Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Saturday July 18, 1998 - Alberta

Bleriot Ferry - hot and sunny.

I visited the museum at Dinosaur Park and then followed another walking trail, Fossil Hunters. In addition to being a campground, Dinosaur Park is also an active archaeological site. This year the camp staff have acquired a couple of special wheel chairs for navigating the walking trails, for the use of visitors who need it. But so far since they are brand new, they have not gotten much use for their intended purpose. Instead the staff use them for wheel chair races along the rocky trails.

Yohan is having a bad day, because of the heat I think. I drove to Drumheller and on the way saw a moose in a pond by the highway.

I doubled back to take a picture. Someone driving by saw me and the moose and did the same thing but they didn't have a camera.

The moose heard me talking to them and looked up. After thinking about it the moose decided to cross to the other side of the pond and head into the woods there. We drove on.

After passing through Drumheller I followed the signs to the Tyrell Museum, to see where it was, and then on along the Dinosaur Trail to the Bleriot Ferry. It is a tiny cable ferry crossing the Red River.

My little red truck on the Bleriot Ferry
On the other side is the Bleriot Ferry Recreation Area, where I staked out a campsite in the sun. I was thinking that the bugs would be much worse in the shade by the river so I didn't want to chance it. Then I returned to Drumheller to visit the museum.

The banks of the Red River are much more clearly "layered" than at Dinosaur Park.

At the museum it was very hot and very crowded so I thought I'd come back in the evening. Once again I drove back to Bleriot Ferry. Some RV got hung up while driving off the ferry so there was a half hour delay in its running. I made tea while I waited.

Had supper at my campsite then returned to the museum at 7 pm. Their dinosaur displays are quite spectacular, both skeletons and mock-ups. I stayed until closing and returned to camp again. I took Yohan for a walk through the campground and met two women who liked Yohan. They had a campsite in the shade by the river and said there were no bugs there. Oh well.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Friday July 17, 1998 - Alberta

Dinosaur Park - hot and sunny with cloudy periods.

It was very hot and buggy last night so I didn't sleep well. But I was ready to leave by 10 am, which I did. Jim and I walked to the edge of the river valley so I could take some photos of downtown Edmonton and I also photographed the whole family except Trouble the cat and Vickie, one of the exchange students.

Jim thought it was only 3 hours to Dinosaur Park but in fact it was over 6 hours. I hardly stopped at all and it was extremely hot and tiring, but we made it in time to get a campsite. The site was in the shade and very buggy.

I set up the tent for Yohan and went for a walk along one of the trails, the Badlands Trail. After supper I tried to walk another trail but the bugs were just too much. Mosquitoes here are small but very aggressive.

A Badlands hoodoo
Instead I took Yohan for a drive around the Public Loop Road through the Badlands. Stopped to take a picture of a deer with very large ears grazing just off the road.

My shadow (lower left) photographing a deer (top)
It is all very neat scenery but it seems like everything is in miniature. I tried to get down to the Red River to maybe go for a swim but the bank was very steep and the current quite strong. Instead I had a shower when I got back to the campsite because I was so hot and sweaty. The shower cost a dollar but it was nice. A woman in the shower house said she saw a rattlesnake by her camper. This is supposed to be unusual, they don't normally come near the campsites.

This is a very noisy and crowded campground; there are 128 sites and hardly any trees. Mostly cottonwoods. Some people brought along wading pools for their kids, there's a lot of kids. And they charge $6.00 for firewood.

A little bit of cactus in the grass
I guess this is what I can expect from here on out, expensive campgrounds with few trees or water. BC and the Yukon were so different!

Tomorrow I plan to doubleback to Drumheller, get a campsite near there and then visit the Museum. Also try to get around to see more of the Badlands.

Monday, July 16, 2018

Thursday July 16, 1998 - Edmonton

Sunny and hot.

I planned to leave Edmonton today. I packed the truck, injected Yohan and had a bath, but by the time I was ready to go it was almost 1 pm and I just lost momentum. So I am hanging around until tomorrow morning. Jim and Ali went for a barbecue at some francophone neighbours, and later Ali came and got me to come along. I think Jim was just a bit embarrassed to have his wife and ex-wife at the same time and place. I got to practice my very rusty French describing my trip to Inuvik.

