Day 38: Stewart, BC

July 24, 2017

I woke up to clouds and drizzle and a brisk 50 degrees, so I decided to forgo the paddle boarding this morning and just hit the road. I think I’ll head to Stewart, BC and see about getting a campsite. I need to drain/refill tanks before the rest of the trip to Vancouver, so this seems like a perfect time to do that. I hadn’t been planning to overnight in Stewart, but I’ve heard its a cool town and I am ahead of schedule, so that will probably work out well. And there is a well reviewed Good Sam park there (an RV membership organization that offers discounts at RV parks as well as roadside assistance, like AAA but for RVs).

The road travels through beautiful mountain valleys. And there were hits of really amazing vistas, but most of the mountains were hidden by low hanging clouds. It was a short drive to Stewart (maybe 3-4 hours) but I wasn’t in a hurry and I stopped a lot to take photos. I’ll let the photos explain most of the drive for you:

 I pulled into the outskirts of Stewart and found the Bear River RV park. It’s a nice enough place with full hookups for the usual $40. They also have laundry and showers that are pretty typical of RV parks. After doing a load of wash and emptying the grey water, I head into town. It was about 4:30 and I pulled up to the visitors center. Pepper tells me she needs to go for a walk, so I take her for a walk along the waterfront. (Stewart is on a bay, technically the Portland Canal that leads south to the open ocean). It’s also the border between Canada and Alaska. And in fact there is a small town just over the border called Hyder, AK. The only way to get there is by sea or through Stewart, BC. I got back to the visitors center at 5 to 5 and they were already closing up shop. Life in a small town. So I wing it and head to Hyder.

Hyder claims to the be friendliest ghost town. I decided to drive through because on the other side of town is Fish Creek, which is known as a prime viewing spot for grizzlies fishing for Salmon. I drive over the border (there’s no US Customs here!) and through Hyder. Its definitely a ghost town. Then it was another 5 miles to Fish Creek Viewing Area. The US Forest Service runs this spot and charges $5 admission. No problem. I like supporting the Forest Service. They have built walkways with gates to keep the bears out and to keep the people safe.

So I’m standing on this gangway / walkway that is about 10’ above Fish Creek. I don’t see any bears, but I do see some Salmon splashing around, so I figure the bears can’t be far off. I wait for a while, chatting with a few people standing around me. There must be 50 people all gathered here with their huge telephoto lenses waiting for a grizzly. And some must have been waiting a while because they brought chairs, padded seats or foam mats to sit on. I didn’t have any of this. I felt a little unprepared. But I found an open spot along the rail of the boardwalk and hung out watching the Salmon in the river. After about 20 minutes I was getting bored (seriously cue the bears already) and was thinking about what to make for dinner. Then a Bald Eagle swooped in and started hunting the river and I got all excited again. I snapped what seemed like 100 photos of him as he was scanning the river, flying from one tree to another, then eventually landing on the bank. I wanted that classic photo of him plucking a fish out of the lake. I got lots of photos of him, but none of him with a fish. But that’s ok, I think they came out pretty well. The last two are of a young bald eagle who hasn't gotten his white head or white tail yet:
 

After the eagle left, we still hadn’t seen any bears and I was getting hungry, so I headed back to the bus. And back to Canada, which means going back through customs. Let me tell you, I was out of the country for an hour and you’d think I’d loaded the bus with cocaine or something. They were SERIOUS about their questions! But they let me pass and about 10 minutes later I was back at the RV park. I tried to stop for Diesel, but the one gas station in town closes as 6pm (WTF?!?)

I made dinner, filled the fresh water tank, and hooked up the electric (not that I needed it, but it’s nice to heat the hot water without using propane).

Tomorrow I have a choice. I can stay here and find some hiking or other things to do or (more likely) I can start my trip to Prince George. It’s about 8.5 hours away and I’d like to divide that up into two days of driving. And there are a bunch of places I want to stop to take more photos on the way back to the main highway from Stewart.

FYI here’s an overview of the last few days of driving since I left Tok, AK (Moon Lake):

 

 

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