Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Burgess Island, Sioux Narrows, Ontario, Canada

We just wrapped up two wonderful days. . . or I should say. . .a day and a half at Burgess Island, Sioux Narrows, Ontario. Burgess Island was bought in the 60's by the Burgess family. Their son, Dave, taught with me for over 20 years at New Castle. Dave has been spending summers there ever since I have known him and many fellow teachers have visited during that time. We never have, but thought that this year might be the right time. We are on our way back from Alaska and came across Canada on the Trans-Canada highway, so it was easy to drop down from Winnepeg and visit with Dave and Mark.

When we arrived at Laughing Waters Campground, we were given a prime site that had a view of the island. The campground owners are great friends of Dave and Mark and I think that had something to do with our site. We called them when we got in and they, along with Baxter the Scottish Terrier, came over in their boat. Before going straight back to their place, they took us around the island and pointed out different landmarks and where other "Hoosiers" lived during the summer.

I knew their place would be "special." It is a cabin on an island with no services, but they have added solar for lights, a wood-burning stove, candles, hot water and a pressurized water system. They even have a composting toilet! It's as comfortable as you can get. . . not much different than living in an RV actually. The island is a really special place and it is so peaceful. There is a breeze much of the time and the sounds of the water lapping on the shore are priceless. Every room has a view of the water and the cabin is built up a hill, with a boardwalk and steps leading to it, so the views are beautiful.

Dave and Mark fixed us dinner. . . walleye, potatoes on the grill, and salad and we had some appetizers and wine as well. Wonderful food, wonderful friends.

After dinner we all got in the boat and went for another ride, hoping to catch the sunset. We did, but there were some clouds, so not quite as bright as we had hoped. We did see pelicans though. ???? Pelicans in fresh water? Not sure how that works, but they do have them up there.

On Wednesday, they picked us up early and took us to breakfast. Since they had some errands to run, we went to a dock where they keep their car and parked the boat. Then we all (including Baxter) hopped in the car and took off. We had a lovely breakfast, then visited some gift shops in Sioux Narrows as well as the Visitor's Center. They took us to a lodge which is beautiful; but more importantly, Dave narrates earlier history of the area. He has been involved in this area for 40 some years and can tell a lot about the various families that live here or have lived here. It is quite interesting.

We returned to the boat and back to the cabin where I shared my Alaska pictures with them. I hope to get them all put on a CD and give them to Dave so he can go through them all at his leisure. I don't know how many I have but I'm sure it's thousands. Later in the afternoon Dave and Mark left for an appointment and I entertained Baxter while Terry napped. I mostly sat out on the dock and enjoyed the solitude. Like the desert, I find sitting on the dock with the breeze blowing and the water lapping to be spiritual . . . until Baxter starts chasing the waves or squirrels. He does both with GREAT gusto as only a Scottie can.

Later when the guys returned, they fixed supper (I tell you I'm getting spoiled) and afterwards we played a couple rousing games of "Fruit Salad." Pretty fun game.

Unfortunately our time there had come to an end and we bid our farewells to Dave and Baxter and Mark took us back to camp in the boat. It was truly a special time and the guys appreciated our taking time to visit them.

You just can't buy memories like this!

Till next time . . .


Monday, July 29, 2013

Foam Lake, SK, to Winnepeg

The canola fields seem endless up here and right now, they are a bright yellow color. Really pretty. The farm grounds are beautiful as well and it is lovely countryside to drive through.

We passed through the small village of Insinger and stopped to take a couple pictures of this church. It apparently is no longer used, but it was quite interesting. I wonder what it looked like inside. It is the Ukranian/Greek Orthodox Church of the Holy Ghost.

We continued on today to Winnepeg. Working our way to Sioux Narrows, Ontario.

Till next time. . .


