Our summer vacation: A Trip North

On Sunday, June 26 I drove Kayla to Britton Creek and dropped her with Grandma, Grandpa, and Jessica as Kayla was going on an extra trip to the Rockies with Grandma, Grandpa, and Rebecca. Through the next few days I variously saw Kayla climbing to Lake Agnes with the Tea House, at the Jasper Tramway, and at the Columbia Icefields; all due to being able to track her with the iPhone feature “Where’s My” (family).

On Thursday, June 30 at about 9:40 in the morning Spot, Melissa, Susan, and I left towing our trailer. We drove traditionally to Hope where we then took highway 1 and ended up passing through Lytton and ultimately stayed in 112 Mile House at the BIG Country RV Park (an old KOA). The campground was nice, quite small, but had very few people in it, which was fine with Spot who can be rather anxious when things get crowded. That evening Melissa, Spot, and I took a path through a small back exit from the fence around the campground on the path marked “To the Top” and we climbed a beautiful meadow to the top of a rolling hill. As we reached the top near a few evergreens the sun was setting and we had a gorgeous view of the surrounding countryside. We could even catch a glimpse of Lac La Hache (the actual lake) which was a few kilometres further down the highway from where we were staying. Spot had over-the-top fun after we took his leash off and he sprinted around through the long grass in the meadow as we climbed the hill. I think he likes to get the pollen up his nose as it is almost joy in his behaviour when he starts to sneeze, and seems to purposely push his nose through the grass. Not enjoying the pollen so much was Melissa, whose allergies were bothered quite a bit, was really bothered. She loved the hike and views, but her allergies were terrible.

Friday morning, July 1, Canada Day, we all took a shower as the camp facilities were quite nice, packed up, then all (Susan, Melissa, Spot, and I) took a hike up the hill again before getting on to the road. Our target for the day was to get to Prince George where we would be staying at the Northern Experience RV resort. We arrived mid-afternoon. Melissa’s allergies were so bad that she took a COVID test to make sure that she didn’t have COVID. Thankfully she tested negative. Although we had a booking for having the site with the most room, it was still pretty tight between us and our neighbours and Spot got pretty anxious due to having neighbours so close making room. We took him out for an off-leash walk at an off-leash park in Prince George, but he was so high-strung that he almost lunged at a jogger in the park. The leash was on from then on. We got gas at the cheapest station in town and then went back to the trailer to settle in for the night.

Saturday after packing up as we left Prince George we saw a road sign that the Alaska Highway was closed just after Liard River Hot Springs. Since our plan to be in Liard River Hot Springs was still 3 days later, we commented that undoubtedly the highway would be open by that time so we continued our drive north to Dawson Creek, the target for the day. It was also in Dawson Creek that we were planning to pick up Kayla from her Grandma and Grandpa (and Rebecca) as they would be in Dawson Creek after driving up through Grande Prairie after visiting Banff and Jasper. The campsite that we had reservations for, Mile 0 Campground, was a good one. We had a 30amp with water spot reserved, but when we saw it, it was very close to the neighbours (a jammed-in spot). We had seen that there were some other spots available near the highway that weren’t as crowded so we went back to the office and changed to a spot by the highway, which had only 15amp power and water. The fellow working in the office mentioned that the Alaska Highway was closed a bit north of Liard River Hot Springs. He had seen some pictures of the highway being washed out, and it was a bad washout, more like had happened the fall earlier in the Fraser Valley, and the guy was saying it might be months before the highway opened again. Oh no! Some further discussion and planning would need to occur. As Spot had been so anxious, we arranged that rather than having grandma, grandpa, Rebecca, and Kayla come over to the campsite to reacquaint with Kayla, and Spot possibly going “off the rails” and risking us getting kicked out of the campground for having a dog causing a disturbance we arranged to meet them in a park. Spot’s training this evening worked well (although the park was a quiet one) as he did recognize Kayla from a distance, but Susan was able to keep him well controlled. We met up, chatted, and had Kayla join us.

