Road Trip Day 2: Clinton to Smithers, BC

On Saturday morning, I got off to a later start than is usual on my road trips but felt great. This was the view from the deck outside my room, #16, at 07:25. I wouldn’t hesitate to stay at the Round-Up Motel again.
Round-Up Motel, Clinton, BC
I had asked the motel owner last night about a good place for breakfast, and he recommended the Cordial Cafe a block away. Man oh man, when they lay out a breakfast, they don’t mess around, even for $10! No, I couldn’t quite finish it, but I put up a good fight, and was certainly ready to put some miles on when I finished 🙂
Huge breakfast at the Cordial Cafe in Clinton, BC
Clinton has some interesting antique shops that luckily were all closed. Luckily because I really like old stuff but don’t need any more!
White Elephant Antiques in Clinton, BC

The planned destination for the day was Smithers, 768 km (477 miles) to the northwest. There’s nothing spectacular along the route, but most of it is very pleasant country, and for someone with an interest in history, there are lots of spots worthy of note. It started to snow as I was having breakfast, and it got heavier as I headed north, though never heavy enough to be a problem.

One of the things that I always notice is the many old gas stations and lodges that are either closed or look like they’re about at the end of their useful lives. I’ve got photos of some, but would like to get many more some day when I have lots of time. 70 Mile House is one of the places I’d like to stop…
70 Mile House, BC
At 9:20 I reached 100 Mile House, which had been my planned destination for last night. 100 Mile is a rather prosperous looking community, thanks at least partly to a good-sized lumber mill.
100 Mile House, BC
I made a slight detour to the little 100 Mile House airport, which is located right downtown, and added a couple of planes to my collection, including this 1967 Beech A23A Musketeer, CF-VAF.
1967 Beech A23A Musketeer CF-VAF
Highway 97 roughly follows the Fraser River to Prince George. At this point, 52 km (32 mi) north of Williams Lake, the heritage sign seen at the far left says: “Paddlewheels North. Down-river lay the perilous and unnavigable canyon. Up-river the Fraser was swift and strong, but sternwheelers could travel 400 miles from Soda Creek. Men and supplies embarked here in the 1860’s for the fabulous Cariboo goldfields. Later, as the G.T.P. Railway was forged across the Province, nine paddlewheelers formed a life-line to the north.”
Along the Fraser River north of Williams Lake, BC
Another 14 km (9 mi) north, I stopped to get some photos of the Fort Alexandria cairn and the old Fort Alexandria Cafe beside it. The cairn reads: “In 1821 the North West Company built a post here as the northern terminus of their Pacific brigade trail. Goods which had been brought up the Columbia to Fort Okanagan were sent overland by pack train to this point, then distributed by water to the posts of New Caledonia. The post was named for Sir Alexander Mackenzie who had explored the upper Fraser in 1793. After the union of the companies in 1821, Fort Alexandria was retained by the Hudson’s Bay Company and played a key role in the logistics of the trade until road transportation supplanted the brigade in the 1860s.” The Milepost notes that the actual site of the fort was on the opposite side of the Fraser River.
By 1:20 I was well west of Prince George on Highway 16, the Yellowhead.
BC Highway 16 west of Prince George
At 2:20 I reached Vanderhoof, a community that I really like for no reason that I can put my finger on. I overnight here fairly often, at the Coach Light Motel seen ahead on the right the last few times (nothing fancy, just clean and good value).
Vanderhoof, BC
I had hoped to have a late lunch at the cafe at the Vanderhoof Museum, but it wasn’t open. The gift shop was, but I didn’t go in because as with the antique shops in Clinton, there’s nothing I need 🙂
Vanderhoof Museum
After literally decades of telling myself that I need to get at least one picture of this place (a 1930s cafe is my guess) before it disappears, I finally did.
Old cafe at Decker Lake, BC
The last time I was by the former Upland Motel near Topley (on March 12th), it was still standing – it smelled like this fire was very recent. It’s been abandoned for many years, and I never did understand what caused it to be built where it was – it was a large place, perhaps 30 rooms in 3 blocks. There are still hotel-reservation Web sites out there that list it despite it being closed for almost 20 years.
Upland Motel - Topley, BC
I stopped in Houston for a few photos, including some of the Largest Fly Rod in the World. Erected in 1990, it is 60 feet (1829.8 cm) long and weighs about 800 pounds. The reel has a diameter of 36 inches, and the fluorescent orange “Skykomish Sunrise” fly is 21 inches long.
Largest Fly Rod in the World, in Houston, BC
Steelhead Park, where the fly rod and several other pieces of art are located, was a really nice place to stretch my legs.
Steelhead Park in Houston, BC
I reached Smithers just after 6:00 pm, and after quickly checking into the Sunshine Inn, went to the Trackside Cantina. I’d been to both places on my last visit, and was very pleased with both.
Historic railway station at Smithers, BC
Ah… a good start towards an Ultimate Burrito, finished with a totally unnecessary and totally delicious Adobe Pie dessert 🙂
Chips and beer at the Trackside Cantina in Smithers, BC
After dinner, I went for a bit of a wander for photos. This is the old Smithers court house, built in 1925.
Old court house in Smithers, BC
And this is Alpine Man, originally the center piece for the Edelweiss Motel in Rock Creek, BC, which was destroyed by fire in 1973. Alpine Man was put in a temporary home, and the Smithers Lions Club brought him north from there. After some renovations, Alpine Man took his place on Main Street, as a focal point of the town’s Alpine theme.
Alpine Man in Smithers, BC

Sunday would be an easy day, to Stewart for a leisurely look around.


Road Trip Day 2: Clinton to Smithers, BC — 4 Comments

  1. I always enjoy reading your blogs. You make them into an interesting story/trip that makes me feel like I am there. I am going to try that sometimes but I know mine won’t be as good because writing was never ever one of my strengths.

  2. Thanks, Neal. With travel writing in particular, I think that you just need to write what and how you think rather than trying to create a voice that’s unnatural to you.

  3. Murray,
    Love that last picture !
    Returning from Alaska in 2009 we stopped at a central Oregon KOA, lo and behold there was a camper there with European plates on it and the fellow inside had his Alpen Horn with him and serenaded the campground…….drew the kids like the Pied Piper !!!

    Dave Leland

  4. What a great way to meet new people – carry an alpenhorn in your rig! The first time I heard several of them played was in 1991 in the courtyard of the New City Hall in Munich. I can still see and hear them – it was wonderful 🙂