Randy pointed us some country backroads to reach Highway 49 east of Dawson Creek. It is warm when we depart and the country roads are dusty but with great views over the flat landscape filled with yellow flowered fields.
On the road we’re not hungry at all, this morning Cynthia made us delicious toast with backed ham and eggs 🍳 so when we reach the small settlement of Bay Tree we just take an ice cream before we move on. Further into Alberta. After the Yukon and British Columbia is Alberta our third Canadian state for so far.
Alberta uses another time zone then BC. Since we’re in Holland not used to land time zones is it very strange to pas one again here. From Alaska into Canada the clock changed an hour, now from BC into Alberta it’s an hour again. We now have a time difference of eight hours with Holland.
Highway 49 is also known as “The Northern Woods and Water Route” but the only thing we see is farming. Fields full of weeds, grains and grass are filling the landscape. The road is good and less traveled.
That’s why we did choose this road instead of the shorter one to Edmonton which is very busy and will turn into a four lane highway further south from Dawson Creek.
We paddle in high speed further east. The wind is strong today and from the west, we’re nearly flying to Spirit River, the village where we have planned to stay for the night.
In town we do some groceries, have a brain freeze at a local cafeteria eating very cold slushies and search the local campground where they tell us that it’s maybe to windy to set up a tent. Euh yeah right 🤣
We pin our Hilleberg tent in the ground and even without using the extra lines no problem at all.
Yesterday we hoped we should have the same strong wind from the west again so we planned a long stretch for today. 110km just going east on a long straight road. Back on the road we discover the wind is still as strong as yesterday so speed is building up again, on some moment even up to 40km a hour on the flat road.
At Wanham we drink a coffee with bear paws and come in contact with the owner who is very into cycling, running and triathlons. She’s very interested in what we’re doing and likes to see our bikes and go on a picture with us for on their Facebook page. She also warns for a steep down and up hill within 50km from here. The only hill in the wide area and which she uses for her trainings. We will see.
We move on and just before the dip in the landscape which we warned for we take a lunch along the road. Toast, mayonnaise, cheddar cheese, pineapple and peanut butter. You won’t believe how much peanut butter we eat when cycling. We buy it every time per kilo container and it doesn’t last very long before we have to buy a new one. We don’t eat it only on toast but also put it on energy bars or through our dinner.
With all the cycling we can eat as much we like without growing fat. We sometimes have the feeling we can’t eat enough. For example, sitting in restaurant, ordering the biggest hamburger they have and after eating it all still thinking “I can eat another on easily”
We dive into the dip with a speed of 60 and pass Smoky River at the bottom. The climbing up again is not to bad but it’s quit hot with no wind at all. Our shirts are soaked when we’re up again.
Now on to Donnelly our destination for today.
At Donnelly it seems to be a France settlement with no services at all while on the map it is shown as one off the bigger towns around. No shops, no restaurants, even no gas station and for sure no campground.
Hmm what’s next? We did already 114km and the next smaller town is an extra 14 further east. Mc Lennan. We decide to give it a try. Just before we reach town we see a sign along the road “Mc Lennan 1km All Services” that gives hope.
And indeed, we pass over a small one lane railway track, see a big sign CAMPGROUND and find a grocery shop. The shop is run by a Pakistani family and because it’s nearly closing time the friendly owner offers us the all ready warmed up hotdogs. He’s telling us he came to Canada to have his kids growing up in safety. Brave man!
We cycle a little back and set our tent up at the self registration Kimiwan Campground. The toilets and showers are so gross that we don’t find it worth the 20 dollars it should cost so we don’t pay it. We stay because it’s the only campground around.
A loud noise like a F16 firestricker airplane is starting up it’s engines right beside our tent.
“WHAT THE F*** IS THAT???”
I zip open the tent and in the red morning glow I see four huge diesel locomotives inline with each other. They’re pulling wagons very slowly forward over the small one line railroad we crossed yesterday. The noise is really intense. After a few minutes they stop. Honk there horn (which making even much more noise then the engines) and start driving backwards. This slow forward and backwards riding, and honking, goes on for a while and after at least two hours they seem to continue driving forward. I make a count and that makes 4 big locomotives pulling 147 huge wagons of all sorts but mostly for grain and weed transport.
After 6am we fall a sleep again for the last stage of the night. At 9 we have breakfast with yoghurt and banana, break up camp and hit the road again.