I washed Yohan's blanket again. He was incontinent before our trip and I was giving him Ornade for that, but after his accident I stopped the Ornade so he's been dripping a lot and his blanket has gotten quite smelly. But the vet I saw yesterday said it was okay to give Yohan the Ornade so hopefully his blanket will not get so stinky.

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Wednesday July 15, 1998 - Edmonton

Warm and sunny.

Jim had a doctor's appointment today so I stayed home and baked oatcakes for the trip. I burned them a bit but they're okay. When Jim got back we went to a couple of veterinarian offices looking for food for Yohan. We found a cheap place, Beck's, and I got them to show me how to do subcutaneous fluid injections for Yohan. The vet here says that to be really certain Yohan has kidney failure I should do more than one blood and urine analysis over 48 hours. He may simply be dehydrated, but I'll continue to give him the special dogfood to be safe.

I talked to my friend Liz in Ottawa and she told me about her cat dying of kidney failure. She was pessimistic about Yohan's chances for survival, but I think he is much better than she is thinking.

Jim took my truck in for the oil change and I cooked some rice and beans. We also went to the Street Performers Festival downtown and watched a guy swallow a sword and another guy on a loose wire juggling fiery batons. We had perogies at the festival.

I wrote to a friend in Vancouver about my trip so far:

"The scenery in BC and the North was pretty awesome, I took a lot of photos but they just don't do it justice. 

"Travelling alone has its good points and its bad. Mostly I like it, but sometimes it's lonely. I meet a lot of people, some of them I see for several days and then when we part company I miss them. But that passes. I like driving, and I like camping in out of the way places (which is surprisingly hard to do). But it seems like I spend a lot of time tending campfires, cooking, packing and unpacking the truck, and so forth. One day I did laundery at a laundromat in Inuvik and it seemed like such a luxury to have a machine do the work for me. Makes you appreciate the conveniences of civilization that give you time to do something other than just the basics of staying alive.

"My schedule is shot to hell, not flexible. I'm already so out of whack with what I thought I would be doing that there's no point trying to catch up. This country is way to big and has way to much in it to expect to see even half of it in 4 months. 

"The most stressful thing has been this business with Yohan; I still wake up in the middle of the night and check to see if he is still breathing. 
"This is just so different from anything I've done in the past couple of decades. I don't exactly go looking for adventures, they just happen. I never know when or how, so every day is new. Twice I've been stuck in lineups that lasted 4-6 hours (once for a river ferry that wouldn't cross due to high winds, once due to forest fire) that ended up being great social occasions, so it was actually kind of fun, not tedious at all. 
"I really kind of miss the North now, if I hadn't told a bunch of people back east that I was coming, I think I would have just spent the entire trip in the North. I heard a song by Murray Mclaughlin, who is not a favourite of mine, but he had a line in this song about how you can find the heart of Canada in the south, but its soul is north of the timberline. And I believe that."

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Tuesday July 14, 1998 - Edmonton

Cool with cloudy periods.

Today we went to the West Edmonton Mall. It has four principal entertainment areas: the indoor ice rink, the submarine pool, the water park and Fantasyland (also called Galaxyland).

The ice rink is right in the middle of the mall and the Oilers practice there occasionally. There were a few skaters on the rink. The submarine pool has these submarines on tracks that tour the pool.

There's a full-size mock pirate ship, an area of remote control boats and a dolphin pool.

The dolphins were performing, doing backflips right out of the water some 15-20 feet into the air.

Fantasyland was a full-blown amusement park with rollercoasters and all the regular rides. We had lunch at a restaurant adjacent to a fully automated 10-pin bowling alley. It even keeps score for you. There was also a nightclub area with an indoor street of clubs and bars (Yuk Yuks, Hooters, Hard Rock Cafe, Planet Hollywood and a New Orleans place).

The waterpark has a wave pool with a beach at one end, water slides, hot tubs and so forth. Complete with real palm trees and a bungie jumping tower. For $110 you get two jumps, a video of you jumping and a T-shirt.

