Canada, Oh Canada, you are large and beautiful! As a location-independent family, we always enjoy the experience of traveling to the unknown and unfamiliar. It is so exciting to say, “We’ve never seen this before!” and we have been saying that alot this week! This leg of the journey started in Miles City, Montana and ended in Whitehorse, Yukon Territory, Canada. What a fantastic journey it has been, I can’t wait to tell you all about it.
Wednesday, May 8th – Miles City, Montana to Conrad, Montana
We left our Walmart “campsite” in Miles City Montana and continued northwest across this massive state. It is massive, but not boring. I found the views today peaceful and beautiful. I love that we are traveling in the spring and among all the cows are adorable calves running around.
We stopped in the town of Roundup, Montana where there was a nice park and wide side street for us to park the RV. We had lunch and then ran around and played an impromtu game of tree tag. It was just the bit of exercise and fun we needed, we got back in the RV refreshed and ready to drive some more.
We stopped at the Great Falls Walmart and I made dinner in the RV while Matt picked up a couple of things. We kept on the road and drove to Conrad, Montana to a small campground. Whenever we are stopped for the night and have internet service, Matt likes to look up what wildlife are in the area. He discovered that in 2018, there had been a grizzly bear that wandered into the farm just behind the campground (yikes!). We decided that the laundry could wait until morning.
Thursday, May 9th – Conrad Montana to Balzac, Alberta, Canada
The other campers and camphosts at this RV park were very friendly. One lady told me some cool stories about her grandfather, he was a circuit-riding preacher in that area. We did a bit of laundry at the campsite, and I took the two younger girls to play on the playground (don’t worry, we didn’t see any bear, and there was a large group from a daycare out there as well). We packed up our rig and headed north to Canada!
We stopped at a small town along the way to eat the rest of our produce and dairy products before we crossed the border. We weren’t sure what to expect, we had crossed the border before when we went to Niagara Falls, but never in the RV.
Border Crossing at Sweetgrass: Our passports and the kids’ birth certificates were ready, and we had left our plants, eggs, milk, and guns behind… The border police asked us a few questions, made sure we had the children we said we had, and politely welcomed us into Canada. It was pretty smooth and painless. It didn’t take long at all.
Some first impressions of Canada:
1. Canada is living up to their politeness reputation by offering “litter bins” along the highway on the frequent “turn outs”. As a mom of 5 kids, I can appreciate a well-placed trashcan.
2. Awkard and small gas stations. I have found that since we have been RVers, I am always checking out gas stations, even when I’m in the Honda and I see a nice spacious gas station, I notice. So far the gas stations here are a bit small, and that is weird to me considering the wide open spaces we are seeing, and the large amount of pickup trucks.
3. Fantastic Mall! (continued later)
4. Less Restaurants (at least by American standards, which might be an overkill of choices if I’m honest)
We continued driving north through Calgary where our windshield was unfortunately chipped by a passing car. The campground we stayed at was just north of Calgary in Balzac, Alberta. We were all pretty famished by the time we arrived because we had emptied our fridge earlier in fear of the border police. No worries, just 5 minutes from the campground was a shopping area and we were sure to find a restaurant for dinner tonight. There were not a lot of restaurants surrounding the mall like you normally see in American shopping areas. But, as we drove close to the mall, we noticed the name “Food Hall”. We figured it was the same as a food court, so in we went.
Excuse me while I gush about this mall “food hall”. AH – MAZ – ING!
“How fantastic can a foodcourt be?” You might ask.
We all ate, it was wonderful, and even though I looked a mess from traveling all day, we decided that we must walk the mall a bit. I was a happy lady.
After the mall we took the car and drove through a car wash. Then we picked up some groceries from a very lovely and clean grocery store. Back to the RV park for the night. Balzac RV park wins for convenience, but was a bit loud next to the highway. Shew, that was a long day, I’m getting worn out writing about it.
Friday, May 10th – Balzac, Alberta to Rochford, Alberta, Canada
There were some adorable prairie dogs scurrying around the RV this morning as well as some ginormous rabbits. We left the RV park and drove to Red Deer to have our windshield repaired. The repair guys were friendly and quick, and even said “Have a good trip eh” when we left, which totally added to the Canadian experience.
We drove all the way to The Ranch RV park near Rochford, Alberta. This RV park had actually been the owners’ cattle ranch for years, but they have since converted it to an RV park. It was situated in the country on a lake, and was home to many migrating birds. We really enjoyed relaxing there, I would definetly go back. We met the owners and they were very friendly and welcoming.
