Final Days in Dawson Creek

Well…we haven’t done much the past couple of days. Did a few minor touristy things around Dawson Creek, ate dinner with Bill and Linda every day, wandered around meeting the rest of our caravan folks as they rolled in, a few minor chores on our rigs…Bill and Neil fixed the bathroom fan raising mechanism on his rig, cleaned off our solar panels, and re-stowed some breakable and items we won’t be using for the next couple of months…and that was about it.

We did get down to downtown Dawson Creek and saw the (fake!) Mile 0 marker…the one I posted the other day is the real one actually on the AlCan but the city built another ‘Mile 0’ marker in the middle of downtown in hopes of getting more people to come downtown and see things. I guess it worked a little…here’s the downtown version of the marker and also some first nation people (the term used by those residents of west and northwest North America that are descended from humans here before the Europeans showed up) in a prayer ceremony. 

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That’s about it…Dawson Creek is pretty small and once you’ve seen the marker and the bridge you’ve pretty much done it all. There is a pioneer fort tourist attraction place downtown as well…but we generally don’t do that sort of thing much so we passed.

Weather has been warm to hot…nice in the shade of the rig but hot on the roof or out in the sun and we’ve been running the A/C the past couple of days…only 1 at a time as we’re on 30 amp power though and we have to turn it off when we want to run the microwave or Breville oven or coffee maker. We are also somewhat limited in TV reception over the satellite antenna…the DirectTV birds are over the equator so they’re pretty low on the horizon here…Bill and Neil are continually grousing about having to rough it with only standard definition TV as some of the HD channels don’t have enough signal strength to lock on despite the antenna being able (barely) to see the bird itself. Ah…the hazards of roughing it I guess…luckily for us Connie recorded a bunch of movies and shows the last 2 months and we’ve got 100 hours or so of things to watch when we don’t have satellite visibility…which will be as soon as we get north of Whitehorse a week from tomorrow. At least we have cold brewskis and brownies Linda keeps making for dessert. Linda and Neil have been alternating cooking dinners…it’s no more trouble to cook for 4 than for 2 and that way only one of us has to cook each night. 

We have our initial meeting with the group tonight in the building here at Northern Lights RV…then we’re off to dinner in town for a welcome celebration…then tomorrow we ride. First day is 283 miles straight up the AlCan to Fort Nelson then 3 shorter days to Whitehorse YK for our first more than over night stop. We’ve carefully plotted out where to get fuel as gas stations aren’t every mile like they are on our side of the border…Whitehorse has 30,000 people or so and is a decent sized town but the 4 stops on the way are pretty much the only places to get any. Up here…half a tank means make sure you know where your next fueling stop is. We have about 750 miles range with our aux tank so we’ll be fine…but if we were limited to the 37.5 gallons that the standard OEM tank has things would be a lot tougher.

Cyas.

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Dawson Creek Stuff

Today we got settled into our sites 46 and 47 with Bill and Linda…then Bill and Neil did some work on BAT’s CB radio and associated wiring and got Bill’s truck an oil change. Meanwhile…Connie did some work and Linda researched things to do. Once all of that was done…we had lunch then went off on a little Fun Stuff™in the Dawson Creek area. After that we came home and had dinner…Linda grilled some burgers, Neil provided some skewered mushrooms and onions that she grilled as well and Neil also made some scalloped potatoes. All went down really well…then we drove over to DQ and got a Blizzard to tide us over until breakfast.

We noticed yesterday that the CB radio in BAT that we use to communicate on the road was having a problem with the squelch not working correctly which results in lots of static noise out of the speaker…which results in turning the volume way down…which results in not hearing the other person trying to talk to you. So…after some discussion yesterday about the potential causes of this problem Bill and Neil dropped Bill’s truck off at the Chevy place for an oil change and headed off to find a CB radio interference filter. Essentially we thought the problem was noise on the 12v power line, probably caused by the inverter in the rig and that adding a filter to get rid of the noise on the power line would solve the problem. After we got home from the oil change we commenced troubleshooting and after an hour or so concluded that the radio frequency interference was indeed coming from the inverter but was coming in via the air and antenna and not over the power line. To solve this…well, the only real solution would be to turn the inverter off while traveling but that means the fridge won’t run. While this would be OK for short travel periods it isn’t something we want to do unless we have to. Our fall back position was to move the radio farther forward in BAT’s cabin to increase the distance from the inverter and use a higher channel number that has less interference. We did what we could…and will test again on our travel day on Tuesday. At worst we’ll just turn the inverter off while traveling and let the fridge just sit. As long as the door is shut this won’t pose any problem at all for us…but it’s just another thing we don’t want to have to worry about on travel days so we’ll see if the half measures we tried help before deciding to go that route or not.

