The Chasm to Prince George

I read for several hours Saturday night, well past sunset, and as it got chillier I moved to the bed where I read some more, until almost 11. I was given some great books by a supplier at the gas station, a fellow Quebecer in exile, including a trilogy that I have wanted to read for some time. A quiet night at the Chasm was the perfect time to start on them!

There was a surprise waiting for me in bed:

it’s rare I catch them together like that!

The night was dark and cold; I slept like a log and woke up around 6:30. It was very cold in the rig, so I climbed down, turned on the furnace, then went back to bed with my book for about a half hour until things warmed up.

I went out for a brisk walk to the creek and back before breakfast, savouring that crisp cold Chasm-morning air, listening to the ravens caw and watching the light change over that vast green hole I love so much.

morning at the Chasm

path down to the creek

Breakfast was a good cup of coffee and half of Mrs. H’s banana bread. Yum!

I rolled out of the Chasm around 8, after dealing with a leveler that jumped up after I rolled off it. It jammed itself in the dirt and wedged in next to the exhaust pipe. I surveyed matters for a second and decided that forcing Miranda forward would at worst knock my exhaust pipe loose.  It didn’t, but the leveler nearly snapped in two!

There was a lot of ground to cover today if I wanted to get to Prince George at a reasonable hour, so I drove straight through to 100 Mile House. I remembered from last year that the Save-on-Foods there has pretty good access and would be my best place to stock up on groceries before Whitehorse.

This is where my day went to hell in the proverbial handbasket (whatever that means). I had to figure out how to fit this:

awesome deals!

into this:

As it turns out, like so:

packaging takes up a lot of space!

I had checked the status of the freezer before going into the store, but some deals were just too good to pass up. The cashier swiped my member’s card first, so all my card savings were applied immediately, about $16 worth, bringing my total grocery order to $240, which was reasonable for what I bought. I find that Save-on’s prices are generally on the high side to make being a member seem like a good deal. I’m not sure what they get from members since the card is free, but occasionally the card makes a huge difference, like it would today. Once my order was tallied up the cashier added my members only coupons that are applied on top of the card discount. My total dropped down to $175! They claim that I got a $64 discount, but I think it was closer to $40 compared to no frills stores. Still a good deal!

And I might have done well with the freezer and fridge, but I ran out of pantry space and had to tuck excess stuff into the ‘spare’ cabinet under the dishwasher. Note to self: that’s where the chicken gumbo’s at! 😀

I got some work done in the parking lot there, but it was very busy and I decided to try my luck with the internet at the next rest area at 108 Mile House Ranch. There, I got a slow signal and was able to put in a good hour’s worth of work before having lunch.

Then, I drove. The sinuous roads of the Cariboo slowly gave way to the longer straight stretches of the Fraser Fort George. The weather alternated between blue sky and torrential downpour. Miranda groaned when going up and purred going down and everything was right with my world. I was heading north and everything was going so smoothly.

I was due for gas when I hit Quesnel, but there is only one gas station there I like and it was very busy. There was a note in last year’s Milepost that there is an easy access Race Trac station in Hixon, about halfway to Prince George, so I decided to push on to there. This was something I would never have done without a firm grasp of Miranda’s range vs. mark on the gas gauge. I have a 200L tank and took on 195L in Hixon!!!

From Hixon, it was an easy haul to Les’ spread outside of Prince George. I didn’t trust my GPS and decided to find his place by memory, remembering that I had to ‘turn left at the road with a friend’s name, right at the pink barn, and then keep left.’ I got there without incident (thank you, awesome brain cells!) and went down to the house. No one answered, so I unhooked and got Miranda squared away and reasonably level. I was just about to go back in when I heard noise from the house. I must have been quieter than I thought!

We caught up over a couple of beers then Les came up to look at my water heater and changed the probe. It performed perfectly for him but conked out minutes after he went home. Figures!

