Wednesday we left Spring Hill Campground relatively early and got a good start on a long, gray, and mostly rainy day. It was a very good day for driving because the weather was cool and the rain was mostly light. There were no big surprises. We filled up the motorhome in Red Deer and paid $2.71 a gallon for diesel, adjusted for the liters/gallon and Canadian vs. US dollar.
As we traveled, I had the laptop set up on the dashboard using the GPS system that is a part of Streets and Trips. There is the advantage over the Garmin in that you can zoom out and see your route a long way off. Garmin only shows your current position and the next turn. After a while, we got an error message saying that there was a problem with the program and it had to shut down. I told Helen just to shut down the computer. She tried, but there was no response as it was locked on the error message. No big deal as I told her to hold down the start button until the computer shuts down. She did that and it worked.
Later on, I tried to boot the computer and it would not boot up. I tried with the electric cord plugged in and it still wouldn’t boot up. All I’d get is a little yellow light in the front that would blink 10 times and stop. WHAT IS THIS??? I’m crushed without my computer. As we approached Grande Prairie, Helen mentioned several campgrounds, but without my computer and without a paper map we were out of luck. My Garmin GPS was of limited use and we did find a suitable Wal-Mart parking lot. We would have had it to ourselves if not for the dozen or so other campers already there.
It was too late to try to have the computer serviced, so I went in Wal-Mart and Staples looking at a possible replacement. All garbage! Helen told me that she talked with a woman who recommended Best Buy. I told Helen that I had already searched for a Best Buy in Grande Prairie with the Garmin and there wasn’t one. Helen said that according to the woman, there was one just up the street. I took a quick ride in the Jeep and they were right. Unfortunately they were closed until 10 the next morning.
Early this morning I was at the public Library, mostly to find out what time they were open, but hoping to use a computer. They also didn’t open until 10. So I drove around the corner to head back to the camper when I noticed Alberta Computers, Sales and Service. Again, my Garmin let me down for it did not list this place among the three computer services, as it did not mention Best Buy. Since it was only a few minutes before opening time, I waited. When the fellow arrived to open the shop I approached him with my problem, explaining that I was traveling and was looking for a quick determination to see if my computer was dead or merely ill. He took the computer and tried to boot it up and had the same problem I did. He then took the external power and plugged that in and tried booting again, with the same results. Then he wanted to try one more thing, taking out the internal battery pack and booting the computer with just the external power. SUCCESS!!!!! He explained that sometimes there is some kind of interference between the battery and the computer. I am so happy to have my computer back that not having the battery is not much of a problem. Except that there are little glitches in the electricity in these RV parks and when one occurs, like a few minutes ago, you can lose everything you’re working on. Fortunately, MS Word has some kind of auto save that bailed me out this time.
I’ve heard it said that a sailor, who puts to sea with electronic navigation with no reasonable ability to operate if the electronic should fail, is a fool. I am apparently a fool on shore. We have three map books of the United States that we use in conjunction with our Garmin or Streets and Trips. We have NOTHING when we are in Canada, a situation that must be remedied.
OK, to go on, we left Grande Prairie heading to Dawson Creek and beyond. Dawson Creek is considered mile zero of the Alaska Highway. There is a monument announcing the fact and we were going to pause for a quick picture, but as we passed, there must have been 40 or 50 members of a caravan crowding around. I said the heck with it. We’ll get a picture at the other end. I paused just outside of town and filled up again. No, I was not able to get the same kind of deal I got in Red Deer. I paid about $.58 a gallon more.
Throughout yesterday and into today, we are seeing more wildlife beside the road. Yesterday we saw several deer. This morning we saw a beautiful fox walking along the side of the highway, scarcely ten feet from the RV. We saw a herd of elk, but they may have been farmed. I saw a beaver and the remains of a moose that must have been hit by a car.
The road has been like a superhighway most of the way, but is now down to two lanes. A ways out of Dawson Creek I got behind a very wide, very large load. There are many of these on this highway. Since it was going 20 kph under the limit, I wanted to pass. I waited for my chance and thought I had it. I started to accelerate on a long stretch when I could see a semi heading the other way. Before I could ease of the gas and get back behind the wide load, Helen let out a scream that almost made me have an accident in my pants. She does this from time to time thinking I don’t see an animal or a car and it’s terribly upsetting. This time I was at the edge of my nerves and the scream put me over. I yelled back. It was very quiet for a very long time as the passenger seat was now occupied by Coco while Helen sat on the sofa behind me.
Early in the day we pulled into a small campground on the shore of the Sikanni River. Jodie and Coco had an excellent romp in the water and in playing with them along the shore I noticed a number of moose prints. Then I noticed moose droppings. We’re out in the wild here, with nothing but this campground for miles around.