I have to say, not all could be considered hunky dory with Kayla joining us. Kayla said she was feeling sick, and was actually suspecting it might be COVID. She was dressed heavier than usual for the meeting in the park to keep warm. Although we had the one COVID test kit with 4 tests still in it with us, we didn’t immediately test that night. To safeguard a bit, rather than the usual Kayla and Melissa sleeping right next to each other in their tent-trailer bed, we had them sleep head to foot so that they weren’t breathing air close to each other. Thank goodness for that as Kayla did a test in the morning and got a positive result (she had COVID). I hoped this completed the standard superstition of bad things coming in threes (allergies for Melissa being so bad we had a slight concern she had COVID, the Alaskan Highway closing causing us to change our plans, Kayla getting COVID).

We called Grandma and Grandpa and let them know Kayla had COVID and hoped that they wouldn’t get it as well, and then we were off AGAIN to Prince George. The idea of course was that instead of taking the Alaska Highway north from Dawson Creek, we would go again down to Prince George, then west on highway 16, then north on highway 37 (which basically was how our trip back home was planned). Due to our drive from Prince George to Dawson Creek and then our drive from Dawson Creek BACK TO Prince George using up two days, we knew we had to put in an extra 2 hours a day of driving if we wanted to catch up to our original plan of being in Whitehorse Yukon on Wednesday, July 6. Travelling in a car (for long hours) with a person you know has COVID throws a bit of a wrench into the usual comfortable travel. We travelled with all windows wide open, the sunroof wide open, and EVERYONE wearing a mask (N-95 or something equivalently good). As we passed through Prince George I saw a Shoppers Drug Mart just on the side of the highway and so stopped there to get another COVID test kit. The pharmacists were very nice, but I could tell they really wanted to minimize their interaction with me since when I mentioned having my daughter in the car with a suspected case of COVID, they basically threw me a test kit and didn’t want any medical card or any paperwork and did seem to want to have me leave the store as fast as possible (so I did).

With the idea that if we were to catch up we had to drive a few extra hours per day, we didn’t stop in Prince George we instead pushed on to hopefully get in a few more hours. As we neared Vanderhoof BANG THUMP Thump thump thump thump…..
We pulled over to the side of the road and found we had a flat tire on the trailer.
Since our SUV is only a year old, we knew it was covered with roadside assistance but we knew the trailer wouldn’t be on that plan. We also have roadside assistance through our credit card, so I called them. However, they too said that changing a flat on a trailer wasn’t covered. Grandma and Grandpa called just to see how Kayla was doing, and so when I mentioned we were on the side of the road with a flat, they asked if they could somehow help, but we said no we would figure it out. In case we had to fully do it ourselves grandpa gave a point-by-point run-through on how to change a flat on a trailer. We called various tow companies directly since our various roadside assistance plans didn’t amount to much. There was only one (we talked to a few) that did personal vehicles, and they would be about 90 minutes before they could help. So we got cracking and did it ourselves in a little under an hour. Near the late stages of changing the tire, one of the guys we had called who only did commercial vehicles stopped as he happened to drive by in his massive tow truck, but he saw we were far along in getting it changed, so we thanked him and he went on his way. I also have to admit we did have a few other nice people stop and ask if we needed help, but we managed fine just with our own equipment.

We got going again and as we passed through Vanderhoof we picked up dinner at A&W and drove on to Beaumont Provincial Park and got a spot. We ate dinner first before setting up.

This park is very nice, and we may stay there on the way back. We talked to Glen’s parents to let them know we had successfully made it to the park. Glen’s dad suggested that we get two new tires as if one had blown, it is likely the other would too. Rather than have Kayla and Melissa sleep somewhat near each other in the same bed, we had Melissa move to our end giving Kayla the whole other end to herself. Spot stayed in his crate somewhat near Kayla (hopefully being immune to COVID).