A few days ago we contacted a Warmshowers host in the city of Faust, 106km away from here. This can be a very interesting host since they cycled the world themselves for ten years straight. 😳
On our request they invited us and we answered them we’re glad we can stay but aren’t sure when we arrive exactly.
Because we did 128km yesterday we now can choose to do the remaining 106 clicks in one or in two days. We decide to do it in two. So an easy ride for today.
It’s just 65 to the village we have in mind and nearly before the end there is a bigger city called High Prairie. Halfway we do a long lunch in the grass along the road and cycle into High Prairie to do some shopping for dinner and have a milkshake in the local ice salon.
When we reach our planned town for camping there’s nothing more then farmland. No campground at all. Bummer😒
Since we don’t have a choice then just keep cycling we go on. The weather is still sunny and warm but behind us we see dark skies coming up pretty fast so we speed up a little extra. After a few kilometers we see a campground, probably the one we were searching for but misplaced on our free map from the visitor center.
By now the dark skies are very close by so we have to hurry. At the campground office is no one there but a small sign says “Please help yourself to in stall. See you when I return. John”
Thanks John. We quickly pick a spot and build up our portable house in a new world time record. The wind starts becoming very strong and close after the rain begins to fall. We hear trees cracking close by and see some cows running in the distance in search for shelter. Our tent is dry and we made it in time. We pop a beer. Cheers!
The next morning it’s dry again and we have a short ride of 55km to our host in Faust. We ride fast and without breaks. Most of the route is along the big lake Faust is on. Despite we can’t see it most of the time from the road. Faust once was a centre in the big fur industry in the area. Since fur is not very popular anymore a lot of the building burned down and not many people living there anymore. Faust is on Slave Lake, one of the biggest lakes in Alberta and very popular for fishing. Our hosts dad is running a big campground along this lake and that’s were we’ve been invited to stay for the coming nights.
On arrival we ask about Peter or his dad but both are not in at the moment but we’re checked in for free and get a campspot close to the lake. While sitting in the sun we eat and drink something, over viewing the boat ramp on the lakeside. It doesn’t take long and a car stops close to our spot and a friendly girl steps out and introduce herself as Chahla. Chahla & Peter are our Warmshowers hosts and it’s Peters dad how’s running this campground. Chahla & Peter traveled the world from 2004 till 2014 in a long big journey all around the world. There plan in the beginning was to walk around the world in five years but they ended up cycling it in ten years. It’s great to hear all Chahla’s stories. Out of Chahla’s car there are also coming two little girls, Scarlet and Runa, their kids.
After a while a van stops by and a guy with a box of beer jumps out, introduces hisself as Peter. Peter joins the nice conversation and we drink some cold beers together. Cheers 🍻
For dinner they invite us to come over to campground office where Peter’s dad, Robert also lives. Robert has his roots in Norway and is living together with his wife Marcia. After doing some shopping at the small market in the gas station, the only shop in town, we eat hotdogs and fresh salad. The great stories continue and after a while also Robert and Marcia join the conversation for the rest of the evening.
Because bad weather is predicted for the coming days they come up with the idea not to camp in our tent but stay in a camper-van which is staying unused near the office. Sounds good to us!!
At night we move into the camper-van and have a great sleep.
The weather is not to bad when we wake up but we still do a lazy and relax day off today. Organize pictures, write our blog, do some small shopping and hang around a bit. At the end of the day Chahla and Peter plus the kids show up again. They wanna invite us again to have dinner together tonight. This time Robert and Marcha join as well. The meal this time was a Latin American meal. Pretty awesome. The night went by with good stories and lots of fun. (They wrote a book about their adventures, we got a copy of it as well from them, which we are reading at the moment. Also their website is well worth to visit!)
Yesterday evening, after a few rum coke’s Robert came up with the brilliant idea to make breakfast for us this morning with steaks & eggs.
When we arrive at their house he’s already lighting the bbq and grilling the big famous Alberta Steaks.
Marcha is making eggs and toast in the kitchen. Soon after, Peter and Chahla arrive as well to join this great breakfast. Yesterday evening we also decided to go together to the local museum that’s in the area this morning.
After breakfast we say bye and lots of thanks to Robert and Marcha and hop on our bikes to go to the museum where we meet Peter, Chahla and the kids again.
The museum is full of stuff from the old days in this area and the have lots of stuffed animals who are living around here.
