BC RVing: 6 nights in West Kelowna

When I last talked to you, on day 17 of the trip (Friday, September 25th), we had just arrived in West Kelowna. In a few hours from now, on day 23 (Thursday, October 1st), I’ll be starting the 2,600 kilometer (1,616 mile) drive home. The days in the Kelowna area have mostly been family time, so I don’t have much touristy stuff to tell you about, and there are only 15 photos.

The West Bay Beach Resort turned out to be a very good choice for us. The sites are fairly large, it’s very quiet, and despite the fact that dogs aren’t allowed on the beach, a large unused field provides decent dog-walking. It’s a short drive to the Gellatly Dog Beach, where we went every day, and to my Dad’s apartment.

West Bay Beach Resort RV campground
If you have dogs, you can’t get one of the lakefront sites, which are quite wonderful, and a steal at $38 per night. This is the last of 7 campgrounds that used to be along the lake here – a woman showed up just after we got here for her 40th year here! A redevelopment application to replace it with condos is well along, though, and the surveyors were here yesterday, so this may be its final year of operation. Kelowna is becoming more and more both RV and dog unfriendly.

Lakefront sites at West Bay Beach Resort RV campground
The dog-walking field I mentioned is about 10 acres, and the Canada geese that hang out there and in adjoining pastures were a bonus for Bella. The resort’s llama and alpaca were only close enough to the fences to be interesting once, but Monty was particularly fascinated by them.

West Bay Beach Resort RV campground
I’d been looking forward for a very long time to getting Bella and my sister’s dog together, and they both certainly got some great exercise during their times together :)

Shelties playing
Winery tastings are usually a big deal for Cathy and I, but we only went to 2 this time – Little Straw and Beaumont’s. We added a case of assorted wines from each to take home, though.

Vineyards in West Kelowna

On Sunday night, Cathy had to board an Air North flight to go home and get back to her job while the kids and I continue our solo journey.

I had decided to expand my agricultural-product horizons to include apples, and to try some good ciders while I was down this time.

Apples in Kelowna
I started with “I don’t like cider”, but hoping that that was just because I’d never tasted any good ones. That turned out to be true. The first 2 cideries that my sister and I went to, Ward’s and Double Cross, are producing some excellent ones, and I’ve packed some to take home for Cathy. Compared what I’ve had before, these are apple wines – in fact Double Cross makes ice ciders that are like sipping brandy.

Ward's Hard Cider, Kelowna
One of the things that I needed to buy as insurance that I’ll be able to get the motorhome back to Whitehorse is a set of tire chains. I started at Kal Tire, and the young man I talked to there not only used to live in Whitehorse, he used to play hockey and almost certainly rode on my bus for some out-of-town games. Small world! Anyway, he phoned Lordco just a few miles away, and they had what I need. Like any insurance, I hope that I don’t need to use them, but it’s a very good $270 “policy”.

Cable chains for my motorhome
Whenever possible during my Kelowna trips, I drive down Highway 97 to Peachland to see a woman who has been a good friend since we met in White Rock in 1967.

BC Highway 97 south to Peachland
The last time we met for lunch, Jean suggested that we try a different place than usual, and the Blind Angler Grill was so good that that’s where we met this time as well. The location, to start with, is superb.

Blind Angler Grill, Peachland, BC
And the view from our table was stunning. Add 22°C air and it became perfect :) Oh yes, the food – we hadn’t seen their breakfast menu before, but my seafood omelette was both unique and excellent.

The view from Blind Angler Grill, Peachland, BC
I spent a few minutes walking along Peachland’s beautiful waterfront before heading back to Dad’s.

Peachland, BC
Dad lives at the Westwood Retirement Resort, and he’s finally admitted that it’s wonderful :) Among the many great features is the rooftop terrace with a gas firepit and a killer view.

Westwood Retirement Resort in West Kelowna, BC
Monty and Bella have had a ball at Gellatly Dog Beach. “Wanna go to the beach?” might just be Monty’s favourite question now. I was confident for quite a while that he’d see the Yukon again, but he’s having some very rough spells the past 3 days, so now I’m mostly just hoping and doing what I can.

Gellatly Dog Beach, West Kelowna, BC
Monty’s energetic bursts are very short, but Bella is the Eveready Bunny when there are other dogs to play with. She’s swimming more and more each day, learning from the water dogs she sees and tries to imitate – it’s great fun to watch!

Gellatly Dog Beach, West Kelowna, BC

So that’s the Kelowna area. I’ll be spending the next 4 days stopping to visit family and friends between Salmon Arm and Williams Lake, and with a couple of other small detours along the way, should be back in Whitehorse on about October 9th.

Alberta/BC RVing: Cochrane to West Kelowna

On days 16 and 17 of the trip (Thursday and Friday, September 24 and 25), we drove from Cochrane to West Kelowna with a detour into Lake Louise, a total of 610 km (379 miles).

Before we leave Cochrane, I want to show you some more photos of the Bow Rivers Edge Campground, which as I mentioned before, is our new “best-ever” commercial campground. A bonus to us is that the campground is owned by the Rotary and Lions Clubs of Cochrane, and all the profits are put back into the community through grants and bursaries for community-based organizations.

Bow Rivers Edge Campground in Cochrane, Alberta
There are 144 sites, at $40 per night for pull-through, full service 30-amp sites. All of the facilities were extremely well maintained.

Bow Rivers Edge Campground in Cochrane, Alberta
The sites are a decent size, though I couldn’t easily get into the bays on the driver’s side because of the privacy bushes. Although we didn’t use the firepit, it’s nice to have one in case we did want a fire one night.

Bow Rivers Edge Campground in Cochrane, Alberta
We left the campground just before the 11:00 checkout time, but then decided to go for a good breakfast at Smitty’s so didn’t hit the road until after noon.

Alberta Highway 1 west of Cochrane
Lac des Arcs, a widening of the Bow River, was a good spot for a short dog walk. A huge and ever-growing cement plant, the Lafarge Exshaw Plant, has dominated the view across the lake for my entire life (to the right of the view shown here) – it has cut up and crushed pretty much an entire mountain during that time.

Lac des Arcs, a widening of the Bow River
We wanted to stop at Lake Louise for an hour or so, so paid the $19.20 daily fee to Parks Canada at the Canmore gate on Highway 1.

Banff park gate on Highway 1 at Canmore, Alberta
Cathy and I would like to spend an entire summer wandering slowly through the Canadian Rockies. Some day…

The Trans Canada Highway through the Canadian Rockies
Castle Mountain, 2,766 meters high (9,075 feet), dominates the view for many miles. From 1946 to 1979 it was known as Mount Eisenhower, and that’s still what I automatically call it.

Castle Mountain, a.k.a. Mount Eisenhower
While the girls curl up and try to sleep, Monty’s preferred position is still snuggled up beside me, in lead dog mode :)

My husky Monty helping navigate the RV
If you’re driving anything large, don’t take it up to the Lake Louise parking lot if at all possible – there really isn’t room for anything longer than about 25 feet. I should have paid attention to the large electric “Limited Parking” sign, disconnected down in the townsite, and taken just the Tracker.