The next morning when it turned 8:00am I started calling various tire shops in the upcoming towns we would pass through to see who would have a couple of trailer tires that fit and could put them on without being too expensive in setting us back in time. The first tire shop we’d pass by, Kal Tire in Burns Lake, didn’t have our tires. The second, Kal Tire in Houston, did have 4 tires our size in stock, but said it would need to be in the afternoon as their morning was fully booked. I said I’d try Smithers (the biggest of the three towns) to see if they could be any faster. I called Smithers and they too had our tires, but were uncertain as to when they could do them. Since Houston had been so helpful I called them back and said we’d be in. We pulled into the Kal Tire in Houston a few minutes before 1:00 in the afternoon and they said they’d try to be done in an hour. So we had lunch, walked around a bit, did a bit of grocery shopping, and true to their word they called within an hour saying it was done. We went back and picked up the trailer with the two new tires on, and had the original spare (which had been protected under a cover for the last 10 years) also put on a rim and on the spare location, paid, and got on the road. 50 kilometres down the road we stopped in at Smithers Kal Tire to have them do the after-use torque and continued on our way. A few hours later we left Highway 16 and started North on Highway 37 where we lost cell service for a few days. We pulled in quite late in the afternoon to Meziadin Lake Provincial Park. Having luck on our side for once we managed to snag the last spot that was protected from being right next to others (which would cause Spot anxiety), and we set up our trailer just before it started to downpour. Of the approximately 50 sites in the park, not only did we get the last site that was quite private, but it was actually the third to last to go in the whole park, and those last 2 went in the minutes following.

But I wouldn’t call it only good luck that we had. After we had dinner, Kayla went out to go to the campground’s closest bathroom which was maybe about 100 feet away. We hear she was only about halfway there when people started to tell her to go back as there was a grizzly bear in the campsite about where the bathroom she was heading to was. She came back quick. Maybe 10 minutes later Melissa went out to get something out of the truck, and the warden came up our driveway and told her there was a grizzly not too far away so to make sure to stay in. The rain was pouring down, so we were about to watch a downloaded Disney+ Marvel movie we had on our iPad, but thankfully the rain let up. Peeking out, the grizzly thankfully seemed to have moved off so we all were able to get to the washroom before going to bed again on our opposite ends of the trailer.

The biggest loss by our going this was was that we had had a reservation and plan to stay at Liard River Hot Springs. It was painful to hear from the campground gossip that the warden there confirmed that the Alaska Highway had been able to reopen again by using an old section of the Alaska Highway. So we COULD have made it without incident if we had just continued north from Dawson Creek. Not only we would have skipped the long days of driving, but we would have had the day at Liard River Hot Springs. Oh well, we were on our way.

We left Meziadin lake Provincial Park in the morning and drove north to Ta Chila Provincial Park (Boya Lake), where we too had a reservation and plan to stay when we eventually head back home. At this park, we got maybe the last single site (the double group site was still open). Thankfully the people in the trailer nearest us stayed in almost the whole time we were there and so bothered Spot next to nothing. Why? Mosquitoes! The mosquitoes at this lake were just terrible! The lake itself was gorgeously beautiful. Being the warmest lake in the north, both girls even went for a short swim. But admittedly the thing that will stick out the most about this park was the terrible mosquitoes. We took a 1km walk in the evening around part of the lake, and poor Spot was just in a cloud of mosquitoes as we rushed along. Believe me, we all slept under our sheets that night. Spot in his crate just couldn’t settle down as we knew mosquitoes were bothering him (as they were us), so for just this one night we let him out and he stay up with Kayla on her bed.