Sunday, July 28, 2013

Vegreville, Alberta, to Foam Lake, Saskatchewan

Our camp last night was in a city park and right along the railroads tracks. It seems that one requirement for an RV park, no matter where it is, is that there must be railroad tracks nearby. These were closer than nearby. . . the one row of campers was about 15 feet away from the tracks. I figured that they probably don't get many trains (WRONG assumption), as we didn't hear any before we went to bed. The first one woke me about 3:30 a.m. When he blew his horn as he came through our camp. I sat straight up in bed, disoriented for a moment. It is a sickening feeling when your home starts to rattle and the noise is deafening. Why do we do this to ourselves? I'm not sure. . . . ho ho. Actually the second and third trains I barely noticed. We heard a train tonight, but we don't even know where the tracks are and we are in an RV park, so they must not have gotten the memo. LOL
We drove alongside an old historic bridge. They only allow foot traffic over it anymore, but it was pretty cool and actually look very well preserved.

Today's drive was different because we are out of the mountains. Yes, we have crossed the Canadian Rockies for the last time this trip. We traveled through Alberta and into Saskatchewan today and are parked in a little town called Foam Lake, in their city park. It is a very nice campground and there are about 7-8 campers in here.

The areas we saw today are mostly devoted to farming and there were some horse farms and cattle farms. They raise a lot of canola here and some is processed into cooking oil and other is used for bio-diesel fuel. We also passed some mining operations that we were not sure about. Terry guessed correctly though. . . I don't know how he does it, but he thought they might be mining potash. Well, that's EXACTLY what they are doing. We will have to do more research to find out exactly what it is and what it is used for. We also saw a lot of cone-shaped devices in the fields. Some appeared to be hard cases and others like tent material. Terry once again correctly guessed when he asked if they were beehives. He figured the covers were to protect the bees and keep them in the area to pollinate the canola. 

Tomorrow we continue our trek across Canada.

Till next time. . . 


Saturday, July 27, 2013

McBride, B.C. to Vegreville, Alberta

We are just clicking off the miles heading to Indiana. We plan to stop first in Sioux Narrows, Ontario, and see some friends.

When we left this morning we were close to Jasper National Park and we drove through it on the Trans-Canadian Highway. It was as beautiful as it was before. We were here when we first started our journey into Canada and on up into Alaska. We did see some wildlife today. We saw another fox, a coyote and a big bull elk grazing right alongside the road.

The road is four-lane for much of the way we are traveling. . .as least today it was. It is a little cooler where we are stopped today though. No matter. . . it is still pleasant.

They have a unique way of repaving up here. They actually have a machine that tears up and regrinds the blacktop, then remixes it and puts it back down. It's done all at the same time. It sure is a lot faster than the way we do it down in the states.

This afternoon we stopped at the Edmonton Mall. Terry has wanted to take me there ever since he visited it 20+ years ago. Not my cup of tea though. It was packed. . . it was hard to find a parking place for MinnieMee, but we did. The mall was wall to wall people on the inside, then they have an amusement park, a water park, and an ice skating rink, etc., and there were hundreds of people in all of those. Just too many people for my liking. I probably would not even shop there if I lived here. Perhaps it would be better on a weekday, but it was so big we had to use a map to get around. We did find "Bourbon Street" which were better restaurants that you find at the food court. We ended up in Sherlock Holmes Pub and I had a steak dinner and Terry had a pasta salad.

We drove on about an hour east of Edmonton to the town of Vegreville and are camped here in a city  RV park. Vegreville and the area around here is known for its Ukranian population and there is a giant Pysanka, which is a decorated egg. Some people want to call them Easter eggs, but I don't really think they are. In Goshen, my hometown, there is a large Ukranian population and so I was familiar with these and other Ukranian traditions. They have a "re-created Ukranian village" down the road here, but it was closed when we went in.

There are train tracks next to the park and we are hoping there won't be any trains tonight. Ho Ho.

Till next time. . .


Friday, July 26, 2013

Fort Telkwa, B.C. to McBride, British Columbia, Canada

We got a good night's sleep and were up at 6 this morning. Since this route, the Trans-Canada highway, is new to us, we weren't sure the condition of the road and how far we would be able to go on a given day. We left camp between 8 and 8:30 a.m.

