Sunday, July 28, 2013

RonnieAdventure #0059 - Days 43-49, Las Vegas-Alaska-Las Vegas 2013 Trip

Week 7

Day 43 - Coal River, Liard River, Muncho Lake, Toad River, Fort Nelson

Not too far from Watson Lake we came to Historic Milepost 496, which is the turnoff for Liard River Hotsprings Provincial Park. A short walk down a boardwalk leads to the pools; however the day we were there only one pool was open. The boardwalk was constructed because the trail to the springs crosses a wetlands that supports over 250 boreal forest plants, including 14 orchid species.


About 20 miles down the road we came to the only remaining suspension bridge on the Alaska Highway. The 1,143-foot suspension bridge was constructed in 1943 to replace a temporary structure that had originally been installed in 1942.

On this part of the trip we saw more wildlife along the road than anywhere else on the trip - bears, moose, caribou, deer, and elk. The caribou looked like someone had run over her with a truck!


At Toad River we found another collection of caps - 8,314 to be exact.
We arrived in Fort Nelson too late to tour the Heritage Museum; but since our campground was adjacent to the Museum property, after dinner I walked around and photographed some of the Museum's exterior exhibits.

Day 44 - Prophet River, Slkanni Chief, Pink Mountain, Wonowon, Charlie Lake, Fort St. John, Taylor, and Dawson Creek.
It is amazing how much the Alaska Highway has changed since its original construction and how much it is the same. At Historic Mile Post 148 we came to "Suicide Hill," where there had been a sign with an ominous greeting: "Prepare to Meet Thy Maker." With four-wheel disc brakes on the pickup, I only downshifted from 5th to 4th gear at the top of the hill. However, the road is probably in the same, or maybe worse, condition as when it was first constructed.
At Mayer we saw the largest golf ball in the world.
For people that want to say that they drove the original Alaska Highway, about 17 miles form Dawson Creek a section of the original highway has been preserved and is now used as an access road to Kiskatinaw Provincial Park. Another reason to take the side trip is that the road crosses the Historic Kiskatinaw River Bridge, a 531-foot long structure that is the only remaining original timber bridge built along the Alaska Highway that is still in use today.
Also in this area are a number of fields that contain bright yellow flowers. We were told that the plants are Canola, a hybrid of Rapeseed, which was developed as a low-cholesterol oil seed. The raw seeds are processed in Alberta and some of the seeds are shipped to Japan for processing.
Dawson Creek is Mile "0" for the Alaska Highway, so everyone has to stop and take a picture of the sign and official mile marker. Also in the same parking lot is the Historic Dawson Creek Grain Elevator that has now been converted into an art gallery. A spiral staircase has been installed on the inside of the elevator, so you just wind your way up to look at the exhibits.


Day 45 - Pouce Coupe, Demmitt, Hythe, Beaverelodge, Wembley, Gande Prairie, Bezanson, Debolt, Crooked Creek, Calais, Valleyview, Little Smoky, Fox Creek, Whitecourt, Mayerthorpe, Sangudo, Onoway, Spruce Grove, and Edmonton
There is a beautiful Visitor Centre in Grande Prairie that contains a museum and a large selection of tourist information. The staff was very helpful!
About 75 miles from Edmonton the road crosses under the second largest wooden railway trestle in the world. The C.N.R. Rochfort Bridge Trestle was constructed in 1914 and is 2,414 feet long.
Day 46 - Around Edmonton
We spent the morning at the Muttart Conservatory, one of Edmonton's most iconic structures, consisting of four glass pyramids. Each pyramid contains a different eco-system.

After lunch we toured the Royal Alberta Museum, which contains ancient artifacts, displays of minerals, animals, birds, bugs and every insect species known in Canada and other parts of the world. You run out of energy before you run out of museum! We have discovered that when you see the world "Royal" in the name of an attraction, it is a place that you don't want to miss. Apparently the Queen only approves a very limited number of attractions, and she has to approve the attraction before they can use the word "Royal" in the name.
In the evening we went to the West Edmonton Mall for dinner, which is the largest mall in the world. Enclosed in the mall is everything from a marine sanctuary to a swimming beach and ice arena.

Day 47 - Still in Edmonton
Everyone told us that we couldn't leave Edmonton without visiting Fort Edmonton Park and K-Days. Fort Edmonton Park is the largest living history museum in Canada with original and rebuilt historical buildings representing the past 100-150 years of history in the area. 

K-Days (Klondike Days) is similar to a state fair in the US, with lots of carnival rides, exhibits, and free live stage performances. We went to the Mana show (a production similar to Cirque du Soleil), which was just excellent.

Day 48 - Devon, Leduc, Kavanagh, Millet, Wetaskiwin, Gwyhne, Bittern Lake, Camrose, Meeting Creek, Stettler, Drumheller, Hwy 9 to Hwy 21 to Hwy 1, Chestermere.
Shortly after leaving Edmonton we noticed a sign advertising the Leduce #1 Energy Discovery Center, so we turned around (not an easy task when pulling a trailer) and went back for a tour. It was an amazing place with lots of exhibits. We even got to sit inside of the largest drill bit in the world as it bored a mile down into the earth. You could look down and watch the drill grinding through the rock layers and then you could look up to see the material going up the shaft. And, of course, you could observe the different rock layers as you were descending through the earth's crust. Okay, so it was just a simulation, but it was interesting.

Next stop was the Reynolds Alberta Museum, which celebrates the Spirit of the Machine and contains a wide variety of vehicles, airplanes, tractors, and industrial equipment. This international award-winning museum of mechanization features Canada's Finest and largest collection of rare and unusual one-of-a-kind items, including a 1929 Duisenberg Model J. 

Even though it was late in the day, we stopped by the Royal Tyrrell Museum, which features an amazing collection and display of dinosaurs. The museum is so popular that it stays open until 9 PM at night during the summer months. Too little time - too many museums! 

Day 49 - Cheadle, Carseland, Mossleigh, Vulcan, Kirkcaldy, Champion, Carmangay, Barons, Nobleford, Picture Butte, Coaldale, Hwy 4 to Coutts and U.S. Boarder, Sweetgrass (US), Sunburst, Shelby.
Since we were in the area, a stop in Vulcan was a must. Unfortunately, we were too early to visit the new museum was is scheduled to open August 2, 2013. However, we toured the old visitor's center that is designed to look like a space station and looked at the exhibits on display. There is a Starship statue (Not the Enterprise, but a similar design.) on display as you enter the city, which contains greetings in several languages.