Thursday, May 29, 2014

Dawson Creek and Fort St. John

We spent 2 nights and almost 2 days in Dawson Creek.  It is the beginning of the Alaska Canada Highway which was constructed at the beginning of WWII.  The PBS video should be one that visitors to British Columbia and Alaska watch before embarking on their journey.  It amazes me how quickly weather can change up here.  One minute the sun is shining and you go around a mountain and run into a hailstorm. We visited the railroad museum, cultural museum, Highway museum and art gallery before leaving Dawson around noon.  We were late leaving because Bob had to buy a new water pump and install it.  Great guy.  Now I can bathe when boondocking.  Not much to report as the scenery between Dawson Creek and Fort St. John was nothing to holler about. (Pics are a little out of order.  Jeep one is from side trip, middle ones are from DC and the top two from Fort St. John).  Will be out of Wi-Fi Land for a few days.
Traveler says it is time to put the blog away and go.

Mr. Mallard on the watch while Mrs. Mallard pretties herself up.

A memorial to the men moving caterpillar equipment on a barge which capsized in the lake killing most of them.  The effort put into building this highway is beyond words.  Unthinkable hardships and sacrifices to keep our country safe.  Will be thinking about this as we travel the Alcan to Fairbanks.

Charlie Lake in Fort St. John.  Unfortunately, I left fishing rods in storage.  Bummer.  Saw several fish jumping in the water after we arrived yesterday.  

Here I am at the beginning of the highway.  Weather is great today.

Mile 0 of the Alcan Highway
Most of our Mile 0 photos are taken in Key West.  What a difference.
Olivia is begging us to hurry and get her across that thing.  She wasn't too thrilled with the venture and the first thing she got in Dawson Creek was a bath.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

No More Side Trips!!! Too Much Time Riding Already!

Our next door neighbor, who is Canadian, told us that a must see was Kinuseo Falls.  They are a tiny bit higher than Niagara Falls.  Needless to say, we drove for an hour to Tumbler Ridge then had to take a 35 mile one way trip to the falls on a GRAVEL road.  Beautiful scenery but we wouldn't do it again.  Saw a moose but couldn't get a pic....he was on the move.  We arrived Dawson Creek yesterday late and will depart tomorrow.  It rained a bit on and off and even had some hail in the higher altitudes.
This was way back in the mountains southeast f Dawson Creek.  We passed a huge wind farm on the way out.
This was a large coal producing area from the 70's to the 90's.  Then Japan no longer needed the coal.  However, they are beginning to mine coal again.  I met a bus inside this tunnel.  Olivia did well.
This is the waterfall which is supposed to drop a little bit further than Niagara.  I think it would have looked more impressive if we could have seen it from the bottom up.  Trail was closed.
I always pack a lunch when we leave for the day as there are not too many restaurants to be found in the boonies.  The rain went away for us.  
This is the view after water comes over the falls.
Saw 5 of these gorgeous creatures today.  Their coats were the color of that shiny black rock you find out west.  Can't remember the name.
I love it when a Life Bird poses for me.  Will figure out what it is later.
Canada has some weird signs.  

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Into Canada

Because we do not have constant access to wifi, I will post up-to-date travels when possible.  We have spent the last two days near or crossing the Canadian Rockies.  Last two nights were in Banff CA and tonight we are in McBride CA.  Banff reminded me so much of Gatlinburg TN.  McBride is just the opposite.  Great traveling day spent mostly on Icefields Parkway.  Saw numerous glaciers and 7 bears, 3 mountain goats (I think) and 4 moose.  Amazing.  Roads were pretty good overall.  Lots of snow on the mountains and streams were moving at a very rapid pace.  Hope to make it to Dawson Creek in the next 2 days.

Crossover Bridges for Animals between Banff and Lake Louise
Bob and BJ on the Icefields Parkway...Gorgeous
These 3 cubs are included in the 7 bears we saw today.  Hard to pull a 42 footer with toad over to gawk.
Cave Basin National Park.  The beginning of Canada's park system.
I was driving and took the wrong road.  Almost ended up in downtown Calgary.
Bow Falls in Banff.  Part of Banff National Park.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Geocaching and Birding in the Lewis and Clark National Forest MT

What a beautiful day

Weather was fantastic.  Lots of sunshine with lovely cloud formations in Big Sky Montana

We decided to take a short day trip to the mountains outside of Great Falls.  Couldn't have picked a better day.  We ended up going south about 50 miles and taking a path through a valley.  Note, the valleys are at 3000 plus feet.  Then we had Olivia take us up a forest road beside a river so that Bob could climb .2 mile straight up a mt. for a "Geocache".  1.5 hours later I was getting a bit worried.  What if he fell and broke his leg???  Or head????  All I could tell rangers was that he was looking for a GC .2 mile away.  I learned a good lesson.  From now on when he goes GCing, I will have the coordinates.  Meanwhile, I enjoyed my birding.  Some pics from the day.