Large RV at Lake Louise, Alberta
Lake Louise is stunning – this is one of the iconic views in the Rockies. There were dozens of canoes scattered across the lake.

Lake Louise, Alberta
Looking back at the world famous Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise hotel, where even off-season, lake view rooms start at $419, lake view suites at $769.

Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise hotel, Alberta
We’re always happy to let tourists pose with “a real husky!”, and Monty is always gentle and tolerant :)

Tourists posing with a husky at Lake Louise, Alberta
In 1899, the Canadian Pacific Railway brought the first Swiss Mountain guides to the Canadian Rockies, and a new form of tourism was born in an area that 6 years later would become part of the Province of Alberta. This monument was erected on the centennial of the arrival of those guides.

Swiss guides centennial monument at Lake Louise, Alberta
Half an hour west of Lake Louise just before 4:00 pm, we had a lengthy delay at an impressive piece of cliff-blasting. At the upper left, a man can be seen putting explosives into holes that had been drilled. We didn’t get to see a blast, though :(

Cliff blasting along the Trans Canada Highway in the Rockies
By 5:00 pm (we gained an hour crossing back into BC) were all due for a long break at the Rogers Pass National Historic Site, where the Trans Canada Highway was opened. On September 3rd, 1962, Prime Minister John Diefenbaker and representatives from all ten provinces attended the opening ceremonies. The pass is 1,330 meters high (4,364 feet). The gun is one of the ones that used to be used for avalanche control, but they’ve all been replaced by newer ones.

Rogers Pass National Historic Site, BC
A closer look at the Swiss Glacier above Rogers Pass, with Hermit Mountain (3,110 m/ 10,203 ft high) behind and to the right of it.

Swiss Glacier and Hermit Mountain above Rogers Pass
At the eastern end of the historic site is a section of abandoned Canadian Pacific rail line. On March 4, 1910, an avalanche killed 62 railway workers near this spot, and in 1916, after a total of more than 200 people had been killed on the Rogers Pass section, the line was abandoned after the 8 km (5.0 mi) Connaught Tunnel under the pass was completed.

Abandoned Rails Trail in Rogers Pass
The 1-km Abandoned Rails Trail was closed for some reason.

Abandoned Rails Trail in Rogers Pass
At about 6:30, just before sunset, we stopped for the night at a rest area at Craigellachie, west of Revelstoke. It was here that the “Last Spike” of the Canadian Pacific Railway was driven by Sir Donald Smith, a director of the railway, on November 7, 1885. Pinched between a busy highway and a busy railway, it wasn’t a peaceful spot, and neither of us slept well. We didn’t expect it to be quiet, and in fact chose it so we could see some trains, but I hadn’t expected a semi to park beside us and keep his engine running most of the night.

Rest area at Craigellachie, BC
It started raining very early in the morning, and got steadily harder, but I went out and got the first of the photos I wanted of the site and trains, which went by about every 15 minutes. The building in this photo is a gift shop run in the summer by the Revelstoke Railway Museum. The first bus full of Asian tourists stopped in at 07:20 (!), and several more came through before we got back on the road.

Craigellachie historic site, BC
The next photo, shot from a caboose sitting there, shows the Last Spike monument and an east-bound freight train.

Last Spike monument at the Craigellachie historic site, BC
The rain continued even as we reached the north end of “the Sunny Okanagan Valley”, but became scattered as we neared our destination.

Rain in the Okanagan
For our campground for the next few days, we had decided to continue past Kelowna to avoid the congestion that so often chokes the roads. This multi-km jam across the floating bridge was caused by an accident on the main highway through the city.

Traffic jam on the Kelowna bridge

We were in for a surprise when we got to Todd’s RV Park in Peachland, however. With generally good reviews on TripAdvisor and not having seen anything to the contrary, we showed up to get a site for 4 nights, and were surprised to find a very tight, very old campground. We were even more surprised when they said that we couldn’t stay there because we have 2 huskies! Huskies are among about 10 “strong jawed breeds” that aren’t allowed at the campground – the fellow on duty didn’t know why the rule is there, and apologized profusely. As it turned out, I’m glad they did turn us away, because we got a much more suitable campground in West Kelowna for the same price ($38).

Going back to West Kelowna, we were settled in at the West Bay Beach Resort by 2:30, and were at Dad’s place not longer after.

View from our RV at West Bay Beach Resort in West Kelowna

We’re now in Kelowna for a few days. Although Cathy flies back to Whitehorse on Sunday night, I’ll be staying to see more family and do some writing, then will start a fairly slow wander home.

Family Time around Cochrane

Starting on day 13, Monday, September 21, we had 3 full days to spend with my daughter and grand-daughters from our base at the Bow Rivers Edge Campground in Cochrane, which is our new “best-ever” commercial campground.

Figuring out everyone’s work and school schedules was a bit daunting, but the first day, I wanted to show Cathy the prettiest park I’d found in the area, and then spend some photography time with Andrea.

Big Hill Springs Provincial Park is just a couple of kilometers off the direct route between our campground and Andrea’s home – the blue sign pointing to it can be seen in this photo of Big Hill Springs Road (Hwy 567).

Big Hill Springs Road (Hwy 567), Alberta
The series of little waterfalls are the main feature in the park for me, but there are also some wonderful tufa formations along the creek. This would be a superb park on a hot day, but apparently it gets very crowded on hot weekends, whereas we only saw 2 other people.

Waterfall at Big Hill Springs Provincial Park, Alberta

Waterfall at Big Hill Springs Provincial Park, Alberta
Even a short walk at the park is excellent, but walking the entire circuit, 2.3 km, is even better, and climbing the 20-meter hill is a good way to start the day.

Big Hill Springs Provincial Park, Alberta
A few minutes after noon, Cathy took the dogs back to the RV, while Andrea and I headed south in her car. This view is looking down to Cochrane on Hwy 22.

Cochrane, Alberta
A few minutes south of Cochrane, we went by this building under construction. An odd hotel? No, Andrea said that this is a single-family home, and when we got back to the RV Park, I found that it Googled well. This mansion, set on 80 acres, is 11,000 square feet with a 9-car garage. Comments about it online (including mine) are not complimentary. Being built right beside a major highway instead of in a secluded spot on the acreage, this is simply a monument to narcissism. It’s even being built on the cheap, if the stated value of $3,159,594 is correct.

Mansion being built south of Cochrane, Alberta
Highway 22 gets very pretty as you get into Kananaskis country.

Highway 22 in Kananaskis country, Alberta
It was Elbow Falls Provincial Recreation Area that Andrea wanted me to see. The very popular picnic area was largely destroyed by a flood in June 2013, to the point that it’s not going to be rebuilt. Some 17,000 cubic meters of land above the viewpoint was washed away. High River, Canmore, and Calgary suffered extensive damage in the same series of floods. The first photo shows one of the destroyed picnic tables that still stick out of the gravel above the falls.

