Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The Journey Continues - Hinton to Hines Creek

On the morning we were leaving Hinton we took a drive through the town looking for a place to have breakfast. We stopped at a fast food place then  made our way back to the highway heading north. We passed by the mall you see in the photo above.  The morning was overcast and a bit crisp and rain was threatening.

We continued our drive through a secondary highway to Grande Prairie in Northern Alberta. You can click on any of the photos to enlarge them. You will often see smudges and smears on the car windshield. When you are driving fast in the north, many insects and bugs hit against the car and make marks all over the windshield when they splatter due to the impact.  My brother kept telling me that it would add character to my photos when I complained of the dirty windshield. There was no point to clean the windshield because there is no way it would stay clean!

This stretch of highway was very busy with work crews who are widening the road though I didn't take photos of the workers. There aren't a lot of towns or cities along this highway just one place called Grande Cache.

Grande Cache is the only real stop before you get to the City of Grande Prairie, Alberta which is where we planned to spend the night. So we stopped at this tourist information centre you see in the photo below and used the rest room.  I also picked up some maps and purchased a DVD entitled "Long Road Home" about the descendants of several Metis families who were evicted from the Athabasca Valley when the Canadian Government created the "Jasper Forest Park".

Then I took a few quick photos of these new looking wood plaque structures and teepees (tipis)  made of wood and canvas.  The tipis are the traditional homes of the Indian people in historical times.

Then it was back onto the highway north. You can see the highway stretching for miles and miles. If you look at the photo below, the highway goes up the mountain to the left.

The area in the next photo is quite beautiful and as we descend into the valley we can see the Smoky River down below. I was to discover that we passed this river several times throughout our journey north. It is a major tributary of the Peace River and was given the name by Cree Indians. The name Smoky River describes "smouldering beds of coal in the riverbank".

Now and then I came across these fields of hay for the livestock.  This sight is extremely typical of this area.

This signage was at the edge of the City of Grande Prairie.

You can see that Grande Prairie really is on the prairie. The land here is very flat. The city is located on the southern edge of the Peace River Country and has a population of approximately 50,000 people. This city is among the fastest growing cities in Canada and it's major industries include oil and gas, agriculture, forestry, and food services.

I didn't take many photos of the city itself just around the outlying approaches into the city.  The photo below is taken at the front entry to our hotel for the night, the Sandman Inn.  It was nice to be greeted by hanging baskets and there were colourful plants in planters on the ground also.

As soon as we checked into the hotel and had a short rest we set out again to the north to visit my uncle.

Along the way I saw that there is yet more road improvements being made.  In this case, culverts were being replaced at a bridge.

I wanted to be sure to take photos of the rolling fields and the crops as in the view below. This scene is very typical of the area.

I cannot remember the name of the town photographed in part below but as we zipped by I noticed the large tipe (teepee) and I wanted a photograph.  The tipi (teepee) is the tall, pointed structure to the right of the photo.  It is oversized so it is probably a tourist attraction rather than a dwelling.

I took a lot of photos of signage along the way.  In Alberta there are numerous highways and small towns everywhere.

Once again we descend into a valley and pass by the Smoky River.

The scene below is another scene which is quite typical of the area around Grande Prairie and surrounding environs.

We are getting close to the turn off for Hines Creek which is our destination.

I was amazed at the number of old wooden buildings in Alberta. A lot of them seem to have been used for grain and crop storage.

Another thing I noticed was a lot of swamps. There were an amazing number of swamps. We have nothing like this in British Columbia.  I mean the swamps were extremely plentiful. Not only that but water was seeping out of the earth along the sides of the highway in a number of places.

Now we enter the small town of Hines Creek where we visit an uncle.  He told us it had been raining a lot this summer.  That explained all the water in the swamps and along the highways.

This is the nice signage that welcomes us to town and which is where I think the town's museum is located.

After our visit to this town, we drove back to the main highway and north again to the small town of Fairview which I had never been to before. It is only 13 miles from the main highway.

Fairview is a small community located 124 km north of Grande Prairie, Alberta, on Highway 2.  It has a population of 3150 people.but seems to be well serviced with a college and a swimming pool. Most small towns in the north do not have swimming pools or a college.  We took a drive around town and they had a good selection of restaurants. Westernized Chinese food is especially popular in northern British Columbia and Alberta and there were 3 Chinese restaurants in this small town.