I’m so glad to be here and to have a day’s respite. I’ll put in a couple of hours worth of work tonight to finish up the week and tomorrow I will get a head start on next week’s since internet/cell access is going to get iffier and iffier. I’ll be moving out Tuesday; a day off is going to be welcome. I haven’t been on the road that long but the last few days have been very full.

Déjà Vu Between Nanaimo and the Chasm

Being very tired, I decided to go to bed early in Nanaimo, so I hit the sack around 9:30. I also figured that it would be a cold and noisy night and that the longer opportunity I had for shut eye, the better. Well, the joke was on me. The Nanaimo Walmart was super quiet, much more so than Croft’s driveway! I slept soundly until about quarter to four, rolled over, and slept until 6:30.

I got up at 6:45 and went off in search of coffee (no propane, so couldn’t make my own!). The Walmart opens late, at 8, so that McDonalds wasn’t a possibility. I was going to cave and go to Timmy’s when I saw the familiar green and white of a Starbucks. There, they didn’t have the dark roast I favour so they made me an Americano for the same price. I love when that happens!

The streets were fairly quiet when I set out around 7:30 and it was an easy drive to the ferry terminal. Most of it was downhill, so I practised gearing down and did quite well. It had cost me $193.65 to cross in October and $214 today. Insane! I could tell they disbelieved my claim of 50′, but I had my receipt from October and was ready to show it, however I was processed without any undue fussing.

It was a short wait, maybe a half hour, at the very most, to board. There were a couple of sharp turns, but also plenty of manoeuvring room. I applied the parking brakes, hugged the kitties, and headed up to the passenger decks.

I hadn’t brought any magazines this time, so I treated myself to a copy of Woman’s World onboard, mostly for the crossword and recipes. We had a smooth sailing with mostly clear weather, but boy was it windy! I made the mistake of going on deck without putting on my coat first and it just about blew out to sea!

Disembarking was equally easy and I found myself on the east-bound Transcanada. I took a moment to say good-bye to the Pacific Ocean since my life on the road has thus far been working out as planned. If the trend continues, I will not see the Pacific again for several years. But salty water still beacons in 2010, when I will dip my foot in the Arctic Ocean!

When I came to the Island in the fall, one of my reasons for choosing the Sea to Sky highway was to avoid having to cross the whole of the GVR. I debated crossing back to the Mainland from Duke Point, but that would have put me in the bowels of Tsawwassen and I wasn’t convinced that navigating through Delta and New West was going to be any easier than sailing down the congested Transcanada through Vancouver. I decided to take the most direct route, armed with my knowledge of the route and the exits that would, hopefully, remind me when to bear left.

Getting through Vancouver turned out to be easy. Sure, there were a lot of cars and everyone merging on the highway expected me to slam on my brakes for them, but I was calm, remembering that this was nowhere near as bad as was crossing Montreal with only Miranda!

I had to stop at the Ikea in Coquitlam and Google Maps made this seem like an easy thing to do, just a blip off and on the highway. Ha ha ha ha. The Ikea does not seem to have any overheight parking whatsoever. I turned into an open area of parking and could not see any place to park, much less turn around, so I kept going down the main laneway. It led me to three choices: turn left to a covered structure much shorter than Miranda, unhook and back up out of there, or go the wrong way straight down an entrance that would take me back to Lougheed highway. I picked that option and got a lot of honks even though I was not blocking traffic and was in a position to make a turn into the right direction of traffic once all the cars passed.

Back in the mad rush of traffic, I decided to try parking near Rack Attack, remembering from last year that there was street parking there. Well, there was a police auction yet again and one side of the road is now blocked to parking. I circled right around the Ikea and decided to take my chance at the Canadian Tire nearly a kilometre away. There, I found a place to park with an easy exit, so I locked up and schlepped to the Ikea.

There, I was reminded that I hate shopping at Ikea nearly as much as I hate shopping at Canadian Tire. I had a clear shopping list and it still took almost an hour to find the right floor and section, then get some help to locate the items in question. I wasn’t even remotely tempted to shop for myself by the time I had my friend’s stuff!

