I bet you were wondering what happened with the end of our trip. We’ve been back for several weeks but got tied up with other activities so didn’t get a chance to close off this trip. When we left Fort St. James BC we stayed just south of Prince George for one night and then went to 108 Mile Ranch to visit a close friend of the family, Vivian. 108 Mile Ranch had a good museum outlining the history of the area. We also had a chance to visit the 100 Mile Feed and Ranch Supply store that was founded by the family as it was celebrating it’s 55th anniversary.
Our next destination was Summerland BC to visit Sharon’s cousin Kevin and his wife Jill. However as we headed south we decided to take a relatively unused Highway 8 and it was quite a pretty drive. We camped that night at Kane Lake Recreation area which was a 9 km dirt roadside trip.
As we headed along Highway 97C towards the Okanagan valley there was an unbelievable section that was downhill for 20 KMS! The escape run off area’s made you really test to make sure your brakes were still working. Once in Summerland we found a nice campground called Hoof Beat in the middle of a peach orchard. After we were setup the owner came and told us to pick as many peaches as we wanted off the trees and just make sure they had no holes in them. I guess she wasn’t going to be able to use all of the peaches in time. Sharon picked about 2 dozen and we had amazingly fresh peaches for the next week or so. Kevin and Jill came to pick us up and we went out to a great Greek restaurant in Penticton called La Casa Ouzeria where I had a very good rack of lamb.
The next day we toured around downtown Summerland based on recommendations from Kevin and Jill. We bought lots of maple-based products at Maple Roch, then we started touring some of the wineries in the area. The first winery was Dirty Laundry Vineyard and we had an absolute blast there. The name of the winery comes from a very sordid history from back in the gold rush days. After you finished your tastings they give you the history and then clip you with a clothespin to indicate that you’re part of the fold now. Their patio looked out over the vineyard and we had the best spicy pizza that we had ever tried while watching the steam train go by below. We also stopped at Thornhaven Estates Winery and Giant Head Estate Winery before ending up in Peachland at the Hainle Estate Winery. We went to Hainle as they are members of Harvest Hosts so we were able to boondock for free for the night, ok maybe not exactly free, we did purchase several bottles of wine 😊. The next morning, we made a quick visit to Quail’s Gate Winery before heading away from the wine region. Some day we will return to check out the other 200+ wineries in the area.
Our plan was to head to Revelstoke to visit our friends son Stevie but one of the visitor centre staff had told us about a back way to get there along Highway 6 where you had two different ferry crossings so we decided to take that route since we weren’t in a hurry. The traffic getting through Kelowna, even in the middle of the day, was crazy but after that we turned onto Highway 6 in Vernon. The scenery along Highway 6 was spectacular and the two Provincial Parks we stopped at were gorgeous, McDonald Creek and Blanket Creek. We got a perfect campsite along the water in Blanket Creek and then did the Columbia River trail to see Sutherland Falls. That evening we went to see what was left of the Columbia River Valley Homestead from the 1930’s.
The following day we drove into Revelstoke after using one of the car ferries and got a campsite at the Lamplighter Campground close to downtown. Next we drove to Mount Revelstoke NP so we could drive the 26 km Meadows in the Sky Parkway up the 5,250’ up to the summit. The road has tons of switchbacks and RV engine was working hard to climb to the top. They do have many pull off’s along the way so you can stop to enjoy the views and learn about the area. At the top all the RV parking spots were full when we got there so we had to park along the edge of the road. We had a beautiful sunny day so we completed several of the trails at the top with gorgeous views. On the way back down we stopped at the Nels Nelsen ski jump area and posed on the scary platform where the ski jumpers would have taken off from. That evening we went out for a great curry dinner with our friend Stevie who works at the NP and finished off with some local beers. We’ll definitely need to come back and spend more time in this area.
We were heading to Calgary for the labour day weekend to visit Sharon’s brother John and his family but we had a few stops to make as we drove from BC to Alberta. The first stop was to walk the Skunk Cabbage Boardwalk. The Skunk Cabbages have absolutely massive leaves although a little wilted at the end of their season but it was very cool to see a Steller’s Jay. We also stopped at the Giant Cedars boardwalk to view the old growth forest of western red cedars and the dark brown western hemlock. Our last hiking trail for the day was the Loop Brook Trestles trail. When the railway was first put through this area they needed to figure out a way to gain the needed elevation so they built a series of progressively higher trestles in a loop pattern to help the train climb or descend the elevation. The trail explains the design and you can see some of the remaining stone pillars used in the trestle. We also saw one that had been toppled over by an avalanche which was a huge problem for the railway. This is why the newer railway path follows tunnels bored through the mountains and they use sloped roof structures in other areas to protect the tracks from avalanches. We continued the scenic drive through the mountains and stopped to look around at the Rogers Pass Visitor Centre which was absolutely packed with tourists since it was the Friday of the Labour Day long weekend. In the centre we read about the history of Mountain Climbing in the Rogers Pass area. The drive was quite spectacular through the mountains until we crossed into Alberta where it started pouring rain. Luckily most of the traffic was heading away from Calgary instead of towards it for the long weekend.