That was pretty much it for the morning…so after lunch we headed off to see a couple of sites.

First stop was the Mile 0 marker on the Alaska Highway…also known as the AlCan. It was the first road to Alaska; built from Dawson Creek to the Alaska border and beyond in 1942. Very little of the original road remains today…it was initially constructed very quickly to support WWII operations then reconstructed afterwards to be a more user friendly road. Over the years it’s been improved and today is actually a pretty decent road. Here are shots of the Mile 0 markers and of both Neil and Connie and Bill and Linda who are traveling with us. The AlCan itself is visible just beyond the overhead sign and has different road numbers as it goes north…here in BC it’s BC-97, becoming YT-1 when it crosses into the Yukon Territory, then AK-2 when it crosses into Alaska.

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For those keeping up at home with your National Geographic or Google Maps…we proceed essentially north from Dawson City with a stop in Fort Nelson BC. After that we’re mostly west-northwest through the Yukon with stops in Watson Lake, Teslin, and Whitehorse, then continuing briefly into Alaska at Haines, back into the Yukon via Destruction Bay and Beaver Creek then cross into Alaska to Tok. From there we go northwest to Fairbanks, south via  Denali to Anchorage then continue around the coastal areas of Alaska with stops in Homer, Seward, Palmer, Valdez and Glenallen then back northward to Tok again. From Tok we go to Chicken Alaska then back into the Yukon to Dawson City. From Dawson City we go back south to Whitehorse then sort of retrace our steps southward with a side jaunt to Iskut BC and Hyder AK to our stopping point in Prince George. Here’s an overall view of our trip…for rough distance purposes it’s about 5,000 miles total from Dawson Creek to Prince George and about 360 miles from Fairbanks to Anchorage. On our 60 day trip we travel 29 days.

Once the caravan is over in Prince George we’ll head to Jasper AB which is about halfway between Prince George and Edmonton for a 5 day stop to see the Tour of Alberta bike race…then south down the Icefields Parkway to Banf and then eastward through Calgary and reenter the US near St Mary’s MT for a visit to Glacier National Park. Eastward to Devils Tower in the northeast corner of WY for a few days…then over to Indianapolis and then Midlothian for more grand baby and the World Championship Bike Races before heading generally southward (as it will be late  September by then and starting to get too cool for Neil anyway) via TN and AL to our winter home in Fort Myers. Neil will also be keeping up our travel map as we proceed…you can find it at http://www.travellerspoint.com/member_map.cfm?user=guntherbear#/tripid/714488 or via the Our Travel Maps link at the top of the page.

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Our second stop for the day was the Kiskatinaw River Curved Bridge…this is an original but still used bridge from the construction of the AlCan back in 1942…it’s an entirely wooden structure. It’s a popular photo spot and you may have seen pictures of it before. The river is a good distance below the bridge as you can see from the accompanying picture of the river gorge…about 100 feet. It’s 534 feet long and curves 9 degrees over it’s length, is the only original bridge still in use, and contains about 500,000 board feet of lumber. We could drive the rig across it as it’s still approved for up to 20 ton loads but as the piece of the AlCan that crosses it doesn’t go anywhere anymore…we decided to just drive over and see it instead.

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Looking upstream from the middle of the bridge, or to the right in the picture above.

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With that we headed home…for the aforementioned burgers and Blizzards.

Several other of our caravan friends arrived today and our fearless leader David Baxley and his bride arrive tomorrow…with the rest of the group coming in sometime before Monday evening. We’re getting pretty pumped up for our trip…looking forward to meeting all of our new friends over the weekend and Monday and starting to do Fun Stuff™ a lot as we travel. Neil wants lots of wildlife…Connie wants lots of wildlife but no bears. We’ll see who gets their wish.

Cyas.

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Dawson Creek BC, Sexsmith and Connie Shows Off Her Beaver

Well…we continued our trek northwestward and arrived in Dawson Creek BC for the beginning of our Alaska Caravan…so I figured I should catch ya’ll up on what we did. After my last post on Tuesday we got up Wednesday morning and did laundry, went to the grocery, and had dinner with our friends Bill and Linda. With an early departure time on Thursday…we were leaving at 0800 since we had 340 miles to go to Dawson Creek BC…we hit the sack early and after getting up at 0530 we were ready to go and pulled out with Bill and Linda right about 0803.