Mission accomplished, I slung the heavy bag over my back and marched back to the rig. The things I do for my friends! 😀

The feeling of déjà vu was very strong as I headed back out onto Lougheed highway to catch the exit for the Transcanada. I remembered from last year that I had to be in the left lane and ready for some very tight turns, so it was smooth sailing out of Coquitlam and an easy drive to Chilliwack.

I also remembered from last year that the Husky at the corner of Vedder and Luckakuk is super convenient for gas and propane, so that was my next stop. I goofed and went to the cardlock propane tank, but was able to circle back to the correct one within the parking lot. From there, I just had to move up about five feet and over two to gas up. The propane cost $40 and I put in almost a 100L of fuel at 105.9 (same as on the Island, gah).

I thought of getting groceries in Chilliwack, but when I saw how hard it was going to be to get out of the Husky I changed my mind. I just had to do a right hand turn, but the traffic was solid. Every time it cleared after a green light another wave of cars would pull up from the previous light. I needed all three lanes of traffic to stop and let me in so I could do my turn, but everyone was too selfish to do that. I sat there for about twenty minutes, not willing to risk an accident and force myself into traffic, when a red Jeep cherokee stopped and waved me through. I started the turn, as sharply as I could, but I really did need all three lanes. I was blocking the first and part of the second as I turned and two cars in the second and third lanes just whizzed by me honking instead of taking two seconds out of their day to let me through. Soon as they were through I hit the gas and was able to complete my turn, finding myself in the wrong lane for the onramp back onto the highway. Thankfully, I was able to get over once I’d cleared the intersection and was finally on my way!

Once I hit Hope and turned onto the Gold Rush Trail, I was able to assess how I feel about being back on the road. I was relaxed and happy. Ikea notwithstanding, none of the day had required white knuckled driving and Miranda was practically purring.

The kilometres ate themselves up as I pushed north, marveling at the changing landscapes. I pulled over a few times to stretch my legs and admire the view, but drove determinedly to the Chasm. I had been tempted to stop to do some work, guessing correctly that I wouldn’t be able to at the Chasm, but decided that I’d just take Saturday off and catch up at Les’ Sunday and Monday.

One of the reasons I gassed up in Chilliwack was that I did not want to have to do so in Cache Creek. I’ve stopped there twice for gas and have had three accidents almost immediately after. I never thought I was superstitious until now!

I would have liked to arrive at the Chasm with beer and a treat for dinner, but it wasn’t looking up for that, so I was delighted to find a small food store at a Shell gas station next to a liquour store in Clinton, just a few kilometres from the Chasm turnoff. I was able to park on the street right in front. Awesome!

While small, the grocery selection was thorough and prices were competitive. I picked up a cucumber, red pepper, package of fancy sausages, sour cream, and sun dried tomato tortillas to make wraps. The liquor store didn’t have cold beer, so I put my six pack in the freezer. Having spent most of Friday with the fridge on battery power, everything was still frozen and there wasn’t much catchup to do once I turned it over to propane. The fridge had warmed just enough to make defrosting it easy.

It was nearing if not past six when I turned off to the Chasm and drove the seven bumpy kilometres to the turnoff. It was in great shape, albeit as unlevel as ever. I put the passenger side up on two sets of levelers; it wasn’t quite enough but okay for one night.

Like last year, it started to snow the second I got settled and began to prepare dinner, then the sky cleared. I made sure the fridge was working and tried the water heater, but it’s definitely toast, so getting the part for it will be a top priority once I get settled in Dawson.

I really hadn’t expected to have internet at the Chasm, so I wasn’t disappointed that I didn’t. I settled down to write this entry, had a wash, put on my new jammies, and curled up in my recliner with a good book.

Being back on the road is awesome. What a difference a year makes.







first glimpse of Vancouver!

first glimpse of Vancouver!





turnoff just north of Hope

turnoff just north of Hope


entering Ashcroft--back to desert after a winter in the rain forest!

entering Ashcroft–back to desert after a winter in the rain forest!





