Muncho Lake

Thu, May 25, 2017

On Tue, I complained about the lack of wildlife.  So naturally today we saw 5 black bears, one stone sheep and a caribou.  Nice 🙂

Carol and I drove 155 miles into the Northern Rockies today.  Fort Nelson to Muncho Lake.  Wonderful drive.  Beautiful vistas.  Here are two examples.

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And then we reached Muncho Lake, ‘big water’ in the Kaska language.  It’s a gorgeous blue-green alpine lake.  The greenish color is due to the presence of copper oxide leached from the bedrock underneath.  Or so says Wikipedia.

Edit:  Wiki is wrong.  The greenish hue is due to glacial sediment, sometimes called flour, that preferentially reflects green wavelengths.  So that’s what we see.  It’s all over up here 🙂

Nothing special about this shot other than it’s our first view and it illustrates the color.

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We’re staying in the RV park at the Northern Rockies Lodge, perhaps the most beautiful place in this part of British Columbia.

Here’s the view from our site.  As you can see, the ice is just going out.

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Fort Nelson Heritage Museum

Wed, May 24, 2017

We are camping in Fort Nelson at Historic Milepost 300 of the Alaskan Highway.  We’re actually at milepost 284 but the road’s been straightened and they lost 16 miles of the original route 🙂

It’s a layover day so we decided to check out the local Heritage Museum.  Pretty much what you’d expect for a small town in northwest Canada:  a few characters manning the stations and lots of artifacts.

The museum has a large collection of old trucks, cars and other mechanical devices related to hunting, fishing and just plain living is such a harsh environment.

Here’s one of the guys and he’s responsible for keeping everything running.  I pointed out what looked like 100 year old contraption and asked ‘what’s that?”.

 

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It’s a small pumpjack but this one’s designed for lifting water out of a well, not oil.  Dates from the early 1900’s.

It’s a low speed, single piston engine and he started it up by putting gasoline in the carburetor and spinning the flywheel.  It fired right up and the flywheel took off.  The wooden piece in the background started moving up and down and it was connected to a  diaphragm that sucked the water out of the well.  Pretty cool.

They also had a tractor that caught my attention.  It wasn’t very old but sure had an interesting name:

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Finally a Black Bear!

Tue, May 23, 2017

OK.  The title is a bit cheesy as they are everywhere.  But we’ve seen very little roadside wildlife.  Maybe we’re here too early?

At any rate, on the approach to Fort Nelson, we came around a corner to see a black bear on the left.  Thank goodness for the large buffer as we had plenty of time to slow and let him run across the road.

We’re hoping to see a lot more!

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The Alaska Highway

Mon, May 22, 2017

Yesterday Carol and I drove into Dawson Creek and saw this.  Yippee!

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I first learned of the Alaska highway back in MN while in high school.  Never thought I’d have the opportunity to drive it yet here I am.  Bucket list stuff.

Here’s some info on the construction.  We’ll be driving the whole length 🙂

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And more:

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Buffered Highways

Sun, May 21, 2017

If you’ve ever driven out in the country, you are no doubt familiar with highway signs that warn of the presence of wildlife.  Driving in BC or Alberta is no different other than perhaps an even greater danger due to the density and size of the animals up here.

So they built buffered highways.  What are they?

They remind me of buffered bike lanes.  Conventional bicycle lanes that have a buffer space separating the bicycle lane from the vehicle travel lane.  Mill Valley added them to Miller Ave in the single lane section near the Mil Valley Lumber Company.

The highways in BC and Alberta also have buffers on the sides of the highways.  Hugely important with all of the elk/caribou/deer up here.  Hitting one of those critters is something that I do not want to do.

Checkout this highway and the buffers on the sides of the road.  Sweet!

Also this is the first cyclist we’ve seen up here.

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Fri, May 19, 2017

We’ve been camping in the small town of Grande Cache, Alberta.  So named for the stash of beaver pelts that trappers used to store here.

What has surprised me is the number of aspens in the area.  They’re everywhere.  But they look like it’s early spring as they’re just starting to bud.  Here’s a closeup.

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And a shot taken during this morning’s run.  Those are some bare aspens for mid May. Grande Cache is at an elevation of 4,200 feet so it’s not like we’re high up in the mountains.  Nonetheless, it’s a late spring here.

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So on our drive to Grande Prairie, I was surprised to see the aspens in all their glory.  This shot was taken about 100 miles north but at an elevation of approx 2,000 ft.  A world of difference.

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The Scenic Route to Alaska

Thu, May 18, 2017

Carol and I left Jasper Natl Park today for the small town of Grande Cache.  It’s on Highway 40 and we’re getting closer to the Alaska Highway.

In conversations with the locals, we heard references to the ‘scenic route to Alaska’ but didn’t really know exactly what they were saying.  But today it became clear.  When we turned off of Hwy 16 to Alb Hwy 40, there was a huge sign that said ‘Welcome to the Scenic Route to Alaska’.  But I didn’t know to expect it and was too slow with my camera. So no picture for me 😦  This one I grabbed off the web.

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This was our first day driving in the Canadian Rockies with partly clear skies.  So our first good views of the mountains.  This shot was just out of Jasper:

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We’ve been following the Athabasca River and here’s a bit of it with some beautiful (scraggly?) pines.

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Heading into a wall of mountains.

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And finally, some big horn rams.  Girls on the left, boys on the right.

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Cycling Jasper’s Mt Biking Trails

Thu, May 18, 2017

I was up early today to get in a ride before hitching up and moving out.

Jasper’s mt biking trails are well developed with maps and trail numbers posted along the route and at the intersections.  I didn’t take any pictures of the signs or trails but, in hindsight, I wish I had.

Today was a sunny one for a change and boy was it nice.  So I saddled up and headed out.  Here’s one of the first views that I encountered.

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And then I ran into another golf course!  Land up here must be cheap because I’ve seen a number of courses in unlikely places.  No other way to explain it.  Here’s the same mountain range with a tee box in the foreground.

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It’s a crappy picture but here’s my single speed cyclocross (CX) bike.  A single speed is a bike that has only one gear.  Like the bike you first learned to ride.

A CX bike is basically a road bike that’s a bit wider in the front fork and rear triangle to make room for wider tires.  And the tires have knobs like a mountain bike to give traction on the trails.  Riding it is a hoot and reminds me why I fell in love with cycling all those years ago.

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Richardson’s Ground Squirrels

Wed, May 17, 2017

We’re traveling with TiVo, our Yorkie.

Yorkies are ‘ratters’ in that they were bred to find and kill rats.  Our’s has never done that.  Never even seen a rat and wouldn’t know what to do if he did.  Or so we thought.

Camping in Alberta means that you’re surrounded by Richardson’s ground squirrels.  They look like prairie dogs and live communally in underground tunnels.  TiVo hasn’t seen one yet but he can sure smell them.  And he’s gone crazy.  Want’s to spend every waking moment digging their tunnels.

Was fun to watch when it started but it’s no fun any more.  All he wants is to be taken over to their burrows and sniff and dig. A born hunter.

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Mangy Caribou

Wed, May 17, 2017

In yesterday’s post, I showed a picture of some Mountain Goats and noted that we’d seen very little wildlife during our trip.

Well guess what just walked by our camp?  A couple of caribou cows.  And yuck are they mangy.  Looks to me like they’re loosing their winter coat.

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