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2017 Prologue

"Where the river is windin', big nuggets they're findin'; North to Alaska; go north the rush is on!"

Map of Prologue Travels:

We’re channeling Johnny Horton singing along with a Sitka Tex CD as we drive north on I95 leaving Brevard County. I think this will be our theme song for the summer. LOL

North to Alaska

Big Sam left Seattle in the year of ninety-two
With George Pratt his partner and brother Billy too.
They crossed the Yukon river and they found the bonanza gold
Below that old white mountain
Just a little south-east of Nome.
Sam crossed the Majestic mountains to the valleys far below;
He talked to his team of huskies
As he mushed on through the snow
With the northen lights a-runnin' wild
In the land of the midnight sun.
Yes Sam McCord was a mighty man
In the year of nineteen-one.

Where the river is windin', big nuggets they're findin'
North to Alaska, go north the rush is on
North to Alaska, go north the rush is on.

Songwriters: MIKE PHILLIPS

Yes, we’re headed north to Alaska this trip, travelling from the most southeastern state to the farthest northwestern state. We’re going to cover a lot of miles and at least part of the time (while in British Columbia and Yukon Territory, Canada and the outlying areas of Alaska) we expect we will not have internet access. So the blogging may be pretty sporadic as compared with past years. We’ll see. I’ll do my best to keep you posted.

We’re meeting up with two other couples who also own 5th wheels to form our own little caravan. Our friends Tiffany and Jim are also from Florida; they’re newbies with their 5th wheel but they left a month before us to do some touring at places like Yellowstone and Jackson Hole, so by the time we get together I imagine they’ll be old hands at it. The other couple is Dan and Dee, our friends from Colorado, who you may remember from our earlier blogging – we’ve visited them at their home outside Denver and the last two years we’ve camped with them at Beaver Lake in NW Arkansas. We are so excited to have company on this adventure!

Prologue – May 08 to May 10

Jetty Park Campground, Cape Canaveral, FL Site 328 $108.00 (3 nights)

One of the problems with living in a Homeowners’ Association subdivision is that there are rules against parking an RV on the street or in your driveway for any length of time. It makes packing up as you prepare for a trip and unpacking when you return from a trip a real hassle. We’ve devised a workaround that is pretty pleasant. We park the 5th wheel on a site at Jetty Park Campground which is only 5 miles from the house and then we cart stuff back and forth over the course of a few days. It kind of eases us into the camping experience as well.

Monday, May 08th
Today was Tim’s birthday and so in the midst of packing we took time to celebrate with family and friends because he is now officially a “geezer”. Had dinner at Grills at the Port.

Tuesday, May 09th
Kelly and the boys came for a visit and Tim and I took a break from packing to relax at the beach with them. It was a gorgeous day, not a cloud in the sky and perfect for the boys to ride the waves with their boogie boards.
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Did you ever notice that shore birds have two shadows? LOL

Wednesday, May 10th
We had planned to leave today to head north but packing for such a long trip as we’re doing this year, one which includes both summer heat and the Alaskan cold, is quite a challenge. We have a weight limit (as Tim is fond of pointing out) plus as we’ll be out of the country for some months, there are other issues like prescriptions, firearms, dog health certificates, etc., etc. that we must handle prior to departure. And they all take twice as long as you plan.

Thursday, May 11th
On the road at long last.

Drove 262 miles. Route: I95 north to Jacksonville; bypass I295 west then onto I10 west to I75 north to Lake Park, GA just south of Tifton, GA.

Eagles Roost RV Resort, Lake Park, GA Site A-1 $33.17

This is a beautiful campground right off the interstate. The sites all seem to be large and pull thru under a canopy of huge live oaks dripping with Spanish moss. Very picturesque but you’ll have to use your imagination as I forgot to take a picture!

It was 97 degrees outside when we stopped for the night. I told Tim “no way” when he said we were going to do our CrossFit WOD. It was so hot! But then I noticed the campground had a nice little pool. No one was in it so I put on my bathing suit and did my warmup in the pool then did my workout in my bathing suit! How great is that?

Friday, May 12th
Drove 330 miles. Route: I75 north to Tifton, GA exit onto US 82 west through GA into AL to Montgomery, and then north on I65 to Pelham, AL just south of Birmingham.

Birmingham South RV Resort, Pelham, AL Site 29 $43.17

Another nice RV Resort with convenient access to the interstate and large pull thru sites, full hookups, and all the rest of the amenities. Pelham, AL is just south of Birmingham so it is a convenient stopping point to avoid rush hour traffic (tomorrow being Saturday) for driving through the city.

Saturday, May 13th
Drove 367 miles. Route: I65 north through Birmingham then west onto I22 (formerly US78) via the new interchange. This interchange which has 14 bridges and 14 ramps, makes “spaghetti junction” in Atlanta look like a child’s toy. It has been under construction for 7 years and is the most expensive project ever undertaken in Alabama at a cost of over $168 million! In previous trips when we’ve come through Birmingham we’ve had to wind through a suburb to connect between I65 and US78 so even though driving through the interchange was scarier than a rollercoaster ride, it was better than the old route. So Birmingham now joins Atlanta and Nashville as the only cities in the south with 6 interstate spokes.

We took I22 northwest toward Memphis where we connected with I240 around Memphis then I55 west across the Mississippi River. We continued northwest on I55 to I555 into Jonesboro, AR where we picked up US63 northwest to Black Rock, AR. We had planned to stay at a campground convenient to US63 outside Walnut Ridge but one look and we kept on driving. (Picture “low rent trailer park”.)

Davidsonville Historic State Park, Pocahontas, AR Site 6 $87.80 (3 nights)

The next possibility of a place to stop for the night was an Arkansas state park, the Davidsonville Historic State Park about 10 miles north of Black Rock, AR on AR351. We were pleasantly surprised to find a beautiful little picturesque campground out in the forest along the Black River. Turns out the state had relocated the campground itself just last November so everything was brand new. The sites were large paved sites with full hookups and the bathrooms and showers were spotless, unusual in a state park.

We’ve driven this route many times as we’ve traipsed back and forth between Florida and Missouri and have always wanted to stop in the area to explore the quaint town of Hardy, AR. With such a pleasant camping spot now at our disposal and tomorrow being Mothers Day, we decided to stay and relax for a couple of days.
Pictures of our beautiful campsite.
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Sunday, May 14th
Drove 101 miles.

First stop today was the Log Cabin Grill in Hardy, AR where we had a nice lunch on the deck outside overlooking a spur of the Black River. We saw a muskrat playing on the edge of the river.

We went on into town to explore the shops but found most of them were closed. In one of the antique shops that was open Tim spotted a unique looking knife with a carved green handle that was calling his name. (Don’t believe I’m the only shopper in the crowd!) We also enjoyed a nice little Art Guild Shop where Tim bought a cute water color print of a man driving a tractor out across a field with a little blond boy in the foreground watching wistfully – it looked just like him a couple of years ago when Kelly and George brought the boys out to Missouri to visit us for a week and Tim took Jimmy and William for rides on the tractor. Memories.

Next stop was Mammoth Spring State Park located along US63 in Arkansas just before the state line with Missouri. This first magnitude karst spring arises out of the Ozark Plateau, the largest spring in Arkansas, and generates over 9 million gallons of water – per hour!!! It is the 7th largest spring in the world and the 3rd largest in the Ozarks. Amazing. The mouth of the spring is 70 feet below the surface but the water was not clear because of the huge amount of rain the Ozarks had this spring. By contrast the Maramec Spring in Missouri that we stumbled upon year before last (our infamous interstate breakdown trip) is the 6th largest spring in the world but in my opinion the park is much more beautiful and the museum there is spectacular.
Mammoth Spring
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Watch these falls for an hour and you've just seen over 9 million gallons of water pass before your eyes!
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The Mammoth Spring 10 acre lake is the source of the Spring River, a popular trout and float stream – but with a constant water temperature of 58 degrees (brrr!) that’s a little too chilly for me even on the hottest Arkansas day.
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Evidently it isn't too chilly for muskrats though!
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While at the park we toured the remnants of the hydroelectric plant which was in operation from 1925 to 1972.
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Monday, May 15th
Drove 89 miles. Route: From the campground we went north on AR161 to US62 east into the little town of Pocahontas, AR. After a few stops there we travelled west on US62 to the little town of Hardy to see if more of the shops were open today (they were) and then returned to the campground on US63 and AR351.

We started out the day with our CrossFit WOD (20 minute AMRAP of DB Cleans and Jerks, Burpees, and Sit-ups) which we did inside the trailer. Do you think if we keep this up all summer the inside of our Luxury Lifestyle 5th wheel is going to smell like a gym? I hope not. Tim says I'm just looking for an excuse to not do the WODs. He knows me pretty well. LOL

Our reason for the drive into Pocahontas was to restock at a nice Walmart there. We also decided to have lunch and ended up having a wonderful meal at Don’s Steak House – yummy food and unbelievably cheap! (My meal – 2 huge fork tender pork chops with a large loaded baked potato, Texas toast and a wonderful salad bar was just $9.99. I made two meals out of it!)
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The restaurant was located on the Black River and there was evidence of significant flooding in the town with sandbags everywhere. We had to laugh as we entered the restaurant because there was a sign on the door, “Wet Floors”
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Then once we were inside the restaurant we noticed these pictures:
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Back in the town of Hardy we visited a few shops that hadn’t been opened yesterday, one a leather shop that Tim enjoyed because it carried lots of handmade concealed carry paraphernalia. He almost bought a beautiful case with a belt clip but first wants to measure his pistol which is at home to be sure it will fit. He got their business card though so I can see a Christmas surprise in his future. We wandered in and out of a number of “antique” shops. Tim found a few cheap paperback westerns and some exotic wood chunks that he can play around with to hone his whittling skills. I bought one small pink glass and a $3.99 pair of earrings. Last of the big spenders – that’s me.