In the morning we packed up as fast as possible to get away from the mosquitoes and continued north. A few tens of kilometres before the junction that would put us on to the Alaska Highway (while still on highway 37), just after we entered the Yukon, we took a corner and CRASH BANG SCRAPE Scrape scrape… Oh no! Could this be another flat tire? We again pulled off to the side and got out to see what was wrong. Oh no! The propane tank had come loose from the trailer and fallen onto the road and was being pulled along by the hose that sends the propane into the trailer, the bottom of the tank was a bit mangled. Clearly, the bolts and nuts that keep the tank attached to the trailer had come loose letting the tank fall off the trailer onto the road. The tank itself thankfully still seemed to have integrity, and when I checked, the fridge was still being run by propane and so the first impression was that the propane lines into the trailer itself seemed OK. So I bolted one bolt (the only one I could) back to the trailer, stretched a couple of bungee cords around the tank holding it to the trailer, and got going. When we reached the junction at the Alaska Highway, we didn’t immediately head West to Whitehorse but instead headed East so that we could go to Watson Lake, which was only a few 10s of kilometres down the Alaska Highway from the Junction. We spent a good hour searching for Glen’s parents’ sign they had put up almost 30 years ago but never found it. My suspicion is that it is probably still there, but with changes (they do have 100,000 signs up now), the right area just couldn’t be found. We did stick up our own sign, and hopefully being wise, took a picture from WAY back to give more global context of where our sign is if we are lucky enough to be looking for it in 30 years.

After using the visitor centre bathrooms, we got on the road this time heading in the “proper” direction (West) and a few hundred kilometres later got to our destination (catching up), the Caribou RV Park just outside Whitehorse Yukon. Originally we had planned to do some things around Whitehorse on the day we arrived, but due to the long driving hours, we set ourselves up and just mostly spent the remainder of the day in camp. Susan, Melissa, and I drove into town (after 9:00) in the evening and went to Walmart (closing at 10:00) and got some groceries as well as more mosquito gear (such as screen jackets that are sort of like spacesuits).

The next day we got up, showered (nice to be in a nice commercial campground), and I drove into town by myself for the morning to deal with the propane tank. I found Home Hardware to have a good selection and did have tanks for sale that have a gauge on them (something I wanted since it’s hard to “pick up” the tank to easily check how much propane is left when the tank is bolted to the trailer). I also picked up a couple of locking bolts to use to “lock” the tank to the trailer. I then went over to Integra Tires, a gas station with the best reputation for getting propane refills to get the tank filled. Back at the campsite I put the new tank on the trailer (the old one had worked fine believe it or not but I definitely didn’t want to stay with it long-term) and took the old tank to the propane tank recycling box that Caribou RV had (mostly for small tanks, but they said they’d deal with the big one I had that was mostly still filled with propane). In the afternoon we all drove downtown and Susan, Melissa, and Kayla went for a tour of the S.S. Klondike, a paddle wheeler that used to go up and down the Yukon River. During this time, Glen and Spot took a circuitous walk along around and alongside the river for a total of about 6km.

After a couple of hours, we again hooked up and drove to a part of the loop that Glen and Spot had walked, and we all walked together and viewed the fish hatchery as well as a dam that was in Whitehorse (the fish hatchery generally is open to the public but this year is not).

After dinner, we took a drive over to see Miles Canyon and went for a bit of a hike. There is a suspension bridge over the river here that allows visitors to get on to trails on the far side. Miles Canyon is a narrow gorge with rapids that the sternwheelers one hundred years ago had difficulty navigating, with only the strongest of the boats making it through.

The next day we got a very late start (but it doesn’t matter too much since the sun sets at 11:30pm) and we drove to Kluane National Park. We stopped in at the local Kluane Airport to see if we could go flightseeing and see the glaciers, but there were no seats available so we instead went to the visitor centre where we got a hike recommendation and hiked an 11km round-trip great view hike called Sheep Creek hike. The end of the hike has you out on a narrow but high trail similar to how Angel’s Landing hike in Zion National Park is. We saw a bit of the Kaskawulsh Glacier as we did the hike. It was about 7:00pm when we got back to our car after the hike, so we then stopped for just a moment at Kluane Lake to take a look, but knowing that the closest food we could buy was about 70km away in Haines Junction, and those businesses were closing at 9:00pm we got going. We did buy a meal from the pub in Haines Junction (the last order taken since the bikers right behind us had their order turned down due to it being too late), and then ate dinner in a little town square next to the pub. A few hours later, just as we were passing by Whitehorse on the way to our campground a red car passed us and we got the first windshield rock chip. Somehow it strikes me that going north you’re bound to get rock chips in your windshield.

