Moving to Alaska – Day 12.

We headed into Alaska. They did not build a wall here, but they did cut down all of the trees.

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We uneventfully crossed the border and stopped at the Tetlin National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center. That is when we realized how much empty space exists in Alaska.

Screen Shot 2015-09-20 at 12.04.08 PMWe stopped in Tok because we saw a purple food truck selling Thai food with a line of people in front. It was as good as we thought it would be.

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We stayed in Glenallen at the Ranch House Lodge. By now, we were completely spoiled with real beds. We also needed wifi to starting looking for places to live in Anchorage. We enjoyed homemade brownies and Craigslist.

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Moving to Alaska – Day 10.

Breakfast at the restaurant was delicious. The decor was amazing. It was a great place to stay.

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The place was run by a guy and his three boys. One boy got a fishing hook in his thumb and had to go to the medical center to have it removed. Another boy had to drive him. The other was probably still sleeping. That left just dad to make breakfast, take orders, check guests in and out of the resort, and collect money. It was amusing to watch. The hook came out of the sons’ thumb and the resort continues to survive. Across from the resort we walked to a trail that went straight uphill.

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There was a possibility of seeing sheep, but after 2000 feet in elevation in just a few miles, we were sweaty, out of breath, and disappointed that the sheep were not around. We kept thinking that we would see lots of large land mammals, but it just wasn’t happening.

The view from the top was well worth it. the hike felt straight up and straight down.  The dogs did not seem to mind.

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We hurried down the hill (if you stop the mosquitoes carry you away) and back to the car. We drove over many creeks and passed many lakes. If this were a fishing trip, it would take months to get through British Columbia. We crossed another famous fishing river, the Stikine. Rivers like the Stikine, Babine, Kispiox, and Skeena, are famous for fisherman. It was nice to see them all, even if I was too early for steelhead fishing.

At the recommendation of the kid at the fly shop in Smithers, we stopped at Cottonwood Creek to fish. He had no idea where Cottonwood Creek was, but he said when we crossed it, there would be a sign, and we should fish there. He was correct on all accounts. We knew that we were far north as we caught our first grayling here. We had never caught grayling before so it was fun to check that species off the list.

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We arrived to our destination of Boya Lake tonight. We made a short video of us setting up camp here.

Boya Lake is a nice blue color. With all the expectations, I thought it would be more blue. Maybe because the weather wasn’t perfect, the water wasn’t quite as blue. We walked around the lake and thought it was beautiful, but we were starting to get excited to be in Anchorage.

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Moving to Alaska – Day 9.

Happy Birthday Dad. We packed it up from Babine Lake and thought that we would really get started on our adventure. Our first stop was a place we saw First Nations using a dipnet to catch fish.

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It was time to get onto the Cassiar highway. This is where we turned north from Kitwanga and headed in towards the Yukon Territory. There are very few towns, no cell phone service, no wifi, and gas stations are only open during the day.

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This is one of the places where we saw black bears close to the road.

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There were lots of time where we didn’t see another person, but lots of beautiful scenery.

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Don’t worry, we were totally safe. Notice the bear spray on the belt loop at all times. We also found tall Fireweed. I don’t remember ever seeing Fireweed, but it is everywhere as you go north.

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There are different accommodation options all along the way. We found “resorts” for $150 a night, but opted for the free Bonus Lake Forest Recreation Site.

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I can’t get over how great these recreation sites can be. We are steps from Bonus Lake (which has many trout eager to take a fly).

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There is a composting toilet, picnic tables, and fire rings. There are only 3 campsites. When we arrived we were alone. It was starting to rain, so we set up our tent quickly. I met a nice dutch guy who stopped with his truck, camper, and three kids just to make coffee. He says that he stays in recreation sites 6 days a week while on vacation. He left after chatting for a while. He was headed to Smithers to stock up on Dutch things. He said that 1/3 of the town is of Dutch heritage so there are shops that sell Dutch candies and things imported from the Netherlands that remind him of his childhood.

The weather got worse and a nice Canadian couple showed up and sat in the pouring rain with us. They had a camper, but had a couple of beers at our table and discussed life. It was interesting to meet all kinds of people on this trip. The man was a hunter. Well he shot things. He told us stories of shooting animals that he never intended to eat that he would get a permit for after killing it and report it even after that. Seemed a bit like a “if it has eyes it dies” kind of hunter. He lived in his camper as he worked construction for things like oil and gas pipelines. He would be away from home for months at a time chasing work. Rough life up here.

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Moving to Alaska – Day 7.

You can skip this video if you are sick of the sunset timelapse fetish I am currently in love with. The sun just refuses to go down as you drive north during the summer.

Our next stop was Prince George. Prince George is a city. It is the 4th largest city in British Columbia. Like most of the area, lumber, oil, and mining are the major industries. This causes large swaths of forest to look empty. There is always a smell in the town. A smell that just smells industrial. It wasn’t pleasant and we didn’t want to stick around. We figured that we needed to stock up on all of our supplies because from here we would be taking the road less traveled. You see, most people head east and then north. They take the historical Alaska Canada Highway. Otherwise know as the Alcan. I am sure that it is beautiful. The fact that the whole 1400 miles was created in less than a year in amazing. But we were ready to get away from the hordes of RVs and all the people with their small dogs inside of them. Our route took us east on the Yellowed Highway to Kitawnga where we would turn north.

