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Old 05-30-2010, 08:43 AM   #43
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Hi, looks like they bought some new glacier busses since we were there. Come to think about it, I think it was about twenty five to thirty years ago and the busses looked old then.
Yup, 1967 for me.

Good work, Gene, keep it up. I look forward to cooling off from painting this house exterior once heat & humidity are in mid-90's by noon. Siesta until evening, and some reading from places I'd like to be . . narrated by someone admirable to read.
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Old 05-30-2010, 09:19 AM   #44
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Painting with humidity in the 90's—that would kill me Rednax! And I worry about not having wifi. Smithers is 363 miles and has wifi. Today's decision will be whether to drive on and catch up with my possibly unrealistic schedule or have wifi. We're thinking about blowing off the toaster museum and keep going north tomorrow. We love to go to remote places and Telegraph Creek calls out. There's someone with a Basecamp there though I haven't seen him post in quite a while.

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Old 05-31-2010, 12:55 AM   #45
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British Columbia is big, very big. We think we have large states in the west, well, try Canada. We crossed a lot of BC today on the Yellowhead Hwy. It crosses a number of river valleys with snow capped mountains on each side. There are a couple of ski areas and one large city—Prince George with 80,000 people. Because municipal boundaries are large in a lot of Canada, the city didn't seem all that large, more like a city of 25,000. It's the big city in the middle of the province. This area relies largely on trees for an industry—three paper mills in Pr. George and they smell bad. We stopped at a supermarket to get some supplies and drove on.

About 50 miles west we were stopped by a bad traffic accident. They closed the road and we were told it would be closed until tomorrow until the investigation was finished. We found that they just close roads here and don't much care whether people are inconvenienced and can't get to where they are going while they wait for an investigator to show up from somewhere far away. We followed people on back roads for more than 20 miles. Because the roads were dirt and gravel, the dust was thick and at times we couldn't see past the hood. I'm not too pleased with BC today.

Otherwise, we covered almost 400 miles to Smithers, a town surrounded by snow capped mountains and one has a ski area. They also have the world's largest fly rod—60' high. Fish when you can't ski. We are going north now and the forest is changing to northern spruce and lots of aspen. We have seen a lot of dead conifers in places—Jasper NP and when we crossed into Montana. The bark beetle strikes everywhere. The RV campgrounds are getting more rustic and the prices lower. We are at Glacier View CG just west of town and while the views are great, the mosquitoes have arrived.

Tomorrow we get to the Cassiar Hwy (69 miles from here). The Cassiar is 463 miles long and mostly paved. When we travelled south on it in 2002 it was mostly gravel and there were few services and very little traffic. It's become much better known and has more services and we've heard a lot of trucks. It's the shorter way from Yukon Terr. to Vancouver. The toaster museum will have to wait for another time.

Sunset today is 9:52 (twilight maybe another hour) and sunrise at 5:01. In a few days there will be twilight all night and sleeping will be less desirable.

The lead story on CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Co.) is almost always the Gulf Oil Spill, even to the exclusion of Canadian stories. It sounds ever more dreadful. BP has had many problems with oil spills in Alaska for the past several years.

And, the last two campgrounds in remote areas have better wifi and quicker uploads than any in more "civilized" locations.

Gene

Photo #1: World's biggest fly fishing rod at Smithers, BC.
#2: Close up of the fly.
#3: View from the Campground.
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Old 05-31-2010, 01:18 AM   #46
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Hi, I see an A&W in the backround, did you have time for a rootbeer float? In California, in some situations they close the roads/freeways too. We just had a gas tanker, crash and burn on the 91 FWY near Corona. They closed the FWY in both directions for many hours. Also they always close roads for fatalities. We are concerned about protecting our trailer, if and when, we go to Alaska; Other than Inland Andy's plywood shield, what are RV'ers doing to protect, mostly the front of their trailers? And have you done anything to protect your trailer?
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Old 05-31-2010, 08:19 AM   #47
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Gene,

I'm loving your trip reports and looking foward to hearing about the Cassiar Hwy. We will be about 2-3 weeks behind you so don't leave any big ruts.

