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Tuesday, August 2, 2011

WWW of Spin Turlock #28: On the Monkman Trail

The Author, inside a coal shovel, in Tumbler Ridge B.C.

This is what I did on my sole long summer weekend with Shirley. I work weekends, see. That's when people shop for toys. I got this weekend off, though, and so we...took a trip!

To fully enjoy this article, click on this map

It will help you follow the narrative...

It is a mere 200 kilometres from Grande Prairie, Alberta to Tumblers Ridge, British Columbia. That is, if you're a crow, or more accurately, raven. Most people take the roundabout way via Dawson Creek. It adds an extra hour of driving, & yeah, there's a reason for that...

Shirley & I drove via the most direct route. As it turns out, we followed in the circa 1937-39 footsteps (and Model T tracks ) of Peace River pioneer, Alexander Monkman. He was looking for a quick access point to the BC Coast for the local farming population. His story can be found on the top link.I already told you about it...

So now that you've opened the link, browse the map. We started out at Point #1 (Grande Prairie, Alberta) skipped the side trips by travelling Highway 43 West ('To Alaska"), turned off onto county-cum-country roads,going from paved to to gravel range roads until we hit the Township Line 700, which is a forestry/oil rig route.
This pic was taken in Alberta, shortly before we hit the Range Road which led to the Township Line:

I can't really call it a road, but it does connect B.C. to A.B., and we drove a good 50+ klics on it. You kids at home: if you don't have a suitable truck, don't try this.

In the process, we saw a pack of bears. Bears do not generally travel in packs, and we didn't slow down to figure out why . There were more of them than us, so onwards.
It's true what they say about the B.C. /Alberta border: you go almost instantly from prairie to mountain terrain once you hit the border. Poplars get replaced by pines, and time goes backwards an hour...except for Shirley.

Once we hit the new, Heritage highway, we went from logging roads to attenuated gravel to pavement. We also experienced many changes in vertical elevation, with loads of dips, rises, and curves. Add to that a hefty dose of cross winds and Shirley's arms were pretty much pooched by the time we hit Tumbler Ridge.

(For the record, I offered to drive, but she said 'no way..')

Tumbler Ridge
is a coal mining town of relatively recent, 1981 vintage. Population: 3,000. Population during Grizfest: double that. Aside from the mines, there's skiing..and not much else. Two ATMs in the entire town, one of which belongs to the local Credit Union. And @ 55 bucks per person per day, we weren't going to visit Kim Mitchell & April Wine, though we did catch members of the latter taking pics at the local Parade.

Our return trip was via #52 north to Dawson Creek, aka Mile Zero of the Alaska Highway, a road built during WWII to help secure the Wet Coast from a possible Japanese attack.
Highway 52 had its share of ups and downs and one washed out bridge, due to the unusually wet summer, but it was easier on Shirl. We ventured north of DC to the Peace River and headed back. The Peace lends its name to the region and its easy to see why: it's huge. Not quite St Lawrence river big, but BIG enough.
I'll show a picture of a cool, curved wooden bridge built on the original Alaska Highway. Shirley hates bridges but thinks this one is cool.

And how was YOUR summer?

Next issue,I review Ant Man Bee & Paul Collili's new discs. They came in the mail, so we're going to listen to them.

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