The next day we drove down to Carcross, had some ice cream, and toured around like tourists. Rainbow Lake which we saw just outside Carcross was a lake that I remembered from my trip in 1994 has at times been on my list of personally seen wonders of the world and did live up to the memory I had of it. The general store owner said that although business was better than it was in the summer of 2020 and 2021, it was still pretty bad since the White Pass & Yukon Railway railroad which traditionally brings in hundreds of cruise ship passengers a day from Skagway had not been able to work out a reasonable way to briefly have hundreds of people cross the borders, so they hadn’t been bringing anybody in.

On the way back we stopped at Carcross Desert, the smallest desert in the world. On getting back to our campsite in the afternoon I went and chatted with the owner for tips on where to stay when we went to Dawson City. He pointed out that the highway was closed due to forest fires. That threw a wrench into our plans. What to do???

We hmmed and hawed over dinner and decided probably our best bet was to stay based in Whitehorse and tour more things with that as our base rather than heading back immediately. We checked if we could stay in the commercial Caribou RV Park, but there were no acceptable sites available for the next few nights that had water and power. Knowing we were just a few kilometres down the highway from the government campground Wolf Creek, Susan and I took a drive down in the evening to see if we could probably get in there. There wasn’t much available but it being Saturday night, we were reasonably comfortable that a few people would be checking out the next day as they would need to go home and be ready for work on Monday.

The next morning after all taking showers we checked out early and drove the few k down the road to Wolf Creek to hopefully find an acceptable site. We drove slowly around the campsite, about a third of the way around we saw a lady who was preparing her trailer for pull-out, and so after confirming it was OK with her we dropped Susan off to hold the site while the rest of us continued around to see if we could find a better spot. About halfway around we saw a great site that was already taken for hold by somebody on this day (they just had a water bottle on a chair holding the spot). About 90% of the main road around we hadn’t found anything better, and let Kayla out to walk across the campsite on a minor road while Melissa and I continued around the loop. Melissa and I didn’t find anything, but as we looped around the second time Kayla was excitedly waving us to go on the minor road, and the warden happened to come out and suggested that if we wanted a spot the one Kayla was excited about was probably the best we would get. We pulled into the minor road and were happy to see the site was a great one. We called Susan and told her to abandon holding the first site we had found. Our new site was very close to washrooms, reasonably close to water, was of reasonable size for our trailer, and had a second-level area that was huge and was bordered on one side by Wolf Creek, a fast-moving creek. Perfect as it would give Spot a place where it would be hard for him to see others, and the creek sound would drown out the noise from anyone. We took it!

After checking in Kayla, Melissa, and Glen drove into Whitehorse and went to the Yukon Beringia Interpretive Centre where we all learned about how the Bering Straight between Alaska and Russia had about 15,000 years ago been frozen over and how the Yukon developed due to migrations from Asia. After a good time there, we went over to the Yukon Transportation Museum and learned about things such as the building of the Alaska Highway.

The next day we drove North about as far as we could before the road closed due to Forest Fires and visited Carmacks and saw the Five Finger Rapids, rapids that were a challenge for early travellers along the river. Along the way, we got some MASSIVE cinnamon buns from the world-famous Braeburn Lodge. For the next day, we booked ourselves on a flightseeing tour back in Kluane. To get there on time for our flight at 9:00am, we got on the road at 5:45am. As we drove out we had an inkling things might not go well due to it raining and blowing wind. We were proven right when we arrived at about 8:50am and sadly were told that due to weather, they wouldn’t be able to fly. They said if we could stick around in Kluane for a few hours we could do that as maybe as the day progressed the weather would clear. So we drove to Burwash Landing and went to the museum (actually Glen and Spot walked around outside while the girls all went inside). A few hours later we checked in with the airport, but they were still stuck due to the weather so we again returned to Whitehorse empty-handed without a flightseeing tour under our belt. On the way back, we took a bit of a detour down highway 3 before heading back to Whitehorse to see Kathleen Lake. Admittedly, the viewpoint was a pretty weak one and if we’d known it would be so far for a view of the lake we probably wouldn’t have bothered. That night Melissa and Glen went for a hike on a trail out of the Wolf Creek campsite. The view was pleasant, but nothing to write home about. Maybe best described as a very short Grouse Grind as there were lots of stairs.