Elbow Falls Provincial Recreation Area, Alberta
The viewpoint and walking trails over the waterfall were’t damaged by the floods, and it’s still a popular place to come even without picnic facilities.

Elbow Falls Provincial Recreation Area, Alberta
The main waterfall.

Elbow Falls Provincial Recreation Area, Alberta
Below the falls, some large caves have been eroded into the banks.

Elbow Falls Provincial Recreation Area, Alberta
The amount of damage is quite impressive, with several paved trails now ending in high banks. Looking through photos in Google images, it’s a very different place than it used to be.

Elbow Falls Provincial Recreation Area, Alberta
As we left Elbow Falls, I asked Andrea what was further up the highway. She hadn’t been that way before, and just a mile or so away, we found an excellent series of beaver dams with an interpretive trail. It’s off the main river and hadn’t been damaged by the flood.

Beaver pond west of Bragg Creek, Alberta
The beavers are very busy, with very active “logging haul trails” down the slopes above the ponds, and a new dam being built right across the trail.

Beaver dam west of Bragg Creek, Alberta
The next day was much calmer, filled with quality dog and family time. The leash-free park along the Bow River was so perfect for us.

Leash-free dog park along the Bow River at Cochrane, Alberta
Our site at the RV park was a wonderful place to just chill.

Bow Rivers Edge Campground in Cochrane, Alberta
I got to take part in a surprise event, helping Andrea buy a new car in Airdrie. My part was largely telling her that she really needed to buy a car that she loved, not that she was just making do with :) (as well as watching over the negotiations). This photo was taken a couple of days later as she was taking delivery of her new Honda Civic.

Taking delivery of a 2015 Honda Civic
Back to Cochrane, the RV was also a wonderful place to host a 15th-birthday barbecue for my twin grand-daughters Kaitlyn and Kylie!

Birthday barbecue at Bow Rivers Edge Campground in Cochrane, Alberta
“Surely you’re not going to eat all of that birthday cake by yourself!” :)

Bella and 2 of her sisters at the leash-free park along the Bow River in Cochrane, Alberta
For many weeks we’d been looking forward to meeting another part of Bella’s family. She was one of a litter of 6 puppies that was rescued from Morley by the dedicated folks at Rocky Mountain Animal Rescue, and we keep in touch with the families of other of those puppies, including Kim, who adopted 2 of the girls. On Wednesday morning, Kim and her Mom came to Cochrane and we had 2 hours of play with the 3 girls, and Monty took part in the fun occasionally.

Bella and 2 of her sisters at the leash-free park along the Bow River in Cochrane, Alberta
This is Luna with Bella – Luna is the only one of the litter with that colouring, but seeing them like this makes it easier to believe that they’re sisters.

Bella and 2 of her sisters at the leash-free park along the Bow River in Cochrane, Alberta
Koda play-bowing with Bella and Monty. This was the first time we’d been downriver far enough to find this beach, which is beautiful!

Bella and 2 of her sisters at the leash-free park along the Bow River in Cochrane, Alberta
Our official portrait of the day – Bella, me, Luna, Kim, and Koda.

Bella and 2 of her sisters at the leash-free park along the Bow River in Cochrane, Alberta
This is the photo that best shows the fun we all had. I am so looking forward to being able to do it again some day, maybe even with more of the pups from the litter.

Bella and 2 of her sisters at the leash-free park along the Bow River in Cochrane, Alberta
Kaitlyn asked us to stay an extra night so we could watch her play volleyball. It was good fun to watch – I love being in Grampa mode :)

Girls volleyball in Airdrie, Alberta

On Thursday, September 24th, we’d start the 2-day drive to West Kelowna to see my Dad.

Alberta RVing: Cochrane via the Icefields Parkway

On day 11, Saturday, September 19, we started south on the Icefields Parkway just before 3:30, with our 2-day pass in the window getting us waved through the gate. The weather was iffy, and we didn’t have very high hopes for seeing the best of the highway’s spectacular views.

Icefield Parkway gate south of Jasper, Alberta
Athabasca Falls is a must-stop in any weather, and was fairly busy, with several tour buses and lots of cars and RVs. The falls are only about 24 meters high (80 feet), but are very impressive because of the gorge the water has cut through a layer of limestone underlying the quartzite that it starts falling from.

Athabasca Falls, Alberta
There are plenty of paths and viewpoints to see the falls and gorge from.

Gorge at Athabasca Falls, Alberta
The path down to the lower gorge is definitely worth taking, partly because it goes through an old, now dry section of the gorge.

Lower gorge at Athabasca Falls, Alberta
A little bit of brightening weather, but as we neared the Columbia Icefield where we planned to spend the night, it got very dark and started raining.

Icefields Parkway, Alberta
The view of the Athabasca Glacier (the main toe of the Columbia Icefield) from the RV window at 5:50 doesn’t show the extremely strong wind that was rocking the rig and making lots of noise :(

Athabasca Glacier, Alberta
A bit of clear sky got us to brave the wind to go up to the Icefield Discovery Centre, but despite the name that hints that it’s an interpretive centre there’s really not much to see there – it’s a hotel, a couple of restaurants, and ticket booths for various tours and attractions.

Icefield Discovery Centre, Alberta
The view is impressive, though. To even walk the dogs, we unhooked the Tracker and drove further down the highway where we found a somewhat more sheltered location. Parking overnight at the Icefield Discovery Centre cost $15.70. While looking for a place to walk the dogs, we checked out a real campground just to the south, but the road was steep and very rough, the sites were too small for us and it appeared to be full in any case.

View from the Icefield Discovery Centre, Alberta
We had the wildest night ever in the motorhome, with the wind screaming around us and the rain pounding us. I braved the storm to take a few shots at 9:45, and we continued driving south on the Icefields Parkway a few minutes later.

RV at the Icefield Discovery Centre, Alberta
We only made one stop down the highway, as the best views were clouded or fogged in. I drove the Parkway 3 times in 2014, though, the best trip being in August.

Icefields Parkway, Alberta
When I shot this at 11:25, it was incredibly dark.

Icefields Parkway, Alberta
Once we reached the Trans Canada Highway near Lake Louise, the skies started to clear, and by the time we stopped for a late lunch at Canmore, there was actually a lot of sunshine.

Jasper, Alberta

After deciding that the reviews for the campgrounds close to my daughter in Airdrie were just too bad, we chose to stay at the Bow Rivers Edge Campground in Cochrane, and were immediately pleased with that decision, as we’d be there for 4 nights.

Alberta RVing: Exploring Jasper

On day 10, Friday, September 18, we made the short drive from Hinton to Jasper. I’ve been lucky enough to spend a few days at Jasper in recent years, but it’s one of those places where no amount of time is enough, so we decided to spend a night there to explore some new places. At the park gate on Highway 16, we paid $39.20 for a permit that allowed us to stay in the park for 2 nights.

