Thursday, July 12, 2012

Wednesday, July 11: Sunny and warm! Heading east out of Fort Nelson (Mile 300 on the Alcan) toward Dawson Creek (mile 0 on the Alcan)! and as we cross the bridge heading out of town we are crossing the lowest spot, 1000', on the Alcan. The land is fairly flat here, part of the Laird Plateau. Lots of creeks and permafrost forests and we pass a fiberboard plant, a gas-processing plant and lots of ag which must support the people here; oil shales will also be going into production--another wide spot in the road destined to be a boom town. Pretty short day today so we'll take a side trip to the big earthen dam on the Peace River before we go to Dawson Creek. Lots of semi traffic--we pass an accident, a semi burning, and we meet seven wide loads and pass two others loaded with what looks like pre-fab offices and housing heading for the oil shale sites. We also see several "open camp" areas--like in Williston--for workers' temporary lodging. We stop at the Sikkani River for a picnic lunch; the supports for the original bridge are left downstream from the arson fire that destroyed the wooden structure. It was the first permanent structure on the Alcan, and was built by three companies of African-Americans in three days. Actually 1/3 of the soldiers that worked on the Alcan were African-American. We realize we have seen lots of campers, motorcycles, pick-ups and semis but very few passenger cars on this trip. A few miles out of Fort St. John we turn west on 27 to Hudson's Hope; there are 10% grades down into the huge valley of the Peace River. There are many acres of ag (the huge, yellow canola fields are stunning) and lots of semis loaded with logs; it's slow going on this "scenic highway." When we find our way to the dam site we have missed the last tour, so we decide to stay in Hudson's Hope, third oldest community in BC, and take the tour first thing in the morning. So here we are again, Mary and Joseph looking for a room in the inn--no luck, this town is full of workers too, and the park for camping has no electricity for the cooler. Really makes me appreciate all the nights we had booked ahead! I suggest we go to the Visitor's Center for help (worked in Dawson City) and would you believe she knows a B&B that saves a room for visitors even though the boom workers in town are begging for it?! The house is lovely, built in 1920 by a local coal mine owner; our host is a school board member and an author of children's books on self esteem. She really wasn't quite ready to open, but she gave us a great room with a bath for under $100!

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