Friday, June 20, 2014

June 9 - Council Bluffs to June 18 Whitehorse

June 9 – Council Bluffs, IA - I think the last day that I posted, we were in St Joe, MO on June 8. If I already wrote about our day in Council Bluffs, IA, please ignore or read it again, but since I am catching up on my blog and have no idea when I will next have time to do this, excuse if this is a repeat. Located just a cross the river from Omaha, NE.  Council Bluffs is a beautiful old town. I really wanted to visit the railroad museum, but it is not open on Mondays. The highlight of our time here was working out at the Y.  We then discovered a really, really nice grocery store, Hyvee. They had just about any food item you would want, along with a coffee bar, bakery, deli, pizza bakery, small café and much more. Of course, we chose the bakery and were rewarded with some delicious items. 

I was especially impressed with the employees and how polite and neatly dress they appeared. Then I found the reason---it is an employee owned operation. Maybe if we had more businesses like that, we would have better employees and a more pleasant shopping experience.

We really liked Council Bluffs. There are many older homes, near downtown, that are being rehabbed. Even the downtown Y was undergoing renovation.

June 10 – Mitchell, SD – I finally got to see The Corn Palace. I had always heard about it, but really did not know what to expect. Even after seeing it, it is hard to explain so I will include a link which will give the information:

Basically, it is a large multipurpose building that hosts basketball, wrestling, plays, concerts, rodeos, etc. Each year the outside is decorated with ten different kinds(colors) of corn which have been grown on acreage specifically dedicated to this purpose.. They have a theme and an artist comes up with the designs. This design is then transferred to roofing paper which is attached to the outside of the building. Then, the ears of corn are cut lengthwise, trimmed and then nailed to the outside walls. You have to see it to believe it. The inside walls also have the corn designs, but those are not changed yearly.

The rest of our day in Mitchell was spent walking around the downtown and visiting the Cabella’s store. In the downtown, we found a shop that specialized in cupcakes. They were uniquely decorated and came in a wide variety of flavors. We bought some and then found a coffee shop where we enjoyed the cupcakes.

Our night was spent at our second home---the Walmart parking lot.

June 11 – Gillette, WY – This was a very long day as we stopped in Wall, SD and visited The Wall Drug Store. Once again, it is difficult to explain so I will include a link

All I can say is that it is a combination of a museum and every kind of souvenir, food, drug store items, restaurant, etc. you can imagine.

We then drove through Sturgis (think motorcycle rally), Spearfish and Deadwood. Since we had previously visited this area, we did not go to Mt Rushmore, but continued on to SD to workout at what we thought was a Y. When we got there we learned that several years ago, the place had stopped being a Y. It had become a very rundown community center, but it did have some cardio equipment and some weights. The building was three or four levels and had a huge indoor swimming poll that was empty. That was quite eerie to see. The cardio equipment was in the basement and the area was dark and cold. Needless to say, this was not my choice for a place to workout, but since it was cold and rainy outside, I didn’t have much choice. The treadmill that I was on was not calibrated correctly and even when I had the incline set at 15% I was still having to hold on to keep from flying off because it was at about 3% decline. In other words, I was running downhill for 4 miles. That may sound like a wonderful thing, but trust me, it is not. By the time we finished there and went to the Walmart, we found that they did not allow overnight parking. We knew that the one in Gillette, WY did so that is how we ended up driving so far.

June 12 & 13 – Billings, MT  and Great Falls, MT– I really do like both of these towns. Lots of old homes that are being fixed up and the whole area just had a feel of community.  I regret to admit, that other than liking the towns and finding a great bakery in each, I really have not much memory of our visit. Between the two towns, we are able to see some very fat cattle and realize why Montana is called Big Sky Country.

June 14 – Lethbridge, AB – As you can see we have crossed the border and are now in Canada. Everyone dreads the border stations. When entering Canada, they are very serious about not having handguns and many RVers do carry guns. We do not, but we were still concerned that they might search our truck or trailer. Instead, they were much more casual than usual and did not even ask us about the “illegal” fruit and vegetables that we had in the fridge. Last time, they took my tomatoes. I guess they did not need any this year.

We have previously stayed a night in Lethbridge so we were comfortable with finding the Y and getting our spot at Walmart with many other RV rigs.

June 15 – Drayton Valley, AB - We wanted to avoid Calgary because traffic is such a mess, even on a Sunday. Since I was looking for a Y and really not familiar with the city, we messed up and went to a Y that had been closed for a couple of years. Being frustrated with big city traffic of Calgary and certainly not wanting to go through Edmonton, we found a less traveled route. That was a good decision because not only did it get us away from heavy traffic, but it took us by the venue for the Calgary Olympic games. It was neat to see all that. We were especially impressed with the sky jumps. It’s amazing to see how high they are and then realize that people actually willingly “jump” from these to sail great distances before making a graceful landing.

