|Subject: Alaska Dispatch #2 - from Prince Rupert|
I'm dashing off a quick dispatch from the Java.Cup internet cafe in Prince Rupert, BC. It's just after 10pm, but to those of us unaccutomed to Northern summers, it only looks like 5pm outside. Yesterday we were more than glad for the extra daylight! But I'm getting ahead of myself.
Had a celebratory seafood dinner in Seattle at McCormick & Schmincks. I had salmon and halibut saute in cream sauce with berries, local mushrooms, and asparagus, sprinkled with hazelnuts; Laura had halibut lightly crusted with tortilla over polenta with salsa. Both were delightful accompanied by a St. Michelle Columbia Valley Merlot.
After an enjoyable breakfast at the Bacon Mansion we headed for the flagship REI store, which just happened to be on our way out of town. We stopped to get seam sealer for our tents, but a knowlegeable sales clerk told us that we might as well not bother at this point, because it would take too long to dry. As it turns out he'd hiked the Chilkoot several years ago, and was very encouraging. Another experienced person who didn't feel the need to ask us about bears. :) The store is gorgeous and very interesting and we probably could've spent hours there, but after finding a couple other useful items we tore ourselves away and hit the road.
We'd been advised from some Canadians at breakfast to avoid going through Vancouver on our way up to Prince George, so we meandered our way up through more rural parts of northern Washington. Beautiful country. Had a much-to-close encounter with a doe, but thanks to alertness and anti-lock brakes, no harm done other than giving us all a good scare. The trip to Prince George was longer than we'd anticipated but gorgeous. For most of the time we followed the Fraser River. At one point we discovered that a route we'd planned to take was actually gravel, but were able to re-route without losing too much time. It was beginning to get dark and drizzle by the time we reached Laura's Roof Garden B&B in Prince George, BC. Needless to say we slept well that night!
Our hostess, Laura Courtemanche, treated us to a lovely breakfast including homemade berry/rhubarb compote, and we managed to get on the road by about 9:30am. Followed Highway 16 all the way to Prince Rupert; another long drive, but again the scenery was spectacular. Stopped for a sit-down lunch in Fraser Lake. Saw a black bear at the side of the road, but no moose despite all the signs warning of their presence. Once we entered the coastal mountain range we followed the valley of the Skeena River, which is quite mighty by the time it reaches Prince Rupert.
Well, my time's about up. Tomorrow we catch the Alaska Marine Highway ferry to Skagway, and then the Chilkoot awaits. Wish us luck and good weather!