We made good time west and then north and pulled into Dawson Creek BC right about 1600. We’ll be here through Monday night…the caravan first meet-up is Monday evening and we hit the road Tuesday morning. We have several overnight stops heading basically due north until our first extended (3 nights) stop at Whitehorse on Saturday. We’re in site 46 in Northern Lights RV Park on the west side of Dawson Creek…here’s a shot of our house and a suspiciously same paint job rig next door that belongs to Bill and Linda.

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Before we left Glowing Embers RV Park in Acheson AB…Neil did get a few decent shots of the Magpies that are very common up here in the northwest.

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On the way up we passed a great little town in BC…

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And here’s the sign at the city limits of Dawson Creek.

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The only touristy thing we did today was stop by the Visitor Center at Beaver Lodge, BC…and Connie showed us all her beaver. Honest…I mean it…and I even got a picture of it to prove that it.

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We were gonna grill burgers with Bill and Linda on our arrival…but upon further review as the replay official would say the call was overturned and we went out to a sushi place in town instead. New Tokyo Sushi…pretty great food and great times as well.

Tomorrow Neil and Bill are headed off to get the oil in Bill’s truck changed and see if we can find a low pass filter to make Neil’s CB work better without all the static we were getting today. Then we’ll do whatever there is to do in Dawson Creek over the weekend and Monday morning…followed by the meet-up in the evening for the start of our 60 day Alaskan Adventure…we are all really looking forward to this.

Cyas.

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Continuing Northwest

Not much to report…but I did want to let ya’ll know that we wuz still alive albeit mostly just traveling toward Dawson Creek for the start of the Alaskan Adventure.

As I Indicated in my last post…our friends Bill and Linda Napier arrived on schedule in Langham SK Saturday afternoon. Neil grilled some chicken for dinner, Linda made brownies and brought over a bottle of Merlot and a jolly evening was had by all.

Sunday we attempted to attend Mass in Langham…we even verified the location and time of the service by driving by the church earlier in the week…but alas, on Sunday morning we got there and there was no Mass this week. So…we went back to the rig and were on the road in convoy with Bill and Linda right about 1000 or so for a 170 mile transit over to Lloydminster AB right on the AB/Sk border. Neil made some vodka cream sauce with Italian sausage and linguini for dinner along with another bottle of Merlot then we all just rested until bedtime.

Monday morning we were off again about 0900 or so for the last 170 miles to Acheson AB on the west side of Edmonton. On our arrival we met up with David Baxley and his wife Bettie…Dave is the wagon master for the caravan to Alaska this year and will be again for our Canadian Maritimes trip next summer. Linda grilled some steaks and made a Caesar salad for dinner and Neil contributed some oven roasted rosemary potatoes…it was a nice evening so we just ate outside.

Today Neil and Connie installed our new pressure sensors on all 12 wheels and also inflated a couple tires that were a bit low…this entailed an unscheduled removal of the rear left outer dualley wheel to get the old sensor off the valve stem. Once that was done we headed off for some errands…haircut for Neil, fuel for BAT, nails for Connie and a stop at Walmart for a few last minute groceries. Then we came home until it was time for dinner…we were headed out with Bill, Linda, David and Bettie…our initial idea was what was billed as a Japanese steakhouse (one of those teppen-yaki restaurants) but it turned out to be a take out establishment so we ended up at the Canadian Brew House where we had some great brews, great food, and great conversation with friends…Bill was especially interested in getting some more info on next year’s Maritimes trip as they’ve never been up that way.

Tomorrow is laundry day and we need to do a little rearranging of wires, equipment, and various electronic devices in BAT’s cockpit…we’ll do who knows what for dinner and then Thursday morning we’re headed out early for the 330 mile trip up to Dawson Creek where we’ll spend the weekend at Northern Lights RV. Then Monday evening we have the initial get together for the caravan and Tuesday we head north.

Sorry…no pictures to show you this time…we’ve been doing more life stuff than Fun Stuff™ but that will change soon.

As a famous man (David) says about the trip to Alaska…”Someday begins tomorrow.”

Cyas.

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Hike at Redberry Lake and Guerilla Warfare

An aborted hike attempt today as well as a report on an ongoing skirmish we’re having in the rig…as of this morning the score is Americans 2 – Canadian Mice 0. Connie claims they’re probably actually North Dakotan Mice that illegally entered Canadia without showing a passport but they’re both dead and neither of them said “Eh.”…so their exact lineage ain’t exactly clear. More on that later though.