When we returned to the campground we hiked down to the historic Davidsonville Town Site and from there on down to the Black River Boat Ramp. The town was founded in 1815 at the confluence of three rivers – the Spring River, the Black River and the Eleven Point River. This was thought to be a great advantage back in the day because the waterway allowed the area to be connected to the outside world via the Mississippi River. Unfortunately it also made it vulnerable to spring flooding (as evidenced this year). The town itself was 30 blocks laid out around a central Public Square where the courthouse was located. While it was the site of the first courthouse, the first post office, and the first territorial land office in Arkansas, it didn’t survive and the town was abandoned in 1830. All remnants of it disappeared but archaeologists have recovered many artifacts from the town site which are on display in a nicely appointed (new this year also) visitor’s center.

The restoration of the state park included construction of two “ghost structures” – the Courthouse and the Post Office – and multiple interconnected hiking trails. One trail a mile in length is around Trappers Lake, a 12 acre stocked fishing lake; another is 1.5 miles from the lake to the Black River Boat Ramp; and another .5 mile trail connects the campground to the original town site.
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"Ghost Structure" of the Courthouse

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Public Square

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Trappers Lake

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Flooding clearly visible at the Black River Boat Launch
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The Black River

Tuesday, May 16th
Drove 212 miles. Route: US63 west through the foothills of the Ozarks into Missouri to US60 west to Springfield, MO where we turned north onto US65 toward our very own little Happy Trails Campground just outside of Buffalo, MO.

We spent a week here with Tim working on various maintenance projects around the property while I stocked up and organized the camper for our long trip north. We wanted to minimize our having to shop for staples while we are in travelling through Canada and Alaska where things are much more expensive.

One of the projects Tim undertook was to rebuild the dam for our pond. When we arrived the water in the pond was dangerously low – any lower and the catfish would have had to grow legs to get around! We also found that the bridge across our little stream had been washed off its supports and the dock that Tim had built a few years ago was across the pond on the wrong side! Evidently there was some significant weather this past winter and flooding earlier this spring.
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And for our CrossFit buddies I'm happy to report that we managed to fit in three WODs this week. Coach Fernando sent us off on our journey with 10 weeks of WODs! He's a gem (and believe me I've called him worse. LOL)

We still have plenty of wildlife so evidently the flooding didn't scare them off, Saw deer, opossum, rabbits and turkey. I was also glad to see that the bluebirds had returned to one of the bluebird houses (didn't have time to wait around for them to pose for a picture this year though). The other birdhouse had "squatters" - a family of wrens I think. Beautiful songbirds even if they aren't that showy to look at. And the Great Blue Heron was back fishing in our pond. The geese haven't returned, thank goodness. I think Sunshine successfully took care of that problem last year. She thinks they're yummy! LOL

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And there was a very interesting small brown bird who thought he was a packrat! Seriously. When Tim would leave the shed door open this bird would fly in and pick up silver screws out of a container Tim had on the shelf, and fly off with them. Tim found them dropped along a path to the car hauler. Do you think he was he trying to tell us something? Too funny!

Wednesday, May 17th to Monday, May 22nd
Drove 326 miles. Over the course of the week we made three trips into Springfield and a number of drives into our little town of Buffalo on US65, all uneventful. Our plan is to leave and officially begin our journey northwest on “new road” tomorrow, Tuesday, May 23rd. Yea!

Posted by JudyandTim2015 07:43 Archived in USA Comments (1)

2017 Happy Trails - Week 01

May 23 thru May 27 Kansas and Nebraska

Map of Week 01 Travels:

Tuesday, May 23rd

Drove 280 miles.
Route: US65 north to US50 in Sedalia, MO then west to I470 to I435 west around Kansas City where we then got on I70 west to exit 333.

Campground: Mill Creek Campground, Paxico, KS $35.00

After a week of chores and fixing things around the Missouri property for Tim, and a week of organizing and shopping for me, we were finally, at long last, ready to head west! Yea!

It is always a little stressful to leave our little Happy Trails Campsite here in southwestern Missouri because the lane is not wide enough to turn around with our humongous 5th wheel, so the only way out is to back all the way down the lane to the state road, MO TT.
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All hooked up and ready to go!

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This is the lane we have to back all the way down.

Side note: Missouri (MO) has a bizarre highway naming convention where roads are named letters, e.g., MO C, MO BB, etc. And they are not necessarily contiguous. For example you might be driving along MO A when it comes to a dead end at the edge of some farmer’s field or the shore of a Corps of Engineers Lake but then if you can manage to drive around the field (or lake) it will pick up again as MO A. Yes, it is easy to get lost in Missouri. And GPS doesn’t have a clue – you can ask any of our friends who have followed their GPS trying to find us out here in the sticks. LOL

So after all of the requisite packing up this morning, Tim had everything all hooked up, pulled out onto the lane and began backing up when suddenly he slammed on the brakes and yelled, “Oh crap! Something very bad is wrong.” And he jumped out of the truck! (My first thought was maybe he was having some kind of terrible bathroom issue?!?)

It turns out that as he looked in the driver’s side mirror to back down the lane he noticed that the slide on the driver’s side was buckled out! Closer inspection revealed that the screws holding the wiring support bracket under the slide had all come out. The bracket was hanging down between the trailer frame and the slide frame and when we closed the slide as we packed up to leave, it bent the frame of the slide. Aghhh! Tim was able to drill new holes and reconnect the wiring support bracket but he can’t do anything about the bent frame at this point. We’re hoping it holds up and the mice leave us alone because now there isn’t a tight seal underneath the slide.
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And of course we were completely blocking the lane. Luckily no one came until he had it all taken care of.

Our destination today as we left our Happy Trails Campsite, was the area of the Beecher Bible and Rifle Church in east central Kansas. (More on why later.) Our route was a scenic drive through west central Missouri north along US65 to Sedalia, MO where we turned west on US50 to I470 west around Kansas City to I435 west and then north to I70 west across the eastern portion of Kansas.

Using our iPhone App, RV Parking, we had located three campgrounds relatively near the Beecher Bible and Rifle Church. Two were near the town of Wamego, KS but off the main road with one only having 7 sites and the other one only 12 sites with hookups. We decided to try the third one, Mill Creek Campground which had 47 sites, 31 with full hookups, and which was touted as having easy access to and from I70. After our morning escapade, we were looking forward to something easy.

Our first clue that things were amiss was when our Apple Map directions to the campground had us leave I70 at exit 338 and turn immediately onto a narrow dirt road. But we’ve found some gems down worse roads in the past so we plodded on. After a mile as the road continued to twist and turn, climb and narrow into what appeared to be a driveway, the little voice on the phone suddenly said, “Please park your vehicle and continue to your destination on foot.” Say what? Tim was freaking out with visions of having to back the trailer all the way back to the Interstate. We crested a small rise and found ourselves facing a small dirt parking lot at – are you ready for this – The Prairie Fire Winery! Tim calmed down as he realized he was going to be able to turn us around and a nice fellow named Bob (later found out he was the owner) came out of the building and invited us in for a tasting. Too funny.

Bob knew exactly where the campground was located, took my iPhone out of my hand and loaded Google Earth on it. He told us to follow Google directions, not Apple map, and off we went back onto I70 to the next exit. From there it was an easy find. Bob invited us back to taste wine anytime and even invited Sunshine and Sprocket to come along. A dog friendly winery – imagine.

The Mill Creek Campground in Paxico, KS, once we finally found it, was quite picturesque. The sites were all large pull thru with full hookups and the lane into the campground was chock full of interesting antique memorabilia including the old Paxico train station.
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Nice spacious, shady spot.
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Oh no! Are those train tracks right behind the campsite? Yep. It actually wasn't too bad though. At least they didn't blow the whistle at night. LOL

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This is Kansas you know. :-)

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The campground had a nice hiking trail that meandered all along Muddy Creek but as it had been raining all day before we got there, it really was a muddy trail along Muddy Creek, so we didn't bother.

Wednesday, May 24th

Drove 103 miles.
Route: I70 to Exit 328 then north on K99 to K18 west to Elm Street – Church. Back on K99 north into Wamego and then onto the Oregon Trail Marker and Scott Spring. Return to campground via US24 east from Belvue then south on Paxico Rd.

Campground: Mill Creek Campground, Paxico, KS $35.00

I woke up to find Mr. “Fix It” busy at work yet again. Last night while watching local network TV we noticed that the sound was not coming in right. This morning Tim determined that in the surround sound system we have, one rear speaker was not working properly and one of the front speakers and the sub-woofer were not working at all! He found wiring problems and fixed them! Voila!
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The first thing on the agenda today was to locate the Beecher Bible and Rifle Church. We found it on Elm Street in an unincorporated part of the county. It was dedicated in May, 1862 and worship services are still conducted each Sunday.

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“What is the Beecher Bible and Rifle Church and why in the world do you care?” I can hear you asking. So maybe a little history is in order.

Before the Civil War (1861 to 1865) as western territories were applying for statehood it was an important issue as to whether they would be admitted as a free state or as a slave state. In 1854 Congress passed the Kansas-Nebraska Bill which provided that Kansas could enter the Union as a free or slave state depending how the people of Kansas voted. Many people emigrated to Kansas from other parts of the country to influence that decision by voting Kansas “free” or “slave”.

Excerpt from the Beecher Bible and Rifle Church Bulletin:

"In New England (my note: specifically in Connecticut where Tim’s ancestors are from) “Kansas Fever” ran high. The people of New Haven, Connecticut, raised money to send a group of colonists to Kansas, sixty or more men, led by one of New Haven’s most respected citizens, Charles B. Lines. These were well educated men, many with professional training. They left good jobs and good homes behind them. They were not just adventurers, with little to lose by going west; they were men making a sacrifice for their ideals.