We are scheduled to leave here next week sometime (depends on when the wife gets finished at work), but in any even we need to be in Las Vegas early on the 12th. I'm foaming at the bit (one of my father's old sayings...he grew up with horses as the main mode of transport).

Anyway, keep up the great reports and travel safe.
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Old 05-31-2010, 09:57 AM   #48
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Bob, we just stopped to take pictures and change drivers. Actually the fly rod was at Houston, not Smithers. Smithers has tried to make the town look alpine, but you have to go downtown to see that. I think they have rerouted the highway around downtown so you don't really see the alpine touches. We took this highway in 2002 and 2006 and I remember driving through downtown.

The only vehicle we have seen so far with any protection against gravel is the Airstream we saw at Lake Louise. They also had a screen mounted on the rhino bar on the front of the Chevy pickup. We haven't done anything. In two previous trips to Alaska and NW Canada, our only damage has been some paint chips on our Toyotas and windshield damage. That's about the same we get driving anywhere. In the past we have seen a very few vehicles with large contraptions mounted on the front to protect the windshield and everything else, but it seems unnecessary to us. There were lots of stories years ago about gravel damage, but the roads have gotten substantially better. You will run into 10 or 20 miles of construction from time to time as the winter wrecks roads and that's unavoidable. They use chip seal because it's easy to repair, but also breaks up faster. The frost heaves far north occur frequently in permafrost country. They are almost always marked with red flags by the side of the road. It means slowing down quickly when you see them. When we lived near Denver and traveled I-70, we experienced lots of windshield damage and paint chips because of the stuff on the highway in the winter, so I'd rather drive up here. We used to have to replace a windshield once a year on each vehicle. I always put a bug shield on the front of all the vehicles anyway and whether it actually protects the windshield a little is unknown to me. I think the main cause of damage on gravel and dirt roads is speed. When someone, especially a large truck is coming toward you, slow down. If you slow down, many truck drivers will slow down, and then a piece of gravel that hits your vehicle will be moving at 50 mph instead of 100+ mph. In '06 a NWT pickup came at us at a very high speed and I couldn't slow down in time on a freshly graveled road and he threw a rock that cracked our windshield. Otherwise what we get are small chips. If you stay on the paved roads, it's just about like anywhere else. But we don't because there are some amazing and remote places to go to.

The accident on the highway was visible from where we had to turn around and it looked like they could have let traffic through in one lane. There was something in the ditch on one side of the road and we assumed it was the vehicle that crashed. When we got there there was a guy in a suit walking to the scene and we guessed it was the coroner. There was no fire. I thought the visibility was so bad on the dirt roads we ended up on they were asking for another accident. From time to time the large white 5th wheel in front of us disappeared in the dust and I'm sure everyone else had the same visibility problem. I kept worrying the guy behind me would get too close and hit us when we had to slow to a crawl.

Steve, I'll try not to do too much damage to the roads and don't be foaming when you cross the border. Maybe we'll cross paths somewhere.

And deuxrite, I got your PM and we're getting closer to Skagway every day.

Gene
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Old 05-31-2010, 12:09 PM   #49
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Gene: I have been vicariously traveling with you and Barb on this trip as well as the trips you have taken before. Thank you for taking the time to post both the text and the photos. I am so much into your trip that tomorrow I am going to AAA and get maps of BC/Yukon/Alaska so I can get a better idea of where you are. (I'm old school, I could look it up on Google but I've gotten used to maps). At least when I follow you I don't have to worry about gravel and rocks flying at my MacBook.

Thanks, Randy Bowman
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Old 05-31-2010, 10:28 PM   #50
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The weather is getting warmer as we travel north—75˚ at times. A nice smooth drive for about 150 miles. The first 100 miles on the Cassiar were nice new smooth asphalt and we could go 65, but then it became chip seal (seal coat is the local term) and gradually the road got less and less smooth, more bumpy, but certainly better than gravel and washboard. However, we are told there is some gravel before and after the Stikine R. bridge and then deteriorating chip seal to the Alaska Hwy. That's about 190 miles.