Our plan for the day was a ride an hour north and west of Langham to Redberry Lake where we were going to go on a hike out to Millennium Point to bird watch…so after coffee and breakfast we packed our selves Morning Snack™ and headed out. Twenty miles or so west on SK-16 then north on a gravel road another 17 miles or so to the lake. We followed the Canadian free GPS we have and not the truck GPS and it led us off of the gravel road onto the goat path portion of the drive…guess it musta came out as slightly shorter when the algorithm did it’s thing and it wasn’t much worse than the gravel road anyway.

We paid our $5CN entry fee, parked, got all our hiking stuff on and headed out. Made it about a half mile into the hike and it pretty much turned into another death march…when we started to ask ourselves where the machete was to hack our way through we gave up and went back to the car. We knew there was a road out to the end but had thought the hike would be nicer…turned out that the trail (a) kept crossing the road and (b) wasn’t on the lake short so no views…so we elected to drive out to the end and see what there was to see before heading home. Here are shots from our trip.

Red Winged Blackbird Male.

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Loon cruising on the surface and then submerging.

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White Pelicans…turns out they summer here but we never knew that…a whole bunch of them in the lake.

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American Avocet…a new bird for us.

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Marbled Godwit…another new one for us.

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The lake view.

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We stopped at the pit toilet at the point before heading home and then punched in “Home, James.” on the truck GPS as we didn’t know the exact coordinates for the campground…they’re written in the Book of all Knowledge™ which we cleverly didn’t bring with us today. The truck GPS routed us on only about 4 kilometers of gravel road than back onto paved road…albeit it about another 8 miles farther home but the same time due to to paved roads. We got home, had lunch and a shower and then headed off to downtown Saskatoon to check it out as well as have dinner.

St Paul’s Catholic Cathedral.

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For dinner we stopped in at O’Shea’s Irish Pub…it was a close tossup between it…the British Pub, and the Canadian Tap Pub but we woulda had to walk farther away from where we parked BAT if we had gone back to one of the other two…and we were tired so O’Shea’s it was. We got seated at the bar and found out there was good news and bad news. The good news was that they had a tap for Kilkenny Cream Ale…the amber ale with a brewing technique and head like a stout that we dearly loved over in Ireland…the bad news was that the keg was dead and there was no more in the cooler until Monday. So we opted for a couple pints-o’-Guinness instead and ordered food…O’Shea’s Loaded Potato for Connie and Shepard’s Pie for Neil. Both were out standing and we had enough of Connie’s potato dish left over for lunch today. The Shepard’s Pie…not so much…he ate it all.

Afterwards we headed home and watched TV until it was time to lay out the defenses for the night’s warfare.

To set the stage…2 nights ago right about 2100 at night Neil spotted the invaders…a sneaky little mouse crawling under the edge of our fridge. Connie…naturally…freaked over this, Neil was concerned and figured it was a problem that needed solving but not quite to the Line in the Sand Fight to the Death stage. We set up 3 traps and went to bed…arising early the next morning to find the invader had been killed by one of our cunningly placed anti-personnel mines.

**WARNING.WARNING. DANGER WILL ROBINSON. DEAD MOUSE PICTURES AHEAD.**

Skip ahead 3 clicks/screens in your scrollbar if you’re squeamish about these sorts of things. I thought about just linking to them so you would have to deliberately click on them to see them…but it was more work than I was interested in…and they’re just dead mice anyway.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Connie…again naturally…freaked over this and couldn’t understand why Neil didn’t run out in his jammies to dispose of the body…he said that (a) I haven’t had any coffee yet and (b) It’s dead, Jim and isn’t coming back to life as a zombie mouse. He got rid of it an hour or so later.

Last night we figured we had wiped the enemy out but decided to rebait our traps again just in case and headed off to bed.

This morning we found another invader…likewise dispatched by our defenses.

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Connie…again naturally, we’re starting to see a pattern here…freaked. Again Neil had coffee before disposing of the body.

So…we think we probably picked these up sometime before crossing the border which would make Connie’s guess of illegal immigrant mice more likely but there’s no firm proof either way. We’ll set the traps again tonight just in case we haven’t wiped them them out to the last mouse and Neil will check under our sink and in the basement and underbelly to see if he can see any signs of further intruders. 

