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600 Miles South

August 14, 2013

British Columbia, Canada – Day 3 of trip south – Saturday, August 3

Tula and I took a short walk down by the river before we left our campground, then we started on our south-bound day. I wasn’t too far from the junction where I needed to turn to start heading south, and there was a gas station at the intersection, so I filled up. Gas is sold by the litre in Canada, and it’s definitely more expensive than in the U.S., especially at these remote stations. Nearly everyone driving by stops though – gas stations can be at least one or two hundred miles apart, and this isn’t the place to be running out of gas! Usually I can figure out how the pumps work, but this one had a weird central payment pump, and I was having a little trouble figuring it out, and ended up getting help from the 10 year old Alaskan boy in the truck next to me! And then he showed me his “pet” baby bird.

My road south was more like a narrow neighborhood street than a highway, and once again it was a bit of a slow go. There were no markings on the road – no center lines or fog lines, and it went through some pretty thick forests. I felt like I was only person out there! Then I passed miles of burned trees, but I would guess the forest fires had been a few years ago, because there was quite a bit of green on the forest floor. And then I came upon a mountain goat munching grass on the side of the road. After a couple hours, I came to Jade City, which isn’t really a city, but a family-owned jade mine and gift shop, and my mom and I had stopped here on the last drive down from Alaska. There were jade rocks and chunks all over the place, and slabs of it sitting on wagons and other little pieces that were for sale. There was some mining and cutting equipment to look at, and their gift shop had hundreds of jade figures for sale, along with jade jewelry and other things. It was fun to browse around a bit – I don’t think I’ve ever seen so much jade in one place!

As I drove farther south, I began to see the Coast Mountains off to the west. It’s a spectacular mountain range – with snow and ice up in the peaks, and it made for pretty driving. After about 250 miles of driving, the road finally became more like a “normal” road, and I was able to move along a little faster. I came to another gas station in the middle of nowhere, and I stopped, along with other travelers. I was walking Tula, and met another lady walking her dog, and she was headed down to Washington too. She’s another person who told me how pretty the Valdez drive is in Alaska, and I told her about the bears and glacier in Hyder – she was very interested.

I continued along my way, and rounded a curve and saw a bear on the side of the road, and then it walked across. I was even closer to the mountains by now, and it was gorgeous – glaciers and ice all over the place. Then I passed another bear, and turned around for another look – Tula was napping on the floor of the van or I wouldn’t have been able to get some of the pictures I did! I just stayed in the van. I admired the mountains, snow and glaciers some more, and then I crossed back into Alaska, which I certainly hadn’t expected to be doing again so soon! There were border guards for the people coming back into Canada, but not for those who were going into Alaska (probably because there’s only one main road, which eventually ends, so one can’t really go too far by car in that part of Alaska!) It was starting to get dark, but I asked some people about the bear-viewing platforms and I wasn’t too far away so I drove up there. The rangers were only going to keep the area open for another half hour or so. I walked out onto the long platform and was astonished to see all the salmon in the very shallow stream. Even though it was getting a little dark, I could see the water was crystal clear, and there were lots of sizes of fish. And then a bear waded right into the stream in the midst of all the fish. It walked back and forth for a while, and then all of a sudden it pounced, kind of like a big cat, and hunkered down over its prize, and then it stood up with a big salmon flopping around in its mouth. The bear carried the fish into the woods right by the stream, and we could hear some thrashing around, and the bear apparently enjoyed its meal, and then came back out and got a drink from the stream. That was pretty amazing!

When I was finding the bear-viewing place, I had passed the only little campground in Hyder (which is a very small village), so I drove back and there were still had a couple sites available even though it was kind of late, so once again I was camping in Alaska! It was almost dark by the time I was set up – I was about 600 miles farther south tonight than last night, and it does make a difference.

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One Comment
  1. Leif Nygaard permalink

    How exciting! Thanks for continuing to share! I am putting that drive on my bucket list…someday!

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