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20 - 25 July 2015 Canada - British Columbia

Monday 20th July

Left beautiful Mungo Lake this morning in wet cloudy weather. Followed the lake road east and came to the winding turquoise coloured water of the Toad River. Past Toad River Lodge, saw horses with their foals in the adjacent field. Stopped for road works at the side of the river for about 15 minutes. There were loose gravel patches along the road and unfortunately a passing motorhome threw up some pieces that hit our windscreen and chipped it in two places. Continued on past Summit Lake and Pass in the Stone Mountain Provincial Park, the highest summit on the Alaska Highway at 4,250 feet. The road followed the Tetsa River. Weather worsened and we drove through low cloud and poor visibility.

Before Fort Nelson we were stopped again for road works. I feel sorry for the poor individual’s standing out in the heavy rain holding the stop sign. They always give us a pleasant smile and a wave when they let us through.

Stopped at IGA Supermarket in Fort Nelson for supplies and because we know it stocks HP Sauce. Continued on after lunch through driving rain. Forest fires still smoldering along the road side leaving large areas of blackened tree stumps.

The weather had cleared a little by the time we reached the Sakanni Chief River and we had nice views of the tree lined valley. Past Wonowon where we got on to the Alaska Highway at the start of our journey. We pulled into the Rotary RV Park Just north of Fort St John at the side of Charlie Lake at about 9:30 pm, a long days drive.

Tuesday 21st - Friday 24th July

We took a few days off driving and stayed at Charlie Lake. The wifi was reasonable and we persevered with updating the blog. It was slow going because the wifi strength was very intermittent. There is a monument at the side of the lake to 12 US soldiers that drowned here in 1942 when their pontoon boat sank crossing the lake. They were working on the constriction of the Alaska Highway. The monument gives their names and ages, they were all in their twenties.

Sandy is enjoying the lake, plenty of room to run around and dip in and out of the water. There is a nice grassy walkway from the lake, past a water way with bulrushes and wetland plants which leads to the Jackfish Dundee Pub.

Saturday 25th July

Left Charlie Lake this morning and headed south towards Fort St John and on through the town of Taylor, passing over the long Peace River Bridge with nice views of the valley. The towns along the route here are commercial and industrial Centre’s supporting the oil and gas industries but there is a lot of arable farm land in between with rural landscapes. Stopped at Dawson Creek for petrol. Dawson Creek is Milepost 0, the beginning of the Alaska Highway and where we leave the highway to head down to Grand Prairie on Highway2/43. Travelling southeast the first community we came to first was Pouce Coupe first settle in 1898 by French Canadian who set up a trading post in 1908. We crossed the British Columbia/Alberta border. The next town was Hythe (population 820) then on to the larger Beaverlodge (pop.2,264). Both are agricultural centre’s for the area, supporting, cereal grains, fruit, berry crops and canola. The countryside has become flat with field crops and big skies. Past the town of Wembley we came over the brow of hill to see a wide vista below over prairie land and the city of Grand Prairie. Stopped off at Walmart in Grand Prairie to get supplies before turning south on Highway 40 to Grand Cache. We crossed the Wapiti River Bridge the river has nice beaches and plenty of people were out on the beaches and in the river. We were now back into forested country with a mixture of lodgepole, aspen and spruce. The 117 miles to Grand Cache was through open wilderness and wonderful scenery. After the flatlands we came into the foothills of the Canadian Rocky Mountains. The road followed the Smokey River and a single track rail line. Past the Alberta Power Generating Station next to the river. Approaching the town we had sunshine and showers which produced a marvelous rainbow arching across the side of a mountain. Never seen anything like it before. Pulled into the Grand Cache Municipal Camp site for the night. We had a large pull through campsite shaded by trees either side, really nice camp at the back of the town on the edge of the forest. Historically, the area was used by fur trappers as a staging post before their departure to trap lines set out in the valley and mountains. On their return they stored large caches of furs whilst waiting for transportation to trading posts. Hence the name of the town.

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