Saturday, June 30, 2007


Another free day for us and I head out early to take Ziggy for a bath. After lots of phone calls I made her a 7:30 appointment and found a manicurist to do my nails at 11:30. After dropping Ziggy off Jeff and I headed downtown to the MacBride Museum which was very informative. They had displays on wild animals of the Yukon, gold mining, Royal Canadian Mounted Police and First Nation People. After lunch Jeff dropped me at my nail appointment and he went off on some errands.

Later Jeff did our laundry and I took a long nap. Another quiet night and we get ourselves organized for a travel day tomorrow.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Hey There Little Red Riding Hood

We are staying at the Pioneer RV Park which is just south of Whitehorse on the Alaska Highway. The highway is the only route into the Yukon from points south, and surprisingly sometimes we are the only vehicle on the road. This campground is large and there are at least three RV caravans here as well as independent travelers.

The morning is free time for us and I drive over to the Beringia Center. This is a museum about prehistoric animals that lived in the lost sub-continent of the last great ice age. This was the land bridge across the Bering Sea. Very interesting exhibits and a good movie too.

In the afternoon the group drove to the Miles Canyon Overlook and looked down into the Yukon River where the dangerous waters were a hazard for the Stampeders of 1898 on their way to the gold fields. Then we took a hike in the woods to Canyon City, a settlement where they lived while waiting to transport their supplies around the rapids and get on to the gold fields. You walk across a suspension bridge to start the hike and afterwards we went into town for dinner at the Klondike Restaurant. Turns out this is the hot spot in town and fish is the specialty. I had baked halibut topped with brie and a berry sauce. It was a huge portion and unbelievably delicious. Jeff had salmon in an orange ginger sauce and it was great also. Dessert was hot apple pie topped with two scoops of vanilla ice cream. We took the scenic route home and saw a float plane base.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Bridge Over Troubled Water

Today we travel from Teslin Lake to White Horse. It is the shortest driving day so far and the weather is sunny with a few showers. Again the scenery is breath taking. Abundant forests, snow-capped mountains and lush greenery are along the entire route. Lots of lakes and rivers today, but no animals appeared. We did have several road delays as one bridge was being redecked. Apparently this is the fifth summer of road work on the bridge and the wait to cross is many minutes. The good news is the Johnson Crossing cafe with world famous cinnamon buns is at the other side. They were delicious!

We visited a small museum dedicated to George Johnston, a Teslin Lake First Nation member, who was a photographer and entrepreneur. The museum had wild animal displays, an excellent movie and George's 1928 Chevrolet that was the town's first car, even though they had no roads. He drove it on the frozen lake.

Arriving at Whitehorse we found a small, vibrant city and our group went downtown to the tourist information center to see their movie. We also visited city hall to get complimentary parking passes and lapel pins. After walking around a little we went back to the campground to cook dinner and relax. We'll be here three nights so it's a good chance to explore the area.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Sunshine on My Shoulder Makes Me Happy

I am sitting in a campground on the shores of the Nisutlin river near Teslin Lake and it is a beautiful place and a gorgeous, sunny day. We left Watson Lake and continued driving north on the Alaska Highway. There were no animals out there for us to see today, but we did stop at Rancheria Falls Recreation Area and walked down to see the waterfalls and rapids. It was a nice break and Ziggy enjoyed getting to join us for the walk.

Our new campground has great views of the water and also has a wildlife center that I found very interesting. They have diaramas of many stuffed wild animals with good descriptions. One showcase featured a huge moose surrounded by three wolves and it was entitled The Last Morning. I also had a chance to just sit and relax in the warm sunshine. This is one of the best weather days we've had and I hope it continues.

Tonight our group is having a halibut dinner at the local restaurant. Tomorrow we head up to Whitehorse where we will spend thee days.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

It’s a Sign of the Times…

Another early morning, but I’m getting used to it. Several members of our group leave the campground right at 6am to start their drive. Most are out by 8am and then we rinse out the coffeepots and get going. I have to tell you that there are many mosquitos up here and I wear bug spray all day every day. I still have some impressive bites. As we drive there are a variety of bugs smashed on the windshield and the front grill.