Before the Connecticut-Kansas Company left for Kansas, a meeting was held in North Church, in New Haven. Professor Silliman of Yale pledged $25 for a Sharps rifle for the Company. Then Henry Beecher, the great minister from Brooklyn, pledged that his congregation would give the money for twenty-fife rifles if the audience would give another twenty-five; people in the crowd responded in great excitement, and soon twenty-seven had been promised. A few days later Mr. Beecher sent Mr. Lines $625 for the rifles, and with the money came twenty-five Bibles, the gift of a parishioner.”

Thus the name: Beecher Bible and Rifle Church in Wabaunsee, KS.

Tim’s son Erik has been doing a bit of family genealogy and one of the mysteries of the family was the fate of Tim’s great, great grandfather, Edwin Brown, originally from Guilford, CT. As I understand it the last information on him was from a Kansas census in the 1850s or 1860s placing him in the vicinity of the Beecher Bible and Rifle Church in Wabaunsee, KS. Erik believes that he took his family to Kansas as part of this emigration. There are later records showing that his wife, Tim’s great, great grandmother and their son, Chester Brown, returned to Connecticut but there was no further mention of Edwin.

We thought we would visit the church and see if there were any old records that would shed any light on the mystery. It was a long shot and unsuccessful, but still an enjoyable effort.

When we got to the church there was an older gentleman doing some work on the property who gave us access.
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In the vestibule we found an antique map on the wall with quarter sections of the surrounding land identifying the original homesteaders. We located two families named Brown but one was not Edwin and the other didn’t give a first name, just “Brown”.
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You can just make out the name BROWN right where you see the bend in the river. The river ran right through the BROWN quarter section.

When we questioned the caretaker he told us that there was a cemetery associated with the church and that a Mrs. Mueller who lived on the edge of town had all the old records. We actually found her on a lawn tractor mowing her yard and to make a long story even longer (LOL) she got the old Interment Record book from the 1850s and 1860s out of her basement and we sat outside on a picnic table and went through it page by page. It was very interesting and it was so gracious of her to spend her time helping us, but we could find no mention of an Edwin Brown.

So ends our adventure seeking out the Beecher Bible and Rifle Church in Wabaunsee, Kansas.

Moving on we decided to drive into Wamego, KS, about three miles down the road from the church and the home of The OZ Museum. Sprocket is a Cairn Terrier and was anxious to do some family tracing of his own – hoping to find Dorothy and Toto maybe. We’ve actually been here before - spent time visiting the Museum back in 2010 (I think it was) and we ate lunch at Toto's Tacos, so this time we didn’t actually go to the museum, just stopped to take a few photos with Sprocket, aka Toto.
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We decided to stop in Toto's Tacos for some ice cream. Sprocket loves ice cream.
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Sprocket was pissed (literally LOL) when he was told that they didn't serve ice cream.

From there we continued our tour north on KS99 to an Oregon Trail Historic Marker and site of the Scott Spring.
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The next (and last) stop of our very busy day was the Prairie Fire Winery and Vineyard. Yes, we decided to retrace our missteps from yesterday, this time with pictures to show you why we were so anxious yesterday as we pulled the 36 foot 5th wheel down this gravel road. This time we could appreciate the beauty of the surrounding Flint Hills area and we didn't have to worry about backing all the way out.

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Our first decision on the dirt road was - go straight or turn left. With the trailer in tow there was no going left!! LOL

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This was the point where we thought for sure we had just come down someone's driveway and were going to have to back up.

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Then we saw it was a winery!?!

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Cute sign at the entrance.

Once inside we decided to each taste a flight of five. All the wines produced here are made only from Kansas grown grapes. I wanted to try their award winning Frontenac because we had tasted one a couple of years ago in upstate New York that was delicious and the Prairie Fire Frontenac won "best in show" its very first year. But they were sold out. After our tastings we settled on two we both liked and purchased them – one red, a Chambourcin and one white, a Seyval Blanc – Semi Dry. We plan to save them until we meet up with our friends to celebrate our embarkation for Alaska.
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This Killdeer was waiting to greet us as we walked to the tasting room.

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These are their new vines, a few years from maturity and wine production.

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Sign as we left the Prairie Fire Winery: "Happy Trails To You...Til We Wine Again"
How neat is that! I think God's winking at us. LOL
I really need to take the time to Photoshop this so you can read it.

Prairie Fire Winery also sells locally produced Raw Milk Cheeses and we bought two big hunks that should last us for quite a bit.

Thursday, May 25th

Drove 270 miles.
Route: I70 west to K177 north to Manhattan, KS then US24 west to US281 north into Nebraska to the I80 interchange at Grand Island, NE where we drove east to Exit 318 onto SB Road.

Campground: Grand Island KOA, Doniphan, NE $44.00

Although we were “breaking camp” today and moving on to a spot yet to be determined, we took time first thing in the morning to do our CrossFit WOD. I post these embarrassing pictures only to prove to Fernando that we really are doing the WODs. Tim said he would literally chase me down and break the camera if I took any pictures of him doing the workout. LOL
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We had planned to stay in the area of Grand Island for the Memorial Day weekend but sadly all the private RV Parks and the Nebraska State Recreation Areas in the vicinity were booked solid. So we could only get a site for one night. I was very disappointed because this KOA park was beautiful.
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And it was Sunshine's favorite Campground so far in the trip. The bunnies here are practically tame. One came to within 5 feet of her as she stood frozen in place, like a bird dog on a point. Once it started running though, she went wild. Too funny.

Tim picked up some beer at the campground store and we had pizza delivered to the trailer for dinner. Nice relaxing evening.

Friday, May 26th

Drove 98 miles.
Route: I80 west to US281 north into Grand Island, NE to NE2 west to Broken Bow, NE.

Campground: Tomahawk City RV Park, Broken Bow, NE $20.00

This was one of those serendipity events. The only campground we could find listed that wasn’t booked for Memorial Day weekend in the vicinity of the scenic drive that we wanted to do was a real dump. I was looking at Google Earth trying to find the entrance to the place when we stumbled on this beautiful brand new city park. There were 15 full hookup sites and only two were occupied! I guess because it isn’t listed in any of the directories, no one else knew it was there either! It was one of those parks operated like some parking lots – you pick your space, then fill in an envelope enclosing your fee, and drop it in the deposit box.

We selected a site with a huge shade tree and a beautiful grassy lawn right outside our door - the dogs loved it. You can’t find soft, plush grass like this in Florida.
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Saturday, May 27th

Drove 185 miles.
Route: NE2 west with side trip on NE106 to Victoria Springs State Recreation Area then back to NE2 on S-21A and on to Seneca before turning around to return to Broken Bow.

Campground: Tomahawk City RV Park, Broken Bow, NE $20.00

It was a drizzly day for a scenic tour but that was the plan so after our CrossFit WOD 2.3 (done in the trailer again) off we went.
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First stop – Victoria Springs State Recreation Area. This 60-acre area is named after the mineral springs located here.
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Victoria Springs SRA spring fed lake – not as spectacular as Mammoth Spring in Arkansas, that's for sure. But still quite peaceful.

It has a huge picnic area and a very nice campground just up the hill and across the stream.
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The two log cabins were originally built by an early pioneer, Custer County Judge Charles Matthews, who settled here in the early 1870s. One cabin was his home and the other was the first post office in Custer County.
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The original “tiny house”?

The drive then took us further and further into the Sand Hills area – an immense system of undulating sand dunes covered with prairie grass which stretch all the way across north-central Nebraska. Not suitable for farming crops due to the poor soil, it does lend itself to successful cattle ranching operations and in fact is touted as being the best example of cooperative land management use in the world.

As we drove along NE2 we spotted a wild turkey and a herd of deer, still in velvet. And lots of water pump windmills.
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Next stop was the Nebraska National Forest. This original log structure was at the entrance.
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And yes, it is unlikely that you would find a forest in the Sand Hills of Nebraska – all of these trees have been purposefully planted beginning in 1903 when botanist Dr. Charles Bessey determined that with a little help, the terrain could support a forest. We stopped by the Bessey Arboretum where several million trees are rooted before being transplanted into the surrounding forest.
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The Scott Fire Lookout Tower is located in the Nebraska National Forest. We stopped and climbed the 75 steps to the top for some pretty outstanding views. Ran all the way up without breaking a sweat - not. LOL
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Without those planted trees of the Nebraska National Forest, this is what the Sand Hills terrain looks like. It is a vast, empty space of rolling prairie grass covered sand hills.

As we drove along the scenic route today we crossed over the windy Middle Loup River at least a dozen times. Never saw any outer Loups though. (And yes, I did spell it correctly!) The railroad seems to follow along the path of the river.
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Tomorrow we plan to continue our drive along the Nebraska Byway - Sand Hills Journey as we head north into South Dakota.
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Back at the campground the weather had cleared and we enjoyed a nice relaxing dinner and evening in the camper, thus completing our first week on the road.

Posted by JudyandTim2015 10:48 Comments (0)

2017 Happy Trails - Week 02

May 28 thru June 3 Nebraska, South Dakota and Montana

Map of Week 02 Travels:

Sunday, May 28

Drove 291 miles.
Route: NE2 west to US83 north to I90 west to Exit 109 at Wall, SD

Campground: Sleepy Hollow Campground Wall, SD $36.60

We were heading west into stiff winds today as we left the campground on NE2. Tim noticed on the truck display that we were only averaging 7.2 miles per gallon! When we reached the turnoff for US83 north we stopped at the Historic Marker there where we learned more interesting facts about the Sand Hills.

