Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Alaskan Idyll, Day 1 - Dawson Creek, BC

We currently are at Dawson Creek, British Columbia, mile zero on the Alaska Highway. We are camped at Northern Lights, an unremarkable campground with no satellite TV, poor satellite radio, and iffy internet, on the outskirts of Dawson Creek, BC.

We arrived in Dawson Creek after a five day drive from Chimacum, Washington. Thursday morning, after retrieving Kathy from the Seattle Airport at midnite, we took the Port Townsend Ferry to Widbey Island and drove a short distance north to Camp Wal Mart, in Bellingham, WA. Friday we crossed the border and motored north through the beautiful Fraiser River Canyon, stopping for the night at Lac La Hache Provincial Park.

The Port Townsend Ferry

Windshield View of the Fraiser River Canyon

On Saturday, we drove 300 miles from Lac La Hache, through St. George, to Chetwynd, BC, where we paused for a couple of days to visit two nearby dams on the Peace River. In Chetwynd we stayed at a small campground named Westwind. It is a full service campground with free wifi and some spotty satellite TV reception.

The drive north to St. George from Lac La Hache was pastoral, with many farms and ranches. North of St. George, the landscape is much more remote as you start to view dense forest, interspersed with marshy areas. About 100 miles north of Prince George, the road turns east and crosses the spine of the Rocky Mountains, descending toward Chetwynd and Dawson Creek, on the edge of the great Canadian Prairie.

Crossing the Rockies

Rocky Mountain Flora

On Sunday we took a automobile ride to Hudson’s Hope, site of two major dams on the Peace River. These 2 dams supply 38% of the hydropower used in B.C. Our first stop was the WAC Bennett Dam, where for $3 each we had an excellent tour into the powerhouse and manifold chamber . WAC Bennett is a very large earthen dam that forms Williston Lake, which is a popular recreation area in northern BC.
WAC Bennett Dam and Williston Lake
Combination Water Turbine and Fish Filter from the Dam
Dam Wildlife
Rainclouds Invade the Peace River Canyon Downstream from the Dam

Our second stop was Peace Canyon Dam, which is a smaller concrete dam downstream a few miles from the WAC Bennett. The dam’s reservoir is called Dinosaur Lake. No tour is offered, but there is a visitor’s center as well as picnic facilities and a nice view of the dam.

In our travels we spotted several deer as well as one fawn (see above). The day started out sunny, but turned into a rainy afternoon with intermittent heavy downpours as we motored back to our home on wheels for our afternoon nap. The sound of rain on our roof was pleasant, and lulled us right to sleep.

The morning after our Dam visits we motor east about 60 miles to Dawson Creek, BC, which is mile zero on the Alcan (Alaska Highway). There we will rendezvous with our caravan for the long trek to Alaska. Stay tuned.
Dawson Creek, on the Edge of the Great Canadian Prairie

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