Chilliwack to Dawson Creek (3 days)
We traveled Highway 97 north, from the lush, green Frasier Valley, nestled between snow-capped mountains, to Cache Creek - the “Arizona of Canada.” Being in the rain shadow of the coastal mountains, this area is distinctly warmer and dryer. Still, rivers and lakes abound (along with the mosquitos that accompany water.) A great stop along the way was the Caribou Wood Shoppe with unusual wood products, great fudge, and some beautiful lilacs in bloom in the yard.
Stops along the route included everything from a farmer’s market in Quesnel (too early for many veggies and fruits,) to the Railway and Forestry Museum in Prince George. But our favorite was the chainsaw carving capitol of the world in Chetwynd, BC. Their annual competition was going on, and there were more than 100 whimsical creations by previous winners scattered around town.
Dawson Creek is the start of the famous Alaska Highway, built in 1942 in around 8 months by 10,000 Army Corps of Engineer personnel. Of course, everyone stands in the middle of the main street at the Mile 0 marker and has their picture taken. They probably don’t flag down passing motorists to take the picture like Bill did for our group. It is fortunate that there are so many friendly people along our route.
And speaking of friendly people, we asked at the visitor center for a place to have a drink. The staff said The Alaska Hotel and Pub was the oldest building in town, but the clientele was “sketchy.” Naturally, we made that our first stop. The bar tender was a pretty, super friendly woman from Newfoundland, who regaled us with stories of the area. Of course, the fact that there were only two other people in the place helped.
(Quick thoughts: Dawson Creek campgrounds were filled with gas line workers. Call ahead for lodging. We got stuck at a dirty, dusty RV park with marginal services. Workers worked all day Sunday and then left again early Monday morning. Canada must have full employment. Also saw lots of pretty, blond women with pony tails working the tractors and heavy equipment along the highway.)