I'm just south of Cache Creek here

I’m just south of Cache Creek here

Travels Without Miranda, #5: Antiquing in Wisconsin

Wisconsin is a state that gets a bum rap. It is a verdant land of rolling hills and dairy farms. Granted, I detoured around Milwaukee, so I didn’t see the urban Wisconsin, but what I did visit was idyllic.

I was on a road trip circling the Great Lakes and I was a woman on a mission. The previous day I had driven from Toronto to Lake Bluff, Illinois, a distance of more than a 1,000km. I’m not sure exactly why I was in such a rush, but there was no way to stop me. This was my first vacation in years and I was going to see it ALL!


Coming into Wisconsin, I decided that I didn’t want to go through Milwaukee, so I looked for a way around the city and instead decided to get off I-94 for a spell and take a secondary road that would lead me back to I-94 at Madison in a diagonal fashion.

Suddenly, I had no choice but to slow down since the scenic route meant going through towns and going through towns meant slower speed limits and, gasp, stop signs. I passed an antique shop at one point and wished that I could stop. Two blocks away from it, I had a revelation, I could stop if I wanted to! I was on vacation, for pete’s sake and I didn’t have to be in such a rush!

I ended up doing only a couple hundred kilometres that day as I lost myself in the antique shops of southern Wisconsin, scooping up blue willow dishes and brass candleholders. I don’t have any pictures of the two antique malls I stopped at, among smaller shops, but they are Freddy Bears Antique Mall and Heavenly Heaven Antique Mall (located in a restored church) in Waterford. Plan on spending several hours at each!

When I was done, I found the beautiful Devil’s Lake Campground and set my tent up for the night, guaranteeing a leisurely departure the next day. I remember going for a swim in the shallow lake that was still warm that late in September and whooping with joy at rediscovering life in the slow lane.

Devil's Lake, Wisconsin

Devil’s Lake, Wisconsin

It was in Wisconsin that I learned that I want to travel at a slow pace and that it’s when I think that I’m in the biggest hurry that I should slow down and enjoy the moment because there might not be another opportunity to do so. I must have had this lesson in mind during my Chasm respite before one of the worst days of my life.

Plans Undone and a Chasm Respite

I  had a pretty good night at the turnout even though I practically woke to a gale, with Miranda rocking back and forth. I had coffee and the rest of the bannock, then set off under a clear a sky at about 10.

My first stop of the day was Kitwanga where there is a side road that goes through ‘town’ and loops back to the Cassiar. I took this loop road because it announced a nearby Parks Canada site of a First Nations battleground. I enjoyed the walk down to and up the hill.

Lunch was had at a pull-out just before Smithers and then I headed to my destination for the night, an RV park just east of Houston, 300km shy of Prince George. I followed the signs for the park, all of which proclaimed it was open… except for the one after the last turn that ended in a shut gate.

I found myself in a situation not unlike that back in Manitoba, caught in a turn where I couldn’t unhook. This time, backing up with the toad and doing a million point turn wasn’t even an option seeing as the road was very narrow and bordered by ditches. The only possibility I could see was to cross a culvert and turn around in a big field. I got out and checked the culvert, finding it sturdy. The field was pot holey and definitely not a place I would have voluntarily taken Miranada and the toad into, but I felt confident that I could get turned around without doing any damage or having to unhook. I was right. Whew!!!

With all of that, I forgot that I was low on fuel and left civilization without gassing up. 50km from Houston, I woke up in that regard and realised that I was staring at a bunch of long uphill stretches with no gas in sight and a gas gauge needle dipping deeply into the red. This was the first time I have ever come close to running out of gas and I figured I’d used up all my luck for the day. Both the GPS and the Milepost were in agreement that the nearest gas station in either direction was too far away.

