Kamloops to Dawson Creek, BC
Saturday, June 22, 2013
57 am, overcast then sunny & beautiful, a couple of stray showers, low 80s
Facing a long, 600-mile drive to Dawson Creek, BC, today, we got on the road early, 6:30. We kept on moving making few stops.
The first segment of the drive took us to Cache Creek. Beginning at that point we finally started using the publication, Mileposts, that describe the roads we’ll use during much of the rest of our northern trip. It seems that major highways in Alberta, British Columbia, the Yukon and Alaska use the convention of referring to locations along the roads by how far it is along the highway from a starting point, or “mileposts”.
We did make a short stop in Chetwynd, famous for local artists’ chainsaw woodcarvings. There we admired their works displayed alongside the road.
Just before we got to our destination, Dawson Creek, there was an accident on the road that required we take a 4-mile detour. That would have been fine except that:
- it is dry, here
- the detour was a dirt road
- we followed a double-bottom tank truck rig
Let’s see, that’s 8, four-wheel axels plus the front two making 34 tires, each making lots of dust. Really, it was a dust-out that prevented you from seeing oncoming cars and trucks. We really needed a car wash after that little event.
We settled in at Mile “0” Campground (as in the first mile of the Alaska Highway) in Dawson Creek. It’s not real pretty but will do the job. I expect we’ll see lots more “not real pretty” campsites as we head further north.
Dinner was at the Lodge Café in town, a competent, local diner. Sandy had an omelet since, given her diet, was the safest thing on their menu. It was very good. Bill’s spaghetti was good but “interesting”. The cook is from the Philippines and has his own special ideas about what “Italian” should taste like.
Bill crashed early following our 12½ hour drive and his dinner, which included two beers. Sandy watched fireworks launched a block from our campsite as part of a local celebration involving several days of concerts and other events.
Sunday, June 23, 2013
Sunny & warm, high 70s, shower late pm
It felt nice to not have to rush to get on the road this morning. Bill washed the car and we both got showers. After working on notes for our log we went to the Visitors Center and checked out the downtown area. Dawson Creek gives you the distinct impression of a frontier city. Everything is big and spread out and looks rough and ready. No namby-pamby stuff here!
The town was at the end of the north-bound railroad line. And so, this is where the Alaska Highway was begun in order to link Alaska with the lower 48 states as a war-time means of defending Alaska from the Japanese. The Alaska Highway “Mile Zero” monument is a big attraction as are the murals that cover many of the buildings downtown. That and the Pioneer Village attraction that adjoined our campground.
Dawson Creek is where the heavy concentration oil/gas fields activity begins in Canada. There are oil sands and natural gas fracking activity all around. So the businesses to support that industry are everywhere. The camper next to ours was occupied by a local family, a couple, two very young girls and a big dog. The husband was in partnership with his father to service and repair heavy equipment used in the industries. They use the camper as a base when the work is close to home. The men live in motels when work is farther away. Father and son didn’t think highly of the fracking folks.
Everything around this area is gritty. The campsite is gritty. The town is gritty. The car and camper are both gritty. Grit is everywhere. Looks like we’ll just have to learn to love grit!
We caught the last act of the music festival that marked the official opening of the Pioneer Village next to our campground. Music was provided by locals, mostly guitar, bass and fiddle, to which the audience danced the two-step.
We had to tour the Pioneer Village, of course. The village is a nice look back at how life used to be in the early days around the time the highway was constructed. Represented were the usual homes, schools, churches and businesses that made up the town during that period. The exhibit was nicely done.
Dinner was sautéed veggies and grilled cod. Speaking of dinner, you can eat late around here. We’re really beginning to see the effect of moving north and the extended daylight hours. Add to that a full moon and it never really gets dark at night.