He keeps telling her that we live in the woods and mice are a way of life…Jen’s mother Kim told her that they caught 4 in one day in their 5ver down in VA recently…but I’m not sure she’s buying it. Still though…these are the first mice we’ve seen in 3 years in the rig except for one dead one we found up in the battery compartment 2 winters back after our last trek out to the Canadian Rockies. I’ll report later on any further skirmishes…hopefully we’ve got them all now.

Our friends Bill and Linda Napier are due to arrive today…the site next to us is empty and supposedly reserved for them although their name isn’t up on the board yet…but it’s only 1000. Neil was gonna grill but given it’s raining and we’re not sure that it will clear up before grill time he is going to regroup and make Spaghetti Bolognese instead.

Cyas.

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Made it to Canadia

I know that some un-edumacated folks call it Canada…but let’s be real about this…the people from here are Canadians, not Canadans…so clearly people named Canadians gotta be from Canadia…right? That’s my story…and I’ma stickin’ to it I tell ya.

Anyhoo…Wednesday AM we got up and had coffee…skipped breakfast as we were stopping down the road a bit at the Flying J and were planning breakfast there. Packed, hitched, dumped tanks at the dump station and hit the road on I-94 west.

First stop was the Flying J a mile before entering Montana…we filled up with about 15 gallons of diesel but the real reason we stopped in was for DEF…our tank is down about a gallon or so and Neil poured our 2.5 gallon jug into the tank a couple weeks back so we needed to refill that for emergency supplies. BAT don’t run without DEF (diesel exhaust fluid), it gets injected into the exhaust for emission control stuff. It’s made out of synthetic urea and smells like pee…but it converts various unhealthy nitrous oxide type compounds into less unhealthy nitrous oxide compounds. Anyway…BAT will quit running without it and the onboard tank is good for about 4,000 miles so we carry a jug that will half fill the tank and fill up whenever it’s available. DEF is available in jugs of course…but the best way to get it is at truck stops…there’s a little midget gas pump handle alongside the diesel fill handle and you just pump it into a small fill opening in the fuel fill flap area.

The first pump we pulled into had a broken DEF dispenser…but Neil didn’t notice it until he had started pumping so he had to finish, drive around and get back in line for another pump…by the time he was done it was going on 1020 and we were really hungry. We got a couple of outstanding cheese danish from the pastry counter…by the time we were finished we made the decision to just skip lunch and proceed direct to dinner.

We crossed into Montana and turned north on MT-16…the truck GPS wanted to send us this way that was 20 miles shorter but had 15 miles of gravel/dirt road…we changed the suggested route so we could stay on paved roads with higher speed capability. We don’t mind gravel roads and we’ll see plenty of them in Alaska…but time-wise it was clearly quicker to take the 20 mile longer paved highway. We got to the border late morning…of the 20 or so vehicles we observed while we were there we were the only non truck. We pulled up and answered the typical border guard questions…tobacco, alcohol, guns, Mace…then they asked us about chicken and eggs. Due to the avian flu in some states the Canadian government (there’s that word with the i in it again…told ya’) doesn’t allow eggs or chicken from certain states to enter. Luckily all of ours passed muster…the chicken we bought before leaving FL at Costco so it was probably packed in Georgia and the eggs we picked up in Minneapolis. We were in and out of the border station in probably 15 minutes…woulda been faster except we had to bump out the kitchen slide to get to the freezer.

We continued on up the road a total of 320 miles to Regina SK and pulled into the Kings Acres RV Park…where we quickly checked in, paid and got parked in site D14, a nice 30 amp water/electric back in site. That’s plenty of power since we don’t need any A/C units, we didn’t bother hooking up water as we still had 42 gallons from our boondocking earlier, and weren’t going to dump anyway.

Neil didn’t feel like cooking so we unhitched after putting just the front jacks down and headed over to a pub Connie found…Rock Creek Tap and Restaurant. We had a couple pints of amber ale from Maple Brewery out in Vancouver…and split some potstickers and a T-Rex (meats plus caramelized onions) that was house made on whole wheat flatbread…mighty good. Here are shots of our site D14 and our brews with Kara.

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And as promised…here are a couple of shots of the Little Missouri Saloon in Medora…we really liked both the beer and the food as well as the great bartender…and any place with those swinging doors and saloon in the name has gotta be good, right?

