Sunday, June 27, 2010

Alaska RV Tour – Hazelton, British Columbia

We arrived in Hazelton on Tuesday, June 22nd a couple days ahead of the RV Caravan's meet date. Herb and Donna Neubaum, the Tailgunners, were already there and so we got our FM two-way radio, our soon-to-be-infamous yellow vests, and some reference materials.  As folks rolled into the campground over the next two days, the group grew until everyone was there. It was fun to meet our fellow travelers - we would be spending a lot of time together over the next five weeks and we were all interested in getting to know each other. As it turned out, our Trek was in the campsite between the Blands and the Abercrombies.

The 'Ksan Campground is very nice; it lays against the gorgeous backdrop of the Hazelton mountains and the Skeena River provides a border along one edge. The only fly in the ointment is that there are no laundry facilities on the property, although the web site says differently. John and Fran Kurz offered to take us into New Hazelton to do laundry, which was very nice of them, but neither Lynda or I wanted to spend our afternoon at a laundrymat. And so we hand-washed some items and put out a clothes line next to the RV. Of course, once we hung those clothes out, the weather became cool and drizzly.  Who says we can't control the weather?

This was also about the time we met Roger, the caravan's RV technician. Roger went around and inspected each RV and asked questions to learn if the vehicle had any issues or problems he should know about. He also put protective material in front of the grills and applied stickers to the RV windshields and back ends, so we could easily identify each other once we were on the road.

Spike came over and introduced himself and we talked a little about the work I had done on his web site. He was very appreciative and it was nice to finally meet him. Later that day, I helped Linda Bland get on Spike's network for internet connectivity... our group was already coming together very well!

Thursday evening marked the official beginning of our Alaskan RV Discovery Tour: Spike gatherered everyone up so he could officially introduce himself and his crew: Roger, Teresa, Herb and Donna.  We then went around the group so we could introduce ourselves.  This was the first of three nights of orientation briefings.  Spike was very organized and thorough, but not at all boring. In fact, he was able to deliver a lot of information with good humor that got our attention!

By Friday, Lynda and I were a little restless and decided to ride the scooter back towards New Hazelton so I could take photos of the Hagwilget Suspension Bridge. When we drove over it in the Trek on our way in, I could not look around much - I had to keep the bus on the road!  This is a cool bridge... some would say it's scary but I don't think so.  Even Lynda walked out at least part way onto it, and the view from the bridge is great! 

We also rode over to Old Hazelton to do a little grocery shopping and look around town a bit.  Roger or Spike (can't remember which) told us that this village is set aside for First Nation people - a person cannot live here unless he is a member of the Gitanmaax Band, or married to a member.

After Friday evening's briefings, Herb and Donna, along with their 10-year old granddaughter Sophie, hosted a "biscuit on a stick" gathering at their campsite.  This was a good opportunity for the group to get to know each other a little more.  We were all quite entertained by varous people's effort to successfully cook a biscuit on a stick over the campfire, and by Sophie and Spike's dancing. 

This area around Hazelton is quite well known for totem poles, some of which are well over 100 years old. On Saturday morning, Spike took us out to the Kispiox Totum Village and gave us an overview of the symbology of totems, their construction, and their proper disposal. We returned to the campground for lunch and then walked over to the 'Ksan Historic Native Village for a tour.  On the way over there, we walked along the river where Spike pointed out some huge Cottonwood trees, Fireweed, and other flora he said would become very familiar to us as we continued the tour.

Spike wrapped up his briefings and orientation on Saturday evening and then we enjoyed dinner together. Spike grilled salmon with a brown sugar rub, and we all brought a side dish or dessert - the food was plentiful and very good!

Sunday morning finally rolled around and off we went to Hyder, Alaska - stay tuned for more about that!

Click here for photos of our time in Hazelton.

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