A Travellerspoint blog


July 22 to July 26 - Alaska Highway Adventures

Tetsa River Services, Cinnamon Buns, Liard Hot Springs, Watson Lake, Gout (Ouch)

sunny 20 °C

We left Dawson Creek before 7:00am. There is an airshow, and a rodeo in Fort St. John this weekend and we wanted to avoid the traffic that will come with that, so an early start was called for.


Our expectations of a slow moving highway were quickly erased. We pretty well had the highway to ourselves...some truck traffic and oil patch workers heading towards their 7 day a week jobs, but no lumbering motor homes in our way.

We stopped at the Kiskatinaw River Bridge, 24 kilometers froma beautiful curved structure, the only remaining original bridge from the construction of the Highway. The bridge is 531 feet long and very lovely to look at.


Our run into Fort St. John was uneventful, and we found ourselves at the only Starbucks in the city before 8:00am. Our coffee needs satisfied we headed north, stopping at Kilometer 100 for a photo of the 30 foot tall wooden lumberjack marking Clark Sawmill to the west.


We continued on with very little traffic to contend with. Mostly we were passed by pick-up trucks, and the occasional semi truck as we headed north, past kilometer 200. We gassed up at Pink Mountain, at kilometer 226. Gas here was $1.30 per liter. We plan to gas up roughly every 200 kilometers or so on this journey. We blew through the 300 and 400 kilometer markers and were in Fort Nelson, at kilometer 454 by just past Noon.

We paused for lunch and headed north, with another full tank of gas. This time gas was $1.14 a liter. Our goal for the day was now the somewhat funky sounding Tetsa River Services and Campground, home of the (reportedly) best cinnamon buns on the planet. There is a small camp ground with 15 amp service, showers, etc. We called it a day travel wise at 3:00pm, after travelling 575 kilometers in total for the day.


This is the washroom at Tetsa River:


The road is excellent, very little traffic and we made much better time than the last time we travelled this road northbound, in 2005. Road conditions were excellent for the most part, with some minor construction. Jenny drove two hours in total and attempted to back TaJ into our camp ground spot for the first time. While it was a game effort, she was ultimately unsuccessful.

We saw no wildlife today, but expectations are high for tomorrow as mountain sheep, bison and moose abound in the next phase of our trip.

July 23-24

Tetsa River Services was a pretty cool place to stop, but it rained all night long. The owner told me this was common in her area. She said they got over 50 mm (2 inches) of rain overnight. It was nice to sleep with the patter of rain on the roof. We tested the cinnamon buns at Tetsa River Services and can recommend them to you. Probably in the top 5 I have had in my life.

The road to Liard is wet and winding. It rained almost until we reached the gates of the park:


Today is our birthday and we plan to spend I, and tomorrow, at Liard River Hot Springs. Our campsite is nice and it is about a 1.5 k walk to the hot springs, along a lovely boardwalk. In all we did the walk out and back 4 times during our stay, so we logged about 12 kilometers of exercise.




Only one fly in the ointment is my left foot. I am now developing gout. Ouch! I did some damage to it climbing hills in the Northwest Territories, and combined with a less than stellar diet the past two weeks I am now paying the price. I can barely walk by the time we leave Liard, headed for Watson Lake.

Our stay at Liard was lovely, this is truly a worthwhile stop. On our last walk out to the hot springs, we came upon a momma moose and her calf. No camera with us, so no pic.

July 25

On the road into Watson Lake we came across a bear and her two cubs as well as another fine specimen of Bison:



We boot on into Watson Lake and stay at the Downtown R/V Park. A desolate gravel parking lot greets us on arrival, but the services are good. Price is pretty steep as well; $42.50, with the Good Sam discount. The laundry, washrooms, etc, were impeccable. Here is a view of our site:


I did manage to get into the local health clinic and get a prescription to deal with my gout. It will take a few days for this to clear up, but so will my diet. I am now vowing to cut my alcohol consumption to one drink per day and to clean up my food intake as well. One bout of gout is plenty.

We did go up to the milepost village in Watson Lake. It just keeps getting bigger and bigger:



The night was uneventful with the exception of a bar close by the R/V park having a singer, until 2:00am. Country and Western love songs and she done him wrong songs!

July 26:

No pictures for today. It was simply a decently long drive to Whitehorse (450 kilometers) We are now in the Whitehorse Library, getting up to date with the blog and e-mails. We are now 1445 kilometers from Dawson Creek, and will stay here for 2 full days before departing towards Alaska.