Cliff Swallows were flying in and out of homes like these frantically munching on insects in the air!!!
Bob and I hiked through this valley looking for a geocache and birds.  One path hugged the mountain side and the other ran along the rive

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Off to the mountains.....

Okay, we have officially decided that we love Montana (summertime).  Today, we ventured out to the surrounding mountains in Lewis and Clark National Forest.  Bob was looking for a geocache in one of the valleys and I was on a birding venture.  Weather was fantastic.  Skies were blue and temps were just great.
We stopped at a local hiking trail and Bob went to look for his geocache while I meandered along looking for wildlife.
Montana's Neuschwanstein Castle
This is a Spotted Towhee.  There were several in the valley.
Cave swallows and cliff swallows love this terrain.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Heading to Glacier National Park on Wednesday

Great Falls MT is an OK stopover for a couple of days.  However, there is not a lot to do for 5 days.  We will scout out mountains within 50 miles tomorrow.  For now, I am posting some pics of my favorite "Tweeters".  Additionally, I am learning how to use HTML to get photos side by side.  Bear with me, please.

A Baltimore Oriole making a fuss
The elegant, little Black Phoebe
Chachalaca better known as the Mexican Chicken - Rio Grande Valley is the northernmost range
The Great Kiskadee - Rio Grande Valley northernmost range

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Alaska Here We Come!!! But first, Colorado, Wyoming and Montana

After a quick jaunt through New Mexico and a short visit with friends, we headed to Denver.  We were just in time for the spring snowstorm but still had a great visit with my niece Allie and her family.  We left Denver and headed north to Lathrop State Park.  It is easy in/out and close to I-25.  The other thing about this park is that it is close to Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve.  Olivia, our Jeep, does a remarkable job finding these places for us.  We decided to stay an extra day at Lathrop and just be lazy.  I saw lots of birdies.  One of our nation's Missile Bases kept calling us.....Not literally.  We arrived at Warren AFB in Cheyenne WY only to find that the water and dump station were unavailable.  Too early in the season.  Flexibility, that's the key to fun traveling.  We were surprised that there were so many antelopes roaming free on the base.  They are way fun to watch and so very fast!!!  Wyoming has a huge population of these graceful creatures.  We toured downtown State Capitol and Wyoming State Museum.  Then it was time to go.  Upon checking the map, the decision was made to get off the interstate and take a federal highway into Great Falls.  Beautiful views of mesas as well as high plains.  We are now in Great Falls at another Missile Base.  Much nicer campground.  Full hookup.
This is the view out Tuscon's window of Spanish Peaks from Lathrop State Park.  This park is the oldest one in CO but we thoroughly enjoyed our time there.  Hiking/biking trails, fishing, and birding.  What more could one want?
Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve near Lathrop State Park in CO.  A unique park in that there are 3 ecosystems that are so very different.  The 30 miles of sand dunes are bordered by Mountains and Wetlands.  This is a cool place to take kids.  You can climb the dunes then sled, cardboard, ski, or simply roll down them and get up and do it again.  Kids are tired when they finish here.
While in Cheyenne WY we visited the State Capitol and the Wyoming State Museum.  We enjoy comparing capitols and have noted that many of them display an immense pride in their state's accomplishments.  The woodwork inside was beautiful and the mosaic on the inside of the dome along with the stained glass ceilings in the two chambers was just beautiful.  Wyoming didn't overstate anything, in fact, most of the artwork was very simple done but rich in the ability to tell a story.
These are the coolest animals.  Antelopes are hysterical to watch especially when playing.  And can they ever run......We first saw them when we arrived at the campground in Wyoming.  They were freely roaming all over the base. I understand why the base in Denver was draining a lake near the flight line to keep birds away but I suppose the Antelope scatter once they hear jet engines.  Wyoming has about 40% of all wild antelope in the USA.  We are seeing them in Montana but not as many.
Benton Lake National Wildlife Refuge in Great Falls MT.  Thousands of acres of grassland being managed well to ensure a continuing wildlife refuge as well as management of water for the Pacific Flyway migrants.  I didn't expect to see so many ducks, etc. out in the middle of nowhere.   Just goes to show how innately smart birds are.  I saw at least 2 life birds and am still studying pics and books to determine what a couple of others were.
One of many Lewis and Clark Centers in our country.  Each one is designed to relate their adventure in relation to the area you are visiting.  Most of them that we have seen are well done.  Yesterday, there was a volunteer who was an expert in weaponry from "the day" and he did a fine job explaining a type of gun (which there was only 1 with Lewis and Clark) which was a repeating rifle.  I thought it was an air rifle based on a visit elsewhere.  Anyhow, to have a repeating rifle during the early 1700's was quite unusual.  We chose to hike along the trails by the river which ended at a fish hatchery.  Some of the best looking rainbow trout I have seen.
This is the Mighty Mississippi in Great Falls MT being held back by a dam.  Can't even begin to visualize what it might have looked like in the days of Lewis and Clark.  Clark spelled words really weird in his journal.