I can't believe how lucky we were to finally get to drive over The Road To The Sun in Glacier Park, and we did it with Doug, Bonnie, and Whitney (one of their daughters). Timing couldn't have been better, the park wasn't near as busy as the spring/summer seasons and the colors, AMAZING from the changing leaves of the early Fall to the "frosting" of the early snows high in the mountains. We decided to make it a two day stay in the park so that we could drive through the park each way to get a different perspective from the first direction....it was hard to tell that we did see the same valleys and mountains as we passed back over them, it just couldn't have been the same road. Glacier National Park is and was worth the time and drive it took to get there even if it only took us 3 hours each way....
We learned a lesson from our first drive up to Alaska...if you want to see the Grizzly fishing the rivers for salmon, you have to go up much later than May, so this time we planned our drive for the last part of August. Louise and I asked Doug and Bonnie to join us for this "adventure" which would take us out for 10-12 days and approximately 2,500 miles. We met up together for our first night at one of our favorite campgrounds (Walmart) in Lake Williams, BC. In the morning we drove both rigs north to our next campsite at Kitwanga, BC. We arrived early enough to walk down to the river to watch the salmon make their way through the gates that were spread across the river. They were being counted by a First Nations father and son who make a small living by doing this each season.
Alaska was calling so we were off for Hyder. The beauty of British Columbia was always showing it's self as we made our way north...The mountains, valleys, farmlands, and villages of the First Nations kept the cameras clicking. UNFORTUNATELY, I left the battery charger for my camera back home so it wasn't long before I had to ask "my buddy" Doug, to handle all my camera needs as well as his which, you will see in most of what you see in this posting of our trip...Thanks Doug !!!
We pushed on pretty quickly to Hyder, the lure of the Griz was strong and we just didn't want to miss them. Hyder, Alaska is a unique little community of approximately 80 to 150 permanent inhabitants', a bar/restaurant (and I use the word restaurant very loosely), a very good restaurant (The Bus, were you eat the BEST Halibut and Salmon dishes on picnic tables outside ALL season (when they are open and offer dining).
After crossing from Canada to the USA (Alaska) we opted to enter the Glacier Inn for "refreshments" and a drive through "town" to the Forest Service boardwalk were we were looking for the GRIZZILY fishing for their salmon... WHAT, NO GRIZ ???? What the HELL...Too early, too late, WHAT ??? We'll be back tomorrow and they had better BE THERE or ELSE !!! Well first thing in the morning it was still NOTHING so we opted to visit another glacier 15+ miles further up the mountain on a dirt road. Salmon Glacier is quite large (one of the largest in Alaska) and flows into the valley just north of Hyder and out to the Pacific Ocean area just south of Ketchikan.
I want to bring your attention to a picture of Bon and Doug above...their faces are NOT distorted, they are just covered with mosquito nets (we NEVER saw one mosquito in the whole trip)...waste, waste, waste... In another picture above we are sitting high above the Salmon Glacier having some HOT COFFEE...(We are living a tough life). Leaving Salmon Glacier we headed back to see if any Griz had shown up....WHAT, is there ONE...WHERE ???
Disappointed, no but it would have been nice if we could have seen more than ONE Griz, after all we traveled over 1200 miles to see just the one and that is NOT what I was wishing for...
There was another glacier that we enjoyed, and that was Bear Glacier at the shores of Bear Lake. Smaller but closer and much easier to photograph.
Our Hyder visit wasn't so disappointing because we did see soooo many AMAZING sites AND now, we have so many more that we will see as we head back south. We didn't take the time to see them on the way north so we'll take our time heading south to enjoy as much as we can. One of our overnight stays was at Meziadin Lake about 40 miles east of Hyder. A very popular lake for the Canadians that want a little distance for themselves from the cities that they live and the remote experience they get at Meziadin. Our next stop was Prince Rupert, BC. The Alaska ferry comes in here and brings with it a lot of tourists and commercial traffic. It is a great city of medium size and a great museum (which we really enjoyed).
From Prince Rupert we headed east to New Hazelton and the First Nation Ksan Village.
Continuing our drive east towards Prince George we came across a beautiful river location were the First Nation people were fishing with their pole nets...NOT an easy thing to do... Then we found ourselves back at Lake Williams and heading east about 12 miles to enjoy the most amazing area we could imagine. We again watched the Pole Fishermen dipping AND catching, enjoyed the Chilcotin River SNAKING it's way through the sandy hills, AND finding an AMAZING "Homestead"... As soon as we pulled into the old homestead it was decided that we were going to set up camp right there. Walking the site, Louise noticed another "camper" located down by the river. Interested, we walked over and met "Sheila". Her site consisted of a small trailer and a blue tarp spread over a smoking fire in which she was smoking salmon....this was one of the most AMAZING sites I have ever witnessed. She was smoking the salmon that her brothers were catching under the bridge on the Chilcotin River over which we had already stopped and admired. They were all from the First Nations and living off the land and water of Canada.
