Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Gettin' There

We’re in Burns Lake, British Columbia, halfway between Prince George (which is pretty much in the geographic center of B.C., and its’ 4th largest city with a population of 80,000) and Prince Rupert, the last coastal city in B.C. before you enter South East Alaska, a strip of land that blocks access to the Pacific for the northern half of B.C. So far we’d characterize our first three days of travel as just “getting’ there”, despite the gorgeous scenery through the Fraser Valley and the fun afternoon and evening with Chris and Carl in Brisle. We’ve been focusing on putting in the miles. Starting tomorrow we really begin to be tourists, seeing our first glacier, and maybe some life a bit wilder than the white tail deer that we’ve seen so far.

Other than our trip up the Inside Passage last August on the 60-foot trawler, “Gold Rush” with friends Greg and Terry (ending in Ketchikan, AK), neither of us has been anywhere in B.C. outside Vancouver, the lower half of Vancouver Island, the Whistler ski area and the area just north of the border including Banff, Jasper and Lake Louise. The interior of B.C. is quite different. Most of it is between 1,500 and 2,500 feet in elevation with a mix of forest, pasture, meadows and farm land. The economy is definitely resource-based, with timber and pulp being the largest commodities, but there are also several copper and gold mines. There are many, many lakes, big and small, so during the season there are lots of folks up here for fishing, boating and other recreation. To give you some hint about the weather up here, we read that Prince George has an average of 85 frost-free days a year, and an average summer high of 68 degrees! With the exception of Cache Creek, where we experienced 80+ degrees, our days have been in the mid to low 60s so far. There is something about the landscape that just looks “cool”.

The towns we’ve passed through all look like working cities, not particularly affluent, but less depressed than some of the more resource-based towns in our home state of Washington. Maybe it’s the Canadian approach to land use regulation that just makes it look more compact, even though Wal-Mart and fast food is just as well represented as in the States.

Gas prices seem high to us: $1.09 per liter or $4.13 a gallon if we’ve done the conversion correctly. So far we have used 83 gallons of gas since leaving home. Dragging a trailer is not a fuel-efficient way to travel, despite the significant savings over staying in motels and eating 3 meals daily in restaurants. On the other hand, we used almost 700 gallons of diesel between Port Angeles and Ketchikan last year in “Gold Rush”. We still think the trailer is a great way to travel. We’ve only paid for camping one out of three nights so far, and haven’t eaten in a restaurant yet.

Tonight we’re at Hadley Beach Municipal Campground, right on the shoreline of Burns Lake. Free camping is allowed for up to 72 hours, and there’s a free dump station and potable water supply two blocks away for tourists(thank you Burns Rotary). There are loons on the lake, and only one other camper besides us. We drove another 340 miles today in 7+ hours and are looking forward to a significantly shorter day tomorrow, and a “no drive day” the next day while we explore Stewart, B.C. and Hyder, AK up the Portland Canal fjord from the coast slightly north of Ketchikan.

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