Day 1’s journey through the Cariboo was quite long! We didn’t leave Prince George until 3.30pm as we needed to get a camping stove and some food…. Our plan was to drive down to Cache Creek but we decided to take a detour down the west side of the Fraser River away from Highway 97 and we were so pleased we did!
Well, in fact, originally Himself kept saying “There’s 40 miles of this, are you sure we want to go on this road…it’s quite slow…” but he soon settled into the beautiful countryside. The road began as a very steep dirt road (our mini van didn’t take too well to this!) but soon became paved again and we drifted slowly through lush forests with the Fraser River flanking our side and into rolling hills of ranch country with tumble down round pens in the pasture. Several cattle grids on the road led to countless Hereford and Red Angus cattle and their young calves wandering along the road, staring at us with their huge eyes as we slowed down for them.
Being a country girl, I love to see ranches and how they work. I love the traditional Canadian farm houses here with their sloping roofs and dark red colouring and the barns are often a similar build. Inevitably I absolutely adore seeing quarter horses out to pasture with cattle too.
After many signs, our route also took us through the Alexandria Indian Reservation and past the Soda Creek Indian Reservation as well, which was great to see. I’m really interested in learning more about indigenous people in Canada but it seems to be hard to do except for going to tourist aimed centres where you learn a bit about the historic side but there doesn’t seem to be much opportunity to learn about the indigenous people today. Hopefully I will be able to learn a bit more during the rest of our time here.
We kept catching glimpses of the Fraser River as we drove and we stopped a couple of times to try and take a photo. We weren’t to know that we would get a spectacular view at the end of our detour!
The main reason we had taken the detour was because Shelly had told us a great story about the Rudy Johnson Bridge over the Fraser River. When Rudy Johnson’s wife nearly drowned crossing the Fraser River on the Soda Creek Ferry, Johnson decided he needed to build a bridge. He located a bridge in Alaska, dismantled it into 3000 pieces and paid to have it transported to the building site near Soda Creek. As there was not enough room on the river edge to build the bridge using traditional methods, Johnson borrowed techniques from loggers and assembled a 300 foot truss to span over the Fraser River. For 10 days half the bridge hung over the river on skyline cables, and it is the only private toll bridge the Fraser has ever known. Completed in 1968, the government incorporated it into the provincial highway system in 1978 and it is still used today as an access point to the West Fraser Road north to Quesnel from Soda Creek Road out of Williams Lake or off of Highway 97 North.
We didn’t realise the bridge would drop down to just below the river so we got a fantastic view of the river canyon and it was so beautiful and jaw-dropping that I was rendered speechless….very unusual for me!
There is a video on the construction of the bridge in 1968 on You Tube and another video where you can see what the bridge looks like today which gives an idea of how beautiful it is and why I was rendered speechless!
After that exciting detour, we jumped back on the Highway 97 and went down past William’s Lake and saw all the houses right on the lake. How beautiful to live there! One of the houses even had a seaplane!
We got to 100 Mile House just as the sun was setting and in the dusky light found a campsite on the edge of town. As we opened our car doors, it sounded surprisingly windy…then we realised we had parked right next to a stream! The next morning we followed the stream down to find a gorgeous waterfall…first morning camping and I get to wash my face in a waterfall – can’t get better than that!