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The drive along US83 was quite beautiful even though there were no distinguishing features among the Sand Hills but barbed wire fencing, cattle, the ubiquitous water pump windmill, and occasionally a sole, lonely tree.

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Our next stop of the day was in the Valentine National Wildlife Refuge at the Sand Hill and Marsh Lakes Overlook where we hiked out to the Overlook to take a few pictures. Wow was it windy! I could hardly keep the camera steady. In fact some of the photos of the wildflowers were nothing but colorful blurs. Oh well.
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There are hundreds of lakes in the Sand Hills because the water table is so high. They make a wonderful estuary for the summering water fowl.
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When they say these are the "Sand Hills" they are not lying. This is a picture of the "soil" - it is pure sand. Nothing but prairie grass grows on it for miles and miles except near the lakes where there are a few trees and marsh grasses.
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On the trail from the overlook to the road.
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After passing through the Valentine National Wildlife Refuge we continued north on US83 into South Dakota, immediately coming to our first Indian village at the Rosebud Indian Reservation and Casino. Every single house (about 30 of them) was an identical little saltbox with a solar panel on the south side and all were painted a similar dull blue, green or pinkish shade. Depressing. The landscape changed from the Sand Hills of Nebraska to flat prairie as far as the eye can see.
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We continued a long day of driving proceeding west across South Dakota on I90 to Wall, SD, home of the famous Wall Drugs. We’ve been in this area of the country before and there is so much to see and do, but as the saying goes, “Been there. Done that.” There are the Black Hills, Mount Rushmore, the Crazy Horse Monument, Hill City, steam train ride to Deadwood, the Badlands, Custer State Park and Eye of the Needle and of course there is Sturgis. In fact now that I’m remembering all of this from our 2007 trip, we very well may come back this way on our way home when we have more time to spare. We really love this area of the country.

It was unbelievably windy when we stopped for the night and just as we were ready to set up camp it started to pour rain. But not to worry, it passed over in a short while and we were able to walk into town to the infamous Wall Drugs for the requisite souvenir retail therapy. LOL

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Monday, May 29th – Memorial Day

Drove 233 miles.
Route: I90 west from Wall, SD through Rapid City, SD to SD34 west at Whitewood, SD then thru NE corner of WY into SE corner of MT to US85 north connecting us to US212 west.

Campground: Wayside RV Park Broadus, MT $33.00

Once into Montana the scenery was beautiful. And there were antelopes! Hundreds of antelopes! At first we were each exclaiming, “Look, there’s an antelope!” and then eventually we only pointed out when we would spot a herd of them. LOL

I was taking pictures along the way but with no shoulder on the road we couldn’t pull over and it was a challenge to get a good shot - out the window of a moving truck around the side mirror with antelope off in the distance, trying to focus and at the same time get the horizon level.

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As we pulled into the campsite at the Wayside RV Park (a little Mom and Pop affair outside of the little town of Broadus, MT) we were greeted by this huge rabbit. Seriously, I think he was as big as Sprocket!
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We selected the end site (there were only 7 and all were vacant when we got there) which gave us a nice rural view out of the back and side window.
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Tim was going to take Sunshine for a walk but before he could get the leash on her she spotted another bunny and off she went! I thought we would never see her again. In this picture she is patiently waiting for a bunny to come visit with her. Note - she is tied securely to the table.
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Once settled in at the campground we did our WOD 3.1. After a short recovery (LOL) we backtracked a little on US212 in search of a few antelope to pose for pictures.
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We didn’t find any that would be still and pose but we did find something unique – a mama antelope with twins, off in the distance! Just a second after I got the shot, mama took off with the two little ones leaping along behind her. All I could see through the lens of the camera was one white butt bobbing up and down with two little white butts bobbing up and down behind her as they ran off over the hill. So cute!
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After our picture taking adventure we went into the little town of Broadus to the Stockman’s Club for dinner.
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They had an interesting "brand" display.
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Beef. It's what's for dinner.
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Tuesday, May 30th

Drove 345 miles.
Route: North on MT59 to Miles City, MT then I94 for 45 miles to Forsyth, MT and the Lewis and Clark Highway, US12 west.

Campground: Conestoga Campground White Sulphur Springs, MT $37.56

Had a wonderful day of driving through scenic MT off the beaten track. Of course we never really stay on the beaten track unless we have to, usually preferring to drive along the US and State Highways whenever possible, avoiding the Interstates unless there is no reasonable alternative (around and through big cities, for example). The US and State Highways afford the best opportunity to see the countryside and are usually the most pleasant for driving when towing the 5th wheel.

We had planned to continue our scenic drive west on US212 today but there was a detour sign just past the Wayside RV Park and local information was that the flagman delays for road construction ahead were significant. The detour led us to calculate an alternate route toward our destination of Whitefish, MT.

So we took the detour onto MT59 north to get to US12 west. The state road was in excellent condition, smooth going with no potholes, bumps or expansion joints in the concrete. The only downside was that it was a narrow road with no shoulders so there was no pulling off to take pictures. It was very remote – “How remote was it”, you ask. Well we drove 42 miles before we came to a single cross road or lane and that whole time we only passed 5 pickup trucks from the other direction and without a single vehicle coming up behind us! This is the wide open spaces for sure. As we drove along we crossed the Tongue River and the Yellowstone River. We saw many, many more antelope, two Great Horned Owls, our first Magpie, and our first Prairie Dog towns.

There were some areas where there were these brilliant white strips in the range. It wasn't sand as it was too sharp in its delineation from the surrounding prairie grass. White Clay maybe?
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Our first opportunity to pull over was at a crossroads for the remote town of Ingomar, MT. A little history was gleaned from a Historic Marker posted at the crossroads:

In 1908 Ingomar was the hub of commerce when the Milwaukee Road Railroad completed its line across Montana. There was no water however so the town relied on the Railroad to provide 22,000 gallon water tank cars each week for the townsfolk.
In 1909 the Enlarged Homestead Act encouraged settlers to stake 320 acre claims. An average of 2500 homestead filings per year took place between 1911 and 1917.

The area claimed the title of Sheep Shearing Capital of North America with 2 million pounds of wool per year shipped from Ingomar during the peak years of the 1910’s.

Three structures from the original settlement still stand – the original frame school house, Bookman’s Store and The Jersey Lilly Saloon, all on the National Register of Historic Places.

The plaque also states that today Ingomar is one of Montana’s most remote communities. Ya think?!?

While stopped we made lunch then took a few pictures before continuing on.
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I came across this Killdeer and took pictures of it as it pretended to be injured, flopping around on the ground leading me further and further from its nest.
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And off in the distance you can see the little town of Ingomar, MT. "Remote" hardly covers it.
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At Miles City, MT we turned onto I94 for 45 miles to Forsyth, MT where we then began our trek northwest on the Lewis and Clark Highway, US12. The landscape changed from the wide open spaces of the prairie to a more rocky terrain as we drove through a portion of the Lewis and Clark National Forest.
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At 2:15 pm we glimpsed our first snow covered peaks of the trip just to the north; map showed them to be the Big Snowy Mountains and the Little Snowy Mountains. Then just a little further along we saw the peaks of the Big Belt Mountains and the Little Belt Mountains.
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Except for the short drive on the Interstate, there was no cell coverage at all today so we couldn’t use our RV Parking app to locate a campground. We were getting a little fatigued having driven over 340 miles when we came to the small town of White Sulphur Springs, MT and saw our first blue campground sign (highway signs for campgrounds are blue with a trailer). Having no idea what to expect, but being tired and ready to stop for the night we decided to “go in blind”. Oh my goodness what a surprise! It was a beautiful RV Park. The sites were all huge, level pull-thru and the campground had excellent WIFI plus we had excellent cell coverage for the first time in days. What an unexpected treat.

This was one fancy rig parked next to us.
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Wednesday, May 31st

Drove 11 miles.
Route: Into town and back.

Campground: Conestoga Campground White Sulphur Springs $37.56

This is such a picturesque RV Park and the setting is so quiet and peaceful, we decided to relax and stay another night. We're located in the Smith River Valley with vistas to the south, to the west and to the north of snow covered mountains.
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We went into town for breakfast at the Branding Iron Café (not your typical yuppie café LOL) and later in the day did our WOD 3.2. We were both wondering why we were so out of breath with the jogging and the workout when we realized – it’s the altitude dummy! We were at just under 6000 feet. Let me tell you, it is no fun doing Burpees at 6000 feet!

Tim spent the afternoon washing the trailer while I updated the blog site. Yea for good internet access.

Thursday, June 1st

Drove 313 miles.
Route: US12 west to MT141 north to MT200 west then north on MT83 along the Clearwater River to Clearwater Junction, MT then west on US2 to US93 north into Whitefish, MT.

Campground: Whitefish RV Park Whitefish, MT $44.00

It was a chilly 37 degrees when we got up this morning. It seems the further west and north we go, the chillier it gets. Imagine that. LOL

We got a nice early start leaving the campground at 9:00 am, said goodbye to the Smith River Valley and the antelope peacefully grazing there, and drove through Helena National Forest to Townsend, MT and across the Missouri River. It was a scenic drive along the huge Canyon Ferry Lake (35 miles long) to Helena, the capitol of Montana.

We’ve not been through here before because the last time we camped in the area of Whitefish, MT we got there by way of Glacier National Park from the north. This time we’re coming in from the south. Of note (and not a good thing, I don’t think), Helena must have 100s of casinos. We passed at least 40 to 50 of them and we only drove through town on one street! Nasty.

