Monday, June 30, 2014


After several days without internet or cell phone, I'm once again connected to the outside world!

View from my campsite in Iskut, BC. Isn't it pretty? This is the Alpine Lakes region of BC. It was raining but still beautiful.

On the way to Stewart I passed through a wonderful little village called Telkwa. There is a park along the main street, which runs along the river. It's such a cute little town.

I drove west to Stewart in hopes of seeing bears but the salmon were not cooperating, so no bears in Stewart. But, BEAR along the highway the next day! This photo is the second bear I saw but the first was too fast and ran into the bushes before I even had my camera in my hands.

Rivers don't meander around here - they gush and are full of whitecaps and rapids.

Koka taking a dip in a rest area stream along the Cassiar Highway.

Campsite at Boya Lake Provincial Park. What a view to wake up to! There was a big thunderstorm at night and Koka tried to crawl under my blankets. She has never jumped on my bed before! In the evening a bear was sighted in camp and the tenters were instructed to sleep in their vehicles. No food preparation or eating was allowed outside or in tents. The lake is amazingly clear, though it's difficult to see that in the rain.

Welcome to the Yukon!

Teslin - home of the Tlingit native people. The colorful poles are not totems, but clan poles. I met a Tlingit gentleman named Tim who works at the cultural center, and he grabbed my dog and asked where I got her. He remembers dogs like Koka from his childhood but he said there are only a few around now. The kids used to call them bear dogs because their ears are like the ears of bears. Tim took me to the building where he works on restoring the native boats and other objects. For a few minutes I thought he was going to insist that I leave Koka with him...

There were lots of displays in the cultural center, but the baby things caught my eye.

Tim and Koka - she's MY dog!

Some things Tim is working on.

Tim said to let Koka run wild on the hill behind the cultural center - Koka on tribal land...

I've been on the Alaska Highway today but tomorrow I'll take a side trip over to Skagway, Alaska. Then I'll continue north in the Yukon, destination Tok, Alaska. I entered the Alaska Hwy not at Mile 0 so there was no big sign, no celebratory photo. A bit anti-climactic but still fun to see the small Alaska Highway signs.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Day of Rest

I decided to stay in the camp near Houston BC a second night, and take a break from driving. This camp/RV park is owned and maintained beautifully by a woman named Valerie. She loves gardening and flowers, and her property is enormous. Shady Rest is peaceful and the wi-fi is lightening fast. The mosquitos were rare during the daytime - until around 5 pm. Koka and I were able to trek around without being attacked.

Valerie and one of her flower beds.

Happy/crazy dog!

The maps

Where am I? About two-fifths of the way up from the bottom right side of the map you can see a red hwy line with a green pencil line next to it - the green pencil line is where I've traveled. So kids, you can know where yo mama is!

Tomorrow I will leave the Yellowhead Hwy and enter the Cassiar Hwy, destination Stewart, BC. On the way I'll visit the totems. To get to Stewart I will take a more narrow two lane road to the west. Stewart is a remote little town, without major services, so you need to be prepared. However, when the salmon are running, which is any day now in this part of BC, the bears come out and there are lots of opportunities for viewing. I'll probably spend the night in Stewart. Then it will be north to Boya Lake Provincial Park, which is supposed to be amazingly beautiful. Lots to look forward to!

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

North to Alaska Days 3 and 4

I continued north from the camp at Lytton to Quesnel on Hwy 97, and then onto the Yellowhead Hwy. Several times on the outskirts of Prince George I saw groups of protestors holding signs that said something about kids, so I finally stopped to see what it was about. They were groups of teachers, trying to inform people of a proposal to divide the BC schools into two sections; public and private (but subsidized by the government). The private school students would pay tuition. The teachers argue ( and I would have to agree) that students who could not afford to pay would receive a second rate education, and they are big supporters of public education. They also told me that the Yellowhead highway was known as the Highway of Tears, because for 60 years many native women have been murdered as they walked from reservations into town for medical care or other services. Recently bus service from the reservations was started, but it runs only one time each month. One of the victims found alongside the highway, 16-year-old Ramona Wilson, was a subject of a 2006 documentary film by M├ętis filmmaker Christine Welsh, entitled Finding Dawn, and the TV show 48 hours showed an episode about the murders in November 2012.

The teachers also told me about a Chinese man they met who was walking from Vancouver BC to Alaska. His name is X, and he's tall and skinny. They fed him a few hot dogs and off he went to continue his trek. They also said to throw him an apple if I see him. Alas, I didn't see Mr. X.

Along the way I stopped at 108 Mile Ranch Heritage Site, which began in 1867 as a post house along the Cariboo Trail. The Cariboo is a region of British Columbia along a plateau stretching from the Fraser Canyon to the Cariboo Mountains. The name is a reference to the caribou that were once abundant in the region. In the 1900s the 108 mile Post House became a horse and cattle ranch. It is beautifully sited along the river.

The Post House


Carriage House


A bit of historic British Columbia architecture

My campsite in Quesnel

Tonight I'm staying near Houston BC, in an RV park. My neighbors are from Nevada and are traveling in a caravan with three other RVs, headed for Alaska. They invited me to travel with them, but I politely declined - two of the couples were having a heated argument about the best way to get to Whitehorse. One couple wants to load all four huge RVs onto the ferry from Prince Rupert to Skagway, and the other couple wants to drive. I'll continue my peaceful journey with my loyal dog for company.

