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July 6, 7, 8 - Moose Jaw to Hay River, NWT

2000 kilometers in 3 days, Moose Jaw, Vegreville, Edmonton, Peace River, High Level, and Hay River

sunny 35 °C

July 6

We said goodbye to Moose Jaw, but not before getting TaJ's picture taken with two more roadside icons: The Moose and a Canadian Snowbird. Canada's military precision air team, the Snowbirds, are based here in Moose Jaw. They travel coast-to-coast each year, entertaining at air shows and other events. We've seen them practising in the skies over the city twice this week.
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Next up is the TaJ wash. We got the filth of the road off our beloved R-pod before heading onward. $6 and some scrubbing later and we are on the road.

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We were going to attempt much of the day's drive on secondary roads, but a 22 kilometer long stretch of gravel (road under repair) quickly changed our minds, so on to Highway 16 we went. Highway 16 is the portion of the Trans Canada Highway that heads towards Edmonton. The scenery of the prairies is much the same, whether on the main road or back roads. Saskatchewan is noted for less than good secondary roads. We cruised along the Trans Canada at 95 kph and ratcheted up our destination from Lloydminster to Edmonton, a total of almost 800 kilometers.

On our last night at Peanut Hills we had booked campgrounds in both Hay River (2 nights, July 8, 9 and Fort Smith, 4 nights, July 10, 11, 12, 13) so our destination for Saturday was set. Hay River is 2000 kilometers away from Moose Jaw. Fort Smith is the location of Wood Buffalo National Park, which is our real destination for this leg of the journey. The largest National Park in North America, it is home to a Wood Bison herd of 4,000, plus the nesting place of the whooping crane, as well as Pelicans. The park is the most remote accessible by road in all the country, so this will be a real treat, and a big check mark on the bucket list.

Along the way, we scooted into Vegreville, for a picture with the Pysanka (giant egg). A good friend of mine, Jim Stephenson (hi Jim, he reads the blog) at one time lived in Vegreville.

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We arrived at the Walmart on Stoney Plain Road, in Edmonton about 6:00pm, bought a pre-cooked chicken for supper, as well as sandwiches on the road for a day or two ahead and settled in for the night. Very good stop, very quiet, once the store closed at 11:00pm. There were 14 r/v's in the lot overnight.

July 7

Since we are on a re-positioning run, we planned two consecutive nights in Walmart parking lots. The destination for today is Peace River, another 600 kilometers towards our target destination of Hay River, in the North West Territories. The roads were remarkably good on this run, although we were expecting worsening road conditions.

We stopped briefly in Slave Lake, which we visited last in 2014. The town had been devastated by a wild fire in 2011 and was in the process of rebuilding when we were here. It was great to note that the rebuild is pretty well complete and the only evidence of the fire is the blackened trees on the approaches to town.

We arrived in Peace River about 4:00pm and had the decision to make as to move farther on down the road, or stop for the night early. We opted to stay and do a bit of shopping for necessary supplies. We needed a new anode for our water heater, not that we have pulled the old one to see how much it has deteriorated, but wanted one on hand in case we needed it. Where we are headed there is not likely to be a R/V dealer. We also picked up back up fuses and a second 30/15 adaptor, as a couple of campgrounds will only have 15 amp service

Peace River is a great little town of about 5000 people, with full services.

We tucked TaJ up against a retaining wall in the Walmart parking lot.

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It was hot, about 35 C and we were looking for early shade as the sun goes down. Actually, the sun doesn't set here until almost 10:30pm this time of year, so we weren't gaining much shade. However, later in the evening we would be happy that we chose this spot.

Supper was a salad with left over chicken and we spent the evening reading and planning.

We turned in for the night about 10:30, with only two other r/v's in the lot. At midnight, a massive thunderstorm blew through. Rain and wind for an hour. Our location tucked in by the retaining wall protected us for the worst of the storm. There was a fair bit of wind damage which we saw in the morning as we departed on our final run north.

July 8:

Our last day's run coming up, another 600 kilometers. We headed out at 7:00am and our Garmin said our arrival time should be about 2:30pm.
Once again, the roads were much better than expected. Actually, really good. We stopped for gas and a snack in High Level, another town of about 1500 which has decent services as well. Gas stations up here are about 300 kilometers apart, and the general rule is: Gas up all the time even if you still have more than half a tank. You do not want to see that low gas warning light come on out here, miles from the next town.

There were crops being grown well past High Level, so the prairies really do stretch for thousands of kilometers. Fields fo canola and wheat all over the place. The roads finally settled into infinite boreal forest on both sides of the road. We crossed into the North West Territories about 1:30pm and arrived in Hay River about 2:30pm. We found the town abuzz with an airshow, right at the river mouth and on the beach right next to our campground.

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As we were on the last couple of kilometers before reaching our destination we passed the Hay River Airport. We thought TaJ had been damaged as everything began to shake and rumble. It quickly became apparent that an f-18 fighter, as part of the airshow had just taken off exactly as we passed the end of the runway. Wow, what a rush that was.

We got set up at the campground as the airshow ended. Locals had used the campground roads to park for the airshow, which was taking place not 200 meters from our campsite. As a consequence, the campground roads were packed with air show visitors. They quickly cleared out and by 4:30 we were off into town to get our laundry done. It seems we are going through lots of clothes, but it has been so hot the past week that we are changing clothes often. The last week, every day has been over 30 degrees C, and sunny. Very hot. The nights have settled back to pretty moderate temperatures.

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One unpleasant thing though. In the heat here in Hay River, the horseflies go crazy. More annoying that anything, they swarm to the heat generated by the cars. The front of the cars are awash with the bodies of the ones killed in traffic, and the live ones are eating the remains of their brothers. They don't bite people very often, but when they do, you know you've been bitten!

In the last three days we have travelled 2000 kilometers, and Jenny and I have pretty well equally shared the driving. Jenny is rapidly becoming pretty adept at handling TaJ. She is yet to back her into a campsite but that is coming in the near future. Both TaJ and Sully are doing well and we have settled into a pretty good routine, after almost 40 days on the road. There is still another 140 days to go on this adventure.

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Posted by Rooseboom-Scott 10:45 Archived in Canada Tagged nwt hay_river

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Snowbird is a Tudor Jet for Your info.

by lawnman

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