Friday, July 29, 2016

cabackroads--Cobb Lake BC Forest Service, Prince George, British Columbia

cabackroads--Cobb Lake BC Forest Service, Prince George, British Columbia

dates of stay: July 19th, 2016

After the delightful four night stay at Helena Lake the objective was to find a "one-night stand" where we could spend the night and hit the road at first light.

Leaving Helena Lake our objective was to finish the final supplies for the trip north at the Prince George Costco store. That meant that we would probably be looking for a campsite late into the day.

The information at hand suggested very few campsites west of  Prince George. Our backup plan of picking a Provincial Park for spending the night showed few if any in the target area. Likewise, there were few commercial campgrounds.

One lake stood out. A short distance from the highway with a BC Forest Service campground. The concerns were that given all the rainfall I really did not want to slide my way to a campsite. The road ran due north and in a fairly straight line which usually indicates a higher standard road.

At the turn-off from the highway I immediately recognized the road as a mainline timber haul route. Which is good news. Two lanes of good gravel road with no chance of getting stuck. The map showed the road coming within a 1/4 mile of the lake. So that left only a short distance of "iffy" road.

The campsite was excellent for a "one-night" stand. It was gravel all the way to the lake. There was a outhouse and boat ramp and several flat campsites overlooking the lake. A very nice spot.

Not perfect, like Helena Lake but pretty close. There were local residents that were camped there just for the fishing and relief from the traffic and hectic lifestyle of  Prince George. We were happy to join them if only for one night.

The price was right. Free. Paid for by taxpayers and commercial users of British Columbia's forest lands.

Finding a perfect place if only for one night is almost as much a art form as a skill. The ability to read and interpret maps really helps, but so does talking to everybody you meet. Helena Lake was a favorite that everybody knew about. Cobb Lake was a unknown lake.

Both were perfect.

Monday, July 25, 2016

cabackroads--Helena Lake BC Forest Service, 100 Mile House, British Columbia

cabackroads--Helena Lake BC Forest Service, 100 Mile House, British Columbia

dates of stay: July 15-19th, 2016

The plan after leaving Kamloops was to find "free" or nearly free campsites that would provide Snowpatch and Bugaboo the room to roam without restriction. Since British Columbia is full of lakes, the search was focused on lake frontage campsites.

The kayaks needed to be dowloaded from the roof of the canopy and tested in a lake environment. I was definitely curious as to the fishing possibilities of a kayak versus a float tube or pontoon boat. That only took a few minutes! Kayaks are quick and cut through the wind quickly and efficiently. As for being a fishing platform, they rate right up there with canoes. I never fished from a canoe after my first time in a float tube.

Looking a maps and lakes of British Columbia Helena Lake looked like an interesting possibility. It was about ten kilometers from the highway on a dirt road. Short enough to access easily, yet enough of a distance from the highway to provide some isolation. It had two access routes one from the south and another from the north. Fortunately, at a fly shop in 100 Mile House I asked about the access routes. It turned out that the southern route was blocked and pretty much washed out. The only feasible route was from the north.


We took the turn off from Lac La Hache Lake and slowly towed the Casita to the lake. It was a wet dirt road, that definitely got "snotty" when wet, but fortunately the rain only damped down the dust.

The surprise was when we pulled into a camping area. A perfect lake with a campsite perched above the lake giving a sweeping view of the lake and countryside. It also offered a partially shaded campsite that allowed us to use our solar panels for charging the house batteries. A slight constant breeze kept the mosquitoes and other insects at bay.

It pretty much was the perfect campsite. Not much in the area of services, but the price at $6.00 Canadian was an incredible value.

It also provided the opportunity to test and use several new products for backroads camping.

The first was the new Go-Power 80 watt solar panel to see how they would work for keeping the house battery charged. The second was the Platypus water filter for providing safe drinking water without the effort of pumping. The new eboost amplifier for connecting to world for phone calls and maybe more important the internet.

And finally those kayaks and all the tears and suffering trying to find the appropriate Yakima carriers on top of the canopy.

With all those "work" requirements, coupled with the campsite we signed up for a four night stand.

No point in spending only one night when you have the perfect campsite.

As always double click on a photo and the entire set will come up full screen.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

cabackroads destination--Juniper Beach Provincial Park, Cache Creek, British Columbia

cabackroads destination--Juniper Beach Provincial Park, Cache Creek, British Columbia.

dates of travel--July 14, 2016

After the shopping stop at the Costco in Kamloops we headed west on Canada 1 and 97 North looking for a Provincial Park with a dump station.

Our twenty-eight dollars got us this campsite just on the other side of the riverfront sites. The money got us water and 30 amp service. No sewer connection and if fact, it was another five dollars to use the dump station within the campground. It looks like the Provincial Parks in British Columbia are taking lessons from the American National Park Service on how to nickle and dime their customers.

The campground managers were Wilma and her husband which deserve a special mention as being some of the best, most attentive campground hosts I have encountered in my travels and professional career. Outstanding service, attentive, and even managed to treat a grumpy American with respect and a professional attitude. In this Provincial Park, the hosts were the best amenity.

The downside to the park is right in the middle of the picture. Those trains. And just so the trains on one side of the river do not get lonely, there is a track just behind the campground. Yep, you are going to hear trains night and day. Our first clue, was the private campground advertising "no trains" on the ad that never mentioned the Provincial Park!