Right at 1:00, we arrived at Parks Canada’s Whistlers Campground, where there was already a lineup to check in. There had just been a cancellation, so despite the “Full” sign, we got a full-hookup pull-through site for $38.20.

Whistlers Campground at Jasper, Alberta
The campground is massive, with over 600 sites in pods – we got set up in site 52H, with similar rigs in most of the dozen or so sites in the pod.

Whistlers Campground at Jasper, Alberta
Washrooms and garbage/recycling bins were a few hundred feet away, as well as electrical charging lockers which can be rented for $1, seen to the left in the photo. A sign in the washroom indicated that people used to plug in their electronic stuff there, but there were thefts, so now campers can charge their stuff safely.

Washrooms and charging lockers at Whistlers Campground at Jasper, Alberta
We unhooked the Tracker and headed into town, with the first stop being my favourite pub, D’ed Dog, for lunch. Then we went exploring. There’s lots of cool architecture in Jasper, with the best being the old Parks headquarters, which is now the visitor information centre. Designed by Edmonton architect A. M. Calderon and completed in 1914, it introduced a building tradition based on the use of local construction materials, in this case cobblestone and timber.

Jasper, Alberta
Many modern buildings have continued that general architectural style – that’s the CIBC bank in the next photo, seen from the visitor centre grounds.

CIBC bank in Jasper, Alberta
Neither of us had been to the museum (the Jasper-Yellowhead Museum & Archives) before, so that was next on the list. I was surprised to find it in one of the ugliest buildings in Jasper – it looks like it used to be a sleazy bar!

Jasper-Yellowhead Museum & Archives, Alberta
Despite the look outside, it’s a very different story inside. It’s an extremely good museum, with excellent displays – well worth the $6 admission fee.

Jasper-Yellowhead Museum & Archives, Alberta
We went back to the campground to get the kids dinner, to find this magnificent fellow wandering through the campground, bugling for a mate. There were signs all over Jasper warning people about how dangerous bull elk can be this time of year.

Bull elk in Jasper, Alberta

After dinner, we headed out for a drive up the nearby Mount Edith Cavell Road.

The 14-km-long road is narrow, twisting and steep, with very few places to stop and enjoy the stunning views. It’s not a place for large motorhomes or trailers.

Mount Edith Cavell Road near Jasper, Alberta
Mount Edith Cavell, 3,363 meters high (11,033 feet), is named after a British nurse executed during World War I for her part in helping Allied prisoners escape to the Netherlands from occupied Brussels. The top 1/3 or so of the mountain was hidden by clouds.

Mount Edith Cavell, Jasper, Alberta
There ya go! :)

'Don't build cairns' sign near Jasper, Alberta
There are some enticing hiking trails leading from the parking lot at the end of the road, but I wasn’t dressed for the very cold weather, especially with a misty rain falling.

Hiking trail at Mount Edith Cavell, Jasper, Alberta
Back down the road a bit, we went for a short walk at Cavell Lake, and accepted an offer to have a picture of us taken. Edith Cavell is the mountain to the left, partially hidden in cloud. Some Web sites identify the prominent peak in the photo as Edith Cavell. Maybe the name has been given to the entire complex – I haven’t been able to find out.

Cavell Lake, Jasper, Alberta
Dramatic Mount Tekarra is one of my favourite peaks in the area. Some day I want to hike the trail along her ridgeline (part of the Skyline Trail).

Mount Tekarra, Jasper, Alberta
Nearing the campground again just after 7 pm, we stopped to watch some elk cows and a calf. Monty definitely approved of the idea, and Bella spent quite a while trying to get some good sniffs :)

Elk near Jasper, Alberta
When a bull appeared, the traffic jam got heavy in a hurry!

Elk jam near Jasper, Alberta
The poor guy just wasn’t having any luck with these ladies, though. And such a classy guy, too! :)

Bull and cow elk at Jasper, Alberta
The next morning (Saturday, September 19), we had a good look around Whistlers Campground, which had worked out perfect for us. We thought about going up to the Jasper Tramway, but the weather wasn’t conducive to any high-country walks.

Jasper tramway, Alberta

Without hooking the Tracker back up to the motorhome, we left the campground at the 11:00 checkout time, and drove both vehicles to a large pullout on the highway. Leaving the RV there, we continued on to Maligne Canyon with the dogs in the Tracker.

A large viewpoint just before the upper Maligne Canyon road offers a great view to Jasper.

Jasper, Alberta
We were very surprised to find the Maligne Canyon road closed, barricaded and manned by a ranger. We never did find out why. We decided to continue on 34 km (21 mi) to Maligne Lake, a Jasper-area icon which neither of us had been to before. Many of the peaks along the road are quite incredible.

On the road to Maligne Lake, Alberta
Maligne Lake is drained by the Maligne River, which flows into Medicine Lake, seen in the next photo. Medicine Lake, though, has no visible outlet because it drains into an underground river (except during flood) which flows for for 14 km (9 miles) before reappearing in Maligne Canyon.

Medicine Lake, Alberta
Because of the canyon closure, the Maligne Lake parking lot was 99% full, as was the cafeteria where we had a mediocre lunch. The lake was a bit of a disappointment, I suppose because of the weather which hid the lake’s colour. There were still lots of photo ops, though, such as the historic Boathouse, built by Donald “Curly” Philips in 1928 to accommodate his guiding and fishing business.

Boathouse at Maligne Lake, Alberta
With strong, cold winds screaming across the lake, which sits at over a mile in elevation, we had not the slightest inclination to go on a boat tour, but many people were, probably on pre-booked tours. We even saw 2 canoes head out, though one returned to the boathouse very quickly! We did get some exercise by taking the dogs for a long walk along the lake on a trail sheltered by the forest.

Tour boat at Maligne Lake, Alberta
We started back down the hill at about 1:30, making a few photo stops for mountains and a very impressive canyon.

Jasper, Alberta

Jasper, Alberta

At about 3:00 pm, we hooked the Tracker back up to the motorhome and headed south on the Icefields Parkway, which will be covered in the next post.

The Hinton/Jasper KOA campground

Before we leave Hinton and continue on to Jasper, I want to show you the Hinton/Jasper KOA campground, as it’s the nicest one we’ve stayed at yet.

First impressions are really important, and the office is very nice. The woman who checked me in was professional and friendly, and apologized twice for not having someone there to guide me the 400 feet to my site :) With 30 amp full service in a pull-through, it cost $45.90 per night for me, $48.90 per night once Cathy arrived.

Hinton/Jasper KOA campground
The sites are almost level, of a decent size, and have a lawn and picnic table. They also all have a great view of the Rockies. Having no trees maintains the view for everyone but obviously is problematic for people who want to sit in the shade with a cool one (I vote for the view).

Hinton/Jasper KOA campground
The sites don’t have fire pits, but there’s a large communal fire pit in the middle of the park. The park managers put the fire out at 10:30 according to a TripAdvisor commenter who wasn’t happy about that.

