Fraser River – British Columbia

It happened all too soon.

Since we left Prince George yesterday, we’ve been following route 97 that parallels the Fraser River. Its source is in the Canadian Rockies and it’s mouth is Vancouver. The Fraser is the major drainage system for British Columbia.

Most of yesterday’s highway climbed from Prince George to Clinton located on the three thousand foot Fraser Plateau. Following the river downstream and driving uphill all day confused me. I knew we were climbing because of our poor fuel mileage. Today was different.

As soon as we left Clinton we began to descend. As the road plunged off the plateau, and the vegetation changed. Instead of the trees, we entered a dry high desert, like around Reno, Nevada. Scrub brush and low sage covered the hills. The BC coastal range removes moisture from the air just as the Sierras do in California, creating a rain shadow on their downwind side.

Chainsaw Wood Carving
Hope has an annual contest for chainsaw artists. The winning pieces are displayed as public art throughout the town.

We stopped for lunch in Hope. It’s a pretty little town along the Fraser. They hold chainsaw wood carving contests here and the town shows off the winning pieces as public art. While we walked around looking at them, we came across some nice hot rods parked outside a diner. I guess a car club was out for a Sunday road trip.

Chevy Parked Outside the Diner
The hot rod club made it to town and this was a nice example of the rods parked at the curb.
Different Interperations On A Theme
I thought this was an interesting comparison of value changes as one ages.

At Cache Creek we left Hwy 97 and picked up Canadian Route 1 which follows the river’s edge through Fraser Canyon and Hell’s Gate. Route 1 is a Trans Canadian Highway, but this section even intimidated me. The highway and Canadian Railroad run along the steep mountainsides above the river. Like the train tracks, there are a series of tunnels you have to go through. They’ve named them. The worst was the one called Hell’s Gate. I didn’t like it, because it’s narrow, dark and has a couple of curves in it. I held my breath as I hurtled through it with the trailer chasing me.

Fraser Canyon
Tracks one either side and a major highway run along the mountains above the Fraser River.

The river finally bottoms out into a delta as shown by the farms and produce stands along the road sides. And then, miraculously it became a freeway, or interstate . . . or inter-province . . . I’m so confused. You know what I mean, one of those roads with four lanes with broad grassy dividers and off ramps.

Fritz was happily speeding along and holding up traffic when everything came to a stand-still. “No! Not now, my GPS says I only have two and a half miles to go.” It took an hour and forty-five minutes to get there. The freeway (whatever) was under repair, and closed on Sunday. No warning, no lane merging markers, only three pylons at the exit and a highway truck parked with flashing lights. I knew I needed to rehabilitate myself to traffic, but I didn’t need to be thrown in the deep end.

I was fortunate enough to have programmed my GPS before I left this morning, otherwise I would have tried to find a way back to the highway without detour signs. The good news is now I know where the Mercedes, Porsche, BMW, Ferrari and Lamborghini dealers are in Vancouver.

Vancouver Camp
If you look closely, the white blur through the shrubbery is our campsite.

We obediently followed the GPS lady’s instructions to our RV park. One of the sights we wanted to visit in Victoria was Butchart Gardens. As we drove into the park, it looked like we found the back gate. We’ve never stayed in such an ostentatious place before . . . we’re not sure how to act. Anyway, they separated us from the regulars, and we got a spot in the overflow parking lot but required to have the local mobile RV wash guy come by and “clean that filthy mess you call a trailer.” Listen, if it saves me the cost of a ferry ticket, it’s worth it.


Prince George – British Columbia

Be careful what you wish for, it may come true.

It was raining when we left Stewart yesterday. Except for one day in Homer, we’ve had rain every time we’ve visited the coast. There’s a message somewhere in there.

When we left Stewart, we hoped that BC Highway 37 would continue on asĀ  a good road, and our hopes were realized. Since the little resort town of Tatogga, the road stopped being a two lane back road and widened enough to make room for the trucks coming out of Stewart with oversize loads. The rest of Hwy 37 to the Canada 16 junction, was noisy chip seal, but wide with a center-line and shoulders. For the two and one half hours we drove, I believe I counted the traffic we passed on one hand.

As we continued south, we began to notice how British Columbia differed from Yukon. Here you don’t get the broad expansive vistas, because the tall trees crowd the road. Besides being taller, we began to see a wider variety of trees, both broad-leaf and conifer mixed together. The mountains were still around us, but we could only catch them between the trees every so often. The drive was relaxing.

When we reached Kitwanga and turned east on the Yellowhead Highway (BC-16), we reentered modern civilization . . . and traffic. There are eight or nine little towns along that road section, each with the annoying 100 Km – 90 Km – 70 Km – 50 Km – 70 Km – 90 Km – 100 Km speed change pattern. They were well-kept cute little towns, some with a stoplight, some only a block long. The houses were clapboard sided one story cottages. After each town, more cars appeared on the road.

We had to get around large RV Riggs coming out of Prince Rupert, because they were going slower than what I had the cruise set at (I’m sorry officer, you mean those signs aren’t in miles per hour?). Least you think I was the speed demon, all the commercial trucks passed us.

We entered Prince George just in time for 4:30 rush hour. The cars packed the highway going in all directions. We missed our turn for the RV park and went past the Wall-Mart and Costco before we could find a place to turn around. The road drops off a bluff and has Jersey barriers in the center. For a moment, I had Pasadena Freeway flashbacks.

We plan to leave in the morning. We’ll start south on Hwy 97 for the two-day trip to Vancouver. After driving the last month in the wilderness, I’m having to relearn how to deal with these people on the road. I’m going to have to do it quick, because I’ve got to get around Seattle, the Bay Area and (shudder) LA. Maybe we should just stay here, it’s a nice enough town, although I’ve been told that most of the town moves to Quartzite for the winter. Or maybe, I should just turn around now, and find one of those abandoned log cabins to live in. All I need is a satellite dish and internet. After all, Amazon delivers anywhere.