After all that we just had time to pick up some dry soups at Mountain Equipment before Jim picked up Ali at 4. I took them out for dinner at their favourite Cajun restaurant, DadeO's on Whyte Ave. I shared a sampler of different dishes with them and wine. We had ribs, red beans and rice, gumbo and jambalaya. The restaurant had a funky '50s decor with booths and individual juke boxes and bowling alley panels on the walls. Great restaurant, very good food!

Friday, July 13, 2018

Monday July 13, 1998 - Edmonton

Edmonton - cold and cloudy.

In the morning Jim drove Ali and the exchange students to work and then we hung out for the rest of the day. We both had shopping to do and I wanted to see if I could get my portable CD player working. I took the CD player to A&B Sound and the guy there said that the power jack was hitting the ground in the lighter socket and shorting out. He said I should either insert the jack very carefully or else replace the lighter socket. We went to Canadian Tire and I bought a new lighter socket.

Today I saw a storm high in the eastern sky. It was a big storm cloud trailing rain, and the lines of rain were all lit up by sunshine so it almost looked like fiber optics. Or like some giant jelly fish trailing through the sky. Quite spectacular.

In the evening we went for a drive around Edmonton to see the downtown and the river and some different neighbourhoods. Jim and Ali live in the southeast adjacent to a francophone neighbourhood and not far from the Strathcona neighbourhood and Whyte Avenue. It was a very cold night.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Sunday July 12, 1998 - Edmonton

Windy and cloudy, clearing later.

Yohan just sleeps, staggers and doesn't look well. He is pooping but only a little, he's still constipated.

I had a bath in Jim and Ali's huge bathtub, what a luxury! And I am doing lots of laundry. When I leave Edmonton, everything is going to be squeaky clean! The truck is clean now too, thanks to heavy rain and no muddy roads. Yay pavement! It is overdue for an oil change so I will have to do that while I'm here. Also some shopping and food prep for the next leg of the trip.

After sending out so many emails about Yohan I am now getting sympathy replies from friends. I sent an email to one friend and then almost immediately heard from my son that the friend's husband had just died suddenly. I felt kind of bad about having sent an oblivious email to her and sent her a message of condolence and apology for being so ignorant of her tragedy. But she responded almost immediately that she had appreciated my email and then gave me a description of how her husband had died. How shocking! And they were so happy together, it just doesn't seem fair.

I talked to Sam on the phone, it was good to be in touch. I have been carrying a cell phone "in case of emergency" but until a couple of days ago I had no cell phone reception pretty much since the beginning of June. And Sam did not have an email address so I had no way to contact him directly. Once I emailed a friend in Vancouver to ask him to phone Sam to pass on a message, but now has an email address so I will be able to stay in touch.

Jim and Ali were due back home tonight, but they had not returned any of Luke's calls and messages since I got here. Around 8 pm they arrived home from Fort MacMurray and were very surprised to see me. They hadn't had supper and neither had I so we went out to a restaurant. Ali had chili and Jim and I split a Greek/Mediterranean platter and had a local beer (Big Rock?).

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Saturday July 11, 1998 - Edmonton

Cloudy, rainy, cool.

It was still raining in the morning and I had to setup a tarp to make breakfast. Yohan just lay in the rain looking pathetic until I could put him in the truck cab out of the rain. I left the campground around 10 am. Thanks to the rain the truck is now looking much cleaner than it has in a while.

My plan is to stay at my ex-husband's place in Edmonton. I had been emailing him to arrange this, and today I phoned but only got his voicemail. Sometime in the afternoon it stopped raining and I arrived in Edmonton around 3.30 pm. I tried phoning again, this time his son Luke answered the phone. Jim is out of town for the weekend, and Luke was not expecting me. I decided to go there anyway. Luke was just leaving the house himself but I managed to convince him to allow me to stay. There were three French exchange students, Annabelle, Vickie and Noidza, also staying there. I walked and fed Yohan and chatted with the students. Yohan had an unpleasant encounter with the cat Trouble so I shut him in Jim's office. Luke returned with some friends.

Yohan was restless and uncomfortable, he had seemed to be improving but now he wasn't. We slept in the truck that night.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Friday July 10, 1998 - Alberta

Alaska Highway Mile 0, Dawson Creek
Young's Point AB - cloudy, sunny, windy

I was up early and on the road by 8 am. Lots of road construction today. I stopped for gas in Fort Nelson and would have liked to taken the turnoff for the Liard Highway. But I have no clean clothes and am looking forward to my stop in Edmonton to do laundry. Yohan could use the rest break too. Besides I am already two weeks behind my schedule and I don't know if it's a good idea to get even further off schedule.