Communal fire pit at the Hinton/Jasper KOA campground
Having a park that’s dog friendly is of course huge to us, and is probably the main thing that caused me to give this park 5 stars on their TripAdvisor page. First, they have a large fenced agility course. The kids had never seen one, so I had to show them the concept :)

Kamp K9 agility course at the Hinton/Jasper KOA campground
And then we/they had a bit of fun with it.

Kamp K9 agility course at the Hinton/Jasper KOA campground
There are garbage and recycling bins, and doggie pickup bag dispensers at many places in the park, a dramatic difference to most of the parks we’ve stayed at. The stuff put into the recycling bins gets donated to a KOA-run program for children with cancer.

Hinton/Jasper KOA campground
The dog facility that we used the most was an open leash-free field of about 5 acres, with a wide mowed path around the perimeter.

Hinton/Jasper KOA campground
The field was a wonderful place to play with Bella. Monty has pretty much quit playing with her the past few days.

Hinton/Jasper KOA campground
Having horses close to the far fence was a bonus :)

Hinton/Jasper KOA campground
The bathrooms and laundry rooms were modern and immaculate. The glass-block wall behind the bench is a classy touch, I thought.

Hinton/Jasper KOA campground
And finally, the kids’ play equipment is very high quality, and Steve and I had a lot of plying playing with Brock there.

Hinton/Jasper KOA campground

Now, off to Jasper and some forest camping.

Exploring around Hinton: Beaver Boardwalk and Ogre Canyon

On day 8 of the trip, Wednesday September 16, my son and I drove from Hinton to Edmonton to pick Cathy up at the airport at 12:30, then on Thursday the 3 of us explored the Hinton area, the highlight being a long hike to remote and spectacular Ogre Canyon.

The day started off lovely at the campground, but a few miles east in Hinton it was foggy, and the fog stayed with us for a couple of hours en route to Edmonton.

Spectacular morning at the Hinton/Jasper KOA campground

The drive to Edmonton and back isn’t very interesting, to say the least, but it’s a good way to have a few hours to talk. And we took Steve’s new Xterra so he could try it out :)

I didn’t take any photos until we were halfway back to Hinton, but on the way back saw a train that required a shot…

Railway trestle across Albeta Highway 16
… a railway trestle across the Pembina River…

Railway trestle across the Pembina River
…and a particularly impressive thunder head.

Just before 2:00, Steve suggested that we take a long detour off into the back country to the south of Highway 16, through an old coal mining area. You never need to ask me twice about detours like that! Goodbye, freeway :)

Alberta Highway 16 east of Edson
And hello country road. A freshly-paved country road with panoramic views of the Rocky Mountains – that’s more like it!

While the area we went through used to be all about coal mining, recreation, logging, and oil and gas have all been added to the list of reasons people go there. We took a tour of the tiny and unique community of Robb, then headed north towards Hinton. I seldom get the chance to be a passenger in a vehicle, with the photographic freedom that sometimes gives – there’s no other way to get shots like this.

Logging truck near Robb, Alberta
Steve knows this area like the back of his hand, and a short side road took us to this wonderful view.

Rocky Mountain view north of Robb, Alberta
We went down to one of Steve and his wife Rachel’s favourite fishing spots (though they never catch any fish :) ), the McLeod River. The rugged campground there is beautiful.

McLeod River south of Hinton, Alberta
We got back to Hinton just in time to pick my grandson up from daycare. At 17 months old, Brock already loves dogs (he has 2), and took a particular liking to Monty. Leah, at 12 years old, played hard with Bella, and showed her some new moves like play-bowing. Watching that learning process was really neat – Bella trying a tentative bow, and I could just hear her thinking “like this?” and then doing more when Leah responded.

Toddler grandson with big dogs
Brock also really likes books, and Grandpa is certainly happy to share that joy with him. Being a 30-hour drive from all of my grand-children does suck.

Murray reading a book to his grandson
My boys getting started on a big project :)

Father and son with a toy workbench
That view from our campsite would be pretty hard to get bored with.

View from the Hinton/Jasper KOA campground
Bella checking out a husky backpack that I brought for Brock. I bought 3 of them in Alaska a dozen years ago – 2 went to my twin granddaughters, and this one had been in storage since, apparently awaiting Brock’s arrival.

Husky puppy with a husky backpack
The view of the Rockies from downtown Hinton is spectacular, and there’s a lot to do, both in town and nearby. I certainly never got bored during the 11 days that I house-and-dog-sat for Steve and Rachel last March.

Hinton, Alberta
The Beaver Boardwalk is one of the attractions that the community is most proud of, with good reason. It’s a great way to start or end a day, in particular, and was the first thing that I wanted to show Cathy.

Beaver Boardwalk in Hinton, Alberta
Three kilometers of boardwalk and trail wander around through wetlands and a living, fully functioning beaver pond, and interpretive signs help visitors understand what they’re seeing, and what’s not being seen.

Beaver Boardwalk in Hinton, Alberta
The observation tower gives a good view of the beaver lodge.

Beaver Boardwalk in Hinton, Alberta
At about noon, we headed north on Highway 40, then west on the Brule Road, where the views of the Rockies and the Athabasca River quickly get incredible. The first photo below is actually from a short side road, shot as an HDR.

View of the Rockies and the Athabasca River from the Brule Road, Alberta

View of the Rockies from the Brule Road, Alberta
At 1:00, we came to a cul-de-sac with a cattle gate that no doubt would have been where I turned around if Steve hadn’t been our guide. The road to Ogre Canyon is through 3 of those gates, on a road that a 4×4 is always recommended for, especially when it’s wet as it was for us.

The road to Ogre Canyon, Alberta
The views along the road are stunning. Past the second cattle gate, we came to a sign stating that we were entering Rock Lake – Solomon Creek Wildland Provincial Park – that was sure a surprise!

The road to Ogre Canyon, Alberta
We drove through many puddles, some fairly large and deep, but about 3 km from the first gate, we came to one that I just didn’t trust, so we decided to walk from there. A small band of horses guarded the road just past that – very gentle horses, it turned out.

Horse on the road to Ogre Canyon, Alberta
I’m quite certain that that’s a fresh cougar track. Spidey senses on!

Cougar track on the road to Ogre Canyon, Alberta
There were many road-covering puddles to navigate.

Mud puddle on the road to Ogre Canyon, Alberta
Our first view of Ogre Canyon, at 2:20, about 5 minutes along a trail that leads from the end of the road.

Ogre Canyon, Alberta
From this spot where huge boulders blocked further access up the creek, a very steep trail goes up the left bank. Cathy decided to wait there while Steve and I had a look.

Ogre Canyon, Alberta
Steve can be seen at the lower centre of the photo. He stopped there and I caught up. From that point, a steep granite block (the one to his right) has to be climbed, and we had to do that barefoot to get the grip we needed.

