Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Drive to Hyder & Prince George (Part 2)

We continued along the bumpy dirt road for about 25 more miles as it crisscrossed between the US and Canadian border. Our destination was Salmon Glacier, North America's 5th largest glacier. Eventually the road led us up a ridge to a scenic overlook that offered sweeping 180 degree views from high above the glacier. In the afternoon we drove to Prince George, British Columbia - 500 miles, 8 hours. We saw a chubby Hoary Marmot crossing the road (but we weren't able to get a photo because he was surprisingly quick on his feet) and a young caribou feeding by the side of the road. It's amazing how much driving Gabe has done...he actually has developed blisters on his fingers from gripping the steering wheel for so many hours. He's definitely been in "the zone" every day while Jenny has provided the entertainment (although she has offered to take over driving many times!). SIDE NOTE - Today we were lucky enough to drive past: the world's largest fly fishing pole, the "best place on earth to stay," the geographic center of British Columbia, the "world's best pizza," and many, many "gateway to..." towns. It seems that in Canada every single town has to have some claim to fame, and sometimes it's a real stretch! ANOTHER SIDE NOTE - Today the temperature hit 80 degrees for the first time since Utah (day 2 of our trip). This was a reminder to us that it's July and not January!

Drive to Hyder, Alaska & Prince George, BC (Part 1): July 6

Over the past few days we've driven so far south that we finally got our first night of real darkness in almost a month last night when we stayed in Stewart, British Columbia, which is just across the border from the town of Hyder, Alaska. Hyder, population 100, is a very unique place. It's situated on a tiny tip of land, surrounded by water and steep mountains on all sides. The only way to reach Hyder is via an extremely remote gravel road through the middle of British Columbia. The closest US town by road, Skagway, Alaska, is located over 1,000 miles away. As a result of its isolation from the rest of the US and its dependence on the Canadian border town of Stewart, Hyder is a very special town: the residents use Canadian currency, they set their clocks to Canadian time, and they send their children to Canadian schools. Each time they need to get groceries or go to the bank, Hyder residents have to pass through Canadian customs and immigration. Our first activity today was to travel just outside of town to the Fish Creek bear viewing area. Since the salmon aren't yet running our expectations were low. Later, the Ranger mentioned that several people had been waiting for days to catch a glimpse of a bear. However, within seconds of our arrival a big grizzly came ambling along down the middle of the creek, not more than 20 feet from the viewing platform, munching on nearby shrubs and checking for fish. This is the first time we've seen a bear in this type of habitat.