After leaving Helena our drive took us through MacDonald Pass with snow covered mountains and we saw our first Bear Grass flowers. The mountain sides were covered in meadows of short Yellow Daisy’s and beautiful tall purple wildflowers. Even though it was a dreary, dark, overcast day the vistas were stunning.

Our drive took us along Nevada Lake on MT141 and along Clearwater River and then the Swan River as we drove along MT83 through the Seeley-Swan Wilderness Valley. Again there were no shoulders or places to pull over so pictures are sparse. There was one pull over at Summit Lake where we took a few.
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We stopped at a rest stop at the junction of MT200 and MT83 and learned from the historical marker there that Lewis and Clark first came to the valley in 1806 and it wasn’t until 1853 that another white man returned!

And we encountered our first bad road since leaving Kansas as we drove along a short stretch of US83 through logging country. Those logging trucks are murder on a highway – lots of big potholes.

Our destination over the last few days was the Whitefish RV Park in Whitefish, MT. Up the road a short distance on US93 will be our "jumping off" point for our entry into Canada. Before leaving the states we have just a few more things we need to take care of.

We stayed here at the Whitefish RV Park for a few days back in 2012 when we were exploring this area of the country on our way to attend the 100th year anniversary of the Calgary Stampede in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. It is one of the more "yuppified" areas of Montana with skiing nearby and of course Glacier National Park within view to the east. (Our previous visit is covered in our blog at http://www.judyandtim2012.travellerspoint.com Week 04.)

Friday, June 2nd

Drove 37 miles.
Route: North and South on US93 between Whitefish and Kalispell, MT.

Campground: Whitefish RV Park Whitefish, MT $44.00

While we didn’t do much driving today there still wasn’t a lot of relaxing as we had so many errands and things to attend to.
• 1st on the list was a visit to the Ford Dealership in town. The truck display panel behind the steering wheel had malfunctioned and we could not see any of the information, e.g. engine alerts, etc. including trip mileage which we record every day.
• 2nd on the list was a stop at Walgreens. Sprocket takes a painkiller pill everyday but as it is a “controlled substance” the pharmacy in Merritt Island would only give us a 30 day supply. We’ve been gone from home for almost a month and he’s almost out of medication. The nice pharmacist here in Whitefish said he thought he could get an approval to give us the entire prescription amount, 75 pills (Sprocket takes ½ pill per day) total. Sure enough when we came back he had filled the entire prescription. I love “can do” people!
• I’ve been having trouble with one of my hearing aid rechargeable batteries not holding a charge so a visit to the Audiologist was in order. Such nice people and the batteries cost half what I paid in Merritt Island!
• We made a visit to the AT&T store to purchase Passport Service in order to be able to make and receive calls while in Canada. Turns out we got a better deal changing our plan to “unlimited data”/text/and call plan which includes access in Canada and Mexico. I put it in quotations because AT&T reserves the right to slow down the data speed after 22 gigabytes of streamed data per month. Not sure how many movies that might be.
• When we stopped for the night last night we found that the TV in the bedroom was not working. After taking it apart Tim found that the TV had blown a solder in a fuse on the power board. Nothing to do but get a new TV. So off we went to Walmart, then Best Buy. (We needed a 28 inch to be able to reuse the mounting bracket and Walmart doesn’t carry one that size.) While purchasing the TV we also decided to get an Apple Lightning AV Adapter and a HDMI cable so we can now get Netflix while on the road. Yeah!
• We placed orders with Amazon Prime as we are planning on being here for two more days, and since we have excellent cell service here we did a lot of other housekeeping online using my iPhone as a hotspot.

It was a very busy day but in the end, lots was accomplished to prepare us for the rest of our trip through Canada into Alaska.

After all was done we went into the quaint town of Whitefish and had the most wonderful dinner of the trip so far at a small Italian restaurant, Ciao Mamba’s. We brought home enough leftovers for a week! (Well, maybe less.) No cooking tomorrow that’s for sure!

Saturday, June 3rd

Drove miles.
Route: Into town and back a few times.

Campground: Whitefish RV Park Whitefish, MT $44.00

Finally, a warm sunny day. Tim finished up with some of the chores from yesterday. It turns out that while the new TV screw holes were a match for the TV mounting bracket, the HDMI receptacles were covered by the bracket so Tim had to go buy a hacksaw and some fender washers so he could cleverly rework the mounting bracket. Meanwhile I worked up the blog for Week 02.

And like good little bunnies, we both did WOD 3.3.

Tim having cocktails and hors d'oerves with Sunshine and Sprocket.
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Tomorrow we set out for entry into Canada so there was some research to be done in the evening. Our crutch, the RV Parking app, does not cover campgrounds in Canada so we’re having to do a little more planning in advance. We’ll see how that goes. Stay tuned. And Happy Trails!

Posted by JudyandTim2015 07:27 Comments (0)

2017 Happy Trails - Week 03

British Columbia into Alberta and Icefields Parkway thru Banff National Forest and Jasper National Forest

Map of Week 03 Travels:

Sunday, June 4th

Drove 150 miles.

Route: North on US 93 to Roosville Port of Entry border crossing station; then north on Canada Hwy 93 to Fort Steele, British Columbia

Campground: Fort Steele Resort and RV Park $42.00 Canadian

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Hooked up and ready to say goodbye to the US as we begin our trek north.

We left Whitefish, MT this morning at 10am and shortly after beginning our drive, we passed a herd of deer right by the side of the two lane highway. Luckily they didn’t leap out in front of us as we drove by at 65 mph! Shortly after it began raining so not many pictures to speak of.

We crossed the border at 11:25am. It took less than 5 minutes to get through the normal border process but another 15 minutes to declare the firearm. They never even asked about the dogs or the booze.
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Canadian Border Crossing at Roosville, BC

We arrived at the Fort Steele Resort and RV Park and were elated to find it was a beautiful campground with large, full hookup sites and a million dollar view of the Canadian Rockies. Unfortunately clouds were obscuring the mountain tops and shortly after arriving the rain set in.
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Official Campground Greeter – a Prairie Dog!

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Deer on the hill behind our site; there are also horses and donkeys in the corral at the bottom of the hill.
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Sunshine was mesmerized by the Prairie Dogs.

We drove into the nearby city of Cranbrook, BC for a late lunch (which became even later as we got lost in town.)

Monday, June 5th

Drove 75 miles.

Route: Scenic drive north on Hwy 93 through Kootenay Valley along the Kootenay River

Campground: Fort Steele Resort and RV Park $42.00

We woke up to a clear, beautiful morning with gorgeous views of the Canadian Rockies from our campsite.

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View from our campsite.

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Our “Big Box of Things That Break” nestled in the trees.

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Prairie Dogs

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Sunshine on the hunt!

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Emu near the campground.

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Here’s looking at you, Emu!

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Emu eating grain seed heads.

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Clear sunny day but clouds still covering snowy peaks.

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Panorama shot of view from our campground site.

Later in the morning the clouds cleared the mountains. What a view! Wow!
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We saw some spectacular views both of the Rocky Mountains to the east and the Purcell Mountains to the west as we drove north thru the Kootenay Valley. The Kootenay River itself was pretty impressive also. It is a very, very swift river full of silt; dangerous looking, not something you would try to wade into!

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Bridge over Kootenay River with Canadian Rockies in the background.

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Kootenay River

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Early evening view from our “BBOTTB” when we returned from our drive.

Tuesday, June 6th

Drove 103 miles.

Route: Hwy 93 north from Fort Steele, BC to Radium Hot Springs, BC.

Campground: Canyon RV Resort on Sinclair Creek $48.83

Before leaving Fort Steele, BC for what was going to be a short day of driving north to Radium Hot Springs, BC, we decided to take advantage of the beautiful weather and tour the Fort Steele Heritage Town where the Fort Steele Mounted Police barracks and the restored town are located.

The origin of Fort Steele is closely linked to the discovery of gold in nearby Wild Horse Creek (a tributary to the Kootenay River) in the 1860’s. The gold rush peaked in 1865 when over 5000 prospectors combed the hills. As time passed disputes over land rights between the local Ktunaxa First Nation population and the newcomers would arise. The North West Mounted Police were sent in to resolve the problems. They established the first post west of the Rockies, the Kootenay Post, later to be renamed Fort Steele in honor of Mounted Police Superintendent Samuel B. Steele.

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Kootenay Post

There are 61 structures in the Heritage Town but the first thing to catch our eyes when we entered the park were these beautiful black Clydesdale horses used for carriage rides through the town and around the countryside.
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At Fort Steele Heritage Town the pets have their own entrance. LOL
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People entrance.
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An interesting Nubian Burro – a breed of Burro that has a cross on its back.
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Tim observing work hands hitching up Clydesdales
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Clydesdales’ pristine Stables
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View of the Kootenay River which borders Fort Steele Heritage Town on two sides.
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Tours are given by guides dressed up in period attire and the commentary is done as if they were reporting on 1890’s current events.
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Along with dozens of restored and original buildings, the town site also has many machines of the period on display.
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This Michigan Logging Wheel was invented by Silas C. Overpack in 1870. It enabled a single team of horses to carry logs up to 100 feet long across this difficult terrain.
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There was also a demonstration of gold panning with an original Assayers Office building.
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There were at least three restored churches.
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There was the original bakery building with a story illuminating its significance; beside it was the bakery building restored, which is where we ate lunch – Farmer Sausages and Cinnamon Buns washed down with Fort Steele Mountain Ale, made to the original recipe. Yummy!
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There were 5 streets, lined with original as well as restored structures. This original 1912 Willicome House was but one.
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This house was furnished with period antiques.
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Singer Sewing Machine – We have an identical Singer stand repurposed into a washstand in our guest bathroom at home in Florida!