So, you can imagine that when I saw a sign in the distance announcing gas, I thought it was a mirage. 😀

As it turns out, it was a pump on a native reserve, not a proper gas station. But there was a sign announcing prices for status and non-status folks, so I figured I could gas up there. The pump was in the middle of a perfectly-sized roundabout, full-serviced, and offered the cheapest gas I’d seen since Whitehorse (1.03).

I wound up being there almost an hour seeing as my credit card would not go through after several attempts. I called the company to see if there was a security hold on the card, but no. The very helpful person I spoke to suggested that the problem might be with the POS terminal, not my card. The attendant was a young gal fairly new on the job and I coached her on how to call for POS support. Sure enough, there was a glitch with their system and she was walked through the process of resetting the terminal. My card went through fine after. Had the problem been on my end, I would have used an alternate method of payment, but since the problem was theirs and it was more convenient to pay with my credit card than with another method I had no problem with the time the transaction took. Moreover, I think I did the girl a favour showing her what I knew about POS machines.

Like the day before, I pushed on in search of a non-advertised RV park or other legal overnighting option, but found none. I reached the end of the Cassiar and turned east onto Yellowhead highway 16, which also does not permit boondocking. Here, the reason is obvious with frequent billboards reminding people, especially women, that the road is nicknamed ‘The Highway of Tears’ because many young women have disappeared on it. There is a strong possibility that a serial killer is stalking this desolate stretch of highway.

The sun was very low in the sky by the time I passed Vanderhoof, so I decided to just take the plunge and limped all the way to the Walmart in Prince George, covering in total that day more than seven hundred kilometres!

There were signs at the Walmart that overnight parking is not permitted, but there were so many RVs parked that I just ignored the signs. I’m such a rebel!!!

It was COLD in Prince George and I turned on the furnace for the first time. It would have been nice the other nights, but this night it was no luxury.

I didn’t sleep at all; it was just too light, noisy, and COLD. I was cranky and just wanted to get out of civilization. Last time I was in Prince George I stayed for a few days at Les Doll’s place, but that detour didn’t fit in with my itinerary this time around. I instead decided to go back to the Chasm and spend two nights there.

The morning was spent running errands, including a quick run into Canadian Tire where I actually ran into Les. What are the odds?!

It was sooo good to be back on the road, even with the construction coming out of Prince George. It was nice in a way to be back in familiar territory, especially since I was out of fresh water and driving with full black and grey tanks. My first stop of the day was going to be Quesnel, which has some of the best RV facilities in the west; a large day parking area, dump station, and potable water pump, all free. Taking on water was fine, but my holding tanks were frozen solid!

From Quesnel, I drove straight back to the Chasm, knowing I was racing the light. I pulled into the turnoff at bang on six. The turnoff was in worse shape than it was in the spring, very muddy and without a single level spot. I unhooked and drove Miranda into an area below the turnoff with a couple of fairly level places to park if you don’t mind doing a bit of a dance with your RV to get into the right position. I didn’t mind the work, finding this spot more suitable for a long stay than is the turnoff.

I spent a quiet evening reading and watching a movie. I had a rare good night’s sleep.

The next morning was bright and cold… and my fresh water tank was frozen solid. I had to laugh. I grabbed a bucket and made a couple of trips down to the creek to get some slush to melt for washing purposes and as well as some drinking water from the spring to boil for drinking. Life without amenities suits me, I’ve discovered. Had I not needed to haul water I would have probably not had any exercise that morning.

It was a quiet, homey day, where I got caught up on my sewing (!) and cleaning. Some people walked past Miranda a few times to take in the view of the Chasm, but no one bothered me. I was relaxed and pleased that I was only a day away from the ferry terminal, two days from Croft’s. My journey was practically over and I could relax…

This impressive toadstool was by the side of the Cassiar turnoff

This impressive toadstool was by the side of the Cassiar turnoff













I would not want to run into that guy in the mask in a dark alley...