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We also passed this little town on the road just after crossing the border…great name huh? Unfortunately we didn’t see either the deer or the antelope and they definitely weren’t playing. Sorry about the lousy photo but Connie grabbed it out the window with her iPhone…we were on a 4 lane road with the inner lanes blocked off for construction for 15 miles or so…and nary a sight of any construction guys working on it…just cones and barriers.

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We had a serious time issue in the evening though…in ND we were in Mountain Time and it was Daylight Savings Time. Saskatoon runs on Central Time…but (and this is what confused us as we were unaware of it) doesn’t observe DST. So…on crossing the border we dutifully set our watches ahead an hour as we thought it was Central Time now. Later in the evening we wondered why the sun was still out and after a bit of research found out the Standard Time thing…MDT and CST are actually the same number. When we transit into AB on Sunday we’re back in MDT (Alberta and British Columbia do observe Daylight Savings, go figure)…so we won’t change zones again until we get into Pacific and then Alaska time 12 or so days into the caravan.

This morning we got up about 0700…which turned out to be 0600 due to the aforementioned time error…Connie found it out about 2200 after Neil had gone to bed and we had already set our alarms. After coffee and Eggo waffles for breakfast we hitched up and hit the road. 170something miles later we arrived in Langham SK northwest of Saskatoon about 10 miles and quickly pulled into Site 11 at River Valley RV…another nice 30 amp full hookup pull through site. They don’t take credit cards but luckily take US cash at the current exchange rage so we paid our $99 CN bill for 3 nights with $82 US. Here’s a shot of our site…this is actually a pretty nice little park as well.

 

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We’re about 200 yards off of the highway heading to Edmonton via Lloydminster…which are our next two destinations after meeting up with Bill and Linda on Saturday and heading out on Sunday.

The afternoon was consumed by setup and washing the rear windows on the house…they were pretty filthy and we couldn’t enjoy the view at all…all better now. Dinner tonight was leftover BBQ’d pork country ribs chopped up and mixed with noodles and some Asian spices. Quite tasty and easy to boot.

It’s TV now until bedtime…for some reason we’ve lost access to all of the networks (ABC, NBC, Fox, and CBS) but most of the rest of them are working fine. We’ll have to chat with Bill about that when we see him…he’s a TV guy and will know if there’s something up with our DirectTV or if that’s just the way it is north of the border. Connie has Fun Stuff™ planned for tomorrow and maybe Saturday AM depending on whether it rains as scheduled or not.

Cyas.

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Teddy Roosevelt National Park and BAT to the Rescue

We’ve had a pretty good couple of days here in Medora visiting Teddy Roosevelt National Park.

Sunday we had to punt on attending Mass this week as there isn’t a church here with mass in the morning and we missed the one in the community center on Sunday afternoon. So…we got up early and ran our Honda portable generator a couple of hours to charge up our batteries to about 80% then left for our scheduled drive/hike around the South Unit of the park. The South Unit is one of 3 sections of the park and is located here in Medora; the North Unit is about 50 miles north of here and is more isolated and rugged, and the Elk Ranch Unit is west about 30 miles…Elk Ranch was established by Teddy Roosevelt in his attempt to become a rancher but eventually failed as a ranch due to losses of cattle during winters and became just a hunting lodge for him.

First up is a couple of photos from our campground…a view of the ridge line to the east of us, Medora is on the other side of this ridge and also some nice sunset backlit shots of the horses in the campground with us…the horse noises give us some local color that we’re really liking this week.

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Our first stop Sunday morning was the visitor center where we watched the 17 minute movie on the park and TR’s involvement with it…he spent time here twice in the late 1800s…he first time was shortly after his wife and mother died and he came here to restore his spirit and rejuvenate his desire for a political career after his stint with the now famous Rough Riders at San Juan Hill. 

The Maltese Cross cabin…Roosevelt’s first home in the Dakota Territory. It was moved from it’s original location about 6 miles south of Medora and toured the country during his presidency then spent some time at the State House grounds once North Dakota became a state…and was relocated again to it’s location at the Medora visitor center once the park was named after him.

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From there we took the loop road around the South Unit…about 30 miles or so total but it ended up taking the rest of the day by the time we hiked, overlooked, had lunch, and watched the wildlife. Here’s photos of the day…brief descriptions added where needed but mostly they could have just said “epic scenery”: and it woulda been pretty close.

Château de Mores…the home of the Marquis de Mores built in 1883. He came here to establish a cattle round up and shipping facility that persisted for 3 years until it collapsed due to drought and price competition from facilities further eastward.