Today is good for wildlife viewing and we saw a moose family including a papa with antlers, mama and calf. Then we saw two black bears, one was crossing the road just ahead of us and scampered into the woods as we approached. We also saw two different herds of bison and two adult males were roughhousing and butting heads. We could hear their horns clanking against each other. The calves are so cute and run alongside their moms.

Again the scenery is breathtaking with me going ooh and aah around each curve. The highway is easy to drive since it is constantly improved and straightened. Portions of the original highway can sometimes be seen and it is curvy, bumpy and now overgrown with grass.

Today was a shorter drive and we arrived in Watson Lake before 2pm. At 3pm our group walked over to the Signpost Village. This has become a popular attraction and is a large tract of land with signs that tourists have left from all over the world. The first sign was put up by a homesick GI during the highway construction and the idea caught on quickly. I was amazed by how large and orderly this site is kept. Locals support the place by erecting new poles for the visitors to attach their sign or license plate. We saw some messages on gold pans, hub caps, frisbees and even a chamber pot. It is surprising how many folks have stolen highway or city signs and brought them up here. Our group made a sign with all our names and hometowns and it is now proudly hanging in the forest.

Later we visited the town museum and then the rest of the day was spent doing laundry and checking e-mail. We haven’t had internet service for days and now we do. Of course you have to stand near the office/laundry to get access. After dinner we walked Ziggy to a nearby park and now we are off to bed. It is 10:15pm and the sky is still very bright.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Splish Splash I was Taking a Bath

Day two at Muncho Lake and we do not have to get up early. Hurray! It is rainy and dismal today and we hang around inside. Ziggy and I took a long walk to see the lodge, cabins and float plane base at the lake. A very pretty property.

At noon our group met to drive to Liard Hot Springs. It is a 40 minute drive to the Provincial Park and along the way we saw several bison grazing along the road. There are two sets of springs for bathing. You walk out on a boardwalk surrounded by a marsh and wildflowers to find the alpha pool and we used the rustic changing rooms to store our stuff and jumped into the hot water while it was still raining. It felt great! The pool had a smooth stone bottom and was quite large. You could walk from the cooler end to the very hot side where the mineral spring-fed water came in. Jeff and I succeeded in reaching the end and quickly scurried back to a more comfortable area to soak and relax.

The rain finally stopped and the sun came out. We got out of the water and put on dry clothes. Then we walked about 5 minutes uphill to the deeper, cooler beta pool just to see it. Reaching the bottom of the walkway we had a picnic lunch in a small pavilion and then headed back to the campground. We saw more bison along the road and spent the afternoon resting and listening to music.

After dinner our group met for a campfire and more getting to know you talk. It turned out to be a cool, beautiful evening. Now it is time for bed and we leave tomorrow for points further north.

Driving the Alaska Highway

There are more stories and rumors about the Alaska Highway than you can shake a stick at. We have covered only about 400 miles or so, but we have learned quite a bit. First of all, contrary to popular opinion the entire Alaska Highway IS paved. It is not exactly up to Interstate Highway standards, but paved it is.

For the most part there are decent, if not overly wide, shoulders. Most of the highway has a wide swath cut through the woods, so visibility (for both cars and wildlife) tends to be good. The highway is two lanes with virtually no passing lanes, so slower traffic (like RVers) has to be sensitive and pull over in one of the many pullouts when traffic backs up behind them.

There are lots of trucks. And some of the trucks are carrying HUGE loads. We often see trucks carrying full housing modules for use by construction and logging crews. One truck passed us carrying a wide load – of tires! I cannot even imagine the vehicle they were designed for, but the tires were 9 or 10 feet tall!

Many of the stories about the highway’s surface come from the constant construction going on. There are two seasons up here – winter and construction. (Some people think the seasons are winter and mosquitoes.) So there is always construction going on in warm(?) weather. Many of the construction sites have loose gravel, and that’s where the stories of broken windshields come from.

What many people don’t realize is that gravel rarely hits you. You hit it. A vehicle (usually a truck) comes toward you through a gravel zone. When it kicks up a piece of gravel, the gravel usually goes straight up. When it is the air you can run into it. So the answer is usually to slow down in gravel areas. One member of the trek caught a piece of gravel that put a 2” star in the windshield and a couple of circular cracks about 6” in diameter. Luckily it is not in their line of sight so they can just ignore it. In a way they are lucky. Now they don’t have to worry about a cracked windshield anymore! (One RV video I just watched suggested hitting your windshield with a hammer before you leave home just to get it over with.)