We needed lunch and somehow scored the best place in Prince George. Duck confit poutine?! Maybe this town isn’t so bad.Poutine

We had been following large rivers for most of the trip and it was fun to see the rivers I have only read about in fly fishing magazines or heard about from expensive guided trips. On our way to Kitwanga, we stopped short of Smithers at Telkwa to camp. It was another provincial park and someone seemed to be having a 19th birthday party. 20 kids, big trucks, loud music, and big fires. God, I am getting old. We drove through Houston, British Columbia and I had to take a picture with the largest fly rod in the world.Houston

Everyone started to get a little cramped in the car so we had to find interesting positions. Obi Wan

Moving to Alaska – Day 6.

We are just a few miles out of the town of Quesnel, so we can spoil ourselves with things like dinner from a restaurant. We always order our food to go. Sitting down and being waited on just feels too fancy for our camping road trip. When we are at our campsite, we spend most of our time paddling our canoe at 10 Mile Lake. We moved to the 10 Mile Lake Resort. The resort consists of 4 tent sites right on the edge of the lake. We like to watch the sun set after dinner. That can take a long time this far north. We also do a lot of walks with the dogs. There are lots of bugs around. Mostly, they are the good bugs that trout eat. Most of the time we remember to put their bear bells on, but not always. We drink wine at night and tea in the morning. Even if we only have two sporks, two bowls, and two mugs, life is pretty good.Screen Shot 2015-09-13 at 7.17.42 AM Screen Shot 2015-09-13 at 7.17.19 AM Screen Shot 2015-09-13 at 7.17.55 AM

Moving to Alaska – Day 5.

We are getting good at packing up our camp. From waking up to driving away takes us about 2 hours. We are never in a rush. Breakfast takes a while. Dishes have to be done in some water. We bought Dr. Bronner’s soap for doing dishes, washing clothes, and bathing. We feel that this is the least harmful thing for the environment that we can use. We have to deflate our airbed, pack up the two human and one dog sleeping bag, fold the sheets and blankets, and use Tetris like maneuvers to repack the car. Luckily, there weather has been nice every day.

Here is a short video of what you get when you pay nothing. Fire pit, composting toilet, picnic table, and a spot for a place to sleep.

From our recreation site (Forest Lake Recreation Site) we headed towards Quesnel. Quensnel has a certain smell. With 2 pulp mills, a plywood plant, and 5 sawmills, you could say that timber is important in the region. Quesnel is also home to the longest wood truss walking bridge in the world. Here we are on it.

Longest wood truss walking bridge in the world.

Longest wood truss walking bridge in the world.

We are staying at the 10 Mile Provincial Park tonight. The provincial parks are really nice. Almost too nice. Hot showers, over 100 sites, firewood for sale, and lots of RVs. It is nice once in awhile, but not really our thing. When we arrived, thunderstorms were in the forecast. We set up the tent just as the rain started. We are able to fit our air bed and a small table inside so we can play cards, eat dinner, and listen to music, all while staying dry. We even brought the dogs beds on this trip so everyone can sleep comfortably.

There are a lot of lakes in this part of the world. It makes for beautiful sunset pictures.

10 mile lake, late at night.

10 mile lake, late at night.

Moving to Alaska – Day 4.

We headed to Cache Creek to see if we could find a mechanic. While purchasing engine coolant the guy from the gas station, he said, “there’s a mechanic that hangs out in the restaurant” and he ran off to find him. Less than a minute later, two guys come back and tell us everything that we need to know about our car. They said not to worry. They said that we did everything we could have and to take it easy and we should be fine. They guessed that it was a vapor lock and the light would turn off shortly. These Canadians are damn friendly. We trudged northwards with me glancing at the check engine light every few minutes to see if it was still on. It always was. Whenever we stopped, I would top off the engine coolant to make sure there wasn’t too much water inside. One stop for gas, I turned on the car and the light did not come on! We didn’t have any car problems the rest of the way to Anchorage.

Following highway 97 north we passed towns on the map that consisted of one building at an intersection. We had gotten the Milepost as a gift and there were lots of warnings stop often to get gas as the stations are far apart and not always open. We never had a problem. This far south still felt pretty urban.

We stopped at the Williams Lake visitor center to inquire about climbing and fishing. They weren’t too sure about either. We went on a bit of a goose chase to find a climbing spot, but the road got a bit too rutted out and our overloaded little car couldn’t make it to where we wanted to go. We finished our day in a place we will never forget. In the visitor center at Williams Lake, the helpful person behind the counter casually mentioned a recreation area on our way north that is nice. It was off the highway and down a dirt road for about half an hour. Unsure of what we would find, we nervously drove past a few fifth wheels that all seemed to have boats. They seemed to be parked wherever they wanted. There were no showers. There was no running water. There were composting toilets. There were plenty of spaces to set up a tent.

We parked beside a picnic table and set up our tent. That was when we realized that these recreation sites were all through British Columbia and are all completely free. We fished the dead calm lake and had an amazing lake paddle that we will always remember. They sky was amazing.

The water was pancake flat like we had never seen. The trees were perfectly reflected on the lake surface. Fish were jumping, but not being caught. Birds were everywhere. Talking to other people staying there, the fish are few and far between, but can be huge. 10 pound trout was the goal of most people there. I didn’t feel too bad not catching anything. Some people catch two fish a day and are pretty stoked on that. We watched a beautiful sunset that seemed to go on forever. Screen Shot 2015-09-11 at 10.19.52 AM Screen Shot 2015-09-11 at 10.18.55 AM Screen Shot 2015-09-11 at 10.19.31 AM