Ogre Canyon, Alberta
Quite incredible. The canyon at this point is apparently over 70 meters deep (230 feet).

Ogre Canyon, Alberta
A closer look at the waterfall.

Ogre Canyon, Alberta
The ogre of Ogre Canyon. Even when it’s spelled out like that for me, I just don’t see him. Cool name anyway, as it certainly looks like ogres could live there :)

The ogre of Ogre Canyon, Alberta
Smaller waterfalls add to the interest.

Ogre Canyon, Alberta
We waded up the creek for 30 meters or so (100 feet), but then got stopped by impassable rock. This was the view looking straight up from the point we got to. No photo or words can do justice to that sight – powerful, awesome, a spiritual experience…

Ogre Canyon, Alberta
Coming out of the canyon. I wanted to stay longer – much longer – but we had made plans to have a barbecue at the RV park, and Rachel was going to drop by on her lunch break, so we had to go.

Ogre Canyon, Alberta

Once back in Hinton, Steve picked Brock up from daycare while Cathy and I went shopping, and we had a wonderful family evening in the RV. This visit had turned out to be precisely the sort of reason that we had bought the RV. There’s never enough time, though. The next visit will be longer – more time with the family, and more time at Ogre Canyon.

Friday would be a very short driving day, just 80 km (50 miles) to Jasper.

BC & Alberta RVing: Pine Pass through the Rockies to Hinton

On days 6 and 7 of the trip, Monday and Tuesday September 13th and 14th, I was mostly on a push to reach Hinton, though I was going to stop as often as possible when the opportunity arose.

The West Pine rest area had been a really nice place to spend the night – the highway was extremely quiet. We were in bed before 8, and with a few minutes up just after 01:00 to give Monty his tramadol I’d forgotten at dinner (and woke up because of, I think), slept until after 07:00! That’s my first real “crash” night of the trip.

 West Pine rest area - Hart Highway, BC
Before we hit the road at about 9:30, Bella and I had a good ball play on the large grassy area beside us. She hasn’t had a lot of opportunity to run free during the trip, so this was really good for her.

Playing ball with my dog Bella
If I knew my mushrooms, I probably could have had a good addition to my breakfast omelette.

One of the places I was determined to stop at was Bijoux Falls. The park is right at the bottom of this steep hill down from Pine Summit, so in the large vehicles I’m usually driving, this takes some forethought beyond the 2-km-ahead highway warning signs.

BC Hart Hwy - Hill down from Pine Summit
It’s just a tiny park, and I’ve never had the combination of time and weather needed to make the stop possible or worthwhile.

Bijoux Falls Park, BC
There was only one other vehicle when I arrived, but apparently the park does get well used, judging by the number of outhouses :)

Bijoux Falls Park, BC
Bijoux Falls is lovely – it would be, as advertised, a great place to stop for a picnic.

Bijoux Falls Park, BC
By 2:00 we were headed east on Highway 16, the Yellowhead, east of Prince George. The sign says “Caution, Wildlife Corridor. Drive with care next 185 km”, with graphics of moose, bear, and deer.

Yellowhead Highway, BC Hwy 16, wildlife corridor
Now the signs are getting serious – “High moose collision area”. The only wildlife that I saw all day was a herd of sheep east of Jasper, though, in a spot where they’re almost always seen.

Yellowhead Highway, BC Hwy 16, high moose collision area
The large Slim Creek rest area 123 km east of Prince George was a lovely place to walk the dogs and is big-rig friendly – we were the only ones there.

Slim Creek rest area, BC Hwy 16
The further east you go, the more impressive the mountains get, as you’re getting into the Rocky Mountains. East of McBride, I would have stopped a few times for photos if I was in a vehicle that was narrow enough to park on the shoulder and be out of the traffic lane.

Rocky Mountains east of McBride, BC
At about 6:30, I shut down for the night at the small Baker Creek rest area, 234 km (146 miles) east of Prince George. I was the only one there, but a semi joined me a while later – that made access through the parking lot tight enough for other semis that I only moved my dining room slide (the left side in this photo) out a few inches.

Baker Creek rest area, BC Hwy 16
The Baker Creek rest area was a great place for the dogs as well – they enjoyed a run down the forest trail that goes to an unstated destination.

Baker Creek rest area, BC Hwy 16

Tuesday, September 14th started off cloudy as expected. It hadn’t been either a very quiet or very restful night, with semis going by on the highway and through the rest area, the semi that was parked behind me running a lot to stay warm, and an Amber Alert very much on my mind. A van stopped at the rest area just after I got up, while it was still quite dark, and I studied it to see if it could be the suspect van with a new paint job. The Amber Alert came to a heartbreaking end later that day.

Generally, RV mornings are wonderful for us. When I get out of bed, all the kids come out to stay close to me. Once Cathy arrives, I’ll be out here by myself in the mornings, or maybe just with the cat :)

Dogs and cat sleeping in an RV in the early morning
We were on the road just after 08:00 – this was certainly not the weather I wanted heading into the Rockies! When the fog broke, I could see clear skies to the west that appeared to be coming my way, so decided to drive down Highway 5 to kill some time as well as checking out the area.

BC Hwy 16 on a foggy morning
I turned around at Valemount, a community that I hadn’t been to in many years. I was tempted to go for a walk down to the salmon spawning channels behind the visitor centre, but getting to Hinton early was really my focus.

Valemount, BC
As I neared the junction with Highway 16 again, the blue skies were arriving as I’d hoped – fingers crossed that the clearing continued as we drove towards Jasper.

BC Hwy 5 north of Valemount
We had one more stop that I’d been planning on for a couple of days, at Rearguard Falls Provincial Park. Although it was okay when we arrived just after 09:30, it was a safe bet that this parking lot was far too small for summer, or even later in a shoulder-season day, with only 2 spots for buses and/or RVs, and a dozen or so for cars.

Small parking lot at Rearguard Falls Provincial Park, BC
A short walk down from the parking lot takes visitors down to the falls, above which these steel walkways make getting across the boulders to viewing areas safe and easy.

Waterfall at Rearguard Falls Provincial Park, BC
The falls, though not large, are quite stunning. Until a couple of weeks ago, we might have seen spawning salmon jumping the falls.

Waterfall at Rearguard Falls Provincial Park, BC
A closer look at the falls. There were few people there, and most of those were Germans who were clearly not fans of big dogs. I did get into a long and pleasant discussion with a couple of American men about travelling and the Rockies and dogs, though. Having seen the layout at Rearguard now, I’d certainly leave the dogs in the RV if I come again.

Rearguard Falls Provincial Park, BC
The most spectacular location along this route is certainly Mount Robson – at 3,954 meters (12,972 feet) high, it’s the highest mountain in the Canadian Rockies, and getting a view of it was the main reason for my dawdling, waiting for blue sky. If you get lucky, the first view of the mountain is both sudden and dramatic as you round the corner where the Mount Terry Fox rest area is located. I walked back up the road a few hundred feet to take this shot

Mount Robson, BC
The very large Mount Terry Fox rest area is definitely worth a stop.