The next day; Wednesday, July 13; Melissa, Kayla, and Glen all went into town and went to MacLeod Museum, the Whitehorse Museum about the history of the area. Since Wolf Creek had been a government campsite without services (no water), we spent some time looking around Whitehorse for a park that could fill a 5-gallon jug of water but never found one. Glen eventually made acquaintances with a fellow who worked for the city and was at a city depot who was able to fill our jug out of the sink in the city building. We also picked up some more mosquito supplies since we knew we would likely run into more before the trip was over. Susan went into town for a bit of grocery shopping, and also an order for our dinner from Klondike Salmon and Rib, which gave us a dinner of ribs and big game meat such as Elk. One of the favourites that everyone could agree on was the stroganoff. After dinner, we went for a hike on a trail out of the campsite that gave us a gorgeous view of the river.

The next day, Thursday (July 14) had us pack up and say goodbye to Whitehorse and drive East to Watson Lake Government Campground. Although we had originally planned to “return” home by taking Highway 37 down since we had come up that way we decided we should go back via the Alaska Highway. Watson Lake Campground was pleasant enough, EXCEPT FOR THE MOSQUITOES! The mosquitoes were absolutely horrible! Susan, Glen, and Melissa did go for a short hike down near the lake. We started the hike with Spot, but after 100 feet or so we sent him back to be in the trailer with Kayla since the mosquitoes were so bad.

Friday morning saw us happy to be back on the road to blow out all the mosquitoes from the vehicle. This day saw us re-enter BC (well, skipping like a rock on a pond as we bounced between BC and the Yukon over a 100km stint). We also were forced to stop at the other 100 (possibly exaggerating – but not much) locations where road work was on to reopen the Alaska Highway proper where it had washed out. To get around the washout there was a detour that took all travellers onto an old road sort of like a logging road, that we had heard rumour was actually part of the original Alaska Highway when it was built in 1942. Humorously at the stop lights at this detour as we waited for the pilot car, there was a grouse that seemed like it was part of the work crew. This grouse came out from the side by the construction stoplights when we stopped and set himself down in the middle of the road just like a flag person. He stayed there (maybe sleeping) until the pilot car showed up a few minutes later, at which time he woke up and walked back to the side of the road as if to let us through. On this section of road, we also pulled off for a quick look at Whirlpool Canyon, another gorgeous spot on the river that is highly turbulent. Mid-afternoon we pulled into Liard River Hot Springs Provincial Park where we found a site and set ourselves up. The sign at the front booth of the park had a sign that said “Mosquitoes: Apocalyptic!”. The mosquitoes were very bad, but nowhere near as bad as they had been at Watson Lake. Kayla, Melissa, and Glen got suited up and went up and enjoyed themselves in the Hot Springs. Since Glen isn’t as keen, he didn’t stay long and soon came back to trade off with Susan to spend time with Spot. Since the mosquitoes were bad, this was another site where Spot mostly stayed in the trailer and only went out for short walks and of course to go to the bathroom.

Saturday morning we again were happy to get on the road to blow out all the mosquitoes! The views as we travelled down the Northern Rockies on this day were mesmerizing. We stopped in for lunch at the Toad River recreation site. Just as we were checking in to Triple G Hideaway Campground in Fort Nelson the rain bucketed down. The lady driving the golf court to show people which site to take (the campground is a very large one with over 130 sites, well run, and recommended), drove us down to a site without us even getting out of our vehicle to explicitly say we wanted to check-in. Strangely half an hour later the sky had cleared to beautiful clear blue with only a few wispy white clouds showing. We even got some very yummy ice cream cones from the ice cream shop.