Posted by Rooseboom-Scott 17:45 Archived in Canada Tagged bears bison tetsa_river cinnamon_buns liard_hot_springs watson_lake Comments (2)

July 14, 15, 16 - Fort Smith to Fairview, AB

Twin Falls Territorial Park, High Level car wash, Long drive, Fairview R/V Park, Dunvegan

sunny 19 °C

July 14:

We left Fort Smith early, before 8:00am, with the intention of making an overnight stop at the Louise Falls Campground, in the Twin Falls Territorial Park, bout 75 kilometers from the Alberta border, on our way back towards civilization. Not that it was bad, or uncivilized out at Fort Smith. We thoroughly enjoyed our time out here and this will be a high point in this year's journey, and a really big tick mark on the old 'to do before you die" list.

We followed this young lady dog on the road out of Fort Smith. She was a bundle of energy in the back of a pick-up:


Twin Falls Territorial Park, just south of Enterprise is home to 2 huge waterfalls on the Hay River: the 25 meter drop of Louise Falls and the 32 meter drop of Alexandra Falls. The falls are about 2.5 kilometers apart and there is a lovely trail between the two. We hiked this route shortly after we set up camp for a single night.

The hike was lovely, with Dene interpretative signs along the way. The Dene (local name, means "the people") used this river to get from their winter lodgings in Alberta to their summer homes on the shores of Slave Lake. In order to pass the falls they had to portage their worldly goods 6 kilometers from above Alexandra Falls to a safe spot below Louise Falls. Generally, it took two days and the help of every family member to get past these falls.


Along the walking route, the territory has installed a spiral staircase installed so people can get down to the base of Louise Falls. 138 steps. We did the climb...it was less difficult than it sounds, but very steep. In all we hiked 5 1/2 kilometers on our afternoon trek.



Our electric hitch jack has failed for a second time, and this one sounded like permanent failure, with kind of an electric snapping sound inside the mechanism. We will try for a replacement/repair in Grande Prairie when we reach there Monday.

Both Sully and the TaJ are filthy with road dust. They need to be cleaned once we get a bit farther south.

July 15:

Our goal for the day will be Fairview, Alberta. Our Garmin tells us it is a 615 kilometer trek, so we get started early. The highway up here is empty much of the time and we cruise along at 95 kph. For the first hour we see just one transport truck northbound. We make excellent time and find ourselves in High Level, Alberta by 10:30am. We knew there was a wand wash with a big enough bay to accomodate our rig so we got in there and $11 later, both vehicles were acceptably clean once again.

We spent a full hour at Tim Hortons getting caught up on internet stuff and making some plans for our time in Grand Prairie. We'll be staying two nights with the aunt and uncle of our good travel friend, Karmen Reid, so we got off an e-mail to them for directions to their property, and we scoped out r/v dealers in town to see if we can get our electric hitch fixed on Monday/Tuesday. Grande Prairie has a population of about 75,000 so is a completely full service city. We've shopped there in the past when we lived in Dawson Creek in 2005.

We are also defrosting our fridge on the way south. It has been on continuously since we left home and there is ice build-up, so the small amount of food we had left is in our cooler for the day and a couple of tea towel are in the fridge to pick up the water from the melting ice.

Back on the road again, we switch off driving every 90 minutes and before you know it we arrive in Fairview. This is a town of about 3000 people, 100 kilometers from Grande Prairie. We stop here for the night as we want to tour Dunvegan, a historical park of note just south of here. We will do that tomorrow. We also wanted an r/v park with internet for a night or two as we have planning to do for our upcoming leg to Alaska/Yukon.

Sure enough, this park will do just fine. Small, right in town, with wi-fi. We settle in, turn the fridge back on, get a bit of food and drink from local stores and spend a bit of time finishing the cleaning job we started in High Level. At 7:30pm a massive thunderstorm started. The sky had been getting darker and darker, with the occasional rumble of thunder.

The start was dramatic with wind, rain, thunder and lightning. We were on-line with The Weather Network as the storm progressed and it was intense. They can report lightning strikes in real time and over the course of 30 minutes recorded 67 strikes in the Fairview area. We also got 60 mm (almost 2 inches) of rain in that same time period. Wow, pretty darn intense. The air was cool afterwards and the skies quite promptly cleared.

July 16:

Today is pretty well a day off the road. We have organizational issues with our stuff to take care of and that is on the agenda, as well as getting the blog up to date. Not overly much to go in today's blog entry.

We head out late morning to Dunvegan, a historical site along the Peace River.


