2015  HIKING, CYCLING,

& RV TRAVEL ADVENTURES

Denali AKA Mt. McKinley

 

   
 
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   DAY 5 ON THE JOURNEY SOUTH: 
CHARLIE LAKE, BC TO GRANDE PRAIRIE, AB

SUNDAY, AUGUST 30

 
"Muskoseepi Park, which follows the Bear Creek Corridor, has: 17,3 miles/28 km of   
trails popular with walkers, joggers, skaters, and bicyclists; lawn bowling;
mini-golf; a stocked fishing pond; and a playground for children.  
There is a bird sanctuary at Crystal Lake. . ."
 
~ 2015 print edition of The Milepost, p. 85
 
 

We needed a shorter drive (just 133 miles) and lots of sunshine today and we got both. Two days in a row of sun -- what a concept!

We got more wind than desired, too, but we could still ride our bikes on the nice multi-use path and enjoy our grassy campsite when we got to Grande Prairie. We had a strong headwind and cross winds until the last 20-30 miles during our drive today that made hauling a large 5th-wheel more challenging.   

We took our time getting ready to leave Charlie Lake. We were very happy to awaken to sunshine. No rain on our parade today.

Jim dumped the tanks on the way out of the Mclean Rotary RV Park and we were on the road at 9:47 AM:


Cute little office at the entrance to the campground in Charlie Lake;
the lake is in the background, right.

We got to the Rotary Campground in Grande Prairie about 1:15 PM, Mountain Time = 3 hours in transit. We "lost" another hour today when we entered Mountain Daylight Savings Time at the Alberta border.

We'll be in MDST for a long time now if we spend the winter in Arizona as planned.

TODAY'S ROUTE & TERRAIN 

We followed the Alaska Hwy. (BC 97) to its southern end/beginning at Dawson Creek, BC 2 from  Dawson Creek to the Alberta border, and AB 43 to Grande Prairie.

The section from Dawson Creek to Grande Prairie is part of the "East Access" route to Alaska on the Milepost website:

 

Traffic was heavier than we've been used to for most of the summer. Passing lanes helped faster folks get around us but Jim was able to do the speed limit (62 MPH) most of the time.

He was real happy that we had freeway-like conditions from Beaverlodge to Grande Prairie -- very new and smooth four-lane divided highway on Rt. 43:

There was some construction on the long hill on the south side of the Peace River and at the south end of the town of Dawson Creek but we didn't have to wait for any pilot trucks or drive through too much mess today.

Jim's really, really tired not only of driving so much, but also having to be so careful not to hit bumpy areas too fast. That should be less and less of a concern as we head east and south through Alberta. 

The terrain was hilly from Charlie Lake/Fort St. John to Dawson Creek, then more rolling farmland to Grande Prairie. This is quite a contrast from the past three months -- we definitely aren't in Alaska any more! The terrain and large farms/ranches are more like the upper Midwest and Plains states:

It's still mostly green in this area. We didn't see much leaf or flower color today, just grasses and fields that are turning tan and brown.  

Jim got a partial tank of diesel in Dawson Creek, BC, enough to get to Grand Prairie where we knew it was a little cheaper. The cost was $1.059/liter CA at GasBar in Dawson Creek. It wasn't as cheap in Grand Prairie as we were hoping -- $1.03/liter CA at Shell.

All of a sudden we're seeing diesel for less than regular gas. We haven't seen that in the U.S. or Canada for a good while.

GRANDE PRAIRIE ROTARY CG 

Jim tried to call the Rotary Campground in Grande Prairie before we left Charlie Lake but no one answered the phone that early. I figured on a Sunday the weekend guests would be leaving and we'd arrive before most other one-nighters got there and should be able to get a site.

I was right. There was a lineup at the dump station for folks who were leaving and lots of available spaces for those of us coming in.

We chose the same site we occupied in June, 2012 in the lower parking area near the lake.

It's a long, paved pull-through with about 15 feet of grass on our doorside. We have 30A electricity, water, and a strong, free WiFi signal for $45.15 CA (no discounts). There are some full hookup sites on the hill closer to the entrance but they aren't as spacious.

That's more expensive than most campgrounds we've used this summer but it's a nice one. The main downside is the road noise behind us on busy Rt. 43 Bypass. The upsides are that we practically have the whole lower part of the campground to ourselves -- and we are very close to the bike path.


Only one other RV was in our large section overnight.

 
View of our camper (L) from the bike path

When we checked in Jim asked about a nearby car/RV wash and the woman said we could wash both the truck and camper at our site. Yes!

That alone saved us a bunch of money and made Jim a happy camper. He mentioned as we were driving today that it drives him crazy to have the camper and truck so dirty most of the time in Canada and Alaska. Most RV parks in the Far North don't allow folks to wash their vehicles on-site. He's had to do it very surreptitiously (and incompletely) several times this summer.

GRANDE PRAIRIE BIKE PATH 

After we got set up Jim took Casey for a six-mile bike ride/run. They both needed that after so many days and miles of riding in the truck this week.

We've ridden on this paved bike path previously. It runs right through the campground so it's quite handy. It's the main reason we wanted to stop here today.

I walked Cody a quarter mile, the most he's done at once since he got his sudden ear imbalance diagnosis in Fairbanks. He's much better today -- less wobbly, goes up and down the ramp into the camper and truck more easily, hasn't fallen over or bumped into anything, and was able to do two short walks today.


Note Cody's ramp in front of the door.

We still have to be very careful to guide him on the ramp and uneven terrain so he doesn't hurt himself. We joke that he "still can't pass a sobriety test," but we're relieved to see him return more to normal. He's still a happy, lovable old dog even though he's probably confused about what's wrong with him.

After walking Cody I rode my bike out and back on the bike path for about eight miles through a linear park. Part of it is more urban, part more remote:

 

 

 

 


Nope, didn't see any.

On a pretty Sunday afternoon there were a lot of people and dogs on the path and so I had to be very careful.

I also stopped to take photos along the way of the park scenery, birds, buildings that can be seen from the path, kids riding in the skate park, and other things that caught my eye:

 

 

Above and below:  view of a church and other buildings across the lake

 


This is a college building with interesting architecture.

Riding on the bike path was very relaxing for both of us (and Casey, too). We really needed a break to get some exercise outdoors. The fact that it was sunny made it perfect!

DROUGHT & WILDFIRES

The water in end of the lake between the campground and visitor center appears low:

 

I think this area has seen some drought this summer, including the Peace River Valley we drove through today:


The long bridge over the Peace River doesn't concern me as much as
the older (and longer) one over Nisutlin Bay in the Yukon.

I read about the drought in a newspaper I read at Charlie Lake. I guess the locals were probably happy with yesterday's rain, even if we weren't.

There are still smoke warnings in Great Falls, Montana from the wildfires in that state as well as in Idaho, Oregon, and Washington. The Pacific Northwest definitely needs some rain.

If the weather prediction for Grande Prairie was better for tomorrow, we'd stay here another day. Unfortunately, 40 MPH winds and rain are expected by the afternoon so we'll head out in the morning and hope to stay ahead of any weather that would make driving hazardous in an RV.

That's OK. For several reasons, we're ready to get back to the States. It'll take at least two more days for us to get to Great Falls.

Next entryMt. McKinley is finally officially renamed "Denali"

Happy trails,

Sue
"Runtrails & Company" - Sue Norwood, Jim O'Neil, Cody the ultra Lab, and Casey-pup

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2015 Sue Norwood and Jim O'Neil

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