Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Going to the Yukon

We got packed up and left June 5th. The first few days were rainy but we spent them with Chuck and Sheila in Wetaskiwin. We travel with them often and enjoy their company so the rain didn’t bother us much – wonderful friends, wonderful company and wonderful food.
Sheila and I got into cooking while we were there. We created a few terrific meals and made some Salsa and Rhubarb preserves. We capped that off by finding an outstanding Greek restaurant in their little town – do we travel on our stomachs or what?
Not to overstay our welcome, we left on Sunday and travelled onto Grand Prairie where it was raining. The last time we were in Grande Prairie was in the late 70s when we had just come west from Cape Breton. We were looking for a place to settle. It is nothing like it was then (wooden sidewalks and mud) but now it is fast and furious (big malls filled with the same stores as everywhere else and drivers who are in a colossal hurry to get somewhere). It was still raining so we just stayed there overnight and kept going. Need I say, I would not want to settle in Grande Prairie now anymore than I did the first time we were there.
Dawson Creek
As we pulled into Dawson Creek – Mile “0” of the Alaska Highway - we stopped at the Visitor Information Centre and were told that there was no sense going any further for a few days because the roads around Watson Lake in the Yukon were flooded out and they were running low on supplies. Watson Lake requested that folks not venture further north until the roads were passable and they could restock.

The town was crowded with people anxious to get going north. No problem for us, we were in no hurry, so we found Kiskatinaw Provincial Park and set up to stay for a few days. The park is on the old Alaska Highway about 28 km north of Dawson Creek beside the Kiskatinaw River.
The river winds in and out and around and at a strategic spot at Mile 20 on the original highway, it makes a sharp hairpin turn just where the highway crossed the river. This called for the construction of a bridge and they constructed a 190 foot curved wooden bridge that has a 9 degree grade to conform to the bend of the highway.
clip_image008It was the first curved wooden bridge built in Canada and one of the few remaining structures of its type.
Dawson Creek’s original claim to fame was that it was the end of the Northern railway line. Now that isn’t entirely true because they moved the whole town two miles to be beside the track. Then in 1942 the Americans decided they needed an overland road to protect the Aleutian Islands and connect the lower 48 States to Alaska. Dawson Creek then became MILE “0” of the Alaska (ALCAN) Highway. For those of us who didn’t know, the ALCAN (Alaska Highway) was over 1500 miles from Dawson Creek to Delta Junction, Alaska and was completed in 8 months and 12 days!
Dawson Creek has done a great job promoting its own history as well as the distinction of being the beginning of the Alaska Highway.

The Alaska Highway House is in the middle of downtown Dawson Creek at the junction where the Mile “0”cairn stands. The House is filled with stories, memorabilia, and pictures of the building of the road and the men who built it.
Many of the soldiers who worked on the road were Afro-American and had never felt cold weather, let alone seen the mountains of snow and trees that surrounded them. Dawson Creek was the end of their train ride and from there on; there was nothing but forests, trees, mountains and cold. A PBS documentary helps travelers appreciate what the builders endured over those 8 months.
A walking tour of the town takes you from the Visitor Centre complex at the old Railway Station to the downtown area. Local artists have been commissioned to paint wall murals throughout the area that picture various streets, buildings and characters from Dawson Creek’s past.
They got the road open so we set off to Fort St. John and beyond.

Friday, June 1, 2012

It Was Poopy Spring So We Are Going to the Yukon

Yeh, it was a poopy spring. Actually, it started even before spring when the friend of a friend took a nose-dive over the front on his Quad and didn’t live to tell the story. Now, that was an anomaly but not terribly surprising. He lived his life on the edge and sort-of fell off.
A little over a week after we got home, one of our favourite people – the fellow who edited Jacob’s Tails and with his wife, checked our condo and collected our mail when we were away – had a massive stroke and never recovered.

Then my 38 year old nephew had a heart attack and then Alice, the gal that was the centre of the RV Writers’ group I belonged to and who encouraged my writing, was found dead in her Motor Home. Another friend had a massive stroke and

Fred ended up in Emerg with a terrible pain in his head. He underwent every test imaginable and they couldn’t find anything crucial – that is no tumour and his heart was fine but his own doctor took umpteen x-rays and thought it could well be a pinched nerve in his neck/spine – not nice but a fairly good explanation.

My brother says that (at our age) there is a pandemic of these things and right he is, unfortunately, it is not going to stop.

It’s not the getting older that bothers me; it is loosing all my friends. With that out and said - - we decided not to stick around Lethbridge and are on our way to the Yukon.