I would not want to run into that guy in the mask in a dark alley…












reaching the end of the Cassiar highway

reaching the end of the Cassiar highway



Moricetown Canyon

Moricetown Canyon

Moricetown Canyon

Moricetown Canyon

lunch stop in Smithers

lunch stop in Smithers

lunch stop in Smithers

lunch stop in Smithers

break at a rest area

break at a rest area


break at a rest area

break at a rest area

in case that's not clear, the monument to which this plaque is attached features a stone from an English castle reputed to be the birthplace of King Arthur!

in case that’s not clear, the monument to which this plaque is attached features a stone from an English castle reputed to be the birthplace of King Arthur!

Miranda and the toad at the Chasm

Miranda and the toad at the Chasm

the Chasm

the Chasm

truck's still there from last time...

truck’s still there from last time…

I love this view...

I love this view…

not a bad spot, really

not a bad spot, really


dawn of one of the worst days of my life

dawn of one of the worst days of my life

Chilliwack to the Chasm

The Gold Rush Trail!

My discovery of the day is that I can use the coffee grinder on the inverter with my new house battery!!!!!!!!!!

I left Chilliwack fairly early, before nine and eagerly pushed on past sort-of-familiar territory back to Hope where I finally began to head north! Of course, Transport Canada removes some of the thrill by labeling the highway direction as east.

This stretch of road is called the Gold Rush Trail. I cannot begin to describe the wave of emotion I felt when I saw the first sign welcoming adventurers heading north. I am certain that had I been born a century and a half ago, I would have been the same non-conformist heading north with her 1,000 lbs of personal goods.

I drove steadily, stopping occasionally to stretch my legs and take in the view.



















My longest break was at Hell’s Gate, after which I actually started to look for a place to stop for the day even though it wasn’t even eleven yet! I’d mapped out a couple of possibilities, but they were difficult to get into, so I pushed on, stopping just shy of one at a rest area to have lunch.

The scenery was breathtaking and as desert-like as I’d been warned. There were moments I could have sworn I was somewhere in the Mojave desert en route to Las Vegas!

Drama at Cache Creek

I stopped for gas in Cache Creek, which was much smaller than expected. On the way out of the service station, I clipped a guy’s mirror with the toad’s mirror. It apparently made quite a bang, but I heard nothing, just saw a a crazy looking livid man running after me yelling “YOU HIT MY CAR!” He was beyond reasoning with even though, after inspecting his car, it was obvious that the only damage was a tiny chip of paint lost on the mirror casing, The chip could only be felt, not seen, so, really, talk about over reacting! I had no damage.

Thankfully, his wife was able to diffuse the situation by seeing the damage done, not the damage that could have been done. I offered them a 100 bucks for their trouble, but she could see that there was barely a scratch on the car, nothing worth her husband’s undue fussing and she said that all was well. I still felt horrible, of course, but, really, that guy seriously over reacted!

Why Do I Trust Majel?!

Just after that, I followed Majel’s directions to get to Chasm Provincial Park. Must. Stop. Doing. That. I drove I don’t know how far out of my way before I saw a turn around point then… I pushed on. The area was so pretty I hoped to find a turn off where I could spend the night, but the road was too narrow. At the next turn around point I came to my senses and doubled back to the 97, wasting I don’t know how much gas.

I saw a sign for another provincial park that was open and had room for RVs, but missed the turnoff. Signage is really, really poor and I wish I had a co-pilot. Sometime later, I saw the turn off for the Chasm lookout point and here I am. There is no sign saying no parking, so I’m staying. I am beyond beat; the Cache Creek thing ruined my mood. 🙁









Chasm Provincial Park

The chasm lookout is barely a turnout, just a strip of  muddy road and not a particularly level place to stop. I picked the best spot and staked my claim. It’s very isolated out here and it feels so nice to be by myself.

The chasm is breathtaking, one of those gems you have to find on your own. It is at least as gorgeous as the Grand Canyon! It’s the most awesome backyard I have ever had and my most successful boondocking experience yet!

I arrived here around 4 and had a pleasant, homey evening that concluded with my watching a movie on the new laptop. Love the new laptop!!!