The drive from Jasper to Prince Rupert can be done in two long days or three days if you want to travel at a more leisurely pace. We had five days until we had to catch the ferry at Prince Rupert so we contacted our friends Nick and Kaitlyn and asked if they could put us up for a couple of nights as we would be passing by the top of their lane (when I say top of their lane I mean the junction where the dirt and gravel track that leads to their house meets with the Highway).
We had been so lucky with the weather in Canada and had not seen any rain until the day we left Jasper. We couldn’t complain given the weather we had experienced in Banff and Jasper but it did make for an ironic smile as we entered British Columbia and passed a sign proclaiming it to be “The Best Place on Earth”. The sign showed a bright sun shining behind some mountains but for us we couldn’t see the sun or any mountains.
With the poorer weather we didn’t make so many stops and soon found ourselves at the top of the lane leading to Nick and Kaitlyn’s house. Nick and Kaitlyn live in a small community called Dome Creek which, in its heyday, had a population of around 2000 people but now has a population of only 30 people.
It does have a post office though!
We left the highway and travelled along the gravel and dirt track following Nick’s directions – “turn off the highway onto Dome Creek Road, go over the railway line, take a left at the T junction and continue on until you get to ours”. As an afterthought he added “look out for bears, they are everywhere”.
The drive from the highway to Nick’s took around 45 minutes partly because we were on the lookout for bears, partly because of the condition of the road but mainly because it was a bloody long way. Who on earth lives that far from a main road – well Nick and Kaitlyn obviously! We didn’t see any bears.
As we travelled along the dirt track we passed a few well spaced out properties with, in some cases, a few miles between them and their nearest neighbour. We didn’t see anyone and the whole place looked deserted. The guitar and banjo song from the film Deliverance started to play in my head.
A couple of miles after the last house we saw a large lake and there, standing proudly on raised ground overlooking the lake, was Nick and Kaitlyn’s cabin set in 200 acres of their own forest.
Nick and Kaitlyn have grand plans for their special place in the woods but like everything in life a lot of time and a lot of money will be required to make their dream a reality, and if you have to work to earn the money then time is even more limited. Throw in two young children and you wonder how they find time to do anything to their property especially as Nick has a great love for the outdoors and would much rather be photographing wildlife.
Nick and Kaitlyn had kindly offered us ‘The Dungeon’ which was the room in their basement that was the most complete. Not that it was anywhere near complete it was just the only room to which some work had been carried out! There were no complaints from us though as we felt fortunate to be staying with a lovely family in a fantastic setting.
A few stories, a few drinks and some laughs in the evenings meant that our time with Nick and Kaitlyn in Dome creek passed by in a blink of an eye. Nick did manage though to take us out for an afternoon drive to look for bears. We saw seven bears as well as a few moose but unfortunately I wasn’t able to photograph any bears, however, I did manage to get a picture of a moose’s backside!
It was a short but sweet stay with Nick and Kaitlyn and we look forward to seeing them again later in the year. Back on the road we headed west to Prince Rupert and passed a lovely bear shortly after leaving Dome Creek.
The journey to Prince Rupert took a couple of days and included an overnight stop in a small town called Smithers. When we checked in at the lodge in Smithers we were advised that there was to be a karaoke evening in the bar at 9 p.m. Well, with a voice like mine (imagine cats being tortured!) I was keen to have my X Factor moment.
During dinner a young lady visited all the tables and left a thick book of song titles from which you could choose your song. I was immediately drawn to the song “Tequila makes her clothes fall off” and was looking forward to bringing a smile to everyone in the bar that night (the biggest smile would have been when I finished!).
The karaoke got off to a good start by the young lady who had organised the evening as she belted out a foot tappin’ country and western song. Then a younger guy stepped forward and sang a slow soppy song that seemed to be aimed at his companion. She kept blushing, smiling at him and giving him a thumbs up but truth be told he was awful. He was an act that I could follow!
His song came to an end and a handful of people did a slow clap and I was getting ready to put myself forward for the next song. I could hardly do any worse than the last guy!
I was waiting for the young lady to ask who would like to come up to the stage when she entered into a discussion with a man at her side. The conversation seemed to become more and more heated until eventually the young lady stormed around the room gathering up all the song books and then walked out of the bar never to be seen again.
I sat back down. It was probably for the best.
With the ferry due to leave Prince Rupert at 3 a.m. on Wednesday morning we arrived in town around lunchtime on Monday. We had booked a bed and breakfast in Prince Rupert that offered the use of a washing machine and dryer and had somewhere we could park Stirling and give him the once over, top up fluids etc.
The B&B was not much to look at from the outside but was lovely on the inside and after an afternoon of chores we walked downtown to find somewhere to eat. We were drawn to a fish restaurant that had a lovely painting on the side of the building.
The food was delicious. Paul had a seafood Jambalaya and Chrissie had her first taste of Alaskan Halibut, with chips obviously.
Making the most of our time in Prince Rupert we did a small bit of shopping, Paul had a haircut, the car had a mini-service, clothes were washed and dried and all our electronics were charged. We then went to bed at 5 p.m. on Tuesday evening with the alarm clock set for 11.30 p.m. as we had to check in at the ferry terminal by 12.30 a.m. at the latest.
You know how it is. You go to bed early when you’re not that tired and all you can do is think about the fact that you have just 6 hours before you have to get up so you try really really hard to get to sleep, and then you don’t. I think we may have dozed for a couple of hours and ended up looking a little bleary eyed as we joined the queue to board the ferry.
We didn’t realise until we were virtually there that what we thought was a ticket checking booth was actually the USA Customs and Border Control. As the ferry would take us to Ketchikan, Alaska it was to be here in Prince Rupert that we would cleared to enter the good ol’ US of A. We woke up pretty quick and prepared ourselves for the questions that would inevitably follow – “why do you want to enter America, what are your intentions, where are you going, what will you be doing”.
We did get asked all these questions but they came from a lovely female officer who was most interested in our vehicle and the trip we were going on. She even let Paul keep his apple when she asked if we were carrying any fruit or vegetables. We were passed through after only a couple of minutes and drove onto the ferry for a 6 hour cruise to Ketchikan.
Alaska here we come!