Thursday, June 15, 2017

Down the Alaska Highway

Heading south from Watson Lake in the Yukon, one of the ‘required’ stops is at Liard Hot Springs Provincial Park.  There is a campground, but the most impressive feature is the huge natural, outdoor hot springs that are open for public swimming.  I went for a dip in the evening, and although the campground was full and the overflow area looked busy, there was still plenty of room at the pools for a leisurely dip.  I returned very early in the morning, and had the whole place to myself for the best part of an hour.


There are concrete benches under water.


The warm, humid, oasis like surroundings created by the hot springs has created a unique environment, that attracts a wide variety of vegetation otherwise unusual in this area.  This in turn attracts moose, waterfowl, and bears.  These geese were feeding right beside the boardwalk leading to the springs.




Back on the road, the wildlife show continued, with more bison, bears, and sheep.



The Alaska highway narrows somewhat as it winds it’s way through Muncho Lake and Stone Mountain provincial parks, then widens again as it approaches Fort Nelson.  I found fuel prices in Fort Nelson quite out of line and way higher than in other nearby areas.  Diesel price was $1.289/L in Fort Nelson, while I purchased diesel in Watson Lake for $1.169.  Watson Lake is almost 1000km further north on the same road.  I also purchased fuel in Dawson City, Yt for $1.169 just previously.  Dawson City is about 1500km or almost a thousand miles further north on the same road.  I saw fuel tankers headed north all the time right through Fort Nelson.  If you are traveling the Alaska Highway, I recommend that you avoid purchasing fuel (or anything?) in Fort Nelson.  I sent a note to the Chamber of Commerce in Fort Nelson complaining of the price, but received no reply, so perhaps they don’t care!  End of rant.


South of there, our route left the Alaska highway north of Fort St John as we turned west again along the mighty Peace River.  A very controversial dam is under construction there at ‘Site C’.  A new government in British Columbia may affect the outcome.


I found a nice spot with a great river view to spend the night, before heading through the town of Hudson’s Hope for another tire repair – of the same tire that was repaired up in Whitehorse earlier.  From there we went to have a look at another older dam on the Peace River, the W.A.C. Bennett dam, named after the provincial premier at the time.


There is a visitor centre on site, and dam tours are available for a small fee.  The tour goes right down into a tunnel under the dam to see the power house and the water as it exits the turbines.


After the dam tour, we headed down into Prince George to meet some friends, then through Jasper to take in a retirement party, then on home to cut the grass and get ready for the next road trip!IMG_2732IMG_2735

Thursday, June 08, 2017

Drive by Shooting, and wildlife photos!

Skies were clear and visibility was good, unlike my last visit to the Denali area 8 years ago, when the whole area was cloaked in thick smoke from numerous wildfires all over the north country.  So, taking advantage of this I wanted to see what I had missed in the Fairbanks area.  The stunning scenery of the Denali area was replaced by forests of green with some great distant views out over the valleys as we approached the city.  As is the custom, several side roads and pull-offs were explored for scenic or camping potential. 

I figured this one was either the scene of a drive by shooting, or perhaps the last stand of Bonny & Clyde!  One tire looks a bit low too.


Walmart in Fairbanks seemed like a favourite haunt of RV’ers, with a fair number that looked as if they had been there a while.


After a brief tour of Fairbanks, picking up the usual supplies and fuel, etc we continued on through to the North Pole.  A roadside pulloff along the river provided a good spot to take a break, when this moose showed up to enjoy the fresh browse along the bank.



Back through Tok, this time we headed south east towards the Yukon again.  Passing through the Tetlin National Wildlife Refuge, some of the areas swans were on duty and posing for photos.


There is a very nice, new but rustic looking visitor center at the refuge.


Heading back into the Yukon, there is about a 20 mile drive from the international border before you encounter Canadian customs.  Once again, Hailey got interrogated, but when she said ‘Meow, eh’ they knew she was a Canadian cat and let her continue on with me.  Good thing too, as I had just stocked up on cat food!


Both sides of the border on that highway are plagued with speed bumps and rough spots courtesy of the underlying permafrost that constantly caused the road to buckle and sink.  Good thing to keep the speed down and the eyes wide open.

After barely (ha, ha) driving an hour or so, there was a romance about to be played out along the roadside.


First, there was this cute little blonde, minding her own business busily grazing on the fresh green vegetation along the road.  She was close, but couldn’t have cared less that I was there as she foraged on.IMG_2623image

Check out the nail polish!


I was just driving away, when Hailey spotted this big male.  He didn’t care about eating at all.  He had something else on his mind, and his nose swinging back and forth over the ground as he tracked down the cute blonde!


And check out his nails, too!!


He was certainly more aware of us than the little one, and after Hailey hissed at him, he headed for the safety of the trees.  That’s our story and we’re sticking to it!


Onward we went, past Kluane National Park and into Haines junction where we visited with a variety of friends and solved a few world problems around a bonfire.  Keeping on the move, the next stop was Watson Lake, home of the world famous sign ‘forest’.


After Watson Lake, the Alaska highway dips down into British Columbia several times before finally deciding to head on south for real.  When you start to see dust wallows along the road and see ‘rub trees’ along the road, that can mean only one thing.  Bison!


These guys roam along the roadsides up here and I guess that explains why all the ‘locals’ up here have their pickups outfitted with enough landing lights to put a 747 to shame.  Running into one would certainly ruin your day.  So my advice is – don’t.