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Prairie dogs standing guard around their town. They make cute little barks…especially when starting to become alarmed…and then eventually the whole group skedaddles down their burrows only to reemerge 100 feet away and resume watching and feeding.

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Cattle Corral Flats…home of a prairie dog town and also a bowl where cattle were gathered for transfer to the de Mores cattle facility back in the day.

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Pronghorn antelope across the way…even with Neil’s bird lens and cropping way in it’s still a long way over there…must have been 600 or 800 yards over to where this buck was feeding.

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Looking down the Wind Canyon towards the Little Missouri River. This is a really strangely wind/rain sculpted canyon in the ridge.

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A Bull Snake that slithered across the path between Neil and Connie walking…she was about 20 feet ahead of him and must have walked within 5 feet right before it slithered out. Non poisonous and the largest snake in the park.

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Looking back up Wind Canyon from the river overlook.

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Oxbow bend in the Little Missouri River…although this is a pano shot it actually really does curve back on itself like it appears in the photo.

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Hollowed out rock from erosion.

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Wind Canyon again.

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Wildflowers by Connie.

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Bison patties…they burned these for fuel back in the day…but had to make sure they weren’t fresh before picking them up.

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Coyote that ran across the road infant of BAT.

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Another wind carved rock.

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We decided this was a White Throated Sparrow based on the head coloration even though it isn’t quite sparrow shaped and we thought it was a little bigger than that…but nothing else really matched the coloration except a Meadowlark but there wasn’t any yellow chest that we could see.

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A blooming prickly pear cactus…first one of these we’ve ever seen. There’s actually a bee down inside but you can’t see it from this angle.

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Wild horses up on the ridge. We spotted these because we came around a corner and encountered a stopped car…which meant they were looking for something so we looked around and spotted them.

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Herd of bison looking down from the highest accessible point in the park…mother, calf and some adults.

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Another wild horse…very long mane and tail.

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Brilliant colored and layered mounds up in the badlands area of the park.

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A pair of dung beetles struggling with getting a hunk-o’-dung back to the nest.

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With that our day was ended so we headed home…got parked and opened up the house for some ventilation.

Dinner was the last of the venison backstrap that Bryan’s father in law gave us last fall…it was really good. Grilled it on the barby and while it was cooking fried up some ‘taters and set them aside. Sautéd some mushrooms and onions in a skillet on the grill then added red wine, cream and dill to make sauce then added the ‘taters and sliced venison to coat everything. Man…talk about some good eatin’.

After dinner we had the BAT to the rescue excitement for the day. We had finished eating and were sitting around when all of a sudden we noticed some smoke drifting past our windows. We looked up to find a car on fire over by the river next to one of the horse camping sites…and noticed a very anxious young man running over looking for some water. Neil grabbed our grill storage bin and we hoofed it over to the water spigot then carried water and the hose over towards the fire.

The young lady who owned the car (the guy was her fiancé) had parked the car in some tall grass and gotten stuck in a rut. Instead of getting help to push her out of the rut she rocked it back and forth digging herself deeper and deeper until the heat from the muffler or catalytic converter caught the grass…and then the car… on fire. The water wasn’t getting the fire out and the flames were approaching the gas tank…so Neil took over the response at the scene since nobody else was doing so and he learned about that back in his Navy days. He yelled if anybody had a tow strap and it turned out that one of the horse trailer ladies had one that her husband left in their truck. Neil ran and got BAT while they attached the strap…got into 4 wheel drive and low gear and rumbled through the tall grass. The rest of them hooked it up to our trailer hitch and got the car into neutral then BAT yanked that sucker right out of the rut and out into the road…just in time. He unhooked the strap and got BAT out of the way just in case things went from bad to worse and we got the grass fire and part of the car fire extinguished. Someone had already called 911 and the volunteer fire department showed up and finished getting the fire out with their truck. The young lady was burned somewhat on her hands and forearms…first degree so painful but not permanently damaging…and she was hauled off for medical attention.

The worst part of it for her was that the sheriff’s deputy who was investigating found empty beer cans in the car and on the ground nearby and witnesses reported that she was the driver when it all started…so she’s likely going to get charged  in addition to having her car totaled and being burned. Here’s a shot of the burned up car and then a wider one showing how close it was to us.

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After everybody left we came home and watched TV until bedtime. 

We got a few new Alex grand baby pictures this week for his six month birthday…we can’t decide which of these two is our favorite but I’m thinkin’ the second one. Cute li’l bugger, ain’t he?