Mount Terry Fox rest area, BC
As quickly as it had appeared, Mount Robson disappeared into the clouds again.

Welcome to Mount Robson Provincial Park, BC
As I passed the main Mount Robson Provincial Park viewing area, I could just see the summit peeking out of the clouds. The park was very busy with buses and RVs so I just took this shot from the side of the highway and continued on my way. In March 2014, I’d seen the mountain at its finest on a crystal-clear morning, and spent quite a while there.

Mount Robson Provincial Park, BC
The view ahead, along Moose Lake.

Moose Lake in the Canadian Rockies
The Fall colours and fresh snow would make this a slow trip for a photographer on a beautiful day!

Fall colours and fresh snow in the Canadian Rockies
One van going 15-25 kmh under the speed limit and refusing to pull over even though there was lots of room to do it made it a slow drive to the the Jasper National Park gates. I just said that I was going through to Hinton, and was waved on.

Jasper National Park gates on Highway 16
Heavy rain came back and eliminated any more views all the way to Hinton.

Heavy rain through the Canadian Rockies ear Jasper
By about 2:00 I had started one of the really important stops of the trip, and was with my son. We picked my grandson up from daycare not long after, and when I took the dogs back to the RV for dinner, the weather gods were starting to smile again – this was the view from the rig at 5:40. I’ll tell you more about this beautiful KOA RV park in my next post.

BC RVing: Dawson Creek to Hudson’s Hope and Pine Pass

With huge changes coming to Highway 29 in the next few years due to the construction of a massive new power dam, it was important to me to make the fairly lengthy detour to get another look at it. Sunday, September 13th, day 5 of the trip, entailed a backtrack to Fort St. John before turning onto Highway 29 – with lots of exploring around Hudson’s Hope, the day’s total mileage would be about 350 km (218 miles).

While I thought that the Mile 0 RV Park was a bit spendy at $47 per night, the quality and location were both excellent, and I’d probably stay there again.

Mile 0 RV Park in Dawson Creek, BC
The office for the RV park is also the office for and entrance to the Walter Wright Pioneer Village. Although the park wasn’t due to open for 40 minutes yet, the person on duty not only let me in but opened several of the buildings for me.

Mile 0 RV Park in Dawson Creek, BC
The collection of buildings, machinery, and vehicles, is very good, but there is nowhere close to enough proper storage for the machinery and vehicles.

Walter Wright Pioneer Village in Dawson Creek, BC
The main street of the village contains all of the structures you would have found, from a residence and church to a general store and telephone office.

Main street in the Walter Wright Pioneer Village in Dawson Creek, BC
This bulldozer was built in the 1950s by Napoleon Loiselle using GM running gear, a Willys-Knight truck cab, and tracks hand built from leaf springs. Other machines custom built by Loiselle are also in the collection.

Custom built bulldozer at the Walter Wright Pioneer Village in Dawson Creek, BC
The residence is beautifully furnished.

Walter Wright Pioneer Village in Dawson Creek, BC
The bed that I bought for Monty on Saturday was an immediate hit for travelling days in the motorhome. I put it on the engine cover, as he likes a fair bit of heat now.

Driving back up the Alaska Highway, our first stop was at Taylor, to see the Alaska Highway memorial park at the Civic Centre. Specifically, it honours the 341st Engineers, US Army, who were stationed at Taylor in 1942.

Alaska Highway memorial park at the Civic Centre in Taylor, BC
At about 12:30, we turned west on Highway 29, headed for Hudson’s Hope.

BC Hwy 29
When construction of the new
Many people seem to be still fighting the dam, but construction has started, and the odds of the $8.3 billion project being halted are something less than zero (in my opinion). About a dozen families who have been on their farms and ranches for generations are being bought out – I do find it sad to hear about people losing tangible family history.

Anti Site C dam sign
Processed as an HDR image, this is the view from a rest area 42 km (26 miles) north of Hudson’s Hope. All that farmland will also be underwater when Site C is completed.

Peace River valley from a rest area on BC Hwy 29
The Milepost notes that the rest area has “limited access”. Yes it does – getting around all those parked vehicles with a rig 51 feet long even raised by stress level a notch.

Tight access road at BC Hwy 29 rest area
At the Welcome to Hudson’s Hope sign, I unhooked the Tracker so I could use it to tour with. The first stop was the W. A. C. Bennett dam, but it turned out to be very disappointing. The visitor centre that was under construction when I was there last December was closed (it closed for the season after Labour Day), and visitors can only drive across the dam in escorted convoys (and the main viewpoint has been closed). The gate guard said that BC Hydro had just updated their safety procedures, but it was done at about the time the anti-dam people lost their last court battle, so I think that it was done to eliminate one possible protest location.

W. A. C. Bennett dam
Not finished with dams, I drove next to the Peace Canyon Dam, a much smaller structure. I saw no evidence of security concerns there.

Peace Canyon Dam, BC
The bridge just below the Peace Canyon Dam is pretty cool, too. The bronze plaque on it calls it the Hudson Hope Bridge, but it seems to me that it should actually be the Hudson’s Hope Bridge since that’s the name of the community. It has a total length of 1,076 feet, with a main span of 679 feet and side spans of 190 and 207 feet.

Hudson Hope Bridge, BC
The light was going quite flat, so I processed the view down the Peace River from the bridge as an HDR image to bring out some contast.

Peace River near Hudson's Hope, BC
On the way back to the motorhome, for no particular reason, I drove down into the city-operated Alwin Holland Campground, then walked down a trail with a couple of large warning signs about water fluctuations because of the dams upstream. What I found was a stretch of river with dramatic layered and eroded rock formations, and I spent quite a while shooting there.

Peace River at Alwin Holland Campground near Hudson's Hope, BC
This was the view down the river from the furthest point I walked to.

Peace River at Alwin Holland Campground near Hudson's Hope, BC
This was on the trail back to the car. If I needed some encouragement to unhook the Tracker and explore morer often, this certainly did it, as the motorhome wouldn’t have fit in the campground and I would have missed this wonderful place.

Trees along the Peace River near Hudson's Hope, BC
The rain returned not long after I had reconnected the rig and continued my way east to Chetwynd, and then south towards Prince George.

Bridge repair on the Hart Highway in BC
I didn’t have any real plan about where I’d spend the night, but as I got near Pine Pass I decided that the West Pine rest area would suit us fine. We reached there just before 7, a few minutes after leaving the rain. A huge parking lot including lots of grass to play with the dogs, and a spectacular view – life was good :)

On Monday, we had a lot of miles to put on, en route to Hinton, Alberta, to see my son and his family.

Exploring Dawson Creek: old bridges and new energy

I always enjoy my time in Dawson Creek, and the more time I spend here, the more I like it. I never feel like I’ve seen all there is to see, and the people are consistently wonderful. Saturday, September 12th, day 4 of the trip, was our day to see more of the area.

