We left Cochrane and our friends all too soon. But we have a long drive towards the Alaska Highway and are focused on making good time.
As we continue northward, I thought I would write a bit about our choice of route to Alaska.
There are two main highways across Canada towards Alaska – the Alaska Highway and the Cassiar Highway from the West. The Cassiar ultimately meets up with the Alaska Highway.
There are four main roads leading to those highways. Both the Eastern Access Route through the Alberta plains and the Eastern Mountain Route through the Rocky Mountains in Alberta lead to the Alaska Highway. The Western Access Route through Vancouver to Whistler leads to the Cassiar Highway. And the Central Route through central British Columbia can lead to either the Alaska or the Cassiar Highway. Of course, there are many approaches that you can take from the States and Canada leading to these routes.
Finally, the Marine Highway from British Columbia through the Inside Passage in Alaska is a great alternative. Ferry service provides access to several towns that are only accessible by sea or plane and stops in several towns on mainland Alaska.
Why did we choose the Eastern Access Route through the Alberta plains?
Did you know that potatoes originated in Peru? Or that it was President Thomas Jefferson that introduced French fries to Americans when he served them at a White House dinner? Well, that is just one of the fascinating pieces of history and fun facts that you can find at the Idaho Potato Museum. And, by the way, John Adams thought Jefferson was putting on airs by serving such “novelties”.
The drive from Salt Lake City to Yellowstone was longer than we prefer, so we decided to overnight near the halfway point. When we realized that Blackfoot, Idaho, where the potato museum is located, was about the halfway point, we couldn’t resist. Where else can you get a photo in front of a giant potato with a big glop of sour cream and a giant pad of butter on top?
At the end of the Nevada section of Hwy 50 is the Great Basin National Park, a national park that we had never heard of before we began our drive on the Loneliest Highway in America. We love the national parks, and visiting new ones is always fun.
The Great Basin is comprised of multiple basins, from the Sierra Nevadas on the West to Utah’s Wasatch Mountains on the east, with lots of mountain ranges and few rivers. These narrow basins surrounded by mountains offer no outlet to the sea for their streams and rivers. So the water in its shallow salt lakes, marshes and mud flats evaporates.
Great Basin National Park was created in 1986 and includes much of South Snake Range, a desert mountain island surrounded by desert. This and other mountain islands support species of plants and animals that can only survive on the tall, cool mountains. At these higher altitudes there is lots of diversity – streams, lakes, and wildlife.
There are five campgrounds in the national park, one that accommodates big rigs. But we chose to stay at Sacramento Pass Recreation Area, a free BLM campground. It was just off the road but quite nice. There is an equestrian campground with even lovelier views on the upper level but there was one trailer there, so we chose to be on our own on the lower level. Read my review of the campground here.Continue reading →
There is tons to see and do in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, the largest state park in the state of California. Last year we enjoyed some hiking and drove to Borrego Springs to see the fabulous Galleta Meadows sculptures.
This year, we’re taking some time to work on Hector’s photography website while enjoying our beautiful campsite. But we have managed a few outings. Starting with the small but pretty good quality farmers market in town on Fridays. We’re big fans of farmers markets so we sample them whenever we can.Continue reading →
Our last stop in the Oregon area was Portland and the Columbia River Gorge, although our campground was located by Stevenson, Washington, on the other side of the river. As we drove inland towards Portland we came to a detour. Turns out the direct road was closed and the police were diverting everyone. So we had to take the long way around.
But, since Portland was on our way, we had planned a couple of errands on our way there. One was a stop at Camping World. We had an unfortunate incident at our last campsite – one night someone stole our barbecue and our one-gallon propane tank – just like that. We were both pretty furious about it, and it was the first time anyone ever lifted something from our site – after a year and ten months of fulltiming. Ugh!
Even with the detour we still had time to stop at Camping World and buy a replacement barbecue and propane tank, as well as some water filters. We also stopped at the Blue Beacon to have Island Girl washed. Not bad.
Mt Hood Oregon
Our first day we took a driving tour of the area, including the Fruit Loop, a loop drive that goes through “approximately 35 miles of orchards, forests, farmlands and friendly communities” on both sides of the Columbia River. What a great idea to create and “event” that connects these places for visitors.
Two great places to visit while in Burlington are the Shelburne Farms and the Shelburne Museum. Both are located in Shelburne (on the outskirts of Burlington), and are separate entities but there is a family connection that links them.
Like Canada in general, the province of New Brunswick is large in size and low in population. It encompasses about 27,453 square miles and has a population of just 751,000 people or about 27 people per square mile. Continue reading →