Another long flight from Brissie to Los Angeles. Then bus to the station, train to Oceanside (just north of San Diego) and the final leg with our friend Richard in his car. It is Memorial Day & the beaches are busy & traffic banked up the freeways. It doesn’t take much for Richard & Debbra to convince us to stay overnight. It is great that we will be able to return their hospitality when they come to Brisbane in a few weeks/months time.
We head off the next morning. Our plan is to drive long days to reach Vancouver by the weekend. The weather is amazing & the scenery magical. We skirt past Los Angeles via a maze of freeways & on to Oregon with it’s gorgeous trees & mountains. Finally Washington with lots of snow capped peaks. We stop to organize our own hotspot for Internet. A very long saga, but T-Mobile come up with a good one (We hope!). We also purchase a RV GPS.
The next stop is at Seattle to get the diesel heater/hot water serviced. A lot of our problems with the system stemmed from bad diesel in Sth America. Then on to the border, to stay with my cousin Kevin, for the weekend near Vancouver. A great time spent catching up & heading out to find a miniscule rubber dinghy & motor. It is a successful weekend.
On Monday morning we are off. It feels good to be exploring again – the sun is shining, making the river & snow capped peaks sparkle. We follow the Fraser Gorge north. One of our stops is to the impressive Chasm National Park. No one else bothers to stop. Next stop is at 108 Mile Heritage Park- with a lovely group of restored log buildings. Sadly no camping here so we move, but find no free spots by the many lakes we pass. There are holiday homes everywhere. We finally settle in at Camp Wal-Mart in Lake William – we even have a great view over town. Again many magnificent kms and lakes later we ask at the info centre if there is any free camping nearby, & we get directions to Kager Lake Recreation Park, just outside Burns Lake on the Cassier Highway – great spot beside the lake with firepit & firewood! What more could we ask… Even some friendly neighbours.
We head off bright & early – no sleepins here as it is full daylight nearly all night. At Telkwa we get our own tour of the museum & church – before regular opening hours. At Smithers we admire the snow capped peaks overlooking town & the gorgeous glacier. Then on to Old Hazelton to explore the historic town. It is pretty chilly, so we d0 a quick tour & head off. Driving is magic, with snow smothered peaks all around us. We have been recommended the back road, so head down to Terrace, then across the Lava Beds National Park. It is a very scenic drive following lakes with mirror reflections, and then the lava beds covered in moss. Finally 50km on dirt forestry track back to the main road. Here we spy Bonus Lake Recreation Site where we stay for the night. We are joined by a few other travelers, so it is a very social evening.
Our detour the next day takes us to Stewart & Hyder (which is across the border in Alaska.) It is more magic driving as the road slips between 2 mountain ranges. We stop for coffee beside Bear Glacier – very pretty, but the best is yet to come. After Stewart we cross the border with USA into the ghost town of Hyder. Everything is closed, most long gone, only a few locals still live here. We follow the Salmon River to the glacier, an amazing 40km drive (later we discover that the road only opened yesterday) – with spectacular views & huge walls of snow. We can drive right to the top of the glacier. To top it off we saw our first black bear. Eventually we return to town & cross the border. We even get asked if we bought anything in Hyder – nothing is open!! Back to the Cassier Highway – and continue north, stopping whenever we spot a bear. Finally we pull over for the night at Kinaskan Lake Provincial Park – yes we pay for a camp spot, but it is immaculate, we get firewood & can launch our new boat on its maiden voyage.
Again time to move on. This trip we have quite a tight schedule as we have booked camping & ferries. So we continue north on the Cassier Highway. We see more bears & stop at Jade City- a tourist shop selling Jade in every form imaginable, but they offer free coffee & free Wifi. We even meet up with last night’s campers. We finally reach the end of the highway & take a short detour to Watson Lake to look at all the signs in the signpost forest. We add a Queensland number plate to the massive collection, & stop to explore the great visitor info centre. Here we see that the Canol Road (where we are headed) is closed, so we ask at the police check. They say check nearer. Oh well, it is getting late, so we follow a track down the river to find a lovely spot beside an abandoned log cabin for the night. Again we have a fire & BBQ. This is the life!