Traveling west to Whistler and Bella Coola in British Columbia
It was a fine plan. And then things happened, even before we hit the road.
When we drafted our 2019 route, we had Whistler in B.C. and Yellowknife in the Northwest Territories as our primary destinations. Our thought was that we start here in Mississauga at Latitude 43° North and eventually end up at Latitude 63° North in Yellowknife. Only 3° south from the Polar Circle. This is well over 300 km short in a place where there are no roads. We really wanted to see the Northern Lights from Yellowknife. We didn't even get close, so the Polar Circle will be crossed another day and the Northern Lights watched another night.
1st Deviation from The Plan
August 3rd, and we didn't even leave yet.
The final tasks were well underway. When I got up at 6am, my Internet connection was down. I'm convinced that my servers can feel when we leave town and they just stop working. Instead of changing the tires on the Jeep, I fixed the network and got my final updates and backups done. I finished just before lunch time.
After lunch I changed the tires on the Jeep. When I tightened the lug nuts on the front right tire, the wheel still wobbled. After closer inspection I noticed that the upper Ball-Joint was busted.
The Sault Ste. Marie camp site was cancelled. It is a long weekend and we were hoping to get the Jeep fixed the following Tuesday or Wednesday.
It may look like a bad start, but we prefer to think of this as a good omen. Having to get the Jeep fixed on the road is a major hassle, been there - done that. And with a failing Ball-Joint, getting a tow to a garage is the best case scenario. Loosing control of the steering with a trailer is not something we want to experience.
We drove the Jeep to the dealership, they diagnosed and fixed the problem. New launch day was Wednesday.
But lets start chronologically. It took us eight days to travel through Ontario. From Mississauga we drove to Sault Ste Marie. As a result of the delayed start date, this was a one night stay.
From here on we crossed many trucks loaded with lumber. Beside mining, lumber is one of the big industries in northern Ontario. The same is true for BC. If you don't like to see trees without end, this place is not for you.
We made it on time to Thunder Bay for the Rock Climbing course.
And the last stop in Ontario was Kenora, two nights at the Rushing River Provincial Park. The site for our trailer was one of the best settings we encountered. All packed gravel, levelled and with steps to the picnic table.
Kenora is on the Lake of the Woods. This is a place where we could easily spend 4 weeks. The lake is huge and fish are plenty. Lots of attractions and activities, summer and winter. The lake freezes and a road is maintained to drive over 100 km on the lake and find your secret fishing spot. Maybe one day.
Our next stop was the Riding Mountain National Park in Manitoba. Our first visit to this park was in 2011 and we left with good memories. This year we decided to stay for a couple of days to hike some of the trails.
The next two days were in the Saskatchewan Landing Provincial Park. Then one night in Alberta at a truck stop to get to Penticton BC on Sunday the 18th. This was the last stop before we settled for several days in Whistler BC. The Whistler RV Park was also the last reservation we me made in advance. The RV Park is less than 20 km south of Whistler and just north of the Brandywine Falls Provincial Park.
We had two items on our Whistler agenda, a hike to the BlackTusk and the Big Bar Reaction Ferry that crosses the Fraser River.
We read about the new trail from Whistler Village to Blackcomb Mountain. In previous years there was no hiking trail to either of the mountain tops.
2nd Deviation from The Plan
One evening in Whistler we heard about the Bella Coola Valley Fall Fair and that the Salmons are swimming up the streams to their spawing grounds. Bella Coola is the hot spot for Grizzly viewing, they are fattening up for winter in the salmon filled rivers. So we made a detour via Bella Coola.
Going to Bella Coola
We left Whistler heading north on 99 to Williams Lake. One night there before driving west on highway 20 to Bella Coola. It is about 450 km to get there and the only road in and out.
3rd Deviation from The Plan
September 7th when the trailer wheel almost fell off. We noticed the anomaly on top of the Heckman Pass, about 100 km away from Bella Coola. The wheel ball bearing disintegrated and a emergency surgery was performed on the trailer wheel. We made it to the camp site in Bella Coola where we were waiting for replacement parts.
We enjoyed Bella Coola way too much and decided to stay a few more days. We didn't get the replacement parts here, but found a place on Vancouver Island. We cancelled our journey to Yellowknife and took the ferry to Port Hardy on Vancouver Island. The RV repair shop in Courtenay replaced the wheel assembly, they had both the drum and back plate in stock. Now it is almost as good as new.
With a functioning trailer, the ferry from Nanaimo brought us back to Vancouver. Then one more night in Whistler and the long journey home began. Yellowknife, we will be back in two years.
I had to be back by Sunday and we spent the days driving. We crossed Alberta and passed through the Glacier National Park. We noticed an Overnight Parking notice on the washroom wall. This may be an option for our next trip. We didn't spend much time in Alberta except some pit stops.
One of them was at Legendz in Golden. It was a welcomed distraction from all the wildlife and trees, as long as you don't mind looking at pictures from the 50's and 60's. Yeah, Elvis is alive.
We entered Saskatchewan sometimes in the afternoon. Not without getting a Saskatoon Berry Jam at the Tourist Information - but they were out. We were redirected to Maple Creek, only 8 km off the Trans Canada. Wow, what a pleasant detour. We had coffee in the most amazing place and were urged to visit the toy store across the street. Our 10 dollar Saskatoon Berry Jam side trip ended as a 90 dollar shopping spree - not complaining, it was worth it and we highly recommend a stop in Maple Creek.
We arrived at about 9pm at the Indian Head Campground and the reception was still open. Within a few minutes we got our site, plugged in the trailer and we could relax. On our next Trans-Canada journey, we have to spend the night there again.
We left early in the morning but the prairies are not a place where you find a coffee place every 10 minutes.
After a short drive, we stopped at a Co-op gas station hoping that they also have breakfast. Just beside was Al's Steakhouse & Grill in Broadview, SK. They were open and served breakfast. Next time we have to stop for lunch or dinner.
First published on July 11, 2019