliner in Brandon, Manitoba for Monday June 19. In 2007, we had our servicing done there going out west and returning. We were still in their computer system. We were on the road at 9:20.

As we motored east through central Saskatchewan, the highway narrowed from four lanes to two beyond Saskatoon. The landscape changed from prairie and very large farming operations  to boreal forest.  We passed several small communities but stopped at a nice rest area in Lanigan, pop. 1886. It was another perfect spot to play Frisbee with Shadow and give her a really good workout.



Central Saskatchewan is “a birding mecca with millions of waterfowl.” The highlight of the day was our drive through Quill Lakes International Bird Area, part of America’s Central Flyway. It is a globally recognized  birding area. It is a 250 sq. km. conservation area on the north side  of Hwy 16 between the towns of Foam, Wadera and Wynward. Jean was in a picture taking frenzy  there were so many waterfowl and shorebirds  She couldn't believe there was no parking area where we could stop so I put on the four way flashers,  pulled over onto the shoulder of the highway so other traffic could get by us as we crawled along.



 





We stopped in Wynward at the Quill Lakes Interpretive Centre. It was closed but there were a few waterfowl plaques outside. We ate lunch, and called ahead and made a reservation at an rv park in Brandon for two nights. 



We continued to Yorkton where we bought a few groceries at Walmart, topped up the gas tank @ $ .98.9 / litre and checked in  at the City of Yorkton Campground. We stayed here ten years ago. We travelled 348 km under mostly cloudy skies; it remained a cool 16º.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Onto Saskatchewan



 There were lots of puddles in the morning from heavy rain overnight. Harvee Too had a little trouble getting traction in the rain soaked grass and mud at our site when we pulled out at 8:00 and drove to the campground office to use the Wi-Fi. We also used the dumping station before topping up the gas tank @ $ .92.9 / litre. We were on our way by 10:00. It remained mostly overcast but no rain.

We stopped in Lloydminster, Canada's only Border City so Jean could do some banking at TD. We passed a mall with a branch where we could park and what luck! A Magicuts in the same mall. I needed a haircut badly. Finally! It felt great.
In 1905 the provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan were created and the Fourth Meridian was declared the dividing line between them. It literally runs right through the city. Two towering orange border markers mark the Fourth Meridian on hwy 16.
We ate lunch before motoring on, a total of  401 km to Campland RV Resort west of Saskatoon. We passed an even better gas deal @ $ .88.9/ litre and topped up once more.  It was much drier in this part of Saskatchewan so mosquitoes were not a problem.



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.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Back In Wild Rose Country



We filled up the gas tank @ $ .97.4 / litre before leaving Grande Prairie around 11:00. It was a short motoring day, 291 km along hwy 43 through mostly farming country. The highway passed by a few small communities. We stopped  for lunch at a rest area near Valleyview. It was an excellent spot to exercise Shadow off leash with the frisbee, her best workout in days. She loved it.
Hwy 43 was quite rough, lots of frost heaves. We were pleased to come across a major construction zone, 50 km of repaving but  with no delays.

Athabasca River
It remained mostly cloudy, reached a pleasant 21º. We stopped in Whitecourt, pop. 10,200, a city at the junction of the Athabasca and McLeod Rivers. Where the two rivers meet is considered by Aboriginal people to be a sacred place.


  


We found our best bargain of a campground this trip, Whitecourt
Lions Campground, a Good Sam campground, only $28.80
with our discount. We have a large site with water and electric,
secured Wi-Fi and even one t.v. channel, CTV Edmonton.



Monday, June 12, 2017

Dawson Creek: "Mile 0 City"





As usual,  we were up early, Shadow and I at 5:30 to walk outside the campground. We waited until after 9:00 to leave the campground and drive to downtown Dawson Creek, a small city of 12,000 at Mile O of the Alaska Highway. We spent the morning taking in some of the  sights and attractions. It was a warm and sunny 18º.
Dawson  Creek's most famous landmark  is the Mile "0" Post marking the beginning of the Alaska Highway. It started as a  four-foot piece of wood. When the post was hit by a drunk driver and demolished in 1946, it was replaced by a more elaborate marker, a 10 foot high post. It was  replaced in the 1960s with a metal post. It doesn't mark the geographic beginning of the highway but rather the centre of the "Mile 0 City."
A stone cairn designates the actual beginning  of the highway. It was located in a traffic circle but moved across the street to the corner of a park over concerns for tourists' safety as everyone wanted to pose for pictures beside the cairn.
We saw several murals depicting the history of the city painted on the exterior of buildings.



We saw the Iron Surveyor Statue, a tribute to the men who built the highway. It stands above the traffic circle that leads to the highway. The statue is welded from scrap metal  from local farms and points northwest.



We visited the Alaska Highway House, a small museum where numerous exhibits and historical photographs depict the construction of the highway and  the life of the soldiers and civilians who built the highway in 9 months. We watched a very interesting one hour film which included soldiers' personal accounts.
We also visited a very unique building, the Grain Elevator Art  Gallery. Dawson Creek did have 11 elevators dating back to the 1920s. By 1984 only one remained. The 750,000 pound elevator was moved to its present location and converted  to an art gallery with a three storey ramp  to displayed art work. It was declared a National Heritage Site in 1984. The art work was very good.

We ate lunch, bought  gas @ $1.05.9 and took hwy 2 south into Alberta. We passed through a few small communities before arriving in Grande Prairie at Camp Tamarack RV Park at 4:45 Mountain Time.

Fort Nelson



Jean was not feeling well so I visited the Fort Nelson Heritage Museum with extensive outdoor pioneer displays  and artifacts from the building of the Alaska Highway. The museum was next door to the RV park.
An historic cairn identifies mile 300 of the Alaska Highway and is a tribute to those who worked on the highway.  There is also a sign marking the 75th anniversary of the highway this year.
 It was a cloudy 9º when we left the campground shortly after 9:00 as many rigs from the caravan were also pulling out.



We made three stops in Fort Nelson before motoring on:  the Northern Rockies Visitor Centre where  I picked up lots of useful literature and bought three pins for my collection; IGA for a few groceries and the Petro station where we bought a little insurance, i.e. $100 more gas @ $1.22.9 / litre.
 We crossed the Muskwa River as we left Fort Nelson and drove east on Hwy 97, the Alcan Highway. The scenery was much more ho-hum as we motored through flat lands, muskeg country and the fertile Peace River hills.
                             
                 We were surprised that we still climbed to over 3,000 ft. in elevation at times.
Although we were warned, we saw no wildlife. We did pass the first accident of this trip, remarkable when you consider how far we have travelled.


The showers started in the afternoon.
We stopped in Fort St. John at a Walmart to buy more groceries for the next week. We didn't like the look of the campgrounds so  continued to Dawson Creek to Northern Lights RV Park, a Good Sam campground.  We have full hook-ups, cable t.v. and Wi-Fi. What a treat after days of roughing it, so-to-speak. We motored 439 km. The rain had ended; it was only 10º. Jean was feeling  better and had managed to take a couple hundred pictures.