It’s already afternoon when we say goodbye to Peter and Chahla to move on to our next destination, Swan Hills. After days of cycling in flat lands we now finally cycle into some hills again. The weather is sunny and we have a nice and joyful ride to the top of these hills where Swan Hills is. Near the town centre is a nice government campground where we stretch out our tent for the night.
Juli 22 and 23
Some government campgrounds are self serve and someone will come along then to collect the camp fee.
When we leave the campground in the morning, already late, we haven’t seen anyone so this stay was for free. In town we do some shopping and we go on The Grizzly Trail, the name of the road we’re on since yesterday. The ride today is downhill and as extra we also have a strong tailwind. That’s nice cruising😊☀️
In the backyard of a gas station annex hotel we have some lunch and some sunbathing as well. From here it’s a small ride to Thunder Lake were should be a nice campground beside a lake in a national park.
And indeed it’s a very nice spot to camp. We’re just 50m from the water. We decide to stay two nights because we still have a full week before we have to be in Edmonton, just 160km or so from here.
Peter our host in Faust organized a stay at his sisters place for us nearby Edmonton. By her we can park our bicycles while we are around by car with Maud and Tom who come to visit us from Holland for the next three weeks.
So today we’re off to Seba Beach were she lives. When we arrive in the town of Seba Beach the address we got from Peter doesn’t make sense and we can’t figure out were we have to go.
We call Peter for some explanation and for Sandra’s phone number, his sister. After giving Sandra a call we figured we’re totally in the wrong spot. We have to go out of town and hit the highway again to go for an extra eight kilometers up in the hills. When we arrive at the right street we have to make a decision, go left or go right. We go left, what turns out to be the wrong way we discover after riding a rough hilly road after a while. So back to the highway again and go straight to the other side of the junction where we find another gravel road. This time it’s not far before we find the house we’re searching for.
Sandra welcomes with a warm welcome and she isn’t even an official Warmshowers host, “just” the sister of. Sandra lives in this big house on the countryside with her three daughters, horses, cats and a dog called Wolf.
She made a nice salad and filled sandwiches for us already. We’re starving so we nearly do eat all. We chat some and she shows us the huge basement where we can stay for the night. After the warm shower we fall in sleep.
It seems we’re by ourselves and nobody is around in the big house when we wake up. Sandra told us yesterday she have to go to Edmonton today and she can give us a ride into town if we want. Off course we want that.
After packing our stuff we need for the five days we have in Edmonton we hear some noises in the house. It’s around two in the afternoon, two of the girls slowly wake up. We didn’t know they were still here.
After Sandra shows up as well she’s ready to go to Edmonton. It’s an one hour drive to town and she drops us off at a Starbucks restaurant so we can go online to search a place to stay for the night. We send requests to several Warmshowers hosts but they usually don’t answer right away, so we have to wait. We also search for some cheap hotels and rbnb addresses. We find a cheap hotel on Whyte Ave, the trendy area of Edmonton. We decide to walk in the direction of the Whyte area and check for Warmshowers answers along the way. If one answers they can host us then we go there otherwise we gonna stay at the Blues On Whyte & Commercial Hotel.
It’s an one and a half hour walk. On the way to Whyte we get a few WS answers they can’t host us. Around 9pm we sit at another Starbucks, upper-site the Commercial, checking for WS updates the last time. No host for tonight. We check in at the hotel. No fancy pansy place but just a noisy hole above a blues cafe where they play live music every night. We don’t care, we enjoy the music, drink a beer downstairs at the bar and fall asleep on good music in our room.
SLEEP YOUR BLUES AWAY // JAM, SLEEP, RINSE, REPEAT // BOOGIE INTO BED
Edmonton Juli 26 till....
The day after we check out the nice area we’re in and we finally find a Warmshowers host in the late afternoon. We decide to stay another night in the hotel and go to Kevin and Corby, our new Warmshowers host, the next day.
After checking out from the hotel the other day we take the bus to our host. The bus driver is unable to sell us day passes so we may ride for free. Nice guy! 🚌
The last part we walk and when we show up at the right address, Kevin and Corby welcome us full of enthusiasm and showing us around in their lovely house.
Kevin is bike mechanic at MEC, a big outdoor store in town. He has more then twenty!!! bikes of all kinds and boroughs us two of them to go around town the coming days. Nice... we cycled more then 4000km so far but we still rather cycle then walk around 😇