Because of not being able to find a Y, this turned out be our first non-workout day in nine days. People ask us how and why we can continue to carry on our fitness routines while on the road. My answer is that working out has always been a part of my normal day and as long as we have access to a shower, it is easy to continue while on the road. We do have a small shower in our trailer, but try not to use it. The Y away program and local recreation centers save us. We are able to use treadmills for our running/walking and Hollie can ride the recumbent bike.
June 16 - Grande Prairie – This area is so busy with all the oil and gas operation that is taking place in the area. There are 18 wheelers hauling all kinds of heavy equipment and much of the other traffic is work trucks going and doing whatever. Something that is really evident is that these workers spend a lot of time on backroads. The trucks are really dirty from that. There are help wanted signs everywhere and at various points along the road we see “man” camps or workcamps where the workers live. The economy here is booming.

A by product of all this oil and gas money is that county in which Grand Prairie is located has a brand new, beautiful Sportplex, that has a three lane running track, fitness equipment. indoor soccer, ice rink, basketball courts, snack bar, and even a sport’s bar. Since we have been doing inside workouts, it was nice to get outside for a run. I was able to get in 4 miles of a planned 5 mile run before the storm moved in. So I finished up on the indoor track which was 6.5 laps for a mile. I really was impressed with this place.

June 17 – Fort Nelson, BC – This is another small town that has been hugely impacted by the oil and gas boom. They have another of the Sportsplex centers, but this one is mainly devoted to curling and hockey. The dressing rooms were not open to the public, but we were able to go to their old Aquatic Center to shower after our outdoor workouts. This center is nothing fancy, but they are building a huge facility. It was nice to run around the town. This is one of the reasons I so like my Garmin watch. I am able to just head out and as long as I don’t get too lost, I can get in a great run/walk and know my distance and pace.

We have found that once you leave the US, boondocking is allowed most everywhere. I think this is due the knowledge that the people heading to Alaska tend to spend money in the areas where they boondock. This is also known as dry camping. There are so many RVers going through Canada as they explore and also move on the Alaska. You can simply find a vacant lot or a pull off/rest area and park for the night. That is what we did here in Fort Nelson. We found a parking lot of a closed business and parked along with two other rigs.

June 18 – Muncho Lake – What a beautiful lake! It is emerald in color. This is caused by some sort of granules that are washed down from the mountains and never really completely settle. The light reflects off these granules giving the lake the color. It is beautiful. We are at a commercial campground because we simply wanted a bit of civilization. It is right on the Alaska Highway and that is where I did today’s run. I first headed downhill for the walk warmup and then leveled out as I began running That only lasted about a quarter mille and then I began a significant uphill. I made another quarter before having to walk. I continued with the walk run routine for a for a couple of miles. Then, I turned around and headed back toward the campground. I don’t know what happened, but I began to feel much better and ended up with a 4.25 continuous run. I then walked the remainder back to the camp.

The wildlife between Fort Nelson and Muncho Lake was amazing. Here are some of the pictures, including black bear, bison, stone sheep and brown bear.

June 19 – Whitehorse, YT – As you can see by the pictures, the section between Muncho Lake and Whitehorse, YT is abundant in wildlife. It is also a very unpopulated area. We drove 50-60 mile sections without seeing any businesses such as cafes, gas stations, etc. Up here, everything is referred to as a lodge. That term is used very loosely. The places are usually a rundown building that might have gas, food, etc, but it will not look like the lodge that comes to mind in the lower states.

Anyone who travels the Alaska Highways uses the “half tank” rule. By that I mean, that once the gas gauge gets below half, it is time to refill because you never know how long it will be before your next available station. A place that is open one day may not be open the next or it may be out of gas.

We had planned on staying at a campground in Teslin, but when we got there, it was full. Alaska travelers rarely make reservations because you really never know how many miles you will cover on any given day. The exception is the large caravans of 40-50 organized rvers. The unavailability of a spot meant that we had to continue on to Whitehorse which was about 100 miles away. That made for a long day so once we got to the Walmart, we found 60-70 other rigs already there. This was our third time to boondock in the Walmart here in Whitehorse and that is the most rigs we have seen there. The long day also meant that we decided not to exercise and immediately headed for a pizza joint. This was the first time in over two weeks that we have watched TV and it was nice to catch up on some of the World Cup. We actually watched part of the England and Uraguay.

As I write this, I am sitting in an RV repair place. Over the years we have learned that on these really long trips, there is always something that will go wrong. This time it was the electrical plug that goes from the truck to the trailer. A couple of days ago, it came unplugged and drug on the ground. Before we became aware of this, the plug had already been sheared off. This is the first place that we have found that can do the repair.

Our plan is to stay in Whitehorse at least another night.

1 comment:

alice loeffler said...

Becky. I am enjoying your trip with you. I just made a 4 week trip from UT to NY and back in my 13' Scamp. I have a couple of apps on my phone that came in handy. One is called RVParky. It will show all campgrounds in the area you are in. It picks up your location from GPS. You can filter it if you want. But I keep it open for all WalMarts, truck stops, KOA's and other commercial campgrounds. I also have an app of BIG Truck stops. I use truck stops to camp at because in the morning I can run in, take a shower (about $10), get a cup of coffee and donut and be on my way. Both apps were free.
Have a wonderful trip and stay safe.