This is a picture to show the foundation and wood work required to hand build structures back in the day:


If you recall previous posts about the voyageurs, piloting canoes from Ottawa, up the Great Lakes and then through a system of rivers and portages, this was the end of the road. The Hudson Bay Company store at Dunvegan was the end of the line, some 5500 kilometers. We learned here that there were two sets of voyagers. The set from the Ottawa end of the line, as well as from Hudson Bay, left their end laden with goods for sale or exchange with the fur trappers at this end. About 1/2 way they met the voyageurs bringing furs from the vast resources of the northern prairies. At this half way point they exchanged cargoes and returned back from whence they came. It has been interesting to intersect this trade route on our travels. It is the story of Canada's early history.



This is the factor's house. He was in charge of the Hudson Bay post here in Dunvegan:


Until 1960 the only way across the Peace River was by ferry boat. This suspension bridge was built, at a cost of the then whopping $5 million. It opened the modern days to this part of Alberta.


We stopped at a local farm market to buy some produce for a stir-fry tonight, as well as strawberries:


The Road Ahead:

Over the next 5 days we will be getting prepared to head up the Alaska Highway. We depart Dawson Creek on the morning of July 22. We were originally going to be accompanied by a friend, Debra, and her Trillium trailer. It would have bee her first serious excursion with her little trailer and the route we planned had been based mainly on the fact that she would be driving on her own, so the plan called for little more than 350 kilometers a day. The raging wildfires in the British Columbia interior have forced her to withdraw from the trip. There are numerous road closures on the British Columbia approaches to Dawson Creek with no let up in sight.

Since Debra will not be joining us we will be amending our route somewhat with slightly longer runs and perhaps another destination or two added in. We will still take 28 days to do this leg of the journey, it will just be a bit different from what we had originally planned. It is still going to almost 7,500 kilometers from Dawson Creek until we reach Prince Rupert on August 20.

We have some minor repairs to get out of the way, and some stocking up to do in Grande Prairie. We lived in Dawson Creek in 2005 and we have old friends to visit while we are there. It is likely there will be a summary blog entry of the coming 5 days, but no specific plans are in the works.

Posted by Rooseboom-Scott 06:55 Archived in Canada Tagged fairview dunvegan nwt car_wash Comments (2)

July 9, 10, 11, 12, 13 - Wood Buffalo National Park

Pelicans, Bison, Natural wonders.

July 9:

Both of us were road weary from the long run to get to Hay River, so today is a day of rest. A breakfast of poached eggs, bacon and toast, followed by a few hours of taking care of the blog entry and keeping our finances up to date. Jenny's job is to keep track of our spending, so we know where we are in relation to the budget we built to finance this trip. After 40 days we are just slightly over budget, but we should get ourselves back on track over the time at Wood Buffalo. There is very little on which to spend money out there in the wilds.

The license plates in the NWT are pretty cool:


The town of Hay River has a fence where pictures of people who lived here but have passed on can be posted, kind of like an ongoing monument to those who came before:


Hay River has a lovely museum, dedicated to the history of the area so we took that in for part of the day.



Meal planning for 4 days with a small fridge also requires a bit of negotiation. What can we carry with us, what do we want to eat, etc? What easy meals do we have available in our larder of extra food? We got that sorted out and now have a meal plan in place and the food to fulfil it in our fridge.

The Hay River Campground is on the shores of Great Slave Lake, the 9th largest lake in the world and is a shipping centre for getting goods all the way across, around the lake and up the Mackenzie River to the Arctic Ocean. Massive barges are pushed upriver and lake by 150 powerful push boats. The CNR has a rail terminal here, the northernmost rail terminal in the country. All summer long goods are barged to the north, to communities and individuals along the shores of the lake and the river. Some of the older push boats are parked permanently on the shore.


There is a public beach right at the mouth of the Hay River and it is teeming with locals on this hot summer day and we took a walk along the boardwalk for a bit of exercise. The temperature peaked at 30 degrees C this afternoon and is now cooling off nicely as the wind comes in off the lake. The cooler weather slows down the horse flies. Jenny got a couple of shots of them swarming alongside our car earlier today.

July 10:

We did the 270 kilometer drive from Hay River to our next campground, Queen Elizabeth Territorial Campground, at Fort Smith.


The road was not easy, with a long gravel section, with active gravel trucks going back and forth as they built new roadbed. We made it without any damage to either Sully or TaJ, although both ended up pretty muddy by the time we finished the drive.


