The Drive Home

We left Stewart, BC on Saturday (8/5) and headed back to the Stewart-Cassiar highway.  We stopped in the tiny town of Gitanyow to see their famous totem poles.  The museum was closed, unfortunately.  Not much going on here, but it was still interesting to see the totems and it was good to stretch our legs.  We continued south and east on HWY 37 through the Hazleton mountains. 

The Gitanyow Totem Poles are the oldest in British Columbia; some are more than 100 years old.
We savored the mountain views, knowing that soon we would not see sights like this.

We stopped for the night at a private campground near Houston, BC.  On Sunday (8/6) we continued east on the Yellowhead Highway to Prince George, BC, staying at another private campground.  We drove for hours through  rolling hills and farmland that reminded us of Wisconsin.  On Monday (8/7), the drive became more remote again, and also more scenic.  We stopped at the Ancient Forest Provincial Park for a beautiful hike through a stand of old growth cedar trees.  Lucy loved it. 

Some of these trees are more than 1,000 years old. Very impressive!
The boardwalk trail is an easy walk and a great stop while traveling across British Columbia.

We became concerned about the wildfires in southern British Columbia and northern Montana, as we had upcoming reservations in that area.   We decided to plot a new course home to avoid the hot weather and smoke from the wildfires.  We chose to stay north as we traveled east across Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba.  We drove on toward Jasper.  The weather was nice as we went past Mount Robson.  All of the campgrounds were full, so we kept driving. Once we reached Jasper, the wildfire smoke got much thicker and it started to rain.

Mount Robson towered over the Yellowhead Highway as we drove east across British Columbia.
Wildfire smoke and rainclouds obscured our views as soon as we reached Alberta.

Although the weather and visibility was poor, we were treated to animal sightings on Monday afternoon.  Laurie spotted a group of Elk lounging on an island in the Athabasca River.  Then, a few kilometers further, three sheep appeared right in front of us.

These elk were resting in the perfect spot where no predators or people could easily bother them.
Three sheep ran out into the road, stopping traffic in both directions.

We stayed overnight in the Hinton area, just east of Jasper.  We reached Edmonton on Tuesday (8/8) drove straight through without stopping. This city of a million people gave us a little culture shock after so many weeks of being in remote areas.  We decided to take a break just east of Edmonton at the Elk River National Park.  We took our time driving through this nice Canadian National Park, famous for their Bison. 

We didn't see any animals on the park's "Bison Loop", so we kept driving until we saw this guy.
Another bison was across the road. We saw one more later in the afternoon as we left the park.

We continued heading east across Alberta, through Saskatchewan and into Manitoba.  The rolling hills disappeared into never-ending grain fields on the Canadian plains.  As the drive became less scenic, we started traveling further each day.  We caught another rock in the windshield from a passing truck (our fourth this trip!) somewhere in western Manitoba.  Friday (8/11) we headed south on back roads to avoid driving through Winnipeg.  Unfortunately, Manitoba has neglected the upkeep for its secondary roads.   After a few bumpy hours, we finally crossed the border into the ‘lower 48’ at Emerson, North Dakota.  We truly enjoyed our time in Canada on our way to and from Alaska.  But, we also felt relief to be back on the easier-to-drive USA highways!  We stayed overnight at a nice campgrounds in East Grand Forks, MN.  On Saturday, we headed east across Minnesota on Highway 2, stopping to get some selfies in Bemidji, MN.  We finally crossed into Wisconsin (our home state) on Saturday evening, and spent the night just south of Superior, WI.  Sunday (8/13) we drove the rest of the way home.

Bemidji, MN claims to be the home of Paul Bunyan & Babe the Blue Ox.
We made it back to our home state!

After traveling 9,300 miles over 9.5 weeks through 9 states / provinces, we arrived safely at our lake home in Wisconsin.  Alaska has become our favorite state, and we fell in love with northern British Columbia and the Yukon, too.  Laurie and I both feel that this was the best trip we’ve ever taken.  Thank you for joining us by reading our blog posts and putting up with our silly selfies! 

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2 thoughts on “The Drive Home”

  1. I have so much enjoyed your posts and will be going back to read the ones I have missed. I am glad you did this trip.

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