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Adventure to Alaska: Prince George to Smithers

Honk for Team USA and Happy Canada Day!
Happy Birthday, Canada! As of July 1, 2019, the J-Bs have camped 19 of 30 days on the road including Teton, Yellowstone, Glacier, Banff and Jasper. Our sense of adventure is waning ...or soggy and growing mold from damp, cold camping through the month of June. We yearn for sunshine and dry as we depart the Canadian Rockies and, fortunately, Prince George and Terrace have the answer. (Smithers, on the other hand, was a hot, I mean wet, and sloppy, albeit beautiful and yummy, mess.)

Reservations at Woodhouse Cottages and Ranch were made long before launch in anticipation of a July 5th ferry departure from Prince Rupert. At first glance, Prince George didn't seem to merit a stop but after a three day stay we found everything we needed, and we needed a lot: Costco, a new bike rack, bike maintenance, a soft bed with solid walls and a roof. Added bonus, Prince George is home to the best bookstore we encountered along all 8,000 miles of our adventure to Alaska.

Books & Company in Prince George: the best bookstore of the trip!
Woodhouse Cottages and Ranch was a surprising and wonderful treat- welcoming, quiet, artistic and unique- complete with horses, a puppy, a pool and a TV (to watch the U.S. women's soccer team in the World Cup).

Nora the St. Bernard puppy
Chatting with the locals
The drive from Prince George to Smithers was...interesting. Woodhouse is past Prince George heading West on the Yellowhead Highway and we neglected to address the gas-guzzling requirements of our bursting-at-the-seams, trailer-pulling XC60 in Prince George. By the time we realized we were low, it was too late to turn back. There must be a gas station within a few miles, right? Ha! Carefully we eyed our fuel economy as we pulled our tiny trailer over the rolling hills of the Yellowhead Highway, holding up the local traffic, semi trucks and fellow travelers alike. With white knuckles, we pulled into the Vanderhoof Chevron and breathed a sigh of relief.

At this point, Kris needed to get on a work call so we found a park; wanting so badly to stretch legs with a ball or on a playground. No such luck. The grass was a soggy mess and it was raining yet again so...laundry instead?! Nope: $5CAD for a dry and $10CAD for a wash. Frankly at this point laundromat standards had been set by SnowDome in Jasper and we weren't yet willing to compromise.

SnowDome, the champion of all laundromats, smells like coffee and muffins.  If a photograph could smell, you would see.
We gave up hopes of productivity and sought dry shelter at Cozy Corner Pizzeria: blissful, hot, cheesy deliciousness. Kris was lucky (though not happy) that we were able to hold back and save him one small piece.

Of course we stopped to see the world's largest fly-fishing rod on our way to Smithers.

Houston, BC
And way back in Sparwood we also visited what was once the world's largest truck.

Near Fernie, BC
Smithers sits in the shadow of Hudson Bay Mountain and its watchful glacier. As we approached, Smithers seemed to have a weather pattern of its own and, for us, it didn't look good. We sloshed around the municipal campsite, setting up the tent in our own little pond and thankful the kids would sleep dry in the trailer. I love my rain boots!

Our own private mud puddle...I mean campsite.
We took off for town, seeking and finding, at the Trackside Cantina, that warm, content, happy feeling that comes from mexican food and margaritas. The next morning, after a night in our soggy camp, we felt deserving of an artful cup of 'jo and a breakfast sandwich at Bugwood Coffee which is an outdoor coffee shop (yes, they are also open for business in the very cold ski season)...

A groggy breakfast and coffee in downtown Smithers.
...and have outdoor bathrooms, too. Well done, Portland Loo.

Note: kids are not allowed in breweries and bars in Canada. This was a big problem for us back in Waterton where we were seeking someplace, anyplace, to watch the U.S. women's soccer team play Sweden.
Here in Colorado breweries welcome families, which probably seems odd for Canadians, but breweries are some of our favorite places to hang out, play games, relax, eat food, drink beer and watch sports as a family.

Remembering the rain in warm, dry Glacier Bay National Park.
So we collected a four pack from Bulkley Valley Brewery, and did not stay, but saved our Hazy Dayz IPA for the true haze in Alaska (where 2.5 million acres burned during the summer of 2019).

And the curvy, vista-filled, riverside drive to Terrace ensued...