Sunday, May 22, 2011

Hinton to Grande Prairie

We had an uneventful 200 mile drive today from Hinton to Grande Prairie.  It was a pretty drive through rolling hills covered by pine forest--almost 200 miles of nothing but tree farms.

About midway we stopped at the Visitor Center in Grande Cache for our lunch break.  Grande Cache is a small town of only about 4,000, and it’s young, too.  It was only established in 1969 when a coal company started mining coal in the area.  A few years later a forest products company also moved to town.

Grande Cache got its name from the fur trappers who used the area as a stop over waiting for transportation to trading posts.  The trappers built wooden storage buildings on stilts called caches to store their furs while they waited.

With the exception of the coal mining facility, all we saw were trees.

We arrived in Grande Prairie about mid afternoon and found ourselves a cozy little spot in the Walmart parking lot.

Grande Prairie is a much larger town than either Hinton or Grande Cache with a population of about 50,000.  It’s the largest city between Edmonton and Fairbanks.  Along with some oil and natural gas stuff, the big industry is Proctor & Gamble’s pulp mill.

At the intersection of highways 40 and 43 in Grande Prairie, we saw our first road sign to Alaska.  Generally speaking, when your destination appears on the road signs, you’re getting close.  I wouldn’t call it very close with still about 1200 miles to go before we cross the Alaska border.  But when you think about how far we’ve come, 3600 miles from Nashville, I guess we are getting close, relatively speaking.

We’re planning to leave here early in the morning and stop for a couple hours in Dawson Creek to visit the museum and make pictures at the Alaska Highway Mile 0 marker.  We won’t spend the night, however, but will head on over to Fort St. John.

CRITTER COUNT:  6 mule deer.

That’s it for today.  Thanks for tagging along.

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