© 2011 jemma

Week 2 of the RV adventure

Day 9 – Prince Rupert to Hazelton
Animal Count – 2 Black Bears

Today we left a dreary Prince Rupert for our return trip to Prince George, so we could then head up the Alaska Hwy. It poured pretty much the whole way; however we were able to see a couple of Black bears, both of them on the edge of farm paddocks eating grass.

Because of the cloud it was hard to see the tops of all the mountains we were able to before, but the waterfalls and the river were both flowing pretty fast. Even though it was raining, it all still looked really amazing and wild. It is a fantastic road from Terrace to Prince Rupert.

It was a long drive to Hazelton. 4hrs I think in total. We didn’t stop anywhere really interesting. Just sang and looked at the views. By the time we reached the campsite the rain had stopped, and Jess and I were able to finally get out of the car and walk around the bush and look at the river. I even had a go on the swing. Fun, fun.

Day 10 – Hazelton to Houston
Animal Count – Nothing 🙁

No animals and nothing but rain, rain, rain. When it rains it is shit being in a camper. Sorry about the swearing, but it was seriously getting me down today when it had rained all day yesterday, all night, and was still raining the following day. Everything gets wet and even going to the shower block in the rain is miserable. I couldn’t leave the camper while Jess was working, so I had to just chill on the couch and learn French – much to Jess’ annoyance. I can now say ‘Montreal is a large city’ in French. Très bon!

Once we could leave Hazelton, we ventured east along the Yellowhead. We stopped in at a couple of places. The twin falls near Smithers – which turned out to be a scary dirt road (snow included) up a mountainside, with some small falls at the top, – and Driftwood Canyon. Driftwood canyon was pretty cool, and if it wasn’t raining probably would have been better. You walk along a path till you reach the site where lots of fossils have been found. They found the earliest salmonid fossil here if my memory serves me correctly.

They don’t let you near the actual rock face, but there is a lot of shale for you to look at and find fossils in. As stated, this is more of a sunny day activity. So we quickly got back in the car and drove onwards to Houston – you may remember this place form the giant fishing rod.

On the way, it got colder and colder and the rain was getting heavier. It was also snowing in some places. In fact it had been snowing in Houston, and there was snow all over the ground and the streets. Even our campsite had snow on it!! Weird weather, it’s supposed to be almost Summer! Hopefully the weather clears up tomorrow.

Day 11 – Houston to Vanderhoof
Animal Count – 2 Black bears and 1 moose with slight antlers eating grass in a flooded field (specific enough?).

Well thanks to all that rain and the snow melt, the Bulkley River has threatened to flood many of the towns we have visited in the past two weeks. This morning, when we went down to find some lunch in Houston, the river had inundated a couple of homes on the lower side of town. It is like a huge brown ocean now and the actual spring melt hasn’t even started! I hope everyone is ok!

On our drive out to Vanderhoof (the geographical centre of BC) most of the fields were flooded because many of the creeks had turned into raging rivers. All the poor cows were trying to get up onto higher land and a lot of levies were being built and roads that had washed away were being fixed. We saw the two black bears hanging out eating grass in a couple of water logged fields. At first you think they are cows and then you realise that they are actually bears. It’s funny that they much prefer to eat grass and not people.

The moose again was a fluke. We looked into this water-logged field and saw this large animal lift its head and shake it. We both said “MOOSE!” It was huge, bigger than the other two and it was growing its antlers. I love their beards, so cute.

The sun FINALLY came out in the afternoon which made for a great evening of mac and cheese (from “scratch”) with vegetables and the Canucks playing against the San Jose Sharks on cable – yes RV parks have cable. Needless to say that the Canucks whipped the asses of the sharks 7-3, which made both Jess and I, the whole of BC and Uncle Lawrence VERY happy. Onto the Stanley Cup Canucks!!

Day 12 – Vanderhoof to Prince George
Animal Count – 2 Black bears

Today we woke up to the sun shining into the RV, making us toasty warm on a frosty morning. I was ecstatic! I opened the blinds and drank my ginger tea bathed in sunshine. We even wore shorts and t-shirts! 20 deg is very warm you know and the temperature gave us the inspiration to get outside in it.

