Dawson Creek to Fort Nelson, BC
Monday, June 24, 2013
Sunny 7 clear, mid 80s, hot and buggy
Leaving Dawson Creek marked our first miles on the Alaska Highway. We were on the road by 8:00 and had our first moose sighting by mile 26. And that was the last wildlife we saw all day!
The Peace River Bridge, longest water span on highway, is the second one in that location; the first having collapsed in 1957, only 14 years after it was opened. The 10% grade that leads down to it was almost as impressive as the bridge.
We stopped in Ft St John at a Rona (hardware) store to get a couple of items. The event was unremarkable except that it demonstrated the friendliness of people in this country. Not only did we get a hardy, “Welcome to the north country!” from the clerk who helped us but also a great big hug for Sandy when we left. (How come Bill didn’t get a hug?)
Petro industry isn’t the only commercial enterprise in this area. Log trucks were everywhere. They were invariably triple bottom rigs hauling logs destined for sawmills. We also passed a couple of mills with monstrous piles of logs to be sawn. And then there were the rail sidings filled with cars of sawn timber destined for market.
Of course there were all kinds of oil field facilities and businesses to support them. Most were located along dirt and gravel roads extending off the main highway. We also noted many huge “camp” housing setups. These were assembled using transportable building modules that were set up end-to-end in long rows elevated off the ground with plumbing and utilities running under them. The one we stopped at had about 240 rooms for rent, fuel for sale and a cafeteria. We had to go inside the cafeteria to pay for fuel. The place was remarkably clean and we were required to remove our shoes to enter the seating and food line areas. The work sites are often more than 100 miles from a significant town and these kinds of facilities are the only places to stay in many areas.
The Alaska Highway in this area was mostly unremarkable, straight roads bordered by forest on both sides. Not only is it not remarkable but it’s not cheap, either. It was along this section of the road that we paid the highest amount, so far, for fuel: 1.75$CA/liter or approximately $6.62US/gal!
There’s not a lot of fast food up here but where there is we are noticing lots more A&W places that we are McDonalds.
Arriving in Fort Nelson, we stopped by the Visitor Center and took a short walk cut even shorter due to a high concentration of mosquitoes. Is this a sign of things to come? It’s been a warm, wet spring; probably a bad thing.
We camped at Triple “G” Hideaway Campground right in town. We’re seeing many more oil field workers staying in campgrounds including this one. They seem to be fine folks; just not the crowd you usually anticipate having as neighbors on a camping excursion.
The campground was right next to the Ft Nelson Heritage Museum, of course. (See a pattern here?) The museum is actually the collection belonging to one local collector who seems to collect anything remotely from the area. The collection includes Alaska highway construction memorabilia, mounted wildlife, uniforms, farm machinery, communications equipment, antique cars and trucks and you name it! Some of it was pretty interesting or, at least, something you might never see any where else.
Dinner was grilled zucchini with grilled, marinated beef strips and a salad.
It’s here that we met Barbara & Sarge from Atglen, PA. They, too, are headed for Alaska. This part of the trip is beginning to line up more like our boat trip to The Bahamas. Many of the people have an agenda similar to ours. So we are beginning to recognize people who we’ve seen in other locations. It’s nice to begin to have a loose social group.