Other photos taken along the tour:
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A huge Water Wheel

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Water Tower

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The Fort Steele Heritage Site also is home to an interesting Ice Museum. Here we see iron fossil replicas of Mastodon and Wooly Mammoth.
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This is the actual size of beavers as shown by fossils from the Ice Age. Huuuge!
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One display showed many fossil plants, insects, mollusks, fish, frogs, birds, and 12 species of mammals found on Ellesmere Island in the Strathcona Fiord, today just a treeless, frozen wasteland, but 4 million years ago the Artic climate was much milder with a boreal forest ecosystem similar to that found in Labrador today. So much for man induced global warming, eh?
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Along the scenic drive up Hwy 93 from Fort Steele to our destination of Radium Hot Springs, BC we came to the spring fed Columbia Lake, which is the source of the Columbia River, the 4th largest river system by volume in the continent!
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The Columbia River Wetlands designated a Protected Wildlife Management Area by the government in 1996 are to the north of the lake. They stretch 180 km from Canal Flats to Donald, BC, and are the longest, continuous, developed wetlands in North America.

The views were just spectacular!
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The Canyon RV Resort on Sinclair Creek was our destination and it turned out to be a “resort” in reality! This is the first campground so far in our travels this summer where I could actually sit outside in my rocking chair and have a cup of tea! It was quite beautiful and Sprocket especially enjoyed having the soft grass for his walks. (Of course he insisted that I carry him across the stony road. LOL) Sunshine was equally impressed as the hill that was immediately behind our site was home to many Prairie Dogs.
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Sinclair Creek winds through the campground; there are little wooden bridges that you have to drive the RV over - scary.

Once we set up camp, we backtracked a few km to the town of Invermere, BC where we located a CIBC (Canadian bank) to pick up our Canadian National Parks Pass which allows free entry into all Canadian National Parks. The pass is free this year in honor of the 150th anniversary of the Confederation of Canada. Something like our 4th of July Independence Day, but not. LOL

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Rusty the Moose, made from old rusty engine parts, saws, horseshoes, whatever!

While in town we bought some local beer and wine at a liquor store (quite an experience – ask Tim) and then had a latte at The Blue Dog Coffee Café.
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Caesar mix as opposed to Bloody Mary mix; I guess it has something to do with insulting the Queen. And I had to buy this Rigamarole wine because the label was so funny. “Why is it always such a RIGAMAROLE to simply find a great drinking RED? The puzzling complexity of terroir, oak ageing, vintages, and those ridiculous descriptors is just too much. Save that mental energy for WORKING OUT THE DANCE ROUTINE OF THE BLACK RHINO…”

We stopped in a Canadian Fresh Express grocery store which in itself was an interesting experience – all different brands than what we’re used to and everything, and I mean everything down to the tiniest item is labeled in both English and French. This is true of all their road signs as well. It can be very confusing as you drive along trying to find your way – too many words to read!

Another sideline – when we went to fill up the truck with diesel before departing, the attendant kept getting a “declined” message for our credit card. Tim contacted VISA and they said they didn’t show any declined messages but they suggested we get a “vacation” note on our account since we would be travelling out of the country and to Alaska. We didn’t have enough Canadian cash to pay that way so the attendant was forced to call in his boss to see what could be done to remedy our situation. It turns out that it wasn’t our card that was being denied but that the ESSO Gas Station company internet was down and could only process Canadian cards, not US cards (which require a conversion from Canadian dollars to US dollars). So the workaround was to use the ATM machine in the gas station, get enough Canadian cash out of it to then pay in cash. I had an ice cream cone while this was going on but I didn’t get to enjoy it much. The steam coming out of Tim’s ears melted it.

Wednesday, June 7th

Drove 105 miles.

Route: Hwy 93 through a narrow tunnel and the rocky cliff lined Sinclair Pass at 1486 m and then along Vermillion Crossing and thru the Vermillion Pass at 1650 m in Kootenay National Park.

Campground: Tunnel Mountain Village 1 $42.95

This route along Hwy 93 through the Kootenay National Park encompasses a huge valley on either side of the Kootenay River.
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Kootenay River

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The entire Hwy 93 thru Vermillion Crossing was lined with 6 to 8 foot high fencing. Along the way there were many places with tunnels under the highway for wildlife crossings.

Vermillion Pass took us across the Continental Divide and out of British Columbia into Alberta, Wild Rose Country and the Banff National Forest.
Along the way at 12:05 pm we had our first bear sighting! We passed a huge black, Black Bear eating dandelions along the side of the highway. Nowhere to pull over for pictures unfortunately so you’ll have to take my word for it.

In Banff Hwy 93 combines with the Trans Canadian Highway which we took to the east with our destination being the Tunnel Mountain Village 1 Campground in Banff, AL. Our route guidance system in the truck, which I affectionately call “Blathering Betty”, took us through downtown Banff to get to the campground! It was not pleasant and of course after arriving we learned that had we gone just one more exit on the Trans Canadian Highway we would have been able to drive almost immediately into the campground. Live and learn.

After registering and stopping to fill the water tank (this is our first night of “dry camping” in the BBOTTB, i.e., no hookups,) we went to the site and set up.

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Campsite at Tunnel Mountain Village 1 and the view from our campsite of the huge mountains surrounding us.

Around 2:00 pm we were sitting outside having lunch when first a Red Fox and then a big mama Elk trotted by. Of course my camera was still in the truck. They both came to within 50 feet of us. But a bit later another elk walked by!
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mama Elk

I love this site. It is on the back edge of the entire campground with just forest behind us and the sites are at least 100 feet apart so there is no one close, just critters and trees.

Later we drove back into Banff to the Visitors Center to get maps of the National Forests. While in town we stopped at the rooftop Rose and Crown Pub for a beer and appetizers. The weather was great and the scenery was gorgeous.

Mountains surround Banff, as seen from the rooftop of the Rose and Crown Pub.
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Back at the campground Tim built a nice fire (firewood is free in honor of the Confederation anniversary) and we roasted hot dogs over the open fire for a real camping experience.
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An elk calf came close by the campsite, watched us for a while, and then kneeled down in the grass for a nap. So cute.
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Elk Calf

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Calf kneeling down to take a nap

Later mama showed up again. We think it was the same one because of the collar. Do they all wear collars? Maybe it’s an Elk fashion thing here in Canada.
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You can tell an Elk from a Deer not only by its size but also by its distinctive rump.
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Thursday, June 8th

Drove 179 miles.

Route: Scenic drive north on the Bow Valley Road to the Trans Canadian Highway west, and back again.

Campground: Tunnel Mountain Village 1 $42.95

Today our scenic drive (without the trailer) began with us driving north on Hwy 1A, the Bow Valley Road in search of critters. We were skunked! No critters to be found. It was very pretty though and we were able to pull over a few times for pictures. Unfortunately the weather was not cooperating; it was a dreary day.

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Castle Mountain

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Storm Mountain

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Bow River – Back in 2012 when we came up to Alberta to the 100th anniversary of the Calgary Stampede, we camped alongside the Bow River.

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Panorama shot of the Bow River

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RR as well as the highway follow the path of the river.

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Day was becoming increasingly overcast.

At the end of the Bow Valley Road we turned onto the Trans Canadian Highway west across the Continental Divide via the Kicking Horse Pass into Yoho National Park.

One of the interesting sights along the way were the railway Spiral Tunnels.

There is an upper spiral tunnel and a lower spiral tunnel. It is an engineering marvel whereby the grade is accomplished by tunneling into the mountainside and making a huge circle underground that runs back over itself before exiting the mountainside! Before this arrangement in the route, there was a 4.5% grade that the steam locomotives would inch their way up and the descent trip was a nightmare with wrecks and runaway trains common.
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Spiral Tunnels

After stretching our legs a bit we proceeded on to the next stop on our agenda, the Kicking Horse River Natural Bridge. The power of the water flowing under the natural bridge was astounding.

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Kicking Horse River Natural Bridge

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Kicking Horse River Valley

Emerald Lake was our next destination. The site is similar to Lake Louise (which we visited in 2012, so were skipping it this trip) with beautiful turquoise water from a melting glacier, just not as big as Lake Louise and not surrounded by the same breathtaking views of the mountains.

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We had packed a picnic lunch before our departure this morning and the plan was to hike a little ways to a picnic area here at Emerald Lake. No longer had we set the cooler down on a picnic table than it began to pour! The dogs ran under the table but there was no helping Tim and me. Luckily we both were wearing raincoats with hoods so we weren’t any worse for the experience, just cold and wet.

We finished lunch in the truck and then drove on along the Trans Canadian Highway west to our ultimate destination for the day trip – the Wapta Falls on the Kicking Horse River. Somehow we missed the turnoff (if there even is one when you’re heading west) and there was nowhere to turn around once we realized we had driven way too far. We were almost into Golden, BC before we were able to exit and get directions.

Note: We’ve been on the Trans Canadian Highway before in 2012 and it isn’t anything like a US Interstate. In fact, we got lost driving through Calgary for about a half a day! There are no informational road signs telling you how far to the next exit (sorte) nor what it is, and the exits are very few and far between. You just suddenly come to a sign, so and so exit 1 km. And this is on a 100 km/hour highway!

The directions for getting to Wapta Falls that I got from a worker at the rest stop were to drive east until we saw some rafts and a sign for raft trips and to turn off the highway there. So we did. The road we turned onto was an unmaintained gravel road at least a mile long, full of deep muddy potholes. The truck looked like we had been mud bogging but it was a good excuse for Tim to use the 4 wheel drive!

The Wapta Falls were not at the end of the road however; they were only to be found after a 45 minute hike down and around the mountain, so the posted sign said. Oh well. “In for a penny, in for a pound”, as the English say. So off we went.
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Beginning of the trail to the Wapta Falls.