Some of the grades are interesting. We have gone up (and down!) several 10% grades. This is steeper than anything we found in the Rockies last year. Going up is slow, but going down is interesting. You have to be careful not to burn out your brakes. I have gone down a couple of these in first gear and still had to use my brakes!

Gas prices ARE everything you may have heard about. Yesterday we paid $1.279 – per liter! That translates to about $5.00 US per gallon. Tomorrow we may have to pay $1.40.

One thing that is an absolute must to travel this road is a publication called “The Milepost.” This is more of a book than a magazine (It is an inch thick!) and is published annually. It is the bible of the Alaska Highway. There is a blow-by-blow description of EVERYTHING to see and do on the highway. It includes all attractions, all lodging and campgrounds, all construction zones, all wildlife spotting areas, all pullouts (including what trash facilities are at each), all gas stations (and whether they have gas, diesel, propane, etc.) and so on down the road. Of course it also includes lots of advertising. When we are traveling, Judy keeps the book open and follows along, giving me a running commentary on what to expect. After all, you don’t want to miss the World’s Largest Glass Beehive or the Cinnamon Bun Center of the Galactic Cluster. (No, I’m not kidding. We didn’t get a picture of the sign. Ask Judy why.)

And a final thought for today about the name of the road. The official name today is the Alaska Highway. When it was completed in 1942 (which is quite an interesting story) it was known as the Alaska-Canada Military Highway or the AlCan. That name is no longer used and has not been since the late 1940s when the road was opened to the public.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

The Name Game

Here we are at Muncho Lake, British Columbia – 30 guests, the TrekMaster (Alone – his wife broke her knee just before he left to come here!), and us. We have been together for three days and are starting to recognize some faces and putting names to them.

We have all been wearing name badges so we get to cheat by looking, but it’s not the same as knowing peoples’ name. So what to do? Enter Rick Steves.

As you may know, three years ago we went to Italy on a Rick Steves tour. Rick is known for his PBS series “Europe Through the Back Door” and runs an incredible tour if you like his style of touring. One of the things we learned on that tour was the “Name Game.”

The game is simple. Everyone stands in a circle. In this case I started. I said, “My name is Jeff.” The person next to me said, “My name is Don, and this is Jeff.” The person next to him (his wife) said, I’m Diane, and this is Don and Jeff.” And so on around the 30-odd people.

As you can imagine, the people near the end started to freak out, but everyone had a great time and we have now put names with faces. We don’t all know everyone, but we know a whole lot more than we did the day before. The Trekmaster said we would need the name badges for a couple of weeks. I think a few more days should do it.

I can’t wait until I have them singing “Row, Row, Row Your Boat!”

Hall of the Mountain King

It was a little easier getting up this morning and the coffee service was over around 8am. Jeff washed the RV (although it gets dirty right away) and we drove into the tiny town of Fort Nelson for gas and groceries. Then we pointed north and began the day’s drive.

Again the highway was pleasant with gorgeous scenery and little traffic. We stopped for cinnamon buns and then for lunch at cute lodges along the way. We could see the Rocky Mountains to our west most of the way. In the Stone Mountain area we were lucky to see several stone sheep, a species that only lives in this area. We saw one adult male with huge curved horns in a cave high above the roadway. A short way down the road two caribou (reindeer) were standing in the road and showing off their fuzzy antlers. We also saw some deer so the day was a great success.

Tonight we helped to stage a wine & cheese party for our group. It was fun standing around and meeting new people. Later we walked along the shore of Muncho Lake where our campground, Northern Rockies Lodge, is situated. Another great day!

Saturday, June 23, 2007


Green is the color of the day as we drive through lush pine, aspen and spruce forests. There are trees and grasses everywhere as we head north from Dawson Creek to Fort Nelson, British Columbia. It is about a five hour drive plus stops on the Alaska Highway. This road was constructed by the US Army in 1942 to have a supply route to Alaska. The Japanese had invaded and occupied land in the Aleutian Islands and this threatened our northern and westernmost territory. With land ceded by the Canadian government, the road was completed in eight months and has since been named one of the man-made wonders of the world. It joins other worthy accomplishments like the Eiffel Tower and the Panama Canal.