The scenery gradually gave way from boreal forest to boreal prairie. The area is pockmarked with sinkholes:


Because of all the construction activity, the animals have made themselves scarce on the road into the park. We went to the Visitor Centre to get updates on where we might find some good hiking as well as wildlife. We did some work on the blog at the local library and checked out the town. Fort Smith is surprisingly active for a town at the end of the road. About 2500 people live and work here. The town also has an awesome population of horse flies, and the heat drives them crazy.

July 11:

The campground is very quiet and we both slept very well. At this time of year it does not get dark at night. About 10:30 pm the sun finally sets, but twilight lasts until 1:00am. Between then and 3:00 am it is somewhat dark, but I could clearly see across the campground when I went out to take a look around. After 3:00 am dawn begins to break. The sun is up before 5:00am and the day starts again.

Today we got really active. We did 4 walks/hikes at various locations around Fort Smith and in the National Park. As you leave Fort Smith towards Fort Resolution, about 24 kilometers down the road, you cross back into Alberta. We have been back and forth from territory to province 6 times today.

Our first hike was to the Rapids of the Drowned, so named by Alexander Mackenzie, who discovered them (for the white race). At that time, one canoe was sent down the rapids to see if they were navigable. The man piloting this canoe was supposed to fire off one round if it was safe. While he was still working his way downriver, another member of the team shot a duck. The other canoes, thinking the way was safe left and 5 voyageurs were drowned in the un-navigable rapids. A sad tale!

Here you see White Pelicans, and this is their northernmost nesting place. Hundreds of them, plying the river rapids for fish. These are the same pelicans we will see when we get Texas this fall. They begin the migration south in late September. This hike was about 2.2 kilometers along the shores of the Slave River.



Later in the morning we did our biggest hike of the day, about 4.8 kilometers, to the Cassette Rapids at Fort Resolution. Some lovely rapids. The hike was marred by the presence of thousands of mosquitoes. We were told there are about 100 varieties of them up here, and at least one of them will find you tasty. Bug spray keeps them from biting, but not from being annoying throughout the whole hike. It was also hot, about 28 C and humid. We were soaked with sweat when we finished that hike. The scenery, once again, was amazing.


We came upon this farm garden. A real rarity around here. These people can really get things to grow:


We stopped for lunch at Anna's, a small local restaurant. After lunch we decided to head out to the Salt Lake Day Use area, where we did a short hike around the garter snake hibernaculum. This is the most northern place in all of Canada where garter snakes live. They spent 7 months a year hibernating in the cave system is this one particular area of the park. They mate, then disperse for summer hunting of frogs and other tasty meals before returning in the fall to join their thousands of mates in a quivering mass of snakes. We did not see any snakes on this portion of our day. This hike was another kilometer or so.

We then drove almost 70 kilometers to pick up the Salt Plains Lookout, on the road back towards Hay River. Much of this area of the park is salt flats. We hiked downhill (which means we had to climb back up) in 30 C heat and full sunlight. This area used to be a vast ocean eons ago and underneath lies thick layers of salt. Fresh water from rains and run off liquifies the salt and brings it to the surface where it dries into cakes of salt on the surface. While there we spotted 4 Sandhill cranes walking just a 100 meters or so away from us.



We were exhausted by the time we climbed back up to the car. Thank goodness for air conditioning, which cooled us off nicely on the drive back to Fort Smith.

We had a quiet evening back at the campground. One thing irks us a bit. You can not rely on hot water in the showers. You get started in nice warmth, then it turns, and stays, icy cold. At least it was a bit refreshing today after all our exertions. Other than that one tiny thing, this is a prime place to stay, big spacious sites, 30 amp power and just a short jaunt into the town of Fort Smith for supplies. The town has amazing services for a place so remote and off the beaten track.

July 12:

We decided to do an early morning walk back down to the Rapids of the Drowned, to see if we could catch better pictures of pelicans. Unfortunately, our efforts (again a downhill, followed by an uphill return) were not rewarded. Yesterday's photos of pelicans will have to suffice. We did get in 2 kilometers of hiking before breakfast however, so all was not a waste. We will do one more hike to see pelicans tomorrow, at a different location, closer to where they nest on the river.

After breakfast (french toast & bacon) we headed out towards the Pine Lake Day Use area, about 60 kilometers away down a gravel road. We'd stopped yesterday after 24 kilometers without seeing a single bison, and hoped to see some today.

