Day 20 – Tuesday, July 14 (Dease to Prince George)

Dease to Prince George

The temperature was 11 C (52F) when I got up and by the time a stopped for the night it was 22 C (72F).

I noticed that it had gotten dark at night and I had left the area of 24 hour daylight.

I had a sound sleep and and I got up refreshed. It had rained during the night but my tent was dry because the campsite owner had allowed me to pitch my tent under the canopy. I started to cook some oatmeal while I packed the tent and bedding in the car. After packing, I finished the oatmeal and left the campsite. I topped up the car with with gas and left for Prince George.

It rained, on an off all day, for short periods of time while I drove south. It would rain for a few minutes and then I would enter an area that was totally dry and then, a little later, it would rain again.

As I drove further south, the scenery was spectacular. The densely forested mountains and valleys were impressive.

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One of the main differences is that the trees were significantly taller in the areas that hadn’t been burned down by a forest fire. Many of the trees were more than 10 m (32 ft) tall, some being much taller.

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There were also a lot of wildflowers and berries of various colours alongside the road that complimented the green of the trees and the shrubs.

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I kept taking pictures even though they couldn’t adequately represent the scenery. It is truly amazing that the eye is naturally capable of focusing everything that it sees and it has a wide peripheral vison. A camera is not as sophisticated but it can give the viewer an idea of the picture that it is portraying.

Unfortunately, I didn’t see any wild animals along the road except for the odd rabbit or squirrel.

When I got close to the west coast of BC, I took Highway 16 south-east towards Prince George where the traffic became busier and the towns got larger and closer together and some of the forest gave way to grain and livestock farms.

When I got to Prince George, I checked into a hotel for the night. Tomorrow, I should be able to drive the 8 hrs to Surrey, where I will be visiting with my nephew Tim, his wife Shannon and their two boys, Warren and Kevin.

Day 19 – Monday, July 13 ( Whitehorse to Dease, BC )

Whitehorse to Dease

The temperature was 13 C (55F) when I got up and it and got as high as 18 C (64F) before cooling back down to 13 C in Dease, BC.

I had planned to get up early, however, I had slept in my car because it appeared like it might rain and I was too lazy on Sunday night to pitch a tent and pump up my air mattress. I slept quite well because I was able to stretch out and I made myself comfortable. When I finally got up, it was 7:30 am and my appointment was for 9 am at the Canadian Tire store.

I started to re-organize the car when I noticed that the passenger front tire was flat. I got out my 12V compressor and started to pump up the tire to see if it would hold pressure. I continued to get things ready to leave while the tire was filling up and I soon noticed that it was holding pressure and starting to inflate. My backup plan was to put on the spare, however, that would take more time than pumping up the tire. I got it to 170 Kpa (25 psi) and then I drove to the Canadian Tire store which was 25 km (16 mi) away, while monitoring the conditions in the car and stopping once to check the tires. I got to the store a little early and explained to the service manager that I needed the tire fixed as well as the oil changed. He told me that it should be finished by 10:30 so I went to have breakfast and write up my blog. I returned at 10:15 and found out that they hadn’t started working on my car because there was only one mechanic available. The other mechanics had called in sick. He told me that it would be ready by 11:30 so I went for a coffee. I returned shortly before lunch and the car was ready.

Low and behold, there was a nail in the flat tire. Dempster highway: 2, Ralf 0. I may have to come back to challenge the Dempster again, but next time I would bring an off-road vehicle like an army jeep or a tank!

With the oil changed and the tires in good condition, I left Whitehorse for my journey to Surrey, BC, near Vancouver, just as the song ” Country Roads, take me home !” was playing on the radio. How appropriate.

I took the Alaska Highway back east and turned south on Highway 37, just west of Watson Lake. I filled up with gas at the intersection because I had been told that the next gas station was 237 km (150 mi) away. I took some pictures of the Alaska Highway, however, it was the same road I had taken to get to Whitehorse, so they were similar pictures.

Highway 37 was in relatively good condition but it was a little rougher and created more tire noise, because it has more stone in it than than most pavement. There were few pot-holes and the first 30 kilometers followed the contour of the rolling hills but after that they had built up the valleys and cut through some of the hills to make the road flatter. Pat had mentioned to me that I would not fall asleep on Highway 37 because there are no flat areas or straight sections for an length of time and she was right. Between keeping an eye on the road and looking for animals that might run on to the road, I was kept wide awake.

The one thing that struck me when I started driving south on Highway 37 was the amount of wildfire damage that had occurred in the area. I drove for about 20 km and all I could see was the burnt remains of the forest that used to be there, however, the brush was already starting to grow back.

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The scenery was spectacular. The road primarily winds through the valleys in-between the mountains, so I was surrounded by mountains all of the time.

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I reached the town of Dease at 9:05, and it was closed, so I drove to the RV center next door and was able to get a campsite for the night. It is a very nice campsite with showers, restrooms and laundry facilities. The owner suggested I put my tent under his large tent next to the pavilion to keep it dry, because it might rain. This was a wonderful turn of events, because I had assumed that I would be sleeping in my car in a rest area or vacant road, somewhere along the way.

I still have 18 hours of driving to get to my destination in Surrey and I will be heading for Prince George. I’ll see what tomorrow will bring.