Sunday, June 23, 2013

Beware, Burrowing Rodents. Beware.

Sorry, prairie dog  :(
We crossed the border into Canada, and I immediately ran over a prairie dog.  I'd feel a lot worse if it was an American prairie dog.  Canadian prairie dog?  Eh, just not as important.  Obviously, I'm kidding.  

How else can I come to terms with my prairie dog murdering status besides making cringe worthy jokes about it?  It felt pretty crappy, but hey - we made it to Canada!  Now take that, Canadian prairie dog.  

Once we got settled at our first stop and Cheety discovered that prairie dogs were everywhere AND that they chirp at you to announce themselves, he wanted nothing more than to chase them and do possibly violent things if he caught one.  So, between me and the dog, Canadian prairie dogs better watch their backs.  

I'll stop now.  (but it really was terrible and I felt horrible about accidentally killing it)  Aside from the prairie dog debacle, the third leg of our trip has shaped up to look something like this:

That's kilometers per hour, people - not miles!
Canada was funny. It was sort of like the U.S....but just a little off.  It looked mostly the same as here, but you just couldn't put your finger on what wasn't quite right.  Like America in bizarro world.  

Just little differences. - Like the highway signs, weird chain stores, and that underlying something I just couldn't identify.  I've been to Canada before, but it was Montreal, which didn't have the same feel as where I was this time around.  

One thing that took getting used to was the whole "we use the metric system" nonsense.  Once I realized that if I take half of the kilometers per hour amount on all the speed limit signs and add ten, I'd have the miles per hour that I'm used to dealing with, it was much easier to get my bearings.  (I know, blah, blah, math, blah, blah)  I won't let on how long I had to do math in my head before that light bulb went off.  Came in handy. 
Invigorating 8 mile hike on Goat Creek Trail in Canmore
Policeman's Creek Trail in Canmore

Our first stop in Canada was in Canmore, Alberta and it was unbelievably picturesque in the whole area.  Canmore was a cool little ski town. - It was a great place to take a breather from the road for two days.  We strolled around downtown, explored the neighboring town of Banff, and went on a hike with Cheety in the Canadian Rockies.  Truly gorgeous scenery.

Our hairy driving day
The day we left Canmore to drive to our next destination in British Columbia was rainy and overcast.  Before too long, it turned in to what I can only say was an extremely HAIRY day of driving.  Honestly, I don't think we could have added any other hazardous road conditions into the mix.  

All at one time and for several hours I drove through driving rain on slick highways, winding, narrow, mountainous roads with ridiculously steep inclines and declines, fog - and sometimes driving through clouds due to the high altitude - roaring semis coming at me, & falling rock zones.  Oh, and potential large wild animal crossings.  Add in driving in unfamiliar territory and it was just peachy.  Let's just say we were both relieved to get to our destination.  Other than that day and one other rainy day early on in the trip, the weather hasn't interfered with our progress at all so far.  Let's hope we continue the trend.

Unbelievable scenery in Stewart, BC
Saw my first glacier.  Breath-taking!

We ended up having to change most of our itinerary through Canada because we couldn't get reservations in some of the places we had planned on staying originally.  There wasn't a single available dog-friendly hotel room in both Fort Nelson and Watson Lake for the days we would be there, so we had to figure out a new plan.  The original route took us on the Alaska-Canadian Highway for most of the trip, but when we had to revamp our plans, we ended up on a more secondary route.  
Dash Bistro in Stewart, BC

And man, was it a good change!  We spent one night in a town in British Columbia called One Hundred Mile House, and another night in Smithers. - But, we got to see some of the most memorable and spectacular scenery along the way that we never would have seen if we went the way we initially planned.  

On the way to Smithers, we took a side trip to Stewart, British Columbia for lunch & gas, and stumbled upon this gourmet food truck called Dash Bistro. It had absolutely phenomenal food.  I got a simple BLT, but the chef baked his own bread and had this tasty little sauce he put on the sandwich instead of just the standard mayo.  Not only was the food fantastic, you really couldn't beat the scenery.  Think of every positive adjective you can:  spectacular, magnificent, jaw-dropping, breath-taking.  Just pick one.  It describes those mountains!  What a memorable stop.

Well worth the side trip!

Iskut, British Columbia is another stop we won't soon forget.  It was certainly beautiful, but I think we'll remember the...ahem, rustic conditions of where we stayed more than the scenery.  Since we adjusted our schedule on the fly, we didn't have a whole lot of time to investigate the new places we'd be booking.  I'll put it this way, Tatogga Lake Resort was less resort and more campground.  Glad we were only there for one night, but it was fun in an off-the-grid, back-woodsy kind of way. 
"Resort" was kind of a bold statement

The lodge where we ate was decorated exactly as you might expect. - Lots of animal heads hanging on the walls and taxidermy galore.  They weren't kidding on their sign about the life-sized moose.  It really was enormous, and I think if I finally do get to see a live one in the wild, it'll be unforgettable to say the least.  I've had my eyes peeled for moose along the way, but nothing so far!
Beaver Lodge #1!  Our little cabin (shack?) in Iskut for the night

At the moment, we're taking another breather from the road in Whitehorse, Yukon Territory.  I'm a little disappointed we haven't seen Yukon Cornelius yet.  (GOLD!...Nuthin')  We did the usual today. - Took the Cheets on a nice long walk and checked out the town.  It was an energizing walk on the Trans Canada Trail along the Yukon River.  It's funny, the Yukon River seems like one of those things you read about in a novel, not actually stroll alongside.  The Call of the Wild, anyone?  It was beautiful out. - Like winter weather in Key West.  Only it's June.  This is our last stop in Canada, so we HAD to try what some call the national dish of Canada:  poutine.  (pronounced "poo-teen")  It's a terrible word.  

It doesn't look like much, but it's deelish
But, I have to give it to them, it's pretty tasty.  It's basically french fries with gravy topped with cheese curds.  Not too far off from the french fries with mozzarella cheese and gravy I used to get in high school at the Massapequa Diner on Long Island.  I have to admit, I did have a little poutine regret a few hours later.  Wouldn't it be great if we could counteract questionable food choices with salad?  If only.

The Trans Canada Trail in Whitehorse - It's the longest network of recreational trails in the world

Tomorrow, we drive from Whitehorse to Tok, Alaska.  Back into the U.S. again.  It's actually pronounced "Toke."  Wonder if there's a lot of head shops there.  Looks like it'll be another scenic drive.  So far, we've seen a black bear, antelope, a beaver, bison, deer, and lots of bunnies.  And of course, the unfortunate prairie dog.  I'll try not to kill anything else on the trip.  Ta-ta for now.

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