The road has been very good. There are some areas of road construction, but even then the road is not very rough. . . it's just a little slow going through those areas.

We were treated to a lot of beautiful scenery and "threats" of wildlife on the road, but didn't see any. We stopped in Fort George and got a few groceries. We ate lunch in the parking lot and continued on. We drove until about 4:30 and are stopped in McBride, British Columbia. There really was not a lot that we saw along the way. It actually was similar to the wilderness in the Yukon. . . lots of trees, brush, lakes, etc., but not many people, etc.

We are in the Beaverview RV Park. It is a decent park with lots of grass. The Fraser River runs behind us and we walked down to have a look at it earlier. Very pretty setting with mountains in the background. We are beginning to see the Canadian Rockies in the east.

Not sure where tomorrow will take us, but we will surely get to Edmonton. Terry wants me to see the mall there. But he says I can't take any $$ with me. Ho ho. What fun is that?

Till next time. . .


Thursday, July 25, 2013

Prince Rupert to Fort Telkwa, British Columbia

What a night! Our ferry left last night at 7:45 p.m. and we had quite a sendoff. Two eagles were poised at the pier and supervised the exit from the dock. Pretty cool. It was overcast and misting at times, but it was still a nice view down through the channels. There were not a lot of people on the boat. . . we probably had fewer than 15 in the forward observation lounge. We had reserved a cabin which I thought would be good for the 7.5 hour sailing so that Terry could get some rest. I planned to as well, but I wanted to at least check sometime during the night to see if there were any visible auroras.

As it was, I forgot to turn my phone off and we were both snoozing when I got text messages from Verizon hawking their international plan. . . which basically is non-existent anyway. I could have done without the wakeup call. Once up though, at midnight it was, I headed up to the observation deck, but no one was there and it was dark, so I went back to the cabin and tried to get back to sleep. That was not to be because at 1:30 we were slowing down coming into port. ???? Thought this was a 7 hour ride? Well, it took another hour to dock and we were "early," so we got up and ready to depart.

Once off the boat, we had to go through customs. There weren't that many vehicles on the boat, but we all had to go through customs and they were taking their time. The people in front of us were pulled over, but when we got up there, we sailed through. The guy was very nice and talked to us about our trip.

It was 4:30 a.m. so we stopped in Prince Rupert at Tim Horton's and got coffee. Then we headed out. It was foggy, but the roads were good so we made good time. We were both tired, though. When we got to the next town, we found a restaurant and ate breakfast. Then about 25 miles down the road, we were really tired, so we pulled into a rest area and slept for about an hour and a half. That refreshed us and we pushed on to Fort Telkwa where we are in a nice full hookup campsite with a very nice bathhouse. We were tired by the time we got here, though, so once again, we just crashed and slept. Terry slept less than I did. . . I slept till 6 p.m. Then I fixed us some supper and we sat outside a bit. We are next to a river, but up high. It is a lovely view, however, with mountains in the background.

Tonight as we left the coach for the bathhouse I looked across the river and saw a fox! He was hunting along the river bank on the far side. We watched for awhile, then I got the camera and was able to get off a couple quick shots of him. Cool.

Tomorrow we will probably stop in Prince George, B.C. or we may go further. We are anxious to get home now that Brynlee is here!

Till next time. . .


Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Final day in Ketchikan. . . ferry to Prince Rupert, B.C.

First off, I must congratulate my son, Brandon, and his beautiful wife, Megan, on the birth today of their first child . . . a beautiful

little girl they named Brynlee. Congrats to them and I am anxious to see my newest grandbaby when we get back to the lower 48.

Our ferry leaves at 7:45 p.m., so we broke camp this morning and drove down to the Totem Park. This is a park that has many totem poles that were relocated here from other areas where they were deteriorating. They restored them and placed them in the park where people can walk around, view them, and learn the history that the totems tell.