On Sunday, Susan’s birthday, we got up and after a quick stop at the Tourist Information Centre in Fort Nelson, we headed North on highway 77 (after backtracking about 20km back up the Alaska Highway). A few hours later we entered the North West Territories. On our whole trip, we saw a lot of different wildlife such as black bears and moose and bison and foxes and eagles, but on this drive North, we saw the weirdest thing yet. A BIG bison was in the middle of a very long bridge over the Fort Nelson River. Actually, he was still there 5 hours later when we came back so we hope he eventually got himself safely off the bridge. At the entrance to the North West Territories, there is a very neat sign that looks just like it’s been digitally placed into a nature picture. There is also a rest stop with a bathroom that is the coolest ever. It’s a bathroom that has 3 feet-thick rock walls, and a door that is made out of iron probably an inch thick. Maybe it’s to protect people if they are being attacked by wildlife???? We had seen a black bear on the side of the road about 1 minute before this rest stop! After having lunch at this rest stop on the border between BC and NWT, we continued a few tens of kilometres into the territory where we shopped for souvenirs in Fort Liard, the first “major” city (ok, even village might be too grand – but you know what the population is of NWT so maybe this is considered a city). When we got back to Triple G Hideaway that afternoon we all got ice cream cones (again).

The next morning we continued to follow the Alaska Highway south but did eventually leave it to end our day in Hudson’s Hope rather than Dawson Creek. We actually rushed up to the W.A.C. Bennett Dam for the last tour of the day, where Glen, Kayla, and Melissa went on the tour while Susan and Spot did a self-guided tour. After the tour we went back down to Hudson’s Hope to decide between the various municipal campgrounds, eventually deciding on the Alvin Holland campground, known to the locals as “The Glen”. We set ourselves up and were overwhelmingly happy to be there as the geography on the Peace River was absolutely gorgeous. The rock formations and islands in the middle of the river reminded me of the Scottish Coast. While hiking down on the rocks as the sun was setting we even saw a deer come down and walk out to one of the islands, and eventually wade out and swim across the fast-moving river. Cool!

In the morning we continued driving south. We stopped in Chetwynd to buy some tools that Glen had been wishing he had, then some time at the visitor centre to use the wifi (the best wifi in almost a couple of weeks), and had lunch at the beautiful Bijoux Falls. Sadly we also got the second rock chip in our window, a bigger one, but just from a pickup driving along on the main highway! Late afternoon we checked in at Crooked River Campground on Bear Lake. Melissa and Kayla went swimming. The mosquitoes were what one would normally call bad, but nowhere near as bad as they had been at some of the earlier places (Liard River Hotsprings, Watson Lake, Boya Lake). The water was warm but not as warm as Boya Lake, bugs were around but not as badly as Boya Lake, so the girls were split on which was the better lake to swim in. The one no-question answer was that it was another gorgeous lake to swim in. Everybody had a shower, including Glen who had last had an actual shower at Caribou RV Park in Whitehorse. His excuse was that the dip in the Liard River Hotsprings was a fine bath!

We left Crooked River the next day and again headed south. We stopped in Prince George for some bigger grocery shopping, as well as spending some time at Tim Horton’s eating Timbits and Kayla with her ice coffee, mostly to use the internet to patch phones and also to pay some bills that would be upcoming (just taking a guess on some of them as to what the amount would be). As we left Prince George sadly we got our third windshield chip, this time by a passing dump truck, and honestly, I should call it more of a chip, a chip that turned immediately into a major crack! A day later as I write this it is almost fully across the windshield almost getting directly into the driver’s line of sight! The first two believably had been localized enough that they could likely just be fixed with a chip repair, but this third we’re pretty sure is not salvageable and likely will require a windshield replacement when we get back home.

