Sunday, August 7, 2011

Fort Nelson to Edmonton

Four travel days in a row and I’m really ready for a break.  Today wasn’t so bad--just 8.5 miles from Walmart to Glowing Embers RV Park, but it was big city driving.  A little goes a long, long way.

The drive from Fort Nelson to Fort St John was over some very rough road.  We passed through several construction zones.  To make the day just a little mores stressful, the traffic was very heavy.

The second day from Fort St John to Grande Prairie was another stressful day.  The road conditions improved, but we had other issues to deal with.  We had parked for the night at a rest area just before entering Fort St John.  It turned out to be a popular overnight spot for truckers.  When we got up Friday morning, we were blocked in.  We weren’t too concerned about that because we felt like the truckers would want to get back on the road quickly, but just for safety reasons we were uncomfortable being unable to get back on the road ourselves.  As soon as the truck in front of us moved out we pulled up into that front spot.

2nd longest railroad trestle in the world

By the time we were ready to leave, almost all the truckers were gone.  We pulled out on the road and got settled in for the short drive into Fort St John where we were going to get gasoline.  In our minds we were reviewing our checklists and Gene couldn’t remember if he had released the parking break on the car.  We pulled over at the first opportunity, but the breaks were already smoking.

We had rain for the last half of our drive on Friday.  We pulled into the Walmart in Grande Prairie just to get off the road for a few minutes.  While we were trying to relax a little bit, the skies opened up and it absolutely poured rain.

Since Grande Prairie is almost 300 miles from Edmonton, we wanted to get in a few more miles on Friday.  After the rain slacked off, we got underway once again.  We were feeling pretty good about the next 25 miles or so.  We’d had a good break and we were now on 4-lane divided highway.  Smooth sailing--not.  We had only driven about 3 miles when we got to road construction on Highway 43.  It was rush hour and apparently everybody in Grande Prairie uses this road to get home.  We crept along at about 5 mph for almost 30 minutes.  Right at the end we realized it wasn’t just the construction that was holding everybody up, but also a 4-car pile up.  The accident was on the other side of the road, but everyone in our lane had to slow down to get a good look.

We were very happy to get to the rest area Gene had selected for our overnight stay.  We took extra precautions and moved ourselves up close to the exit before settling in for the night.

Saturday’s drive was a delight.  The rain had passed, we had 4-lane divided highway all the way, and traffic was light.  We were cruising through the gently rolling hills and farmland of Alberta.  Quite different from the mountains of British Columbia, but beautiful nonetheless.

We stayed at a Walmart in Spruce Grove Saturday night.  It’s a small store with a small parking lot, but we found a spot.  After the store closed and the parking lot cleared out, it was very quiet.  Well, quiet except for the train that sounded like it was coming inside our rig.

GAS REPORT:  The farther east we’ve come, the less we’ve paid for gas.  In Fort Nelson we paid $5.54, in Fort St John it was $4.95, and in Valleyview, Alberta it was only $4.45.  The price for diesel is the same as regular gasoline except in Fort St. John where it was cheaper at $4.87.

CRITTER COUNT:  The wildlife has all but vanished.  Over these three long travel days, we only saw one moose and it was dead--been hit by a pickup truck and from the looks of things, the pickup was also dead.  Moose can do serious damage to a vehicle.  There was a deer grazing at the rest area on Friday night and a coyote grazing on a deer along the highway Saturday.  That’s it for wildlife.  Probably won’t see anything else until we get well past Edmonton.

We have a reservation at Glowing Embers RV Park for the next four nights.  I’m ready to do some sightseeing for a few days rather than travel.  The first thing on our agenda is the legislative building this afternoon.

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

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