Monday, September 6, 2010

Road Trip to Yellowknife, Day 7: Louise Falls, NWT to Peace River, AB

Text and photos (c) Robert Barry Francos, 2010
Photos can be made larger by clicking on them

After a strange dream of trying to save Lindsay Lohan from her crazed lifestyle, I woke up at the Louise Falls Campground (Northwest Territories) to find that it had rained overnight. The moisture was not doing my camera any good, and it kept turning itself off and then on again, sometimes a dozen times in a row, which made picture taking a bit of a chore at times, but the opportunity always worthwhile. There are many nice shots I missed because of this. It's not a new problem with the camera. My last one (film) was all manual , and could work no matter what the moisture or temperature (even in 40 below C/F), but all the computer gadgets on this one are more sensitive. I knew once it dried it, it would be okay, but it could be days since we were still going to be camping for a while.

It was cool overnight, but luckily, this site had free wood, and we had a glorious fire, which we let burn out overnight. The ashes filled the firepit, a reminder of the licking flames.

Meanwhile, we woke to a swarm of mosquitoes. We lathered ourselves in Off! and managed our breakfast, but we knew we had to get out of there pretty fast or be itchy messes. It was pretty cool, and I suggested a fire, but it was nixed (and rightfully so) because we could not leave until the fire was completely cold, and we wanted to leave soon.

Before we left, I snapped off a few pictures of the furry trees (some kind of blight, I believe), and of the fauna.

As we headed south towards the Alberta border, the sky turned ominous, followed by a brief, but intense rain.

By the time we got to the border, the rain had stopped, welcoming us back to Alberta. This time we did not stop at the 60 Parallel Visitor's Centre because (a) we had seen it, (b) we didn't need a rest stop, and especially (c) we did not want to deal with all those flying insects again. Our entire time in the north, this spot was the worst for infestation. That being said, I should add that all along the way there was construction on both sides of the border, and in some places the workers were wearing netting as a bug shield.
It was a pretty uneventful drive as we talked and listened to music (I supplied the sounds for most of the journey, since I couldn't help with the driving, though I did most of the navigating).

After a while, we arrived back at High Level (AB), aka Mini-Vegas North. We actually went into the town is time, after passing through the main strip on Highway 35.

The downtown was off the highway, and there was actually lots to see, including murals all over the place. A lot of smaller towns have turned sides of buildings into pieces of work as a means to attract visitors. The first place I saw this done was in Chemainus, a dying village on Vancouver Island that was brought back to life through its murals.

Even utility buildings had been fixed up.

This place made me laugh, because of the Caesar's logo over a fitness/boxing center and a liquor store. Having those two side-by-side was amusing on its own even without the sign. And then add the RCMP painting next to it, it's gold, Jerry, it's gold!
The boutique was not only funky funky, but chic.
We headed back to the main stretch and stopped off to eat across the street from these places, which looked kind of seedy, and ate at the newer Best Western, also called the Mirage (of course, keeping with the theme), which is also owned by the same person who owns all the other Vegas-style casinos/hotels.
The food was decent, and the place definitely had a modern feel, unlike the dilapidated look of the other places across the road.

After lunch, we start back down highway 35, riding along the east edge of the Chinchaga Wildland Provincial Park. From Yellowknife to High Level, there is only one route up and down. However, from this point on, we were on a new road for us, taking an alternative way back south. We were going to avoid the treacherous route 88 that we took up, and would head on a more main way, down to Peace River.

Along the road was a series of electrical wires that had the following tri-configuration, which for some reason I found artistically fascinating.

This truck stop was in a town called Notikewin (AB). We wondered if they sold gingerbread houses, apples sold by witches, and bread crumbs to find your way back...
We stopped for gas in Manning (AB), and I found it interesting that the rack of hats were not only of military and secret service organizations, but of U.S. ones.
While waiting for the fill-up, I espied this picnic area with their anti-pet handpainted sign. The arrow part reads: "Take your animals over to the roughed grassed area past the rocks." I have no argument with not having pets in a food related spot, but it's more the harsh tone that made me notice. I'm guessing there is some story about its origin.
Also seen at the station was this enormous moose statue. It seemed kind of subtle, actually, as it was not along the road, but rather recessed near this shed (which, following the pet sign, keeps out humans in a brusk manner, as well).
This sign on a building caught my attention. A business being closed during a rodeo is something you definitely don't see in Brooklyn.
South of Manning, the sky starting getting grumpy again. The rain streaks was fascinating to me. Prairie skies really are excitingly dynamic and beautiful.

The turnoff from Highway 35 South to Highway 2 East, towards Peace River, was a T-intersection, with this trailer tacked full of local advertising signs right at the head. There is apparently a spot open in the center-bottom, if you're interested...
Peace River is a beautiful river valley, with sloping hills that run along the water. The road dips down to reach the town.
The sign into town announces the population as an exact 6687. It also states Peace River is home of "Twelve Foot Davis." Henry Fuller Davis was born in Vermont in 1820, who became a prospector and trader in Peace River. He came during the gold rush and staked a narrow, 12-foot long claim (between two others) and soon extracted $12,000 dollars worth of gold.
Along the road was this technological mix-and-match-up.
There are a number of bridges that cross the Peace River, including a tri-humped steel bridge for autos, and a wood railroad bridge beside it.

We were looking for a campground, as it was turning relatively late. We found a couple around town, but they were exceedingly ugly. Built more for RVs rather than for tents, there was no foliage or space between spaces. There would be no sense of privacy at all. Eventually, after getting lost in a suburb and then stopping to ask a local young family, we found out about one approximately 20 miles out of town, along the way we had already come. So we back-tracked west on Highway 2, and turned back south onto Highway 35. Near the town of Grimshaw, we stopped at the lovely Queen Elizabeth Provincial Park, right on Lac Cardinal. Again, free wood was available, so we had a nice fire going before long, making it last well into dark. We were now south enough that it actually got dark around 11 PM.

As we ate, it was pointed out (by John or Ian, I can't remember) that there was a wasp nest in a nearby tree. Thanks to my glorious zoom (12x optical, 12x digital, or about 480mm), I could get "close" without getting anywhere near it. I should add that our entire time there, I never saw a single wasp.

Today we had traveled 640 kilometers / 398 miles, for a total of 3360 K / 2088 M since we first set off a week ago. We were planning to be home the day after tomorrow.

1 comment:

  1. Nice photos. Actually though, the "furry" part of the trees are a prehistoric plant called lichen. It's distinguished by the lack of chlorophyll in its system. Often used as food by caribou.