A Travellerspoint blog

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.


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.

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.

Tim taking a break to watch the Elk.

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

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!

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.

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

Pictures of the Day:

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

Portal Creek along Hwy 93A

Astoria River – along Hwy 93A

Scenic Overlook – along Hwy 93A

Athabasca Falls

The rest of the pictures were taken as noted along our drive on the Icefield Parkway, Hwy 93.
Athabasca River Overlook

Sunwapta Falls

Sunwapta River Overlook

Tangle Creek Roadside Waterfall

Athabasca Glacier at Columbia Icefield Center Overlook

Coleman Creek (where we ate our picnic lunch)

Bear Sighting along Icefield Parkway in Jasper National Forest

Waterfowl Lake

Bow Lake at Num-Ti-Jah Lodge

Bow Lake – upper end still frozen

Bear Sighting along Icefield Parkway in Banff National Forest

View from Parker Ridge

Mountain Goats along Icefield Parkway just north of Icefield Center

Rock Avalanche - It stretches for miles

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.

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.

The landscape changed from heavily forested mountains to prairie.

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.

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

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.


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!!!

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.

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.

Next door to the Grain Elevator Art Gallery is another museum with more artifacts from the 1940’s.

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.
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

Table of contents

Be the first to comment on this entry.

This blog requires you to be a logged in member of Travellerspoint to place comments.