The original road has been straightened widened and improved leaving a two lane, paved highway that as a pleasure to travel. It has wide green spaces on either side which provides a perfect place to view wild animals and the Rocky Mountains to the west give beautiful vistas. There are other mountains mesas, rivers, lakes and streams, and many hills and valleys. Jeff and I enjoyed the drive and saw a moose and a coyote along the road. We also saw many deer.

Along the way we stopped at the Honey Place which had the world's largest glass beehive. We also saw the marker for Suicide Hill, a treacherous pass on the original highway. We use a book called The Milepost which has blow by blow descriptions of what is along the road. Unfortunately most of the actual mileposts are not there. They are often taken down during construction and not put back.

Our working day had started at 5am as we woke, dressed and at 6am prepared coffee for our group. Just before 9am we left Dawson Creek and we pulled into the Westend Campground in Fort Nelson around 5pm and we are beat. After a pickup dinner and a group planning meeting we are going to bed.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Nessum Dorma

It was impossible to sleep last night as we were so excited to begin our adventure. Don’t forget that this is a working vacation for us. We spent most of the day meeting the members of our group and affixing a label to the back of each of the RV’s. This is so we can recognize each other on the road.

In the afternoon we had a speaker from the tourism bureau give a talk about the Alaska Highway. Later we did some shopping and went to see a wooden bridge built by the US Army as the beginning of the Alaska Highway. Late we had a welcoming dinner at a local restaurant.

There are 15 guest couples in our group, the trekmaster, and us the tailgunners. Our job is to bring up the rear and help any guests who have a mechanical or medical emergency. We also help get everyone out in the morning and offer coffee next to the sign out sheet. In addition we coordinate some activities, dinners and social events. Our group travels independently during the day and meets at the new campground in late afternoon. Some places we stay several days and have some planned events and some free time.

To bed so we can get up early.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Take to the Highway...

This morning we do a few errands and set our sights on British Columbia. We saw a herd of bison and a herd of elk on the way to Dawson Creek. This is the official beginning of the Alaska Highway. We found our campground and met with our trekmaster and the other folks who will be working the treks this summer.

Now we begin our new adventure as tail gunners for our Alaska trek. We've been poring over lots of materials to acquaint ourselves with the route and all the sights that we will see. Tomorrow we have orientation meetings during the day and a welcoming dinner. The excitement is building and I am looking forward to setting off on Saturday.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Rubber Ducky

Today is the best weather we've had in days and it is time to leave. Ziggy and I take a long walk and see more elk around the campground. We pack up and hit the road early. We drive back the way we came into the park and back up the road past the Brule exit. We see many deer and elk along the road and the scenery is picture perfect. Now we are heading north (not west) and I can feel Alaska calling.

We drive straight through to Grande Prairie, Alberta and find a bustling city. We're staying at Camp Tamarack Campground and is it quite adequate and has good internet even though we have to pay for it. They also have many mosquitos and they are aggressive. We have seen a tee shirt that says the Canadian seasons - Winter/mosquitos. I'm sure they'll have that shirt in Alaska too as the mosquito is called the state bird.

After getting settled we head out for lunch and a quick tour of the town. After a stop at the visitor information center and the world's largest sun dial we drive out to Crystal Lake to see the Trumpeter Swans.

The lake is lovely and we walk out on a pier where we see a pair of swans in the distance. Too far for a picture but with binoculars we can see the black faces and graceful necks of these beautiful birds. There were some neat ducks too - one had a bright blue bill (Ruddy Duck) and another was black with a white bill (American Coot). One duck had a bunch of fuzzy little offspring and was busy feeding them.

After stops at a automobile supply store and the supermarket we are in for the evening. Tomorrow we drive two hours to Dawson Creek where we meet our tour group. It is very exciting and we are so anxious to start the drive on the Alaska Highway.

Frustrations of Cyberspace (Part 1 of what I am sure will be many)

We are on day 5 of no Internet connection. Now, this is not as bad as it could be because we still have cell phone service (which will go away in a couple of days) even if it is about $1.00 per minute. But the frustration comes, not from the lack of a connection per se, but the “so near and yet so far” quality of the lack.