Our initial stop was at the Salt Lake Day Use area, where we hiked in to Grosbeak Lake, another salt marsh area. The full hike is a 9 kilometer loop that ends back at the day use area. We decided to hike in to the lake and then return to our car. After all we have already done 2 kilometers this morning before breakfast and it is going to be another scorcher, with temperatures in the low 30's. There is no wind on this hike and we are sweat soaked by the time we reach out turnaround point. Beautiful scenery once again.




Our total hike was just over 4 kilometers, strenuous enough for today's heat. We were done by noon and then continued on to Pine Lake, where we came across this monster, our only bison sighting for the day.



The road out and back is good gravel, with very little traffic. Any approaching vehicle can be seen from miles away by their rooster tail of dust. All drivers slow down to about 30 kph when approaching another vehicle to reduce the chance of stone damage. In any event we only saw two other vehicles on this entire stretch of road in the three hours we were out there.

We stopped at the Wood Buffalo visitor centre once back in town. There we were told that the buffalo have moved deeper into the park at the moment, so the big male we saw at Pine Lake may be our only sighting on this leg of our trip. This might be the biggest buffalo either of us have ever seen.

We took the rest of the afternoon off, reading and doing a bit of laundry. The campground here has laundry so that helps, especially when it is so hot that we sweat though our hiking clothes each day. Wood Buffalo is a wonderful park to visit and this will be a highlight of our trip.

July 13:

This morning we went for one last visit to the Pelicans. This time at their nesting site along the river, at the mountain rapids. The hike down was very steep.


No pelicans were not feeding when we got there, but they were flying around, and sitting on their nesting island. The young are now near fully grown and are working on their flight and fishing skills. Jenny got to use her tele-photo lens for a bit in an attempt to get some decent pictures.



After this excursion, we gassed up to be ready for tomorrow's departure back towards civilization. Gas here is about $1.08 a litre, much lower than we were expecting. The local native band operates a gas bar/Tim Hortons franchise. This raven seems to like hanging out here:


We toured the local museum where we learned about the history of the area. The area has a rich Metis heritage and even today, the Metis are putting forward claims for ancestral rights on the lands in the area.



The campground has it's own version of chairs for tourists to take pictures in...these are camp chairs:


Following the museum we shopped for supplies for our outward journey and settled in to write the blog entry and download and sort pictures. The blog is being sent from the Fort Simpson Library. We expect to be in Grande Prairie in 3 days.

Posted by Rooseboom-Scott 14:36 Archived in Canada Tagged pelicans wood bison Comments (2)

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.

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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


Posted by Rooseboom-Scott 10:45 Archived in Canada Tagged nwt hay_river Comments (1)

July 2, 3, 4, 5 - Grasslands to Moose Jaw, SK

Give me a home, where the buffalo roam, HIgh heat on the prairies, Moose Jaw Tunnels, Sully and TaJ get a bath, Sully gets serviced. Planning the road ahead.

sunny 30 °C

July 2:

Our last day at Grasslands begins with Cowboy Coffee. Every Sunday, the staff at the park put on a 90 minute cowboy coffee talk, where they make boiled coffee, over a campfire and tell stories of how things were back on the days of massive ranches. A fun event, attended by most of the adults in the campground. We learned a lot about the Larson Ranch, the land from which formed the backbone of the park. About 287 square miles of land.

The Larson Ranch dates back to the 1870's and was in operation in various forms until the 1950's. The Larson homestead is just a kilometer from the campground and our final activity of the day will be to hike over and take a look. The temperature is going to soar today, up into the high 30's (mid 90's f) and there is no shade, except for that you can find next to your trailer.

We hiked about 4.5 kilometers as the day heated up, We followed the Frenchman River for the first part of the walk, but came back along the road from the homestead.


I tried lassoing a steer:


After 4 days in the park, we are really starting to understand the draw of the open skies of the prairie and the words of "Home on the Range" are so much easier to see when there are no trees to obstruct your vision. The sky here is massive, it dominates. We only got a look at the stars on our first night; since then the moon has been brighter each night, blurring out the Milky Way.

Our afternoon was spent sitting and reading in the shade beside TaJ. Almost all campers were hunkered down in the afternoon heat. In the evening it cooled quickly and most people strolled the hills around the camp. The staff here are great, mostly young university students working for the summer, or locals supplementing their ranching income with summer jobs. We will put this place on our bucket list for a September visit in future years, to see a different season. This has been a peak experience coming here.

July 3

We pulled out of Grasslands early, with the intent to get to Moose Jaw by early afternoon, which is exactly how things went. We got to Peanut Hills R/V Park early afternoon. Both of us had showers right away, as Grasslands does not have them. Cleaned up, we then set out to get to our planned chores while in Moose Jaw.