Here is the official link to the park:

This part of British Columbia is sometimes considered to be an extension of the Great Basin Desert in the United States. In fact, there is plenty of cactus in the park. This species is also found in Okanogan County where I bird hunt. There it is found in very scattered patches though I have had two dogs run into it during hunting season.

No problem finding it within the confines of the park. It "carpets" the ground underneath the sage and dryland grasses. The problem once walking into the sage is how to find the way out!!

Nasty, nasty stuff and lots of it!!

The next morning as we headed north I kept searching for the last sagebrush bush alongside Highway 97.  I believe the last sage was just at six lake summit on the highway. From there we finally left the Great Basin ecosystems behind us.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

cabackroads destination--Lundbom Lake, Merrit, British Columbia

cabackroads destination--Lundbom Lake, Merrit, British Columbia

dates of stay: July 12 and 13th, 2016

Once into Canada we needed to buy food, bear spray, and several books on backcountry roads in British Columbia.

If your traveling in British Columbia, just get these books. Excellent quality, detailed information and also available in digital format: Most of the books are focused around fishing, but some have more information on camping while others are strictly fishing. So chose carefully.

The plan was to stop outside of Merritt for the first night in Canada. Then move on to Kamloops and the Costco there for a GPS unit and those special Costco food items.

By the way, we found out that Costco in Canada does NOT take Visa, only MasterCard. The reverse of the situation south of Canadian border. After a hectic 15 minutes we were able to write a personal check payable in US funds for our purchases. Oh, and Costco had only ONE GPS unit for sale. More on that later in the trip.

I located a Marquart Lake just south of Merritt located on BC Forest Service land with a primitive campground. Just east of that lake, was Lundbom Lake which has much better fly fishing and only did not sport a "Bear in area, warning sign".

Lundbom Lake it was with a nice waterfront campsite. The only services were a campsite spur, picnic table.  However, as the picture illustrates it is a very scenic and pleasant spot just a few miles from Merritt. The normal rate is $12 a night, but for old people it is only $6.

Merritt like most Canadian towns in a tidy town, with a few ragged edges if you look deeper. However, on the surface it is an attractive town.

The Save-On Supermarket had a good selection of fresh food.

I also found a couple of outdoor stores to buy the bear spray, rod case, and the BC backroads maps. The store is located on the main street coming into town and is named Gun Fishing. Nice rack of rifles, very light on shotguns. If your a Canadian you can buy a AR-15 here. It had a good fly fishing selection and the service was excellent

This is the BC Liquor Store. The only place in British Columbia to buy wine. Selection does vary by store to some extent. Merritt was pretty bad, but the store in 100 Mile House was a bit more interesting. Prices were very high.

Merritt also has the Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame display. It was worth the stroll through the place, but really needs some interpretative help.

Never did get the opportunity to fish Lundbom Lake, but the fishing looked slow. It is after all summer.

After a couple of pleasant nights we moved onto Kamloops and started heading north.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

usbackroads destination--Alaska, but first crossing the border.

 usbackroads destination--Alaska, but first crossing the border

This was the year for the road trip up to Alaska. So many things to go wrong, before finally hitting the road. The great adventure was those two shiny new kayaks that you see up on top of the Dodge Ram.  Cheap kayaks only $300 bucks. Of course, the truck cap that I tried borrowing from a friend would not fit, so there is a new truck cap with a Yakima rack and of course, two kayak carriers.  Don't ask how much that all cost or took in time. But an adventure.

Then there was the eboost amplifier for the cell phone that only took two days to finally get working on voice, data is still a mystery. But it appears it works. This blog posting is in a "no service" area just north of 100 Mile House in British Columbia. The data is at 10 Mbps. Maybe a NextFlix movie after this blog posting.

The only good news was that it took so long to get going that Verizon offered a new data and voice plan for Mexico and Canada. So we got 16 gigs of data, plus unlimited voice and text in Canada and Mexico.

See the new shiny "dog" ramp for Bugaboo and Snowpatch for their backseat doghouse in the Dodge Ram.

We left Wenatchee so late that the first stop was Blue Lake in the United States. Leaving the border crossing for the next day.

Oh yeah, crossing the border.

First, never chose to be born in a country that the United States intensely dislikes. Second, do NOT chose a nationality that the United States intensely dislikes.  That looks like two strikes right there and I haven't even come close to a border crossing.

Oh well, at least I can get out of the United States without a problem. Nope, this time we were crossing into Canada at the Nighthawk crossing and we were stopped LEAVING the United States. REALLY??

Of course, the Canadians were concerned about my one-ton truck. I have camo outdoor clothes that I am really fond of, but now I hide them when crossing the border. A large diesel truck, camo, and dogs can ONLY mean that there has to be a GUN SOMEWHERE in the HUGE TRUCK!! Now with only the truck we were only asked about guns!!

Somehow we made it out of the United States and into Canada!! At the first sporting goods store in Canada we stopped to pick up bear spray. Yep, can't bring it into Canada, even though it is made in Montana. But what really caught my eye in the sporting goods store were ALL the GUNS.  AR-15's and god knows what else for sale in Canada. Thank god, for that strict border policy on guns. Does this mean the Canadians just want you to buy them in Canada??

More on the adventures as we crossed into Canada tomorrow.

For Bugaboo and Snowpatch no passports required. They never did get asked if they had guns. And somehow in all the questions not one about the rabies certificate.  Oh yeah, trip was delayed a day so we could get Bugaboo's certificate.

Those sleeping arrangements only work for naps. At night Snowpatch insists on the large bed and kicks Bugaboo out into the small bed.