Monday, June 6, 2005
Dawson Creek, not to be confused with Dawson's Creek,
the TV show, is Mile 0 of the Alaskan Highway which
used to be called the ALCAN (Alaska/Canada) by the
military but was officially dubbed the Alaska Highway
in the 1940s after World War II.
(Mile 0, Alaska Highway)
We opted not to have breakfast in Dawson Creek so
headed north on BC Hwy 97, Canada's name for this
portion of the Alaska Highway. We were thinking about
trying a Tim Horton's Restaurant, a chain of restaurants
with drive-thrus that was founded by a hockey player
who has since died. We were told they had breakfasts
but when we passed the Tim Horton's in Ft. St. John's
and circled back, there was a long drive-thru line
and I got the feeling the place was more like a
McDonald's so we decided to drive on.
(hearty Canadian breakfasts here)
Luckily, a block away, I spotted the Silver Creek
Cookhouse and noted the many worktrucks
and workmen around the establishment,
a sure sign of a good, hearty breakfast.
As we pulled up, a Peace Officer (police)
pulled up, too, so that was the final seal of
approval I needed to try the joint.
We were rewarded with another fresh,
hearty, well-prepared breakfast with good
coffee, perfectly fried eggs (Greg said they
were basted which explains their perfectly
formed shapes), and thick, meaty bacon.
Mom even had the bowl of oatmeal she had
been craving for the last few mornings and
she was not disappointed.
A helpful food tip for Canada is that
they call their wheat bread "brown" bread
or "brown" toast and usually offer white,
brown or rye.
You'll also often find on the jam and jelly
dispensers both blueberry jam and
peanut butter along with strawberry,
raspberry and orange marmalade,
honey and sometimes even Cheez Whiz.
(forest by highway)
By the time we reached Dawson Creek, we
had already traveled about 2000 miles.
To say this is a long drive is definitely an
understatement. We spent the rest of the
morning hoping to spot some wildlife.
We lucked out and saw 4 black bear.
I spotted the first one about a mile away but
as we approached, it darted into the brush
just as I snapped a photograph. My digital
camera delay prevented even a shot of the
bear's butt but trust me, we saw it!
(black bear was here)
I spotted the second bear about a mile up
the road, actually on the road, and as we drove
up, it also darted into the brush alongside the
highway. The last two bears were together,
and Greg spotted them - a sow and her
yearling according to National Geographic Man.
We drove past too quickly to stop so another
photo opp was lost.
We passed signs for moose and signs for
caribou so were on the alert but they were
nowhere to be seen for the rest of the morning.
Lunch was at a gas station cafe called Lum and
Abner's. Typical diner fare. I had a grilled cheese,
fries and a Coca Cola. For those who know me,
they will find the fact that I'm drinking Coke to
be entirely abnormal. I have maybe one soft
drink (usually Root Beer or Dr. Pepper) once
a year at the most. Since hitting the road, I've
had several but only in Canada.
(Lum and Abners, Mile 233, Prophet River, BC)
I swear that food companies use different formulas
for the States vs. Canada and other countries.
Ketchup is sweeter, Coca Cola is less sugary,
jams and jellies taste far better. I think it is a
conspiracy - give those Americans the cheap
stuff because they're a McDonald's society so
won't even notice. Save the good stuff for the
I took the afternoon shift for driving and as the roads
got windier, the scenery got more majestic. I white-
knuckled it a little but for the most part was just
alert and cautious, giving Greg the opportunity to
gawk at the views and search for wildlife.
(view from the Alaska Highway)
As we approached Ft. Nelson, I saw a handmade
paper sign that read "Cinnamon Bun Center of
the Galactic Cluster."
"Did that just say 'Cinnamon Bun Center of
the Galactic Cluster?'" I asked, then turned into
the Tetsa River Services campground because
I just had to know.
(Cinnamon Bun Center of the Galactic Cluster)
"Yes, we have cinnamon buns here ready," said
a blonde woman with a thick German accent.
"What is the Galactic Cluster?" I asked but she
turned away and went to heat up the bun.
She returned with a hot sticky bun (my words,
not hers) and advised that we spread butter
on it. She offered us a coffee, and it was good
and strong like Europeans drink.
I was too busy getting a sugar high and caffeine
fix to remember to take a photo of the Cinnamon
Bun of the Galactic Cluster. Too bad. And we never
did find out the origin of the bun's name.
(happy puppy, happy woman)
For the rest of the drive, I was quite alert and focused,
one might even say a little wired on Galactic Buns.
We finally saw a young bull moose, about 2 years old,
drinking in a puddle by the side of the highway.
Then at Stone Mountain, we saw a plethora
of stone sheep right on the highway, right next
to the highway and climbing the rugged, jagged
rock face of the surrounding mountains.
(spot the stone sheep)
(stone sheep, zoom view)
We eventually saw a lamb and a ram with a broken
horn, most likely from butting a another ram.
(ram missing his left horn)
As evening approached, we began the discussion
about where to stop. We could continue on to
Laird River at Mile 477 to take a late evening
dip in the hot springs, have some dinner then
call it a night.
Or we could stay at Muncho Lake and hit the
hot springs in the morning. We stopped at the
first motel at the lake. They had a double room
and allowed dogs but didn't have a place to eat.
We called ahead to the next few places and
found food and dog-friendly lodging available
6 km up the lake at the Northern Rockies Lodge
(Mile 462) which happened to be the most expensive
place in the area but the only one with something
We decided to drive further up the lake to the
lodge which turned out to be the largest log
building on the Alaska Highway owned by
bushpilot Urs Schildknecht and his wife.
(Northern Rockies Lodge)
(Northern Rockies Lodge sign)
The lodge was an impressive structure. We checked
in immediately, moved things into our little cabin,
then headed to the dining room for something to eat.
After the heavy food and long drives of the past few
days, we weren't in the mood for the specialty of the
house - Weiner Schnitzel. Instead we had a homemade
chicken and vegetable soup with warm bread.
After dinner, Greg and I took a walk, first down to
the lake to take a few photos including some with
the float planes at the dock.
(view from the Alaska Highway)
We eventually headed back to the restaurant for
some German beer on tap and sat on the outside
deck until the mosquitos began to swarm.
The cabin was drafty so it was a chilly night's sleep.