Saturday, May 11th – Rochford, Alberta to Grand Prairie, Alberta, Canada
Today we slept in and left for Grand Prairie around 12:00. We only had about 3 hours or so to drive. We arrived in Grand Prairie and met the pastor of the Oasis Group Ministries, where Matt is going to preach on Sunday. The pastor gave us a tour of their facilities, which are quite unique. They have 21 apartment units, a daycare, a grocery store, and office spaces connected to their church building. They are truly reaching out to their city by creating housing to help prevent homelessness and create a place of community in their area.
I have to admit that I was pretty niave, I just didn’t think of homelessness as being a problem in an area that experiences such a long and harsh winter. But it is. It was inspiring to see the work that they are doing.
After meeting with the pastor, we decided to take a break from our Keto diet for Mother’s Day weeked and go out for pizza. Yum!
Sunday, May 12th – Grand Prairie, Alberta to Pink Mountain, British Columbia, Canada
Matt preached this morning at The Oasis Group of Ministries. It was a refreshing service, we enjoyed ministering and meeting with all of the friendly congregation. After church, several of the people gave us tips and advice for our trip farther north. This was the first time we talked with people who had actually done the trip. (Other than my Grandpa, who toughed it out in the 1950s like a true explorer, but that is another story for another day)
After lunch and some more visiting, we were back on the road about 4:30 in the afternoon. We drove through the iconic Dawson Creek, and took a photo of the 0 mile marker of the Alaska Highway. As we drove into British Columbia, we noticed the roads becoming more steep as the landscape became more mountainous. I am glad that Matt is driving, he’s a pro.
We were within 5 miles from the Pink Mountain RV park when we looked over and saw a beautiful gray wolf sitting up straight and tall along the highway! So cool. When Matt went to register at the RV park, and tell the guy at the desk about the wolf, this guy knew all about it, and he had pictures to go with his wonderful hunting stories. Apparently the wolves had been quite the hunting prize in that area.
Monday, May 13th – Pink Mountain, British Columbia to Muncho Lake, BC
This day has been our most spectacular driving day so far. We saw 12 black bear, 1 lynx, 1 moose, and lots of elk and caribou! We did not make great time, the road was winding and sometimes scary, but the views were breathtaking – all day! So many pictures, but I will just share my favorites.
After all those winding roads, we were able to stay the night at a pull over spot right next to the beautiful Muncho Lake. It was a great day.
Here is a video view of our awesome boondocking spot:
Tuesday, May 14th – Muncho Lake, BC to Whitehorse, Yukon, Canada
We left our most beautiful boondocking spot and drove west towards Whitehorse. Today we were blessed to see wild wood bison. I lost count, there were herds of them! I think they look a bit taller and skinnier than the buffalo we had seen in South Dakota.
We drove past Laird hot springs and decided against the idea of walking the mile and a half board walk to the hot springs after reading about a black bear that killed two people in 1997 and about the more recent “predator bears” that are known to frequent the area as recently as 2013 or so.
We were making good time today and we made it to the iconic Watson Lake for lunch. Watson Lake is home to the “sign forest”, a man-made forest where people have been hanging all sorts of signs with their hometown/family name on them. There is also a visitor information center behind the sign forest. One very sweet worker there loaded us up with free travel workbooks/info books for the kids.
From Watson Lake we drove further northwest to the town of Teslin, it was our fallback destination if we didn’t make it all the way to Whitehorse. Teslin is home to beautiful Teslin Lake and a large population of Tlingit (Klink-it) First Nations’ people. There were a few museums and heritage centers in this small community, but they did not open until June.
We made it all the way to Whitehorse tonight and stayed at the Caribou RV Park. This RV park was very nice and clean and had a quaint “woodsy” feel. It finally got dark around 11:30, we are so glad we bought those blackout curtains!
**A helpful resource for us on this leg of the journey has been The Milepost! You could do this trip without it, there is basically one main road the whole time, but it is nice to have the Milepost. It is a very detailed map/guide book that gives descriptions about the area. It is very updated and accurate, a new addition comes out every year. There is little to no phone signal so I cannot rely on the navigation apps on my phone. I am enjoying pretending I’m back in the 1990s, before my phone told me what to do, when to turn, etc.
That is the end of this leg of our Epic Road Trip to Alaska! Thank you for reading along!
Read next: Week 3: Yukon to Fairbanks
If you would like to find out more about our ministry, Kingdom Pursuit Ministries, go to www.kpministry.org