Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Back to the Dempster 2011 – Part 23

In real time it is an absolutely horrible miserable February day….so probably a good time to post this miserable section of this trip.  If all trips were like this, no one would go on them!  Fortunately most trips are far more pleasant!

Colourful countryside

Left Buckinghorse River and headed towards Fort St. John – the above picture looks more like a painting than a photograph but shows the flatter terrain as you get into this part of the country.  The original plan had been to stay at the Rotary Club RV park in Fort St. John.  This is a nice RV park and we’ve stayed there a couple of times before, but since it was only 11 in the morning when we reached Fort St. John and it was already getting hot…and the city seemed like it had doubled in size since we’d been there 2 years before, we decided to carry on to Dawson Creek and the end of the Alaska Highway. 

A number of years before we had stayed at Swan Lake Provincial Park, east of Dawson Creek, late in September, so decided to head there.  Stopped for some groceries…it was now 28 degrees….and then headed to Swan Lake – only to find the park gates up and a ‘closed for the season’ sign on it!!!  Thoroughly fed up we retraced our steps back towards Dawson Creek and turned south towards Tumbler Ridge, somewhere we had never been before.  We thought there must be somewhere between Dawson Creek and Tumbler Ridge where we could stay….discovered the whole area was bustling with giant wind farms in the early stages of construction.  Found a spot to pull off to give the dogs a break and to feed them since it was now late in the afternoon and hadn’t gotten any cooler.   Large signs promoted a community RV park, so headed there, only to discover it was now a construction camp for the large numbers of workers now drawn there between the wind farm project and the mines, both new ones and re-opening ones…  It is now about 6 o’clock, we are hungry, hot and tired….so now what?  Head towards Chetwynd we guess.  There is a supposed to be a provincial park with a campground about half way between the two towns….just start down the hill out of Tumbler Ridge….

Flatbed Creek - Tumbler Ridge

and oh joy!  There is a Lion’s club campground beside this Flatbed creek!  and it is open!!! in fact it seemed like there were a lot of workers living here too, but there was room and we gratefully pulled in.  This is the river where dinosaur tracks were discovered by a couple of little boys not so long ago that started the whole ‘dinosaur’ craze in this town.

the creek bottom

Ernie took a picture of the ancient river bottom where the tracks were first discovered.  We also discovered that it was a good job we hadn’t continued on to the Gwillim Lake provincial park because apparently the bridge to the park had washed out in the spring floods and hadn’t been rebuilt so the park had been closed the entire season!!!

Bullmoose Marshes

When we left the next morning, after going back into town in hopes of going to the Dinosaur Museum (you guessed it – closed for the season)…we found a spot along the highway we could have spent the night….not actually a campground – this is Bullmoose Marshes – a Ducks unlimited spot…

It being another hot day we continued on the Chetwynd and then turned south…only to find we were now in road construction with lengthy delays….some of the construction caused by the massive washouts the area had experienced in the spring, but others ‘just because’….It was another long, hot, frustrating afternoon when we reached….Tudyah Lake Provincial Park and it was actually open!!!! but not exciting and we had planned on staying at Whisker’s Point Provincial Park only a few more kilometers down the road….so headed there – only to find ‘closed for the season’ – so turned around and headed back to Tudyah…

Tudyah Lake Provincial Park campsite

I think we actually were camped in the day use area but at this point do you think we really cared!!!  We were definitely not the only frustrated traveler there that night!

Evening at Tudyah Lake

It was a nice enough little lake….very calm in the late sunshine…

Next day wouldn’t be much better…now determined to get back ‘south’ we got through Prince George and spent another night a Lac la Hache….it was still very hot…and with still a weeks holiday time left, we had pretty much had it with this trip!

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