Sunday, July 20, 2008

Day 15: Pink Mountain BC to Muncho Lake BC, July 15

Today was the star day of the trip so far; combining wildlife, stunning scenery, and a little bit of high-tech too. Gas is $1.55 a litre – that’s not quite such a big favourite, but it’s what we expected.

We saw a black bear shuffling along by the highway before long, and we also spotted a mother with two cubs; or more accurately, she spotted us. She loped out to the shoulder of the highway, reared up on her hind legs, and looked straight at us as we slowed down to avoid hitting her if she made a dash across. I guess she didn’t like the looks of our bus much, because she turned around and ran for the bush, her two little adorable cubs heeling one at each side.

Mike had wanted to see a moose on this trip, never having seen one in the wild before, and today was the day for moose. We saw at least seven, mostly young ones grazing by the side of the road, but also one big old female in a pond.

The road had started to be distinctly hilly yesterday, as we travelled through Alberta and toward northern BC. Today we could see beautiful mountain ranges in the distance, some with little bits of white near the top that betrayed the snow hiding up there.

We stopped for lunch in Fort Nelson, which I had always been interested to see. Somehow I managed to neglect to get even a photo of myself there, even though I’d intended to, and get a postcard or two as well. How many times do you find a town that shares your name? (Twice, actually, for me, with Nelson, BC as well). We did have some good fried chicken there at a highway-side shack.

By the end of the day we were driving through the Rocky Mountains, in their northern-most end. We saw sheep in a roadside turnout that politely moved off the road to let us past. We also saw a solar car, presumably taking advantage of the long days of sunlight. The scenery was just stunning, and I kept feeling how lucky I was to be on this trip, at this time, with this company.

There’s a biggish provincial park around Muncho Lake, and we had targeted their “Strawberry Flats” campground as being a possibility for the night. We saw the sign for the turn into it as we drove a winding road with a sheer cliff on one side of us and water on the other; where could the campground possibly be, we wondered? As it turned out, the campground was all of 15 sites squeezed into a rocky promontory into the lake, between the water and the highway. We ended up on a little lakeside site with wildflowers all around and the most perfect view you can imagine. With all the wildlife on the road, there seemed to be very little nighttime traffic, so our sleep was peaceful even so close to the road.

Total so far: 5430 km.

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