For two days in Edmonton we were at a campground that featured free wifi – in fact they even had two access points to make the connection better. I had an excellent wireless signal. But we could almost never get connected because we couldn’t get an IP address. (Most of you who have used wifi will not have had this problem and probably were not even aware that there was such a thing.) It was a large (300 + sites) campground and I believe that they purposely limited the IP addresses available. I wouldn’t be surprised if they reserved the bulk of the addresses for seasonal campers (there were many) and left the rest of us to cope as we could.

So here we were, an excellent wifi signal and almost no connection to the Internet. (I say almost because in the middle of the night my e-mail client would get enough of a connection to have e-mail waiting for me in the morning. Judy doesn’t like to use an e-mail client so she could get no e-mail at all. Neither of us could ever use a web browser.)

Now, on to Jasper National Park. Judy will have regaled you with descriptions of beauty and wildlife, so I won’t do that. Our campground is first-rate – everything a campground in a national park is supposed to be. Of course national parks don’t have Internet connections, so we didn’t expect anything. But you don’t know until you try, so what the heck?

There it was. A wifi connection enticingly named “Free Public WiFi” with an excellent signal. But – you guessed it – we couldn’t get a connection. So here we are suffering from Internet withdrawal (a syndrome soon to be recognized by the AMA). We may try an Internet café in town tonight. We have to do laundry anyway. But maybe not. After all, our campground tomorrow night advertises free Internet.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

C'mon Baby Let the Good Times Roll

Today is a lazy day that feels so good. We sleep very late and around 11am we move to a different campsite due to a scheduling snafu. Now it is almost 3pm and we are having fun doing Sudoku, reading, napping and writing. While walking with Ziggy we see 5 or 6 elk grazing and lounging in the field next to our campsite.

At 3 o’clock we decide to go into town and do laundry. We find a nice, clean place with the usual washers and dryers plus a coffee shop and computers. While I do the wash and sip a chai latte Jeff goes off to an internet café. Later we meet and go to a lovely restaurant for dinner. I had salmon and Jeff ate a bison steak which he enjoyed. After a leisurely stroll we head back to our RV to walk Ziggy and watch a Harry Potter movie.

Monday, June 18, 2007

River Deep, Mountain High

The weather here changes in a few minutes. It has been cloudy the past few days and today we wake to more clouds and some sun. Waking up in the campground is so serene. The sites are very large so it is quiet and there are tall fir trees everywhere giving off a lovely scent. We walk Ziggy around our loop and see a Columbia Ground Squirrel.

We have a 10am reservation to ride the Jasper Tramway and we arrive there to partly sunny skies. It is Canada’s highest and longest aerial tramway and we ride up to 7472 feet above sea level. Dogs are allowed and we have two standard French Poodles in our car. We don’t think Ziggy would have enjoyed the crowded conditions. At the top we can see the vistas of six mountain ranges, lakes, rivers and the town of Jasper. We leave the landing area and start to hike up toward the summit. We see a Hoary Marmot, a rodent a little larger than a ground hog with lustrous fur and big dark eyes.

The views are spectacular, but the path is steep and rocky. Then it begins to sleet, followed by snow. Halfway to the summit I turn back because the snow is blinding and clouds have obscured any view. Back at the bottom the sun is shining and we take off for our next adventure at Lake Maligne.

The Maligne Valley road leads through scenic areas and the drive to the lake is about one hour from town. Along the way we see a wildlife traffic jam and there is a large black bear with her cub. They are ambling along the side of the road eating leaves and grass. People are out of their cars taking pictures, but we feel safer taking photos through the open window. We see some elk along the way and arrive at the lake. After lunch in the cafeteria we go on a 90 minute cruise.

Our boat is enclosed and heated and we have an informative guide showing us the nature sights. The lake is surrounded by mountains and some glaciers and the water color changes from clear to dark blue. We make a stop at Spirit Island to take pictures. Apparently a famous photo was taken from this spot and it won a Kodak competition. A large mural was made from the photo and it hung in Grand Central Station, NY for 15 years. They attribute that photo to the increase in tourism in Jasper Park.

Back in the car we are finally dried out and head back on the same (and only) road. As we come around a bend we encounter a group of Bighorn Sheep. They are funny looking characters with the big horns that curve around their faces. They have no fear and walk right up to the car. Being good citizens we do not feed or touch them but they would allow it or so I have read. A little farther down the road we see another bear causing a jam up and this one has two cubs. We also make a stop at Medicine Lake to see the magnificent views.