It looks like a nice easy gravel walk, right? Wrong! About 300 m in there was no more gravel, just a muddy, tree rooted trail. It was very strenuous meandering up and down the mountainside and it wasn’t too long after we started that it began to drizzle. I was wearing hiking sandals. Not the best choice as the trail was full of mud, roots and puddles. But we weren’t going to let a little trail defeat us! So we continued onward.

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The trail

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After 30 minutes into the hike we got our first glimpse of the Kicking Horse River through the deep forest, but still no falls.

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We finally reach the Overlook

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Wapta Falls

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Flowers seen along the trail.

Just before we got back to the truck, we were probably within 200 m, the drizzle turned into a driving downpour. We ran the last few meters. The thermometer in the truck showed the exterior temperature had dropped to 37 degrees while we’d been on our hike!

As we drove back to the campground from our adventure, the driving rain became driving sleet and was accompanied by huge wind gusts and bolts of lightning. It was a harrowing drive but it did wash most of the mud off the truck.

Friday, June 9th

Drove 183 miles.

Route: Trans Canadian Highway north to the Icefields Parkway north to Jasper, AB.

Campground: Whistlers Campground $34.15

Before breaking camp this morning Tim had to run into town not only to gas up after yesterday’s excursion but also to visit a hardware store. During the night while the storm was howling outside the BBOTTB, we were sleeping as peacefully as is possible in the midst of a storm, when there was this loud crash. I yelled “What was that?” as we both sat straight up in bed. Assuming something had crashed down on the trailer roof, there was nothing to be done but to go back to sleep. The next morning Tim went up on the roof to see if there was damage and found that the drain vent cover was missing and all of the caulking around the vent was gone. This had nothing to do with the loud crash in the night but still needed tending. And anticipating that we were going to need to use the generator soon, Tim also needed to get a funnel for refilling it. So it was after 10:45 am before we were actually on the road.

Our plan for today was to leave the Trans Canadian Highway and Banff National Forest to drive north along the Icefields Parkway (still highway 93) in Jasper National Park. This drive is credited by National Geographic as being one of the top 10 most scenic drives in the world! We were so looking forward to it but the weather was terrible. The forecast was calling for temperatures in the 20’s and snow and we didn’t want to waste any time making our way over the mountain passes to get to our next campground.

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All along the Trans Canadian Highway the government has installed wildlife overpasses for the migrating critters.

We reached the Icefields Parkway at 11:45 am. Shortly after getting on the parkway we came to a snow avalanche – one with trees brought down with the snow on both sides of the highway.

And then there on the side of the road we spotted a black bear. This time we were able to pull to the side of the road and take a picture but he was so busy eating dandelions, he wouldn’t even look up for a photo.
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Black Bear

We passed beautiful azure colored Bow Lake and Bow Glacier and noticed the lake was just beginning to thaw. As we drove over Bow Summit, altitude 6809 feet, the weather took a turn for the worse with the temperature dropping to 42 degrees as we drove into the clouds and drizzle.
The next gorgeous vista was at Parker Ridge but it was now a full downpour so no more pictures were to be had.

We stopped to view the Athabasca Glacier at the turnoff for the Columbia Ice Fields and took time to eat lunch at the Chalet restaurant with a beautiful view looking out over the glacier.

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Athabasca Glacier

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People up on the glacier.

It was getting colder by the moment and still raining so we decided we would just proceed to our campground and on a better viewing day, return for pictures and a tour of the Ice Fields.

We did spot a Bull Elk off to the side of the parkway as we drove down from the Columbia Ice Fields summit. It was still in velvet.
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Bull Elk

We checked into the Whistlers Campground just south of the town of Jasper, AB. They warned us to be careful because there had been a lot of bear sightings. We were happy it stopped raining long enough to get set up because it was a difficult site to back into. We are “dry camping” here the same as we were at the Village, so there isn’t as much to connect. The site itself is not as spacious as the one at Tunnel Mountain Village 1, it doesn’t have a fire pit, nor does it have heated restrooms. So I’m a little disappointed. No pictures of the campsite until the rain stops.

Saturday, June 10th

Drove 24 miles.

Route: Into and around the town of Jasper and back.

Campground: Whistlers Campground $34.15

Today was a lost day. It was freezing cold (27 degrees when we got up this morning) and freezing rain all night long and all day until late afternoon. I kept busy sorting through the many photos of the past week and Tim had a puzzle to solve.

Yes, the BBOTTB is giving him another challenge! This one is quite serious though. Last evening before we went to bed the battery alarm went off. That means that the battery is dangerously low on power. The gas heater fan draws a lot of current but still, both batteries should have been fully charged by the drive up here from Banff. Hmmm. So Tim had to go out in the cold, freezing rain and switch over to a second battery. Then around 4:30 am the alarm for the second battery went off! It was in the low 20’s outside so this is not a good thing that’s happening. Now we have no heat. We’re cold! And campground rules are that you cannot run a generator except between 8:00 am to 9:30 am and 5:00 pm to 7:00 pm.

Tim worked on the problem all day today without success. He found a blown fuse in the truck in the circuitry that runs power from the truck to the BBOTTB’s batteries and thought that must be the problem. He made a trip to the hardware store in Jasper where he purchased another fuse but after installing it in the truck and checking the voltage at the trailer batteries while the truck was running, there was still no charge.

Then he thought maybe it was a problem with the batteries so one by one he disconnected them and drove into town to have them checked. They both checked out fine. So that’s not the problem.

He’s been doing a lot of online research (thank goodness for Google) but can’t find any information on the connection between the “black wire” bringing 12 volt DC into the trailer, to the batteries where the energy is stored for use when we’re dry camping.

It is looking more and more like the “black” charging wire from the truck was never hooked up to anything; it just disappears into the trailer! Tim cannot find anywhere that it is actually connected to anything. The rest of the wires that come in from the truck that cause the tail lights, brake lights, turn signals, etc. to work all run to the rear of the trailer and those all work. But where the “black wire” goes is a complete mystery.

Meanwhile, Judy is very cold…

Posted by JudyandTim2015 19:40 Comments (0)

2017 Happy Trails - Week 04

June 11 thru June 17 - Jasper National Forest and Dawson Creek

Map of Week 04 Travels:

Sunday, June 11

Drove 12 miles.

Route: Into the town of Jasper, AB and back a couple of times.

Campground: Whistlers Campground, Jasper National Forest (dry camping) $27.40

The main thing on our minds this morning was the BBOTTB’s electrical issue whereby the batteries are not being charged as we tow with the truck. Tim has concluded that there never was a connection between the truck and the batteries in the RV! We’ve never dry camped before so there has never been any indication that the batteries were not being charged as we travelled.

Tim has investigated thoroughly how the connection should be made, drawing wiring schematics of the trailer, etc., and he has decided to do the job himself. He had to buy wire and a wire cutter/crimper/etc. There’s nowhere in town with the correct type of wire so he’s having to make do.

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The temperature was in the 30’s with a slight drizzle all day but he was fortunate because the picnic table (which he was using as a workbench) was under the awning and most of the wiring work was underneath the overhang for the hitch. But it was cold work and it took all morning. We won't be certain that this fixes the problem until we have a test run with the trailer plugged into the truck.

While he was outside an Elk cow wandered by. I caught a few pictures.
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At one point the Elk lifted her head suddenly on the alert! Just then a herd of deer ran behind her in the forest. After they passed she resumed her munching.
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Tim taking a break to watch the Elk.

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Our campsite in the cold drizzle at Whistlers.

Later in the afternoon when there was a slight break in the rain we drove back into Jasper for a late lunch and a look around the shops in town. It is a nice little town, primarily a summer place for tourists and campers like ourselves, but nothing as crowded as the Banff and the area around Lake Louise. That place is a nightmare!

Monday, June 12

Drove 363 miles. (Don’t even ask!) Without the trailer.

Route: South on Hwy 93 to 93A (an alternate back route down part of the Icefield Parkway) then back on Hwy 93, the Icefield Parkway to the Columbia Icefield and then on south to Banff; return trip on Hwy 93, Icefield Parkway.

Campground: Whistlers Campground, Jasper National Forest $27.40

We woke up thing morning to a bright sunny day! This is the first really nice weather we’ve had since leaving Radium Hot Springs, BC. The temperature even rose to sweatshirt level!

We checked the weather forecast last night and saw it was predicted to be nice so we decided to stay another day at the campground here. This way we can take a scenic drive back along the Icefield Parkway when the mountains aren’t obscured by clouds and without towing the trailer so we can pull into more of the overlooks. It was a gorgeous day for a drive.

We had just set out when an alarm came up on the truck display. I am not going to get into all the gory details here (multiple problems interacting – ask Tim if you must) but we ended up having to drive all the way south to Banff before we could get to a gas station that had what he needed to take care of the issues. Very stressful and NOT what we had planned for the day, let me tell you.