Tomorrow I hope to visit a site in Gitanyow with very old totems. Perhaps I'll stay in the provincial park there, named Anhuluut’ukwsim Laxmihl Angwinga’Asanskwhl Nisga’a (a.k.a. Nisga’a Memorial Lava Bed Park). The park is a cultural site of the Nisga'a people.

Mosquitos here fly and bite in pouring rain.

North to Alaska Day 2

On Sunday I drove north along the Fraser River, and spent the night in a camp that caters to river rafters. It was almost empty and very quiet. No electricity, no water, nothing - except camping spots and tepees!

The Fraser River runs through a deep canyon, and is a popular spot for riding the rapids on rafts. There were a few river guides hanging about but their tourists had just left after a day on the river.

Fraser River

Sunday, June 22, 2014

North to Alaska Day 1

Yesterday was day 1 of my journey north. After celebrating Celia's two-year-old birthday on Friday, and a teary goodbye in the morning, I was on my way.

Celia "reading" a birthday card, photo by her other grandmother, Wendy.

It felt good to be on the road. The drive was uneventful with the exception of lots of traffic in the Seattle area. I spent the night in the very picturesque little town of Lynden, Washington, near the Canadian border. Lynden is very old and pretty, with flowers everywhere and historic homes on tree lined streets. It was settled in 1874 near the site of a Nooksack Indian village. Many Dutch immigrants settled here, and there is a profusion of beautiful dairy and berry farms in the area, with white farm houses and barns.

Bringing many varieties of produce and some meats and dairy products into Canada is forbidden, so I have not stocked my refrigerator. I ate dinner in town, at JoFish restaurant. Really fresh delicious halibut and coleslaw. Yummy.

Tomorrow I'll cross the border at Sumas, Washington.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Moving day and stuff, too much stuff

Today my house is being packed up and tomorrow the whole mess will be moved to the storage units. If everything I need to live for a year is in my camper, what on earth is in all these boxes? Stuff. Lots of stuff. Too much stuff. And I thought I had been ruthless about sorting through the stuff and getting rid of so much.

Some of the stuff...

The same room before packing...

I did not take the second photo. It was taken by the property management company that will be handling the renting and any problems while I'm away. Of course they made it look tempting to prospective tenants and I love the photo.

Tonight I'll sleep in my bed but tomorrow I move totally into the camper. I think I'll park at Mary and Ari's house, and play with Celia.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Getting ready...

Yesterday I took the rig to have it washed and waxed. It took several hours but Rick at Camping World in Wilsonville put three coats of wax on the hood and around the bottom portion. Hopefully that will give a bit of protection from the flying gravel on some roads. Rick took my photo after things were all shiny clean. He wants to see what it looks like after the Alaska portion of my trip. As I drove off several guys yelled in unison "don't hit a moose!" I met a charming couple from Vancouver Island and they told me all about their Alaska/Yukon adventures. They talked about the weathervane at the Whitehorse airport, which is an actual plane and the whole thing rotates. And don't miss the Laird Hot Springs! "You will feel little fish around your legs but don't let that stop you." Betsy and Steve were having the tailgate fixed on their truck. They travel in a fifth wheel and had been on a leisurely trip to San Diego to visit friends. The most important advice they had for me was this: If you find a place you really like, stay there for a few days. Don't rush.

I spent some time today organizing the inside of the rig, doing things like putting up hooks and stowing galley items. I also keep packing books, a few boxes at a time.
It takes a while because I inevitably open some of the books and start reading.....I have 25 boxes packed. About 20 more to do. And why do I still have books that belong to kids? One about Nirvana? The band, not the concept. A surfing book that I was going to get rid of, but the photos are so beautiful that I couldn't toss it. I also found a high school poetry club publication from 1965, titled The Inkblot. I had totally forgotten about it. Good grief, that thing is almost 50 years old!

Alaska shoes. Don't laugh - I heard they're the latest rage.

I just received my mailing address from the Escapees mail forwarding service. I never ever in a million years thought I would have a TEXAS!!! mailing address. But here it is -

Judith Darin
243 Rainbow Drive # 14352
Livingston, Texas 77399-2043

I can call them and they overnight my mail to me, and they will also throw away catalogs and junk mail, or open and read or scan and email to me. How great is that?

Sunday, June 1, 2014

June Already?

The date of departure for Alaska is getting closer.......and I still have so much to do! I've been packing books in an attempt to get ready for the movers who arrive on June 11. I think my books are reproducing on the shelves - it takes a lot of boxes of books to make a dent. So far I've packed 19 boxes and I estimate I will need about 30 more! Really, all I really want to do is look at maps of British Columbia and Alaska. The first day of my trip will be to Sumas, Washington, where I will stay overnight. The next day I will cross the border into British Columbia and head north on Hwy 97 to Prince George. From there I'll go west on Hwy 16 and connect to the Cassair Hwy to Watson lake. Then it's west to the Alaska Hwy and White Horse in the Yukon Territory. I'll continue along the Alaska Hwy to Tok, Alaska, and then over to Denali, where I have reservations for three days at the Teklanika campground in the National Park. These are the only reservations I've made, since I don't want to adhere to a schedule. After Denali I'll head down to Anchorage and Homer, where I plan to stay for a week or so. Then it will be north to Fairbanks, and perhaps I'll go further north toward Deadhorse and the Arctic Ocean - depending on road conditions. I haven't planned my return trip yet. Just take one day at a time. Meanwhile, I've been loading things into the RV which, by the way, needs a name. Suggestions welcome! I've also been working on the garden, trying to get everything under control. Things around here grow like Jack's beanstalk!