This was not the day I wanted or expected. A forecast of 60% chance of showers instead started off with torrential rain, then slowed down slightly. At least the views out all my windows were quite nice.

Rain from the RV window in Dawson Creek, BC

The rainy morning, though, was a good time to get some shopping done, so I unhooked the Tracker and invited the dogs to join me – an offer that always gets an enthusiastic response. I needed to get groceries, mostly new things to try to get Monty to eat, and a new bed for Monty, as Bella keeps stealing his current one. That done, we went back to the motorhome and I put a roast into the crock pot.

Just before noon, I decided that we had some exploring to do regardless of the weather, so I loaded up the dogs again, and drove a couple of k to the visitor centre for some directions and possible ideas for new places to see. The staff there is always great, and I soon had what I needed.

I was surprised to see that the art gallery was closed for major renovations. I wish that I could get back down for the December re-opening.

Dawson Creek art gallery under renovations
There were blue skies to the north, so that was the direction to start. I thought about going right to Taylor for a few shots, but instead stopped at Kiskatinaw Provincial Park to see the curved wooden bridge on an old section of the Alaska Highway. I’ve seen the bridge from the top many times, but never from the river, so that was the first stop. I let the kids out to go for a walk, and then saw this sign. Does that say “no Dogs”? No dogs????? Okay, I let them explore for a few minutes and then put them back in the car while I went to get the photos I wanted.

Maybe someone in BC Parks just likes to post signs. “Gate Closed” – ya think??? Geez…

Gate Closed sign
Anyway, enough with signs – the bridge is awesome! It took 9 months to build, with the first concrete poured in November 1942. It’s 162.5 meters long (534 feet), has a 9-degree curve and a banked deck, and took 500,000 board feet of creosoted BC fir to build.

The historic Kiskatinaw curved wooden bridge
The canyon above the bridge is quite impressive. The new highway bridge, built in 1978, is about half a mile upstream and crosses over this canyon.

Kiskatinaw River, BC
Driving back up to the road, I drove up to a pullout for a distant view of the bridge. This is a photo that I’ve shot many times over the years – Fall is probably my favourite time to see it.

The historic Kiskatinaw curved wooden bridge
Back across the bridge for a closer view of the curve and bank. It was the first of its type built in Canada, it’s the only one of the wooden bridges built on the Alaska Highway that is still in use, and it’s the only curved, banked trestle bridge remaining in Western Canada.

The historic Kiskatinaw curved wooden bridge near Dawson Creek, BC
This shows one of the reasons that I enjoy this country – the combination of rolling fields and big sky! For people used to commercial agriculture, people like me taking photos of fields and tractors and irrigation equipment apparently seems really odd, but I think that it’s all very cool :)

Big sky near Dawson Creek, BC
The blue skies didn’t follow us back to Dawson Creek. I love this company name – “swamp donkey” is what some folks call moose.

Swamp donkey
Giving up on sunshine, the next destination was the most important one – the Bear Mountain Wind Park. I’d been to it in the winter before, but wanted to see what it looked like without all the white stuff. Sitting on top of a long ridge, it can be seen for many miles in almost every direction, though a bit obscured by rain in this photo.

Bear Mountain Wind Park, Dawson Creek, BC
The park brochure says that the park is accessed on a “well-maintained gravel road”. Well, I call it a very rough gravel road, and a very muddy rough gravel road after a heavy rain! There is just under 11 km (6.8 miles) of gravel.

The gravel road to Bear Mountain Wind Park, Dawson Creek, BC
After driving through a forest for a long time, all of a sudden, you turn a corner and WOW, there they are! It’s quite shocking.

Bear Mountain Wind Park, Dawson Creek, BC
This was Monty’s reaction to seeing them for the first time. There’s a lot going on in that big head :)

Monty's first sight of wind turbines
The road from Tower 34 to Tower 0 is 6.9 km long (4.3 miles), and offers many photo ops – this is looking back to the south from Tower 0. The towers, built in Germany by Enercon, are 78 meters (256 feet) tall, and each of the blades are 41 meters (135 feet) long. Each of the 34 turbines produces enough electricity to power 1,000 homes, and the entire facility delivers enough electricity to power most of BC’s South Peace region.

Bear Mountain Wind Park, Dawson Creek, BC
When we got out to go for a walk, Bella’s reaction to the turbines was very different than Monty’s. I tried to calm her down, but had no luck, so the walk was very short, although she was better when we were under trees. Her reaction made me think of the people in the original 1953 movie “War of the Worlds” as the mechanical giants approached.

Dog scared by wind turbines
The views are quite stunning – this viewpoint looking west is particularly easy to get to, from Tower 10.

The view from Bear Mountain Wind Park, Dawson Creek, BC
On the drive back down, I stopped a couple of times so Monty and Bella could have a bit of a chat with some cows, an animal they seldom see (in fact Bella hasn’t see any since she was a baby in Alberta).

Cows at Bear Mountain Wind Park, Dawson Creek, BC
Our next stop was at Pouce Coupe, a small town just east of Dawson Creek. The attraction there was a trestle built by the Northern Alberta Railway in 1931. This is the abandoned line leading from the trestle. The directions that I got from the visitor centre in Dawson Creek led me through a residential area that doesn’t welcome traffic like that – the best way to it is via the truck route, which is Elevator Road. I mention this because I saw a blog post earlier this summer by an RVer there to see the trestle, saying that he met some residents who were very unhappy about him being there.

Abandoned Northern Alberta Railway in Pouce Coupe, BC
The only information I can find about the trestle other than its date of construction is in the book “God’s Galloping Girl: The Peace River Diaries of Monica Storrs, 1929-1931”, which says that the trestle is 150 yards long.

Abandoned Northern Alberta Railway trestle in Pouce Coupe, BC

Abandoned Northern Alberta Railway trestle in Pouce Coupe, BC
Our final stop of the day was McQueen Slough, located off the Rolla Road 5 km north of its junction with Highway 49. The Nature Trust of BC and Ducks unlimited have partnered to create this conservation and education site.

McQueen Slough near Dawson Creek, BC
One of the beavers building this new lodge left as we approached (of course), but with some patience (and no dogs), I could have gotten some good photos there.

New beaver lodge at McQueen Slough near Dawson Creek, BC
There seemed to be few birds around, but I could have spent a lot longer looking under the right conditions.

McQueen Slough near Dawson Creek, BC
Unfortunately, somebody was hunting, and the second shotgun blast while we out on this open boardwalk terrified Bella, and she was going back to the car whether I wanted to or not, leash be damned!

Boardwalk at McQueen Slough near Dawson Creek, BC

Despite the miserable start, it turned out to be a good day. We got back home to a crock pot dinner ready to eat, and Monty devoured a good portion of the roast :)

With a similar forecast today for the region (showers and a high of 12°C (54°F), we’re off to see the W.A.C. Bennett dam at Hudson’s Hope, and then to an undetermined destination for the night. It’s now 06:30 and about time to get the day started.