The shaking led to a trim piece to the right to the TV and next to the fridge coming off. It goes from floor to ceiling. The finishing nails they used only go about a quarter inch into the piece behind it—understandable because the fridge is there, but that just won't hold it very long (obviously), especially in fiberboard. Glue is necessary, but glue, clamps, nail gun, nail set and wood putty are a couple of thousand miles away. I put it back up and we'll see how long it stays. A little duct tape will help too. On our trips last year, things were constantly breaking, so we've had some respite from that. But, the handle on the shower vent is breaking in the middle—duct tape is holding it together now and we can still push it up and pull it down if we use the edges only. Another cheap part (except when you buy a replacement). Major parts are holding up, the trailer tows easily, the fridge keeps things cold and the bed is comfy.

We had our first gas shock today (they'll be more). In Calgary gas was 89.9˘ per liter which works out to $3.25/ gallon US (Canadian dollar was 95˘ Friday), but along the Cassiar at Bell II, it was $1.289/liter which works out to $4.66. Gas has been running $1.089 generally in BC. I think the provincial taxes must be higher in BC than Alberta. Surprising how we've become used to $3 gas.

Aside from the gradually worsening road, the scenery on the Cassiar is stunning. On the west is the Coast Range. This is not like the Coast Range in Cal. and Oregon. These are steep, treed, snowcapped. Sometimes we could see snowcapped mountains to the east too. The trees are various conifers—lodgepole, cedar plus lots of aspen—for the first 200 miles, then giving way to spruce and more aspen as we enter the boreal forest. When we get to permafrost they will be all spruce and stunted. The forest is very thick and you can't see more than a few feet into it. There are only a few very small Indian towns along the way a ever fewer white settlements. We didn't see much traffic—cars, RV's and some ore and log trucks, a few 18 wheelers with cargo. Not being used to so many trees, the green tunnel effect takes place—I want see a billboard and some empty areas with sagebrush.

For while the land seemed saturated with water—swampy areas, rivers high, but here in Iskut we are told is has been very dry. Some of the higher places still had some snow in the forest.

The mosquitos have arrived. I got out to take some photos and was surrounded by them almost immediately. I fast walked to a place to take a picture, but they kept up. I ran back to the truck and escaped and got the truck door open and jumped in in a split second. I didn't feel it was necessary to stop again. The higher you go, the more mosquitos.

We saw 3 black bears today and one yesterday. They never seem to be where you can stop an RV and take a photo. That's probably good because the bears become habituated to humans and trucks and can get dangerous. We saw a strange animal yesterday just west of Jasper NP. It was standing just outside the berm. It was about the size and shape of a fairly large dog, but seemed to have a cat face and head with short pointy ears. The fur was grey/brown. Barb said it was a coyote but it seemed too big. I thought it was some sort of large cat but the legs were too long. It was definitely not a mountain lion and too big for a bobcat. I believe, after careful reflection, that it was the escaped pet of a space alien.

We are just north of Iskut at Mountain Shadow RV Park with snowcapped mountains to the west. There's a lake downhill and earlier there was a moose in the water. Since it was a quarter mile away, I could just barely make it out. I'm told there can be a couple of them in the morning.

Tomorrow we drive 51 miles to Dease Lake and stop at a campground and then take the trip to Telegraph Creek. 70 miles each way, about 2 hours. When the Klondike gold rush happened, a telegraph line was built from Vancouver to Dawson City. Much of the route was through wilderness. There were hunters', prospectors' and Indian trails, but the way was difficult. Imagine moving large reals of wire that far. It was well over a 1,000 miles, but was done quickly. That's how Telegraph Creek got its name. In the 1920 there was an effort to convince to government to build a road along the telegraph route, but it never got done. I believe the promoters did take some cars along the route though I'm not sure they made it all the way. They would have had to build rafts to cross the rivers. When the US decided to build a highway to Alaska, this was one route considered and would have been easier than the route chosen. The winning route of the Alaska Hwy was chosen because there was a chain of airports along the way, ones used to ferry planes under the Lendlease program to the Soviet Union.