The coolest thing we did in Calgary for the labour day weekend was to take the Backstage Pass Tour at the National Music Centre with Sharon’s brother John and our niece Thea. They only offer these tours on Sunday’s but it is really worthwhile! The tour guide first takes you to the King Edward Hotel which is connected to National Music Centre and explains the musical history of the King Eddy, famous for live Blues music shows. Next you see the AIMS bus which the Rolling Stones had commissioned for recording music in remote locations. The albums that were recorded by this studio on wheels were phenomenal! Next the guide took us to several recording studios and in each one he played some of the instruments they have on display in them. He played guitars, organs, piano’s, harpsichords from the 1500’s, and synthesizer’s which included the TONTO (The Original New Timbral Orchestra). The guide was incredibly talented to be able to play all the different instruments! I recorded several of the demonstrations he did so if you’re interested I could post links to those videos.
Once the backstage tour was over, we were free to wander around the various floors of the museum. We started with the Geddy Lee bass guitar exhibit which was really interesting to see as I’m a huge Rush fan. Then we went through the Canadian Music Hall of Fame where I recognized most of the recipients. One of the most recent recipients was Corey Hart in 2019 and they had a whole room dedicated to his career. On other floors we saw the Canadian Country Music area, a room where you could learn to play certain instruments, saw some of the musician’s costumes, and heard an amazing demonstration of the Kimball Theatre Organ. We exited to have a quick lunch at the King Eddy and then returned to see the last few floors. The building has 220,000 tera cotta tiles on the walls so the acoustics are great throughout the building, which was especially cool when someone would play the Airship Grand Piano in the lobby.
Labour Day Monday we left Calgary and drove to Dinosaur Provincial Park in Alberta. It was recognized as a Unesco World Heritage List in 1979 and it holds a World Record because more dinosaur species have been discovered in the park than in any other location of the same size. Fossils of over 500 types of animals and plants have been discovered in the park including 40 kinds of dinosaurs. As you approach the park you really can’t see any of the badlands as they are sunk down from the surface. We checked into the campground and then decided to walk around the badlands loop, and we completed the Badlands Trail, the Fossil Hunters Trail and the Cottonwood Flats Trail. We learned about how the badlands were formed and about the history of the fossil finds in the area. The area is stunning especially when you have the contrast with blue skies.
We had a quick stop in Regina to visit Sharon’s cousin Barb and John and then proceeded to Winnipeg where we spent 10 days visiting family and friends and also celebrating Sharon’s Birthday.
Our first stop after Winnipeg was Kenora so we could run the Terry Fox run. Next we spent the night at Kakabeka Falls PP and went into Thunder Bay the following morning to have an amazing breakfast at Hoito Finnish restaurant then went to get the famous Persian Donuts. We stayed in Wawa that night and visited our friend Randy in Pancake Bay for lunch before heading on to South Baymouth Manitoulin Island for an overnight stop before catching the ferry to Tobermory. We were surprised that it was only $135 to take the ferry for the two of us and the RV as he rounded our size down to 27’. The low price was likely also due to being off season. It was really worthwhile for us so we didn’t have the very long drive around all of Georgian Bay to get home. It was definitely a good feeling to be home after such a long journey.
This concludes the blogs for our awesome trip to the Yukon, NWT, and Alaska. Our total travel was 21,641 kms (with approximately 2,500 kms on dirt/gravel roads) and here is the link to the full map: RV Trip 5 Full Route
There were too many data points to retain the time stamps for each leg of the journey but you should be able to zoom in on any area of the map that you are interested in to see the detail.
Our wildlife count was very extensive with this list as a partial summary:
|Caribou 81||Deer 38||Moose 34||Dall Sheep 25|
|Stone Sheep 2||Bison 34||Elk 7||Pronghorns 2|
|Blue Herons 5||Eagles 55||Wild Turkeys 8||Turkey Vultures 5|
|Owls 2||Falcons 4||Trumpeter Swans 59||Tundra Swans 112|
|Great Egrets 3||Sandhill Cranes 11||Grouse 16||Ptarmigan 10|
|Grizzly (Brown) Bear 14||Black Bear 15||Fox 4||Porcupine 4|
|Beaver 3||Turtles 3||Snowshoe Hares 2|
The trip was 140 days in total and 57% of the time we were camping with no services (no electricity or water hookups). This was a much higher ratio than any of our prior trips and it required a lot more planning for where to fill our freshwater tank and where to empty the grey and black tanks. In terms of the RV we got 4 windshield stone chips and one of those led to replacement of the windshield, which was something we were anticipating needing to do from this trip. We also have tons of stone chips on our storage compartments and on the hood but again we knew this would occur.
Our favourite area to visit was definitely the Yukon due to the scenery and the people we met. The drive on the Dempster Highway through the Yukon and NWT is one we’ll always remember. Alaska had spectacular coastal scenery but it was more difficult getting accommodation due to the number of RV travellers that were there in July. The fresh fish (halibut, rock fish and salmon) in Alaska was awesome! Our weather overall was much warmer than we anticipated with an actual heat wave when we were in Alaska. Forest Fires definitely impacted us as we had to cancel our plans to go to Yellowknife and Wood Buffalo NP and we had to change our routing through Alaska. We assumed the bugs would be much worse than what we experienced. We really only had 2 campgrounds where the mosquitoes were bad! The only regret would be that we didn’t have enough time at the end of our trip to spend in British Columbia, but we know several areas to visit on a future trip. Overall, we would say this was our favourite trip in the RV so far! The memories of the scenery and the wildlife will stay with us forever. We hope you enjoyed following along through our blogs (I know quite large at times) and we hope you also get the opportunity to visit some of these areas in your future. Feel free to leave us any comments about this trip.