We arrived at our day’s target, Forest Rose Campground in Barkerville Provincial Historical park late afternoon. We set up in our spot where we’ll be staying for a few days. After dinner, we made a campfire and roasted marshmallows.
The next day Glen and Spot drove Susan and the Girls over to the Barkerville entrance and dropped them off just a bit after 9:00 for them to spend the day at Barkerville until it closes at 6:00. Glen and Spot went into Wells (“downtown”) to see if the visitor centre was open to getting hiking recommendations, but it was to only open at 1:00pm. So they took a somewhat random trail out of the campsite which actually turned out to be a nice cross-country mountain biking trail (although lots of mosquitoes) that followed along the mountainside and eventually ended up in Wells, where they turned around and did it again (although this time modifying slightly to take a few RV trails rather than just cross-country trails to have fewer mosquitoes). It was a good 11.5km they did.

They got back early enough to drive into Wells (into Wells for the third time that day) to go to the visitor centre to (hopefully) get some recommendations for hikes for Susan and Spot when it’s Susan’s turn to look after Spot. All three girls reported having a very good time when Spot and Glen picked them up a few minutes before 6:00. We managed to have another campfire and roast a few marshmallows and then got to bed as everyone had very tired feet and legs after spending the day walking.

The next day we woke up at about 7:00 and enthusiastically got up with the girls to spend another day in Barkerville, but this time with Glen while Susan and Spot spent the day outside the park. Glen and the girls rode in a horse-pulled wagon around the town, went to entertaining shows, toured old buildings (kind of like Burnaby Village Museum), went and had their picture taken by the town’s photographer, and had chili and soup bowls for lunch, and some scrumptious pastries for a snack. For souvenirs, Kayla got herself a hair clip from the Barkerville Jewellery store while Glen got himself a belt from the general store.

That evening we went down to Williams Creek which backs Forest Rose campground and then again had a campfire, staying up a bit later to burn up all the wood we had and use up all the marshmallows and the smores targetted chocolate, we also cleaned up and packed in preparation for the following day’s long drive.

Originally we had planned to leave Barkerville and drive for a few hours to Lac La Hache where we’d spend a night. Then drive in another day from Lac La Hache to Pemberton (even though on the way up we had driven all the way from home to Lac La Hache in one long stint). And then on our final planned day, we would drive from Pemberton to home in a few hours. However, our actuality was that we drove all the way from Barkerville to home in one long day of driving. We left the Forest Rose campground in Barkerville on this day of Glen’s birthday at about 8:30 in the morning. We got gas as we pulled through Quesnel, Cache Creek, and finally Abbotsford, and eventually pulled into our driveway at home at 7:00.

The 10 worst things?

10. Getting 3 rock chips in the window, especially the crack!
9. Melissa’s allergies being so bad we suspected she might have COVID (she didn’t)
8. driving 500km round trip in one day to Kluane National Park but having to miss sightseeing
7. driving 500km round trip in one day to get to Kluane National Park with
a booked flightseeing tour, but not being able to fly because the
weather was too bad
6. Mosquitoes in a few campgrounds that were so terrible!!!!
5. On way North, washed out highway causing road closure on Alaska
Highway, making us detour and adding a 1000km to our trip
4. While in Whitehorse, about to head to Dawson City but then highway
closed and no detour so having to skip Dawson City
3. Propane tank coming loose and falling off trailer and being dragged
along highway
2. flat tire on trailer out in middle of nowhere
1. Our daughter Kayla having COVID, then a week of driving with all windows
open while wearing masks, plus 3 of us in one end of trailer while Kayla
in other, plus having to prepare Kayla’s food every meal

The 10 best things about the trip!

10. The fact we can now check “making it to the Northwest Territories” off our bucket lists
9. Seeing all the moose, caribou, elk, bears, foxes, and bison (especially the one on the bridge)
8. Smores
7. The Carcross Desert
6. The welcome to Northwest Territories sign
5. The outhouse at the border of The Northwest Territories
4. The hike to the top of Sheep Mountain
3. Barkerville (our local BC Disneyland equivalent)
2. Swimming in Boya Lake
1. More smores

Although there were many unlucky moments, the anecdote potential and fun we had made it a a long trip but wonderful time!