We departed Williams Lake yesterday around 11:00 am after a leisurely morning and a quick look inside the Discovery Tourism Centre. We picked up a ton of brochures to help us plan our activities. Soon we were on our way to Prince George and after an uneventful trip, we overnighted at the Treasure Cove Casino. The weather was warm and mostly sunny when we arrived, so we sat outside for Happy Hour and a planning session.
Bill and Kelly have planned their trip about as much as we have, which is hardly at all. We decided it might be a good idea to drag out a calendar and work on some kind of itinerary. B&K want to be in Seward by May 25th, as they are working there for the summer and need a couple of days to get settled before their job starts. And they want to go to Haines. Steven and I have no set plans other than reservations in Denali National Park in mid-June. So what the heck, let's go to Haines!
Haines has been on our bucket list for years, although we always envisioned visiting in the winter months, at the height of bald eagle season. In 2002 we flew to Juneau for the Christmas holidays at a little B&B and afterwards planned to travel on to Haines to film and photograph the eagles, which can number 2,000-3,000. Juneau had a rare holiday snowfall, and unfortunately, just to the north, Haines got socked in and our flight was cancelled. Man, we were so bummed! So we are looking forward to Haines and a visit to the Chilkat Bald Eagle Preserve.
Anyway, tonight we are happily ensconced at Walmart in Dawson Creek, BC, otherwise known as "Mile 0" on the Alaskan Highway. All those traveling to Alaska this summer on the Alaska Highway come through Dawson Creek, no matter where they crossed the border in the U.S. This is the beginning of it all!
The big news about our drive today to Dawson Creek is that we saw our first bear! S/he was a black bear, and looked to be a healthy adult. (But what do I know?) I spotted her just moseying along the train tracks and hollered at Steven. He had just a brief look before we passed her by, there was no time to snag a photo. How exciting!! So our wildlife count as of today is four bald eagles, one black bear and one yellow-bellied marmot. :)
The roads so far have been as good as any U.S. Highway. We encountered a small stretch with lots of potholes that had recently been filled, but it was bumpy nonetheless. That only lasted 30 or so kilometers. The further north we travel, the less traffic we encounter. We are 725 miles from Bellingham which we consider the start of our Alaska trip.
Tomorrow we are going to take it easy. It is supposed to rain, which is a very good thing because 45 kilometers north of Dawson Creek is a raging fire by Fort St. John and we must somehow pass through the affected area. We are hoping the rain will help lessen the smoke. As of this afternoon, the only way to pass the area is behind a pilot car.
So, if all goes well, on Monday we will travel to Fort Nelson. Hopefully we'll have more wildlife sightings to report next time!