On the Yellowhead Highway

2015-09-13 at 15-27-08Our departure from Hyder and on the Yellowhead Highway was delayed a bit due to the search by Canada customs officials. But we also uncovered something very interesting. The previous night we heard a really loud bang that to me sounded like an avalanche gun. But one of the women at customs informed us that it was actually an earthquake in the fjord. It was a fairly small earthquake but one very close to the surface thus the loud bang.

2015-09-11 at 16-11-59We have heard about a couple of earthquakes while in Alaska, some of which fellow RVers actually felt. Ay, ay, ay. But we had other concerns – our inverter was still not working, and on our way into Hyder, the check engine light had flashed for a couple of brief moments. I wondered if Island Girl was trying to tell us that she was tired and needed a break. As we left Hyder, however, Island Girl seemed ok (except for no inverter).

It was another cloudy day and we went back on the Cassiar heading towards “civilization”, hoping to take care of Island Girl’s issues on the way. And the town most likely to be able to provide the services we needed was Prince George.

But Prince George was a long way out so we were planning to take a couple of days to get there. Shortly after leaving Stewart we turned on to the Yellowhead Highway, and drove through several First Nation villages that are known for their totem poles: Gitwangak, Kitseguecla and Kispiox.

We just had to stop to look at the totem poles. Many of them were antique totem poles and some were in their original locations. Totem poles originally served as emblems of a family or clan and their kinship system, and symbols of their accomplishments, adventures, stories, rights and perogatives.

2015-09-11 at 16-23-21Today, totem poles represent Northwest Pacific Coast tradition, and even though other Native tribes create them, the traditional lands of the totem people are Southeastern Alaska, coastal British Columbia and northern Washington State.IMG_4839_HDR

2015-09-11 at 16-11-15When we reached these last communities, our cell signal came to life. We then arrived at Smithers, a larger town that we were interested in seeing, but we did not find an appropriate campground there. The next town, Telkwa, did have a nice and relatively inexpensive campground that offered full hookups, which would spare us having to start our engine to charge batteries, so we decided to overnight there.

The Fort Telkwa Campground also offered a free RV wash, free Wi-Fi, and cable. Lots of services. As we arrived the proprietor greeted us with “Welcome back to civilization!” They obviously have a lot of people arriving there from the remote north as we had.

In fact, their website has the following statement: There is a free hi-pressure wash set up so you can spray all the dirt and bugs off your RV and restore your tow vehicle to its original color. Hilarious!

When we settled into our campsite, we realized that the Wi-Fi worked great! We really were back in civilization, it had been a long time since we had such good internet access!

IMG_4817_HDRAlaska Driving Day 18 Recap

Road Name: Cassiar Highway for a short section

Road Type: 2-lane

Road Conditions: Smooth paved narrow road with no shoulders

Road Name: Yellowhead Highway

Road Type: 2-lane

Road Condition: Generally good

2015-09-12 at 10-16-13Miles Today: 225

Driving Time: 4:302015-09-12 at 10-14-15

2015-09-12 at 10-19-59



The next morning we visited the farmers market in Smithers, a very nice market. The town is very interesting, with lots of great specialty shops – this is a popular ski town, and as all ski towns it offers a lot more than typical towns of equal size.2015-09-12 at 10-09-56

2015-09-12 at 10-12-472015-09-12 at 10-23-30There is also a big music scene in Smithers, and I had hoped to go out for some music that evening. But I came down with a high fever and felt horrible. Not sure what happened because I had no other symptoms but we stayed in that day and the day after.

2015-09-12 at 11-28-312015-09-15 at 12-39-152015-09-12 at 11-28-44Meanwhile, Hector made an appointment in Prince George with an RV service place. I was feeling better and we left Telkwa late Sunday afternoon, so that we could bring Island Girl in early Monday.

Alaska Driving Day 19 Recap

Road Name: Yellowhead Highway

Road Type: 2-lane

Road Condition: Generally good, with two sections of construction

Miles Today: 223

Driving Time: 4:30

There is a casino, Treasure Cove, in Prince George that offers free overnight parking for RVs. So we stayed there overnight and took Island Girl to the shop in the morning.2015-09-14 at 11-06-04

2015-09-14 at 09-55-092015-09-14 at 09-57-302015-09-14 at 12-02-05

Free loaner fishing gear at the visitor center!

Free loaner fishing gear at the visitor center!

NR Motors was very timely and started checking out Island Girl right away. The mechanic, Derek, thoroughly tested each element, cleaned out the battery compartment and concluded that the cause of our problem was a loose bolt on the batteries. And just like that, the inverter worked again.

Since that was pretty simple, we had Derek check out a long standing issue that we have had with our water pump where it seems to run randomly when we are not running water. Mechanics  and well-meaning RVer friends alike have misdiagnosed the problem as the pump itself. And multiple attempts have not solved the mystery.

