Summer break RV trip: week 3

On Monday we stopped in the town of Canmore, Alberta, looking for a library so I could get a few hours of internet-dependent work done. This is their library, and THAT is their view!

We saw several of these along the road in Banff National Park: wildlife bridges over the freeway so animals can cross the road unscathed. Well done, Canada.

Here are Natalie and Emily all decked out for Canada Day on Tuesday:

I’m not going to lie: the idea of a bear encounter while hiking terrifies me. While I’d prefer bear grenades, this spray stuff looks promising (it even came with a holster.) I am now actively looking for a bear to spray.

We unfortunately weren’t the only ones who showed up in Banff to do a hike:

There were just too many people on this particular trail. We aborted our “hike” after about five minutes of fighting the crowds.

We found an alternate, far-less-traveled path that lead to these so-called “ink pots” — springs of cold water that form blue and green pools in the mud:

It was a beautiful view, and it felt great to soak our tired feet in the ice-cold water flowing down from the mountains (it was a long hike).

We camped that night at a nice wooded campground in Banff National Park:

On Wednesday we stopped at Lake Louise, which is very beautiful, but also has a Disneyland feel with all of the crowds and parking congestion. We did a short walk and then we were ready to leave.

We continued traveling on Wednesday from Banff toward Jasper on the Icefields Parkway, stopping at a couple scenic lookouts along the way. The money shot that day was Amy’s iPhone panorama taken of Peyto Lake (click the photo for a larger view):

Here is another stop, this one at Mistaya Canyon. (I’m trying my hand here at an animated GIF.)

Another quiet, wooded campground on Wednesday night along the Icefields Parkway.

We are regularly seeing wildlife from the road as we drive. On Thursday, this elk was practically posing for us:

Hot springs are the reason this area is now a national park. There are numerous hot springs in the Canadian Rockies and our Jasper National Park campground was just down the road from Miette Hot Springs. Amy and Natalie couldn’t resist trying it out:

These typical-looking pools are filled with the water from the hot springs, the hottest in the area. In fact, it leaves the mountain at 129 degrees and cools to 104 degrees by the time it gets to the pool. It felt great on tired, hiking muscles! Note: this sunset view was after 10 pm. We have very long days.

On Friday we stopped at a truck wash to give the RV and Jeep a desperately needed wash. (In hindsight, this was a complete waste of time because it was filthy again within 24 hours.)

By Friday afternoon we had reached the start — “Mile 0” — of the Alaska Highway in Dawson Creek, British Columbia:

We almost camped that night at a Walmart in Fort St. Johns, BC, but the Safeway across the street provided a luxurious amenity: free Wifi usable from our RV in the parking lot!

We saw lot of wildlife as we traveled on Saturday. The most exciting one was this black bear strolling down the road (viewed from the safety of the RV, of course).

Saturday night we got to experience what the Canadian parks system calls “informal camping.” They’re just clearings in the woods a kilometer or so off the main road. It was charming, in a Deliverance sort of way.

We had big plans for some off-roading in the Jeep on Sunday morning. But our woeful inexperience with driving through rivers and such — and the pleading from our daughters — made us reconsider and turn back. We vowed to get educated on what the Jeep (and we) can handle and try it again when we pass through here on the way home. We’ll be back, Churchill Mine Road. We’ll be back…

Even our Sunday morning hike was a bust. We tried to take a short hike, but the mosquitos were unbearable. We turned back and decided to just get on the road.

We traveled some serious distance through a mostly uninhabited stretch of British Columbia. This required careful planning of fuel stops, so this threw a bit of a wrench in that plan:

We fortunately came upon another hole-in-the-wall gas station later that morning, but at $1.97/liter, it hurt. (That’s about $7.46/gallon!!)

We saw lots more wildlife as we drove all day Sunday. Here, a group of mountain goats:

…and later a herd of bison:

…and lots more bears. This will probably be the last bear photo, as they’re a dime a dozen out here. (Unless it’s one I get to spray.)

By Sunday afternoon, we had reached the Yukon Territory:

We stopped at Watson Lake, YT, to fill the tanks at a slightly better price and found a very curious attraction at the visitors’ center: The Sign Post Forrest, a collection of an estimated 80,000+ road signs and license plates that years of travelers have nailed to the trees and posts:

We retrieved our old California license plate from the RV and left our mark:

I had to pull over Sunday evening and take another representative shot of what driving through British Columbia and Yukon is like. It’s this, mile after mile, day after day:

We stopped for the night on Sunday at a Yukon “government campground” having traveled 1391 miles this week. (Note the daylight; this is 10:30 pm!)

First order of business in the morning: wash that windshield!

Then, it’s on to Whitehorse, Yukon’s only city and the last real town before we reach Alaska.

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