Somehow we did manage to take quite a few beautiful pictures and we were lucky to see wildlife – bears, elk, deer, and even mountain goats! It was a glorious day for a scenic drive and we had packed a picnic lunch to have along the way.
Our lunch spot at Coleman Creek
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Along the way we did quite a bit of hiking to the various falls and overlooks. This is typical of the "trails". LOL Good thing Fernando has whipped us both in to shape!
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On the drive back north after the truck was healed, we stopped at the Columbia Icefield Center and ate dinner at the dining room there. It was a beautiful setting looking out over the Athabasca Glacier with the late evening sun shining on a few areas of the surrounding mountains.
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Spectacular view from our table in the Altitude Restaurant at the Columbia Icefield Center. Looking at this picture, can’t you just hear the theme from Alfred Hitchcock playing in the background? LOL
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Pictures of the Day:

Athabascan River on Hwy 93 just across from Whistlers Campground
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Sunshine's favorite touring seat. LOL

Portal Creek along Hwy 93A
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Astoria River – along Hwy 93A
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Scenic Overlook – along Hwy 93A
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Athabasca Falls
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The rest of the pictures were taken as noted along our drive on the Icefield Parkway, Hwy 93.
Athabasca River Overlook
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Sunwapta Falls
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Sunwapta River Overlook
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Tangle Creek Roadside Waterfall
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Athabasca Glacier at Columbia Icefield Center Overlook
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Coleman Creek (where we ate our picnic lunch)
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Bear Sighting along Icefield Parkway in Jasper National Forest
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Waterfowl Lake
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Bow Lake at Num-Ti-Jah Lodge
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Bow Lake – upper end still frozen
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Bear Sighting along Icefield Parkway in Banff National Forest
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View from Parker Ridge
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Mountain Goats along Icefield Parkway just north of Icefield Center
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Rock Avalanche - It stretches for miles
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Tuesday, June 13

Drove 13 miles.

Route: A couple of trips into town and back.

Campground: Whistlers Campground $27.40

Early afternoon Dee and Dan arrived. They have really been boogying down the road to make it to Dawson Creek, BC by June 15th. With the delays Tim and I have experienced with the RV wiring issue and the truck problems, they caught up with us earlier than expected. We’ve been planning this trip for a couple of years and it is finally all coming together. Our friends Tiffany and Jim elected to head on down the road, so it looks like “Happy Trails” is going to be a short little caravan.

After a toast to good luck on the trail, we went into the town of Jasper to a little restaurant Tim and I had scoped out earlier in the week – the Something Else Steakhouse. We had thought it was Italian (it smelled soooo good when we stopped in) but it turns out it is a Greek restaurant. Fortunately everyone could find something on the menu they liked and it was delicious! (Tim and I both made two meals out of our dinners.)

On the way to dinner we saw a herd of elk right in the campground. I’ve got enough pictures of elk already, and Dee and Dan are used to having huge herds come by their place in Colorado, so we didn’t stop for more pictures.

Tim hooked up the truck to the BBOTTB to check that his electrical work from yesterday had fixed the problem and……uh oh. It still isn’t registering increased voltage at the batteries when the truck is running. Oh boy.

Wednesday, June 14

Drove 140 miles.

Route: From Jasper, AB we drove northeast on Hwy 16 to the Big Horn Hwy 40 north to Grande Cache, AB.

Campground: Cache Municipal Campground $34.00

Tim woke up this morning with one last idea of what to change in the wiring and hooray! It worked. I’m so relieved. So we packed up and left Jasper, AB around 11:00am.

As we entered the town of Grande Cache, AB we came to a Visitor’s Center, so we stopped in to get directions to the Municipal Campground. The woman at the desk was so helpful we felt like we had struck gold and we’re not even in Alaska yet! She asked where we were headed and then proceeded to load us up with maps pamphlets, booklets, magazines – everything we’d need to guide us on our way.

She not only highlighted a map for us leading us to the municipal campground but also gave is directions on the best route thru the city of Grand Prairie to Dawson Creek, our next stop. She cautioned us about getting fuel in Grand Prairie before leaving Alberta province for Dawson Creek, BC because fuel is so much more expensive in British Columbia. And then she also recommended we be sure to fuel up in Fort Nelson because it is a long trek between stations from that point on; all good info.

We followed her directions to the campground (full hookups – yea!). It took a number of right, then left, then right, etc. through the town but fortunately the route was well signed (we’re finding that is unusual here in Canada). A rain storm arrived while we were in the Visitors’ Center so Tim and Dan had the task of setting up camp in the rain.

But the rain didn’t last long and the campsite was a nice huge pull through with lots of trees around so the dogs enjoyed the smells on their walks.
After hosting cocktails and hors d’oerves in the BBOTTB, we cooked dinner and enjoyed a relaxing evening with our friends.

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Grande Cache Municipal Campground Site

Thursday, June 15

Drove 200 miles.

Route: We got back on the Big Horn Highway 40 north to Highway 43 west around Grande Prairie, AB then northwest to Tupper, AB onto Hwy 2 north to Pouce Coupe then west into Dawson Creek.

Campground: Northern Lights RV Park $45.00

It was 26 degrees when we woke up this morning. Brrr.

About two thirds of the way along the Big Horn Highway to Grand Prairie, the ambience changed from one of heavily forested mountains with periodic logging trucks rumbling along, to one reminiscent of our visit to Williston, ND back in 2012 – Oil and Natural Gas rigs everywhere! We entered lightly forested prairie with one oil tanker truck after another zooming along Big Horn Highway in both directions. It was like rush hour in a big city, but out in the middle of nowhere with all of the vehicles being some sort of either huge tanker or earth mover or construction vehicle, and none of them even came close to obeying the speed limit.

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The landscape changed from heavily forested mountains to prairie.
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We were driving along in the midst of all this when one of the tankers coming in the opposite direction threw a rock that hit our truck smashing a hole in the right side of the windshield and covering us both with slivers of glass. Tim said it was a lucky thing we were both wearing sun glasses because our faces were covered. Glass was everywhere, even in my shoe! We came to a rest stop on the highway not long after and were able to brush off and calm down.

We stopped in Grande Prairie as the nice lady at the Visitor Center had recommended and fueled up at a Shell Station. It was a little tight getting the BBOTTB through the station; Tim had to back up and make a couple of passes and we had to purposefully pull up over a curb, but with Dan directing, it all worked out okay. This is why we have the 50 gallon diesel tank so we typically drive all day and only fuel up after dropping the fifth wheel at a campground.

Google earth saved us on the last leg of the trip today because the clerk I spoke with at the campground was obviously “map challenged”. Don’t you just love it when people don’t know the names of any of the streets and give directions like, “once you come to town, just go a few traffic lights and turn left where the Walmart is then after about 3 or 4 miles turn left again and you should see the campground off in the distance.” Of course she neglected to mention that you only see the Walmart on the right after you’ve already passed thru the intersection where you were supposed to turn left – too late for any turns. Aghhh. But the Google map app got us to the campground without issue.

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Dawson Creek off in the distance as we drove into town.

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Our camp site at the Northern Lights RV Park.

Friday, June 16

Drove 10 miles.

Route: In to town and back a few times.

Campground: Northern Lights RV Park $45.00

Today was purely a “maintenance day”. I had a hair appointment and also a pedicure. Tim got the truck windshield replaced and vacuumed the glass out of the truck. And I did four weeks’ worth of laundry!

This afternoon though we did manage to fit in a trip to the Alaska Highway Mile “0” Post in the center of town for pictures.

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And as luck would have it we stumbled upon the Alaska Highway House on the corner. We stopped in and enjoyed touring the museum’s many carefully preserved artifacts. We also watched a wonderfully informative full-feature PBS documentary film on the construction of the Alaska Highway which was done as part of the war effort in 1942.

The Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor in 1941 forced the American and Canadian governments to re–evaluate the security of North America. They needed a secure supply route to haul military goods and materials from the lower states to Alaska and it had to be completed in less than one year.
Even with today’s equipment, the project would be challenging. But in 1942 the harsh climate, crude equipment and hardships of the land made the reality and scope of the project unbelievable.

Permafrost, muskeg, mosquitoes, gnats and extreme cold were common problems. In the summer months, the insects were so horrific that the men wore netting at all times. And then came one of the earliest and coldest autumns ever recorded. Harsh temperatures of -70 degrees froze lubricants, seized transmissions, and snapped axles.

After watching the movie, we all agreed – we needed to go out and find mosquito netting covered hats! We tried Walmart but no luck. Later we were directed to a nice sporting goods store, Corlane’s where we had success and bought 4 of them. Now we’re prepared!

This year is the 75th anniversary of the building of the Alaska Highway. Here are some quick facts:
• The highway stretches 1523 miles from Dawson Creek to Fairbanks;
• 11,000 US troops worked on the construction;
• 16,000 civilians, both American and Canadian, worked on the construction;
• 133 bridges were constructed;
• 8,000 culverts were installed;
• and all of this was completed in 8 months, 12 days!!!
Unbelievable!

Saturday, June 17

Drove 8 miles.

Route: Drove into town for fuel and groceries and back; rode with Dan and Dee for our drive to the Kiskatanaw Bridge and to the Grain Elevator Art Gallery.

Campground: Northern Lights RV Park $45.00

Today we visited an interesting Art Museum housed in one of the original 1920’s era Grain Elevators that was saved from destruction by a local artists’ group. In the 1930’s, Alberta Province and specifically Dawson Creek was hailed as the grain capital of the world. It was home to 11 grain elevators. By 1984 only one remained.

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There was a beautiful flower garden out in front of the building. Look at the size of those mums! They're almost as big as Dee!

This last remaining grain elevator was renovated and now houses original works of art as well as high quality locally made crafts. It is a “one-of-a-kind” art gallery with a ramp that spirals up and around the interior lined with works of art; then the stairwell back down is lined with vintage photographs that tell the story of the construction of the highway.
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Next door to the Grain Elevator Art Gallery is another museum with more artifacts from the 1940’s.
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Next we left Dawson Creek and drove 20 miles north on the Alaska Highway to where a loop of the original route of the Alaska Highway exits. We followed the loop to the site of the first bridge, the Kiskatinaw Bridge – the only original wooden bridge still in use today.
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Kiskatinaw Bridge

We ended the day planning out our day tomorrow when we will actually begin our drive along the historic Alaskan Highway. We’ve been on the road for 4 weeks and now the trip officially begins!
“North, to Alaska! We’re going north, the rush is on.”

Posted by JudyandTim2015 00:28 Comments (0)

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