I'm not sure but I think this is where the aquatic centre is as symbolized by the wavy blue lines painted on the building.
This is a view through one of the streets in town.
This is the approach back into Grande Prairie from the north.
What struck me about the city of Grande Prairie is just how many white buildings there were.  They stood out in the flatness of the prairies.

 Back in my room I was ready for a good sleep. The beds were very comfortable.

The coffee, tea and coffee maker were in the room as well as a microwave and a mini-fridge for storing drinks.  I took a few moments to go downstairs to the whirlpool before bed time but the whirlpool was not that great. It didn't have very strong bubbles or water movement.

This room was well priced at $79.95 Canadian per night plus about 9% tax. It was a good reduction from the usual price of $135.00 a night. The deal was obtained through on line booking.  Available hotels rooms in this city were very scarce so we felt fortunate to get one. However, my room was exceptionally hot even with the air conditioning on.  I even tried an open window but that didn't help either.

This concludes  my second post on my journey depicted by the map below. I hope you enjoyed it and that you will join me again soon for a continuation of the journey.

The next part of this series will show photos and describe the towns on the way to Chetwynd, British Columbia.


Diane said...

Thanks for sharing this trip with us. It is so good to see places through other peoples eyes especially when I know I will never get to see it myself. Great photos. Diane

Lonicera said...

As soon as I saw those old wooden buildings I would have wanted to stop and photograph them from all angles - wonderful.
Would so like to drive across Canada one day.
(I'm in mid makeover of my blog with the help of a friend - now's the time to see the in-between stage, because I want a dark colour eventually! Should take a week or two I think.)

OneStonedCrow said...

Wow, once again, thanks for sharing Penny - there is so much green in your part of the world - I guess that after winter you're glad to see it after everything has been snow-white for a few months.

Joyful said...

@Food, Fun & Life, thank you Diane for being such an enthusiastic follower. I appreciate your interest in my journey and your kind words.

@Lonicera, I really wanted to stop and take photos of the wooden buildings too but it was not to be on this trip. I just don't see these kind of old buildings anymore in BC. There are some but not so plentiful. I hope you get a chance to visit here one day too!

@OneStonedCrow, I'm so glad you are enjoying your journey with me, Graham. There is a lot of greenery in my part of the world unless we've had a heat wave. You are so right about being glad to see it after the long winters here.

Sallie (FullTime-Life) said...

Huge country -- I remember the first time we traveled across Montana in the US and later Alberta in Canada and thinking that the journey would never end (we had four kids and a couple of cats in our camper with us and it was hard keeping them all occupied)... I'd enjoy it all a lot more now.

Fred Alton said...

Penny, I loved seeing your photos. So much left here in the Western hemisphere that I haven't seen yet. I noticed the kiondo on the bed in the motel room. Those bags are so handy and so strong!

Barbara Rosenzweig said...

Thanks for the tour, I've never been there.

Thanks also for stopping ny to enjoy my pansies!

Urmi said...

Very beautiful pictures with nice description. There are so many places to see in this world and I would like to convey my thanks to you for sharing such a lovely post.
You are welcome at my new post-

clairz said...

Thank you, Penny, for taking us along. I really feel like I've been somewhere this morning and all before my cup of coffee!

The Professor's Wife said...

Alberta is a lovely, lovely place!

WebbieLady said...

It seems that we travelled with you in this Grand Prairie journey.

What a vast flat lang there is...It reminds me of the land around here, the only difference is that here, there is always a body of water surrounding a certain place.... canal or that sort of thing...

Jo said...

Hi Penny, I've never travelled on a prairie, thanks for taking me along. Your photos show the countryside beautifully. I'm amazed at the L O N G road - wow. Have a great day, dearest Penny. Hugs Jo

Norm Boulet said...

Hi Penny, I came across your travel post while looking for old photos of road building in the Municipal District of Smoky River for a 100th Anniversary book. I was enthralled and had to read it all! The town with the large teepee is Rycroft. the teepee used to be a tourist info booth/gift shop but it's unfortunately abandoned and in disrepair now. When you crossed the river again on your way to Hines Creek, you crossed the Peace River on the suspended bridge at Dunvegan crossing. One of the few suspended bridges meant for vehicles in Alberta. If you come this way again, stop at the the tourist site at Dunvegan. It was a major mission and trading post. Many of the original buildings still stand. During the summer park staff give tours dressed in period costumes, it's a fantastic historic site. As well Dunvegan Gardens and 'The Maples' park are located there, plan to spend an afternoon at least.

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