Just before town we reach Maligne Canyon and get out to hike around the waterfalls and gorges. The canyon is 50 meters deep and very narrow. The sound of the rushing water is so relaxing.

Back at the campground we settle in for a pleasant evening. We cook dinner and take Ziggy for a walk. Near the main road we saw a large elk and I finally found time to watch the movie The Queen which I had brought along.

Did You Know…

That all Canadian Radio Shacks are now The Source from Circuit City?

That Canada has a huge diamond mine way up north, and that supplies are brought in during the winter by driving huge trucks over frozen lakes?

That Alleve is a prescription drug in Canada?

That the Canadian dollar has risen against the US dollar to the point where there is only a 6% difference? (Ouch -- couple of years ago it was over 30%!)

That Saskatchewan doesn’t observe daylight savings time but the surrounding provinces do, so when you cross time zones here it gets REALLY confusing? The only way to know for sure what time it is is to ask a local.

That the Esso brand is still alive and well in Canada? (You youngsters out there will have no idea what I am talking about.)

That the Canadian dollar coin is called a “Loonie” because there is a loon on the face of it? (The two dollar coin is called a “Toonie.”)

That the West Edmonton Mall has over 800 stores and 100 eating places as well as an NHL-sized ice rink, a full-size model of the Santa Maria (where we saw weddings being performed!), a wave pool and bungee jumping?

That the city of Saskatoon is named after a berry? (And you thought the name was just made up [when you thought about it at all].)

That the city of Edmonton was started as a trading fort so trappers could supply beaver pelts for men’s hats in England?

That Canadians really do say “aboot” instead of “about” and use “eh?” as a punctuation mark?

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Oh My Papa

Happy Father’s Day!

Today is a travel day and we pack and leave by 10am. Back on the Yellow Head we pass though several small towns and more gorgeous scenery. Now there are hills and valleys with many lakes and rivers. Eventually we see mountains in the distance with snow at the top. We’ve reached the Canadian Rockies.

Our guide book told us that there is a must-see canyon just west of Brule. So we dutifully got off the highway and drove about 5 miles to Brule which is just one residential street. At the end (dead end) was nothing. We had to make a U-turn which took much backing up and was quite an ordeal with the car in tow. A local came out to help and informed us that Ogre Canyon was a 5 mile hike down the gravel road beyond the dead end. Oh yes, we could drive, but only in a 4-wheel vehicle. So we didn’t see the canyon, but the scenery we did see was spectacular and it is a good story.

We drove on and arrived at Jasper National Park with its breathtaking scenery. Everywhere you look could be a postcard. There are rivers, lakes, swamps, fir trees and magnificent snow covered mountains. The town of Jasper is adorable and reminded us of Jackson, Wyoming. Lots of cute shops and restaurants. We have a reservation at Whistler Campground which is just south of town and it is a large facility set amid a pine forest. We have a large wooded site and as soon as we pulled in two elk and their calves walked by. They hung around for awhile and later we watched the babies nursing. It is wonderful to be out in nature. Poor Ziggy doesn’t know what to make of the elk as they are so large and just don’t smell like a dog.

We made a run into town to buy some groceries and came back to cook dinner and eat “al fresco.” It is so pleasant to sit in the fresh air and relax. It is 11pm now and just getting dark. A beautiful day.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Walking in the Rain

Good Morning! Another glorious day and Ziggy and I took a long walk in the grassy field. Jeff slept in and we finally got our act together around 11am. First stop was the RV store to pick up a few things. Next we scouted out a few GM dealers trying to find a lug nut with no success. So we drove through an historic area of Edmonton and declared it a really nice city. The people we’ve met are also nice, friendly and very kind to strangers. They offer to help with directions and where to find things and are just a pleasure.

