Saturday, August 15, 2009

32-2009 British Columbia Canada

32-2009 Leaving Ketchikan
Ferry ride to Prince Rupert BC
Terrace BC
Burn Lake, “Crunch, Crack, Pop…. Ekk! What was That?”

Campground: Burn Lake Municipal City park. Free (3 day limit). Dry camping. Next to a bike and skate park and on the lake. Tight sites. Recommend large Rv’s just park in the open gravel parking area next to the lake.

The fog has descended on Ketchikan blanketing the hillsides and islands across the channel. A fine mist and the occasional light shower fill the air. This is what the scenery is like much of the year. Ketchikan gets 162 inches of rain each year. Turning every scene into a gray landscape of soft edges. I’m glad I’ve had a chance to experience it, as the past couple of weeks, except for my time in Skagway has been unseasonably sunny and warm. This is what a temperate rain forest feels like. Damp. Everything covered in a moist blanket.

I’m staying at a Wal-Mart parking lot for the very first time. I’ve never been opposed to doing it, it has just never been necessary in the past. I had an extra day to bum around so I thought why not get a bit closer into town. This Wal-Mart is surrounded on two sides by high rock walls holding back the hill it’s parking lot was carved out of. I’m parked against one of these walls. Away from all traffic. One other motor home is parked next to me.

Staying at a Wal-Mart (I understand some others like Safeway occasionally let campers stay overnight) is pretty cool and with the cost of campsites this summer, I’m saving $30+ a night by staying here. I’ll save another $30 by parking at the ferry landing tonight, as my ferry ride will be at 5 am the following morning.

When I was in Fairbanks, a very nice couple mentioned that they stay in free places like this a couple of times a month to cut down on their monthly camping expenses. I might start doing it myself. Especially in cooler climates like this where one doesn’t need a/c.

My friend Ron in Mich. has started his first time as a camp host at Pictured Rocks and is documenting the experience on his Blog site: If you read it from the bottom up, you’ll be able to follow his experience from day one. He’s a great writer and I found it very informative and just a darn good read.

What was I thinking. I got to the ferry dock and parked my camper around 4:30 pm. I’m not scheduled to leave till 5:15 in the morning. Thinking I could just sleep in the camper. For one thing, I had to keep both slides closed, as other travels arrived to line up early as well. That said, I was climbing over furniture and such just to get around inside the camper. I finally went to bed around 9:30 and got all of two hours sleep. Being awakened by a fork lift operator working all night long. His back up beeper going off every time he went into reverse. We are next to working docks after all.

Obviously I was awake and ready to get on the ferry way ahead of time. The 6 hour ride was like floating through a sea of misty channels. The viewing windows were filled with droplets of rain that collected till they formed rivulets running down in winding channels. Of course not having any sleep probably made it seem more surreal than it really was.

A barge goes by, loaded with containers… and on the top back end of the barge a prefab house. Someone’s house is coming home. Don’t you know they are excited today. Within days, they will have a house set up on their lot that normally would have taken months to build.

We arrived in Prince Rupert to the continuous downpour of light rain and low clouds covering the surrounding mountains. Rather than staying in the area, I’ve decide to drive east following the Skeena River, as it will probably begin to clear up the further inland I get. An awesome sight, as the river looks more like a large long lake with huge mountains plunging upwards along it’s banks. The narrow two lane road and train tracks follow the river making for one enormously long scenic view.

As I drove along, a small baby black bear bounded across the road. Now how cool is that. Looked to be the happiest bear I’ve ever seen. You’d think it had springs on it’s paws the way it almost bounced across the highway. A bit further, I catch a glimpse of a waterfalls high up on the mountain side. Within a short distance the water fall comes into full view for the briefest of time. It’s huge with tons of water cascading down the sides. No place to turn off and get a picture, it remains one of those scenes that can only be replayed in my mind.

The town of Terrace. Hwy 16 British Columbia. I need to stop over for a couple of days and get some chores done. The truck needs an oil change and it’s time for a new fuel filter. The fridge had to be turned off during it’s ride on the ferry, so I’ve got to start restocking it with food. At least I was able to give it a good cleaning while it was empty.

Terrace is mainly a lumber town from what I’ve seen so far and an Indian reservation is near by. The First Nation people can show that they’ve lived in this area for over 10,000 years. Imagine knowing your ancestors have lived in an area for that length of time.

So, after getting a few chores done here in Terrace, I headed out early Wed. morning, not knowing how far I would drive today, but knowing, I’m going to need to put on some miles to get down to Seattle Washington by the last week in August.

I went through a number of small towns including Smithers, Telkwa, Houston, Topley and finally Burns Lake. Burns has a small Municipal City park that I thought I’d give a try. I made the wrong turn to get to the park and ended up on a dead end road. Not to worry, I could just pull into a drive and back up. Unfortunately the drive was at an angle that wasn’t conducive to backing up. But since I’d already pulled in, I had to continue with the maneuver. Not so fast there buddy. After a half a dozen attempts, not wanting to get stuck in the culvert next to the dirt drive, I suddenly heard a crack, pop, crunch…. Ekkk! What was that? That didn’t sound good. As I turned around, I noticed the fresh air coming in from the now missing back window.

Amazing, I’ve been towing a Titanium 5th wheel camper for over 8 years now with nary a problem. It is designed to be able to make a 90 degree turn…. Well, I guess I made a 92 degree turn. Darn, darn, darn. Popped the back window out and put a dimple in the top passenger side of the roof. Called my insurance and informed them of the situation and within 30 minutes had found a local glass dealer that could get a new window within the next two days.

I’m staying at the Municipal Park for free, so lets see if I stay here for a month, it will make up for the expense of getting the window fixed.

I’d better end this saga before anything else happens. Oh, I had quite an adventure trying to get to an opal mine, but that’s another story….

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