Derek confirmed Hector’s suspicions that it was one of the valves. Although he did not have the part, he gave us a quick bandaid fix that we had not thought of. No more pump issue! Derek was very personable and professional. We were very impressed with NR Motors.

But since Hector had been worried about the check engine light, he had also made an appointment for the following day at the Freightliner dealer. Island Girl was due for her annual service anyway and when we checked pricing, it was the about the same in Prince George as in the lower 48. Which meant that with the current exchange rate it was actually cheaper.

So back to the casino we went. The hotel by the casino offered free Wi-Fi, so we were connected to civilization once again.

The next day, we took Island Girl to the Freightliner dealer and left her behind. While we waited we drove to a local park, the Cottonwood Island Park, which has a lovely short trail to a river to take a walk with Angel.

2015-09-14 at 13-08-322015-09-14 at 13-22-14We bumped into a nice gentleman who was feeding the chickadees, and he gave me some seeds so I could feed them too. I normally do not believe in feeding wildlife, but apparently lots of people in this park feed the chickadees and they were just so darn cute.


2015-09-14 at 13-16-542015-09-14 at 13-22-18
It was a really sweet experience, when they landed on my hand they were so soft. So we took a little hike and fed the chickadees along the way.2015-09-15 at 13-15-43

2015-09-15 at 13-13-00And everything turned out ok with Island Girl, the check engine light turned out to be a communications error in the data bus.  Nothing was wrong.  Yay!

2015-09-15 at 13-04-332015-09-14 at 13-10-202015-09-14 at 13-10-212015-09-14 at 13-03-38So now we were back in good shape and ready to continue our trip. But Hector discovered that there was another strong Aurora possibility and a clear weather forecast so we could not resist the urge to chase the aurora once again.  So we turned back slightly north instead of south.

We headed to Fraser Lake, a lake we had noticed on the way to Prince George, which happened to face the right direction, north.

We stayed at an RV park by the lake and headed out in the evening to check out the Aurora.

Alaska Driving Day 20 Recap

Road Name: Yellowhead Highway

Road Type: 2-lane

Road Condition: Generally good

Miles Today: 105

Driving Time: 2:00

Total Miles in Canada: 4247

Total Miles since entering Canada: 6611

2015-09-16 at 00-36-41And yes, the Northern Lights were definitely out, although unfortunately we were too far south because they were only faintly visible out towards the northern horizon.2015-09-16 at 00-33-27

2015-09-16 at 00-35-33We were fortunate to see them once again, although they were nothing like our last sighting. Which made us appreciate that special night even more. It was still a lovely evening and the aurora always amazes.2015-09-16 at 00-18-19

There was more rain in the forecast and we decided to stay another night and not drive in the rain. And just took a down day by the lake.

Then it was time to head south once again.

~ Brenda



11 thoughts on “On the Yellowhead Highway

  1. Very interesting post, you’re making me guilty about driving right past these interesting spots. Glad to hear your maint. issues were so easily resolved. I am marooned once again, this time at Gros Ventre, with a popped brake line. At least the weather has been nice here, so far, and there are moose in the campground.

    • Oh, no! Well, I’ve always wanted to go to Grand Teton in the fall, and also to stay in Gros Ventre. That’s not a bad place to get stuck, since the moose always hang out there. Is the moose rut on? Hope the weather holds up for you.

  2. Very interesting post, you’re making me guilty about driving right past these interesting spots. Glad to hear your maint. issues were so easily resolved. I am marooned once again, this time at Gros Ventre, with a popped brake line. At least the weather has been nice here, so far, and there are moose in the campground.

  3. What an astoundingly stellar summer you’ve had, Dear Friends! Glad Island Girl, Angel, and you are all well. Thank you for keeping us with you, and know you are in our hearts as you travel. Godspeed. xo

  4. Loved seeing the totem poles. Wish we had stopped there, but we are still learning the journey, not the destination mode. We stayed the night at Kenaski Lake Campground in BC on our way up. It’s a nice campground that we took our kayak on. I would have stayed there a couple of days.

    • We loved those totem poles! I understand about learning the journey mode, it can take a while. There are such beautiful lakes around, but with the gloomy weather we didn’t take out kayaks out at all in the area.

  5. Fabulous totem poles, once again the Northern Lights, and having birds eat out of your hand…wow! So glad to hear Island Girl and you are feeling better.

    • Thank you and thank goodness everything turned out well. The birds were so sweet, apparently the chickadees are the only ones that will do this (according to the bird whisperer that we met).

  6. Glad you’re feeling better, Brenda, and that all is well with Island Girl. The photos of you guys are so darn cute! Speaking of cute, I enjoyed the chickadee photos! I remember when I had my little house in Sedalia, I had a special little chickadee buddy who used to eat out of my hand. Loved that little guy!

    The photos of the northern lights were again beautiful! And the colors exquisite!

    Sending hugs to you both and to Angel Girl!

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