Jess sat outside and worked while I cleaned out the camper and did the washing – I’m such a good house wife. When we had to leave, we went down to the riverside park and chilled out with all the cool kids by the river. I walked around and took photos while Jess worked in the sunshine and talked to small children – in a non-creepy way. It was a grand morning – see how my mood has changed!

On our way to PG (you guessed it, Prince George) we saw a bear on the roadside just laying in the sun eating grass. Lazy bear! I tried to get a photo, but at the same time, Jess was trying to overtake a truck with me yelling ‘no stay behind it so I can get a photo’ so he did, but I still missed it and then we had a little “discussion” about how we could have both done better in the situation and what we learned. 🙂

Once we had booked into the campsite, we set out to find the ‘Forests for the world’ here in PG. That’s right, all the world’s forests in this one convenient place. It is actually just a forest…and one that is very poorly signposted, thus also a hidden secret forest.

Now when I see a Black bear habitat sign, and now that I have seen many BLACK BEARS, I’m going to be a little on edge when hiking around the Canadian wilderness. I don’t care how many people prints I see on the ground, all I see is potential victims. So when we set off on our hike to the lakes and the lookout, don’t say things like “Jemma look” and “what was that?” when referring to water trickling or the grass rustling. I will say “WHAT!!” very loudly and freak out a little.

Besides those incidents and the “discussions” afterwards, Jess and I had a pretty good hike on a lovely day to some nice lakes. The lookout however was a bit of a disappointment as the trees had grown so big there was nothing to ‘look out’ at. But the sign told me I was apparently looking at Prince George, thank you sign.

On our way back down, Jess had another of his “what was that?” moments, but this time it was in fact something. A Garder snake had caught a toad, and was now struggling to eat it head first. The toad on the other hand was very much alive, trying to fight for its life with its hands and feet – hopping, ect – as the snake whipped it around. It was like a car crash, horrible and gut wrenching, but you couldn’t look away. That was in the case of Jess, who thought the whole thing was incredible. If you ever get to watch the video, you will hear me walking back to the scene and away saying ‘that is all kinds of wrong’ and Jess’ BBC commentary of the event; ever the professional. I just wanted to save the poor toad.

Day 13 – Prince George to Dawson Creek!! (Where’s Pacey and Joey?)
Animal Count – It’s a long one… 4 male black bears, 1 moose and 1 female black bear with two cubs.

Although they forecast more and more rain for today we woke up to sunshine. Jess however woke up feeling like crap so that put a downer on things. He worked a little and then we decided the best thing was to get to our destination and not hang around moping.

We set out on an unexpectedly long drive up north. We saw the mum and the cubs first in a field near a farm house. At first we thought they were cows, but upon further inspection and the fact they eventually looked like bears, we knew they were bears. We went back to see if we could get pics, but unfortunately we got back to see the mum leading the cubs into the bushes.

That was ok, because in the next 20km we saw two big males by the roadside. I got a photo of one of them; the first however was scared off by a massive truck. That was the beginning of many bear encounters along the way as we wound our way up and down mountains and through forests and valleys.

The worst thing along the way was 30km of road works. It was so annoying, and because people in Canada find it hard to drive properly, they seem to like overtaking in construction zones which are down to one lane – safety first Canada!

We did stop for lunch at a fantastic waterfall and Jess and I enjoyed making friends with the local birds. I think they enjoyed eating bits of Jess’ sandwich which enticed them over for photos. It was very peaceful – if you don’t count the waterfall noise – and this is where we spotted the surprise moose by the roadside.

Another great place was the town before Dawson Creek called Chetwynd. Its most famous feature is the incredible amount of fantastic wood carvings about the place. It hosts a competition every year, and the last and past years entries we saw were fabulous. If you look at the pics, my favourite is the octopus and Jess’ was the man carrying the bison. Exemplary work!

Finally we reached Dawson Creek, a smallish farming town which is officially ‘Mile 0’ on the Alaska Highway. We had finally reached it! Now our adventure north could officially begin. We got the obligatory photo with the ‘mile 0’post and the town sign and settled down to an evening of watching the Canucks lose to the SJ Sharks. Very sad, but they played an ok game – in the end.