I can't tell you how much fun we had that night alongside the Chilcotin River... It was capped off with a great campfire along the shore of the river AND the most wonderful CHUNK of smoked salmon you could ever imagine from our next door neighbor Sheila.... AMAZING...
I really want to say, we have never had a meal at Hotel and RV park MALARRIMO in Guerrero Negro....NEVER. Even the service and the prices are the best. I just wish they had a MEGA or some type of major grocery store there AND a decent bank. OK, enough about GN, now back on the road... As we continued our journey today for 85 miles Southeast, we found San Ignacio. For many years and many trips north and south we never took the time to stop and explore San Ignacio. There we found a tranquil lagoon, lots of date palm trees, a wonderful and picturesque laurel shaded plaza that was surrounded by the single storied "Old Mexico" buildings, and the true beauty of the community, the Mision San Ignacio de Kadakaaman. It seems like we are on a hunt this trip for the missions of the Baja, and maybe we are. Anyway, this one is architecturally beautiful with it's setting in a small village, the construction materials of 4 foot thick lava block walls, the wood carved alter, doors and shutters, and the wonderful forged bells that call for worship. The construction of this mission finished in 1786 and stands just as beautiful now as it did then.
After our self and "guided" tour by Rigo we headed across the plaza and enjoyed a wonderful lunch of Huevos Rancheros (yes, we know, that's a breakfast meal, but we all enjoyed every bite...mmmm GOOD) Now it's back on the road and heading to Mulege and our beach site at Playa Santispac...
I LOVE to set the day by having my first POT of coffee sitting just outside of our door with the sun warming my body, the sound of the incoming tide just feet away and my bare feet settled into the soft sand... anyone want to change places with me ??? This will be our last day here in Bahia de Los Angeles. We continue our journey south with John and Jennifer in the morning BUT, before we go...let us fill the kayak with air and hit the wster for a little exercise, exploring, and getting to know our next door neighbors Dale and Sue from Baker, Oregon. They have borrowed a kayak from a good friend in the states and thought today would be a great day to try it out. They ask us to join them which was hard to turn down. Louise and John wanted to stay on the beach so Jennifer received the pleasure of a paddle with me tagging along. The water was perfect as well as the company, and for a couple of hours we just enjoyed the moment as the surf lay almost perfectly flat, the pelicans swept by searching for a meal, and the mountainous islands gave a framework of all the besuty of Bahia de Los Angeles. Tomorrow, Guerrero Negro...
Mision San Francisco de Borja
We wanted a little more excitement in our lives today so we opted for a drive to see and explore the Mision (Mission) San Francisco de Borja... they told us "if you have a 4 wheel drive vehicle with good ground clearance this would be a great opportunity to see and experience a little history that most people traveling the Baja can't take advantage of, and on top of all that, you will be traveling through one of the most beautiful mountainous areas that are filled with some very special catus that can not be found anywhere else but in this very small part of the world.
The Mision San Francisco de Borja was founded by the Spanish Jesuit who had walked the length of the Baja to establish missions all along their route. First off, you can't imagine how remote this location is from either coastline, and how deep into the rugged catus filled mountains they had to WALK... Not long after establishing their following with the indians in 1759, they started building the mission. In 1801 they had to rebuild and then in 1818 they closed it due to the decline of the indian community. Today the family that watches over it (and lives there with their closest neighbors living about 2 hours away because of the remoteness and the tough roadway) have found a way to survive and serve. The family we met today was the 8th continuous generation and they hope it will be 8 more at least...
We arrived at the campground in Bahia de Los Angeles and almost immediately started celebrating John's birthday. Thank God it seems that we have finally out run the rain.
The morning we pulled out of El Rosario we ha spent a night of heavy down pour which left the camping area and everything that wasn't paved in a sea of mud. Our first concerns were whether we could get onto the roadway before getting stuck. As it turned out, there was no reason for getting all concerned, the only negative was we all picked up enough mud getting out that we looked more like a mud pie making our way down the highway than the spic-n-span rv'rs we are... We had been in heavy rain fall even before we pulled out of Yuma and we had hoped to leave it behind by the time we pulled out of Ensenada but that just didn't happen. After leaving El Rosario our next stop was Bahia de Los Angeles on the Sea of Cortez. Fortunately the rain was left along the highway someplace but we have picked up a STRONG wind that damn near blew us into the sea that first night in B.LA... Now we are all settled, no more rain, no more wind, but just some long awaited sun, sand, and surf and an enjoyable mid 70 degree temperature...
Wellll, we had a little rain last night... All is well but we may stay another night here in El Rosario, BUS just hoping to dry out a little more.