I stopped in Taylor just past Fort St. John where there was a refinery with a huge plume of flame. At the Visitor Centre there the woman at the desk kind of took the ball and ran with it when I told her I was driving across the country. She loaded me up with lots of brochures about the Yellowhead Highway, Dawson Creek, Newfoundland and a local campground on the Peace River. She advised me to stop in Hinton on the way to Edmonton, to stay at the local campground and to visit the Alaska Cafe and an art gallery in an old grain elevator in Dawson Creek. She said there was a Swiss couple at the Peace River campground building a raft to go down the Peace River on. She asked me about the Dempster since she said visitors often enquired about that.

Dawson Creek grain elevator
The sky was beginning to look threatening and I didn't really want to stop now so I continued on. I did stop in Dawson Creek to photograph the Alaska Highway Mile Zero signpost in the middle of an intersection. Yohan decided to stop to poop while crossing a road and the light was just turning red. He had quite the audience of stopped cars for that.

Pretty much from the start of the day I was out of the mountains and driving through rolling forested land. Then I started seeing cows in pastures, a first on this trip. By Dawson Creek I was seeing brilliant yellow fields of canola. In Dawson Creek the grain elevators were labelled "Alberta Grain Pool" even though Dawson Creek is on the BC side of the border with Alberta. The first oil wells appeared after crossing the border into Alberta. Now I was travelling through serious ranch country: grain, cattle, oil wells. The price of gas dropped dramatically, in Grande Prairie I paid 50 cents per litre of gas

I stopped to eat in a park in Grande Prairie and changed into jeans, it was starting to get cool. Around 10 pm I left Grande Prairie. The campgrounds have changed, they are mostly in town with no trees or privacy. There are lots of fast food places and strip malls and all very flat.

I decided not to go to Hinton because that would have added another 250 km to the distance to Edmonton and there were storm clouds in that direction.

I pulled in to Young's Point provincial park west of Valleyview just after midnight. It was now clouded over and quite dark, I needed my camp lamp to setup the truck for sleeping. Shortly after going to bed it began to rain, but I had ensured that everything was stowed in a dry place so I went to sleep.

Monday, July 9, 2018

Thursday July 9, 1998 - Alaska Highway

Stoney Mountain BC - sunny, cloudy, windy.

I got up as early as I could to go into Whitehorse to do a bit of shopping for the next leg of my trip, south and east along the Alaska Highway and in to Alberta. I needed propane, gas, camera film and some groceries and was ready to leave town by 10.30 am. I rigged up a tent using a clothes drying rack and some towels to protect Yohan from the sun while travelling.

On the highway through the Yukon there was a lot of smoke from forest fires particularly around Watson Lake. I stopped there to buy gas and kept going to the BC border. The scenery became progressively more spectacular driving in BC, especially around the Muncho Lake and Stoney Mountain provincial parks. I would have liked to stop around Fort Liard but the campground there (Liard Hot Springs) was full. The campgrounds in the parks were either full or uninviting but I saw several good prospects for stopping off the road. I continued until quite late, around 11 pm and stopped in a dry creek bed south of Stoney Mountain. It was still not completely dark but I did have to use my camping lamp for the first time since leaving Prince Rupert four weeks ago.

In Muncho Lake Park I saw mountain goats and a porcupine on the roadside. The porcupine had its quills fully extended and looked very calm, I guess it was completely confident in its protective suit. I saw some animals that looked too big to be deer and turned out to be caribou looking very scruffy with patchy fur. Saw a moose just disappearing into the forest and a young bear by the road. Lots of wildlife and mountains today.

Yohan mostly slept. Every once in a while he'd get restless to stop and get out of the truck but never at the same time as I wanted to stop. Marina had been concerned about his constipation and had suggested an enema if I was going to stay in Whitehorse. But since I wasn't, she gave me rubber gloves and told me how to insert vaseline in his rectum several times a day. I don't know if that helped or not.