Our destination today was Fort Edmonton Park. This is a living history park built on the site of the original fur trading fort of the Hudson Bay Company. The park today is 158 acres and after entering we took the old steam train to the 1846 fort complex. Next we walked to the 1885 street and then the 1905 street. A 1920 street is the final set all of which had actual homes and businesses from Edmonton as well as staff members dressed in costume posing as townspeople from that era. Along the way there were stagecoach and wagon rides and a real streetcar. We were able to shop in the old general store and get cones in an ice cream parlor. The place was very well done and really let you experience how things changed in history. For fun there was miniature golf, a shooting arcade and the end was a amusement area circa 1920. Jeff and I rode on the beautiful carousel and then got caught in a downpour which left us soaked as we ran to the parking lot.

Dripping wet we drove to the west Edmonton Mall. They call this the greatest indoor show on earth and I must say I am impressed. The Mall of America seems shabby compared to this mega mall which we are told is the largest in the world. Someone told us there are 56 entrances and I must say they are very well marked as are the covered parking areas. The mall is two levels and we found it refreshing that most of the stores are not ones in the US malls. Special attractions are an ice skating rink, arcade, miniature golf, Deep Sea Adventure with a sea lion show, bumper boats and full size boat which is a replica of Columbus’s Santa Maria. People were actually getting married on the boat. The best was the World Waterpark – a huge wave pool with beach areas and water slides. Yes folks in bathing suits were lounging on beach chairs on the tan concrete beach and then riding the surf on inner tubes. I wouldn’t believe it if I hadn’t seen it with my own eyes.

We had dinner in the restaurant zone and then headed to Home Depot and back to the campground. Ziggy was ecstatic to see us and we settled in for a relaxing night before we pack up and move in the morning.

Friday, June 15, 2007

O Canada

We awake in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan amid shady trees and rows of fragrant lilac bushes. The lilacs are in full bloom here and in their purple glory. By 8am we are across town having our oil changed in Harvey, the RV, and leave by 11am. We are back on 16 West heading for Edmonton. I am relieved to know that this highway, called the Yellow Head, is not named for a huge pimple, but a scout for the fur trading companies known as tete jaune, yellow head, probably a blonde.

We pass through more gorgeous country and start to see hills and valleys as we near the foothills of the Canadian Rockies. We are now in Alberta and see huge farms and cooperative grain processing centers. These areas consist of immense grain elevators with railroad sidings. The agricultural equipment in the fields is very high tech and expensive. Farming is big business today and it takes much labor and know-how to bring all the food to our dinner tables. This is also cattle country and spring is calving time and we see so many cute babies in the fields. Alberta is the geographic center of Canada and the main flyway for migratory birds and we are able to view lots of birds and water fowl.

Lunch is at an Indian casino and we finally arrive at our campground around 6pm. Glowing Embers is west of the city and a huge place. We are lucky to get a shaded site backing up to a field. The bad news is that I moved the picnic table to, a bad place while Jeff was backing in and caused some damage when he put out the slide. So after some repair work to the storage unit and a few curses we are almost as good as new.

Let me explain about Harvey, the RV. He is 33’ long and over 50’ with the car in tow. You have to be very careful turning and pulling up to gas pumps. On the highway he drives easily and it is fun sitting up high with wall to wall windows to take in the views. Jeff and I sit in comfy leather chairs and behind us is the living room area. We have a swivel rocking chair and a three seat couch which converts to a sleeper. Behind the couch is a booth for eating or using the table with storage under the seats. The couch and booth are on a slide which means that we can move the room out 3’ when stopped giving us lots of extra floor space. Across from the booth is the kitchen with a double sink, 3 burner stove, microwave/convection oven, regular oven and refrigerator/freezer. There is lots of counter and drawer space and 2 slide out pantries for more storage. Windows cover most of the wall space and above them are cabinets. All the windows have honeycomb shades and blackout shades too.

Behind the kitchen is the bath area and bedroom with a stall shower, sink/vanity and across a toilet room with comfort height john and window. The queen bed is in the back and on a slide which gives us ample floor space. We have a triple closet with drawers underneath and more storage over the bed. Again there are windows everywhere for good ventilation. Harvey has large storage units underneath for bigger items like chairs, BBQ, tools and firewood.

This is very luxurious and I think much better than cheesy motels along the road. The best part of camping is being in nature and meeting interesting people.

Back to the campground we had dinner at their restaurant and slept great in the cool air. At 11pm the sky wasn’t completely dark and we are still moving further north.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

It's A Grand Old Flag

Today is flag day in the US and here we are in the middle of Canada. We are travelling west and passed out of Manitoba into Saskatchewan. This is beautiful country with wheat fields and ponds and lakes. So many ducks and birds. We enjoy the flying antics of the red tailed blackbid and the dramatic beauty of the lark bunting with his white tail and wings.