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Monday we got up early and after generator running to charge our batteries and coffee/breakfast we headed off for a trip to and around the North Unit of the park. We had heard that it was more scenic and rugged than the South Unit and reports were that there was more wildlife up that way…so we decided to head on up. We didn’t think it was more rugged…that title clearly goes to the South Unit…but it was more open grassland type terrain rather than the Badlands terrain that the South Unit has. There was some of the latter but more open rolling grasslands than down south. Wildlife…eh, not so much. We didn’t see all that many creatures but what we did see was pretty cool. Hard to beat yesterday though.

We drove east about 15 miles then north 52 to the entrance to the North Unit to the park…from there we had a straight shot (more or less at least except for the windings of the road) 14 miles westward. We stopped at pretty much all of the overlooks and such…taking pictures and seeking nice stuff to see. It was a cool, sunny day…we stopped about 1/3 of the way over at the campground in the North Unit. This was one of our potential spots that we passed on because it was at the North Unit pretty far from anything…but we drove through to scope it out for any future visits to the area. The verdict on this campground is that the trees are fine and we wouldn’t have any issue getting into the campground…but only sites 42, 43, and 44 would get much solar power…and with no hookups that’s pretty much mandatory. So…it would do in a pinch if you were willing to be way, way out in the boonies and could reserve one of the sites that would actually have enough sun for decent power generation…otherwise it would probably be 6-8 hours of generator usage a day for us with our residential fridge.

Ok, on to the pictures…

Painted Canyon Overlook.

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Red Winged Blackbird male…Connie got this one out the window as he landed right where we were driving by…she tried to get the female he was courting as well but she flew off. Playing hard to get I guess.

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Cannonball concretions…these are formed when minerals coalesce around a buried piece of something (usually organic material of some sort) then after it’s hardened the surrounding softer material erodes away…this one is about 4 feet across.

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Badlands section showing the layers…the blue/black stuff is a clay that flows when wet and causes the slumped sections of terrain.

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Here’s a picture of what it looks like after it slumps…the foreground piece slid downhill from the ridge behind, above, and to the left.

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The end of the road…as far west as you can go and be on the road and looking towards the west.

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More cannonball concretions

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The Howard Payne Memorial Dead Tree photo…our friend Howard from RV-Dreams frequently takes pictures of dead trees and posts on his blog…so Neil periodically takes one in his stead.

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Buffalo…these were about 300 yards away but were the closest we had seen one in the park.

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Texas Longhorn cattle grazing in the park…don’t know if they’re wild or belong to a rancher…probably wild as there aren’t any ear tags or brands visible.

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And finally…a buffalo closeup. This guy was just sitting there right alongside the road just as we were about to leave the park. We had finished our slow drive out to the end of the road and were basically heading back eastward to the entrance…and had given up hope of seeing one close up. Didn’t even have to get out of BAT for this one…Neil just aimed the camera out the driver’s window. He’s still got some of his winter coat that hasn’t been worn off by rubbing on trees and rocks.

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Shortly after the one above we got to the entrance and headed home for the day. For the second day in a row we didn’t get much clear sky down at Medora so our solar output was less than spectacular. Had some pork ribs and corn on the cob on the barby and then watched TV until bedtime. Got up early this morning after overnight rain and it’s supposed to be rainy and cloudy most of today…which again means not much solar…which means we’ll just run the generator a bit this morning and probably again late this afternoon.

Today Connie’s got a little work to do before we head into Canadia tomorrow and have to depend solely on wifi as our Verizon MiFi Internet device won’t work outside the US…at least not without an obscene bill…Canadian data prices are ridiculous. We did have some email with our friends Bill and Linda the past couple of days…they’re crossing the border a bit east of here and will meet us in Saskatoon on Saturday afternoon. We probably won’t have another blog update until Friday or Saturday after we have some Fun Stuff™ to report on from Saskatoon. Will grab photos at targets of opportunity and at our CG in Regina tomorrow night but the post would just say we traveled most likely anyway unless we see something interesting to stop for.

 

Dinner tonight will be at the Little Missouri Saloon…it’s got those swinging doors and everything. We ate there t’other night and had brews and elk burgers that were pretty outstanding…elk tastes like really lean beef. We’ll sit at the bar again and talk to the locals. Our other option is the Boots Bar and Grill…but it looks a lot more touristy and trendy so most likely we’ll stay out of there and eat at the saloon again…after all, any place with those doors and saloon in the name can’t be all bad. I’ll grab a shot of it tonight and put in later.

Cyas.

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