Both the Honda Pilot (Sully) and the r-pod (TaJ) are gross, covered in road dust from the last 2 weeks in southern Saskatchewan. We need to clean both of them, so finding a wand wash for Thursday morning so we can scrub TaJ is on the list. We need to rotate the tires on the Honda, get an oil change and generally check things out under the hood. We also have a stone chip on the windshield, from an unfortunate encounter with a massive semi truck doing 100 kph + on a back highway, flinging stones in all directions.

So, appointments booked for the 4th, at Canadian Tire for the car servicing and Speedy Auto Glass for the windshield chip. We check out the liquor store for some beer. We went to the Superstore for some groceries. Jenny lived in Moose Jaw, back in 1986, so we went to find her old house,


We've been eating all our meals at the trailer, so we splurged and went out to a brew pub for supper. A couple of appies, and a pint of beer each, and our food budget for the day was more than spent...$47 including tip. But it was nice to do for a change.

July 4

Peanut Hills R/V park is in an unfortunate spot. The eastbound Trans Canada Highway rises above the campground. As a result the road noise is pretty awe inspiring at times. Transport trucks laboring up the hill, plus incessant traffic make it pretty noisy. We slept OK



Jenny hung out at the campground and I headed off to get car serviced at Canadian Tire. Before heading there I found the local wand wash and gave Sully a thorough cleaning, at least enough so that the mechanic would be able to see what he was doing as he rotated the tires. Thick dust underneath. $5 later and Sully was pretty clean. We'll finish the job on Thursday morning as we depart

About 90 minutes and $150 later the car was ready for the next segment of this trip. The stone chip repair was $67 at Speedy. Bonus...Speedy vacuumed Sully out for us. There was a lot of grit and debris on the floor mats! All work done in no time. I know you folks in the US don't have anything like Canadian Tire. Massive stores with auto service centers and they are pretty well everywhere. If you get work done at one store and it need attention down the road, they have a great warranty...over 3000 of them from coast to coast.


In the afternoon, we took in the Tunnels of Moose Jaw. There are two themes here, Gangsters and Chinese Immigrants. We did the Gangster tunnels. Back in the days of prohibition, Al Capone used Moose Jaw as his escape when things got too hot for him in Chicago. There was a train line that went directly between the two cities. Moose Jaw had a population of 15,000 back then and it was good place for him to hide out. There were tunnels under the street that were used here for illegal alcohol. Moose Jaw is using them as a tourist draw. Actors take you through the tunnels, in costume and act gangsterish. Very fun thing to do and a great way to connect with the history of the place.

Supper back at the trailer. As you can see from the photo, we are living in reduced circumstances on the road...NOT! Steak and Caesar Salad and a lovely Malbec to wash it down.


In the evening, we planned our next phase, booking campgrounds in the North West Territories for 6 nights beginning on Saturday. When we leave here on Thursday, we will do Walmart stops, first in Lloydminster, SK and another in Peace River, AB. In total we will do 1900 kilometers, over three days to get to our first destination of Hay River, on the shores of Great Slave Lake. This is our jumping off point for Wood Buffalo National Park.

July 5

A lazy morning start. Breakfast and a bit of internet time. This is the first campground with Wi-fi at our site and we are taking advantage of it.

The rest of the morning is taken up with checking TaJ out. Bolts will be tightened, and seams checked prior to our northern jaunt. We also need to refill our propane tank while we are here. We are looking at going to a two tank setup for the Yukon/Alaska leg of the trip. We will be in a lot of un-serviced campsite there and will be more propane used to operate the fridge. We didn't like the two tank unit being sold at the r/v dealer here, so will look for options at other dealers on the way up north.

The afternoon we did the second tunnel. The Chinese Immigrant experience. This one was pretty extensive and covered the systemic abuse of Chinese immigrants in the 18 and 1900's. Very well done, and the tunnels are pretty impressive and extensive. Most of the Chinese immigrants at the time lived and worked, in pretty poor conditions, down in these tunnels.


There is also a lot of old cars from the gangster era, up on posts as part of the tourism industry promotions here.


In the evening, there was a music in the park event at Crescent Park, in downtown Moose Jaw. We took in an hour of it before settling down for our last night. Jenny got danced.



On the road early tomorrow, headed north.

Posted by Rooseboom-Scott 19:36 Archived in Canada Tagged grasslands moose_jaw al_capone_tunnels canadian_tire speedy_glass Comments (1)

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