Next door is a recreated village which is really a stop for the cruise lines. They own it and take the people off the cruise ships to this village they built. Hmmmm. Kind of strange. The biggest building there is the gift shop. . . small wonder. The carvings and totems here are authentic, I guess, but are new carvings and not historic. It was more of an exhibit to explain life of the natives, but there wasn't a lot to see. Mostly the bus drivers kept yelling at the people to get back on the bus. . . that they were taking too much time. LOL

We came on into town and took the by-pass up over the top of the village to a city park. This park sits at the top of the hill behind Ketchikan and the salmon come upstream here to spawn. And that is what they were doing apparently. Some were already dead. "Spawn till you die!" is the catch phrase around here. LOL We did a lot of walking around and went to the Totem Heritage Center where we took some more pictures of totems.

We eventually drove back downtown and are sitting in line now at the ferry dock waiting on our time to load. An eagle is sitting here watching our departure. We still have to pack up our freezer stuff, but that doesn't take long. We have a 7.5 hour sailing to Prince Rupert. We leave at 7:45 p.m. and arrive there at 3:15 a.m. We did book a cabin since it was overnight and it would be good if we could get some sleep before we get off the ferry. We will try anyway. Once off the boat, we plan to drive across Canada to Winnepeg, then start heading south. Not sure how long it will take us, but we are anxious now to get back so we can see our new grandbaby.

Till next time. . .


Ketchikan, Day 2

Today was a rainy day. . . still IS a rainy day. We have been blessed with very few of those in Alaska, considering in many of the areas we traveled especially down through the inside passage, this is the norm for the area. There is still a beauty in the fog and mist, but it makes enjoying walking in the downtown area a bit problematic. I did take this pix of a house on an island at low tide. These houses have no services to them, they have to make their own power, etc.

We were able to get filled with fresh water today in town. We went to the water company and they were very gracious and allowed us to fill.

We went down and shopped at one place that closed on us yesterday. Seems once the cruise ships leave, a lot of the shops close up. But we made it today and got our purchases made early. We were able to park on the street but it was a bit tricky getting out. If it had been dry today, we would have probably parked elsewhere.

The destination today was Creek Street which was at one time the "red-light" district. At least one of the "bordellos" still exists and is maintained as such, but we thought the $10 price tag was a bit much. So we passed. We did walk through most of the shops on the "street" which is actually a boardwalk which extends out over the creek. It is very neat and clean and there is a wide variety of shops including food and souvenir shops along with galleries. Very unique area. The creek, Salmon Creek, runs under and through the shops area and there were some salmon running today. In fact, some seals had come up into the creek chasing the salmon. We had hoped to see bears, but the area is probably too populated for the bears. There is a park further up into the hills which we could walk too, but we decided to pass because of the weather. We may try it tomorrow.

Once we were done shopping, we went back toward the motorhome to a small local restaurant and had lunch. It is owned by a Filipino family and has been in the family for generations. We had a good lunch and it was nice and quiet. I snapped a picture of this totem near where we parked the motorhome. Ketchikan is considered the totem pole capital of the world.

Back at the motorhome, we headed for home, but we did make a detour. We drove out passed our camp to the end of the road. Yesterday we had gone to the end of the road on the other side of the town. There is a campground out there which was very nice. No hookups, but a nice campground with nice sites. One of the forest service camps is temporarily closed due to an aggressive bear in the area. In fact, they have closed the trails there as well.

Back at the camp, we crashed. It's hard to want to do anything in the wet outdoors, so we napped. Then later, I fixed supper, which was the fresh halibut the neighbors caught yesterday. They are keeping us in fish. It was very good and was much more than we could eat, so we will have leftovers. I did a load of laundry. I knocked Terry's coffee cup over this morning and spilled it all over his jeans, so I washed those. LOL

Tomorrow we board the ferry at 5:45 p.m. and sail two hours later. We have a 7.5 hour sailing to Prince Rupert. We will then be officially done with Alaska. It's been a great trip and we have enjoyed it. We are anxious to get back to family, but we still have a ways to go to get there. . . so be patient everyone!

Till next time. . .