Lunch today was a real treat. Cafe 54 is in a teeny town called Wynyard and shares a shabby roadside building with a laundromat. Inside it is gourmet. I had the best eggs and hash browns ever and toast homemade from bread full of grains, flax, pumpkin and sunflower seeds. I bought a loaf of bread to take with me and will put my newly acquired Saskatoon jelly on it.

Oh yes we are staying in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan tonight. The Saskatoon berry is made into jellies and pies and tastes real sweet. The city is a little larger than Winnipeg and our campground is lush and lovely. I did laundry this afternoon and met four women all on their way to Alaska. Lots of travelling folks out here. There is also a caravan (convention) here and they had an Elvis impersonator entertain in a huge tent in the rear of the campground.

Now it is 10pm and just getting dark. We were out walking in the cool air and have to sleep and get up early to have our oil changed before setting off.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Rain, Rain, Go Away...

Wednesday we have our first rain, but it clears by the afternoon. We are driving north on I-29 and pass such interesting towns as Drayton, ND, the catfish capital of the north. I didn't notice any lakes or fish farming, go figure!

We crossed the border into Canada and as usual amazed that it is so easy to move from one country to another. Drove north to Winnipeg which has a population of over 600,000. Looked like a lovely city, but we didn't do the tourist thing. I went to the Asper Jewish Community Center to do some genealogical research. I am looking for an uncle of my father who emigrated to Winnipeg in 1913. Didn't have much luck, but got a few leads. The building I was in is part of a huge campus with a day school, museum and JCC. I am very impressed. Jeff and Ziggy ran a few errands and picked me up and we immediately started our drive west.

4pm and we have travelled over 2000 miles from South Carolina. We are now on Canadian Highway 16 which is known as the Yellowhead. Very pretty and lots of green fields and birds and ducks. We spend the night camping at Lions Riverbend in Neepawa, Manitoba. This is a delightful space in a picturesque little town. The camp area has walking trails and ponds and we are able to stroll around with Ziggy and enjoy the beautiful fresh air. We are in Central Time here and it doesn't get completely dark until 10:30.

Ought to Give Iowa a Try...Wells Fargo Wagon

Monday morning we set out west on I-70 and found ourselves in Independence, MO, home of Harry Truman. We decided to spend a few hours at the Truman Presidential Library and it was time well spent. Good exhibits brought the history to life and lunch near the old courthouse was delicious.

Drove across the state to Kansas City, MO and it first appeared from a hilltop vantage point and looked like the Emerald City in Oz, except that it wasn't green. Very pretty anyway and we drove on to the Kansas side just to say we'e been there and then headed north on I-29. Drove through Council Bluffs, Iowa and saw Omaha, Nebraska across the way. We followed the Lewis & Clark trail and spent the night at a Walmart in Sioux City, Iowa.

Today is Tuesday and we want to wish a Happy Birthday to Rick Glazer! We continued driving north and took a break to visit Sioux Falls, South Dakota. It is a charming old town with impressive waterfalls and a gorgeous park surrounding the falls. Best of all we found a great little diner and had a super lunch. The town has lots of sculptures along the streets and we saw a bronze replica of Michaelangelo's David and almost thought we were back in Florence. They also have huge stockyards which we passed and luckily the animals were all gone for today.

Tonight we arrived in Fargo, North Dakota and visited the Roger Maris museum. Those of you who know me well know that Maris is one of my personal heroes and his uniform number 9 is my lucky number. I think I loved him because my Dad had such a hatred for the Yankees. Anyway Jeff and I paid homage at this shrine and both can't believe that Maris has not been inducted into the baseball Hall of Fame. The Yanks never retired his number either. Shame on them! We are staying at a campground north of Fargo in Hillsboro, ND. When we checked in they gave us a plastic fly swatter. Not a good sign, but no mosquito bites yet.

And back to those songs from The Music Man - the town of Fargo is named for Wells Fargo as the pony express was so important to the development of the area.

Tomorrow we cross into Canada and visit Winnipeg where I hope to do some genealogical research.

Good night.