In Dease Lake, the sun sets at 10:31 today and sunrise was at 4:45. Considering twilight, it's only dark for little more than 4 hours.

A giant bus RV just pulled in towing a Hummer. My guess is that these are not environmentalists.

Gene

Photos:
#1 Start of the Cassiar Hwy
Next three are at Kitwanga, a short distance up the highway. Totem poles traditionally are made for some reason—a celebration, to mock someone perhaps—and they are never fixed or repainted. They stay until they fall down.
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Old 05-31-2010, 10:44 PM   #51
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More photos:
## 1 and 2: Along the Cassiar. You can't see the mosquitos, but I can attest to their presence.
#3: Mountain Shadows CG, Iskut, BC.
#4: The moose is in the water just to the left of the peninsula on the right. You have to blow it up to see it.
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Old 05-31-2010, 10:52 PM   #52
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How are you combatting the mosquitos when you stop for the night? Any potions that work or are you on a dead run from the truck to the A/S?
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Old 05-31-2010, 11:55 PM   #53
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How are you combatting the mosquitos when you stop for the night? Any potions that work or are you on a dead run from the truck to the A/S?
First I roll my sleeves down and put my collar up. Then I wave my arms around like a deranged person while cursing the little buggers. I also tell them Barb has very tasty blood. This doesn't work very well as I now have three bites and find a new one every half hour or so. I gave my body to take pictures.

One can pray for wind or rain because that disperses them, but that doesn't always work very well either. I used citronella oil years ago and that lasts for about 20 minutes and we forgot to bring some. A lot of people use Deet, but when I read the warnings it sounds very toxic and not something I want to ingest—it's impossible not to since you put it on your hands.

Sometimes they are everywhere, sometimes not. The really big ones are the least worrisome but the little guys are lethal.

We have traveled in May or September when it's not bad at all. The worst time is June and July (guess what month tomorrow is). Then come the noseeums in midsummer and they are even worse. We'll be gone by then.

It's also good to wear thick clothes unlike the shirt I have on now. Open and close doors very, very fast (doesn't always work). Mosquitos are sneaky. In Alaska they sell citronella coils that you burn. That doesn't work well unless you sell them. You can make enough money selling them to tourists that you can move to the desert. The worst places have a lot of water and the tundra on the North Slope can be deadly. We hope to be there early enough to avoid mosquitos or never get out of the truck. They make hats with netting that fits over your shoulders so you don't go insane and we'll find out if we should have bought them. By then it'll be too late.

We don't see many mosquitos where we live and we are always unprepared. Our sanity is always in danger when we come to northern Canada and Alaska. Is not insanity doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result? A dead run from the truck helps if the hook ups hook themselves up, and I not crazy enough to expect that.

Obviously mosquito prevention is not my strong point. I must go now and apply gobs of hand lotion to the bites in the vain hope it will help. Then I can scratch them 'til I open the skin and it hurts until it heals and itches again. I do take comfort in the knowledge the truck and the trailer kill a lot of them, but when I have to clean the bug encrusted windshield I find they made more and they get me again.

I hope this helps.

Gene
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Old 06-01-2010, 06:13 AM   #54
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Love your stories.

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Old 06-01-2010, 06:30 AM   #55
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A lot of people use Deet, but when I read the warnings it sounds very toxic and not something I want to ingest—it's impossible not to since you put it on your hands.
Gene,

The next time you go to a store, buy some of the mosquito spray in the clear plastic pump bottle called "Skintastic".

I'm alergic to deet, and Skintastic dose not contain it, but it still works. It doesn't work as good as the products containing deet, but it does work, and it's much better than using the waving arms technique.

Certain times of the year down here, like now after good rains, we are also palgued with the little vampires.
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Old 06-01-2010, 09:51 PM   #56
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[QUOTE=CrawfordGene;
Totem poles traditionally are made for some reason—a celebration, to mock someone perhaps—and they are never fixed or repainted. They stay until they fall down.[/QUOTE]

Hi, did you park there because the totem poles are about to fall down?
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