Saturday, June 28, 2008

Whitehorse to Dawson City 6/27

Today was a traveling day. Three hundred forty two miles. Doesn’t sound like much, but it was a full day and there were several stretches of gravel. Our speed ranged from 25 to 55 and braking often for bumps in the road. The roads really are better than we expected. We made a few stops of interest along the way. The first was Mom’s Bakery on the road to Lake Laberge. We talked with “Mom” about the Yukon and things to do along the way. She was born 80 years ago and raised in the Dawson City area. She has a beautiful little garden and a view of the river below. For company she has a Macaw that actually carries on conversations with her. Still being the spry woman that she is, she cross country skis, bikes to the lake and hikes down to the river to take the boat out fishing. We bought a few goodies from her bakery then headed down to Lake Laberge. We had to stop here after reading the poem by Robert Service – The Cremation of Sam McGee. The first line being - “The Northern Lights have seen queer sights. But the queerest they ever did see, was that night on the marge of Lake Lebarge I cremated Sam McGee.” This was a beautiful lake surrounded by mountains; imagine crossing the area in the dead of winter. Brrr
A brief stop at what was a roadhouse where travelers stopped to rest their horses and get a meal, occasionally taking a cot for the night. There were pictures of the travelers in open wagons or sleighs in the winter. Wonder why they didn’t put a wagon cover over it?
Next stop was Five Finger Rapids. We took a hike here down from the viewing area to the platform over the rapids. That being 216 steps and 1 km one way. Glad we did it. You really got a better view of where the boats had to maneuver around these five rock formations (that looked like fingers) in order to make it up or down river. Bet they lost a lot of vessels. This is also one of the spots where the boats would take on more wood for their engines.
It was about 4 o’clock at this time and we decided to just press on and make it to Dawson City. We were almost here when all traffic stopped for about 45 minutes. There was a turned over car that swerved to avoid a moose. Everyone got out and walked around waiting for things to get cleared up. There was a helicopter and ambulance, but they said no one was hurt. Good thing cause the car was a mess.
We pulled into Dawson City around 8:30 and stopped for the night. It’s hard to get used to the long days. Because it’s still daylight we’re ready to go into town and see what’s what, but most everything is closed at 8. Diamond Gertie has three shows a night but that’s about it. We’re still having difficulty knowing when to go to bed and when to get up. Because it’s still daylight we don’t realize it’s after 11 and we need to go to bed, and when we awaken and see that its daylight we think we need to get up, but it’s only 2 a.m. We literally have to check the clock to see what we should be doing lol. We noticed in Whitehorse when we left the Frantic Follies around 9 and stopped for dinner at an A &W that closes at 9 (we just made it under the wire) leaving there and travelling back to camp the sun was in the sky where it is at 5 p.m. at home. Glad we’re here now instead of in the winter when it’s just the opposite.

Whitehorse YT 6/25 & 6/26

Whitehorse is the capital of the Yukon Territory. There is a lot to see and do here, as it is still quite a touristy town. We toured the SS Klondike which is a ship that has been restored and is now owned by the Yukon government as a historic site. It was originally launched in 1937 and took gold prospectors up the river. It was operated by steam that was produced by burning wood on board. The cargo area held the cargo as well as the wood that was burned to produce the steam. The ship stopped along the river to pick up more logs for burning. The man that kept the fire burning worked a shift of four hours on then eight off. He had to put another log (4’ long) into the burner every 30 seconds. Talk about a tiring 4 hour shift. Once up river it returned with a load of silver ore.

And have you ever seen a weather vane this large?

We went to a wildlife preserve and got a good shot of a mountain goat.

For the most part though we thought that the pictures of animal we got along the highway were much better. Guess the preserve is more for the folks that are on bus tours or cruises and don’t get an opportunity to see them naturally.
The most interesting sight for me personally was when we got back to camp. A large tour bus like none that I’d ever seen before. This first one is taken looking down the driver side. It has seating in the front with the kitchen and pantry below (used from outside) and the sleeping berths in the rear.

On the other side you can see that a tent of sorts comes our and they enter the sleeping area easily.

Here’s a closer look at the cooking area and pantry.

We were in the laundry room looking out the window when we first noticed a lot of women preparing a salad. When I walked over I asked the gentleman if I could take pictures. He didn’t speak much English, but said “for a dollar you can take picture”. I laughed and starting taking pictures. I’m sure they attract attention every where they go. I would have loved to ask more questions, but the language barrier prevented it.

These last two photos were added when I discovered an interest from Bayern. Don't know if the interest is for the bus or the people. In case it's for the people I wanted you to see all that I took. Leave me a comment, I'd love to hear from you.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Juneau AK and back to Carcross YT

After arriving in Juneau around midnight we didn't want to miss any time exploring. First thing in the morning we headed for the Mendenhall Glacier. I found it pretty surprising that it was just a few minutes out of town. All of the towns that we've been stopping at recently have been in the valleys surrounded by beautiful mountains. I can see why people start taking the view for see them everyday. But beautiful they are.

Once at the glacier visitor center we sat through an eleven minute video explaining the formation of glaciers and how quickly they are receding. We then set out on a hike through the forests behind the visitor center. We hiked pretty much uphill using switchbacks for close to an hour. There were several spots where you could stop and take photo ops or just look at all the splendor. Something I hadn't seen before (or at least not noticed) was the moss growing on everything! The whole forest ground was covered with it. If there was a fallen tree or a rock on the ground it was covered with moss. Really quite pretty and soft looking. The other thing we found a lot of was falls. Being in the mountains with snow up there, it is melting continuously. I'm a sucker for falls, both the sights and sounds.

Just as we were about an hour and a half into the hike I kept hearing a whistle blowing. To me that meant there were bear up here. I got a little uneasy feeling because being as prepared as we always are we had nothing with us. Our quick packing job for the ferry left a lot to be desired. We didn't bring the bug spray, the bear repel, not even water. The thing I was glad we didn't forget was the hiking boots. Don't think I could have done it without them. Anyway, long story short we hiked for about three hours.

When we returned to the visitor center we looked out at the glacier and the waterfalls from the viewing spot and decided that we too should be one of those people that hiked out there to stand at the foot of it all. Off we went. When we were almost there it became evident that we had to do some rock climbing to get there. This is no problem for MM, but I have just about no balance. But since rock climbing in on my "bucket list" I thought this was the perfect opportunity to check that off. It was not rock climbing in the sense of going straight up, but a huge pile of rocks that you had to climb over. MM just walked over - me - pretty much hands and knees all the way. So he might have walked over them, but I climbed hehe. We made it and are glad that we did. We got back to the visitor center with just enough time to make it back to the ferry for Skagway.

The ferry leaves Juneau at 4:30, stops at Haines for 2 hours then on to Skagway arriving at 11:30. It was a nice cruise. Retrieved our car and headed back to Carcross where the coach has been left. We had heard that customs isn't always open 24 hours, but for the summer it is. Made it back through there without any problems and then the hour drive back. There is a lot of wildlife at night. We saw about 3 porcupine, a possum, a sheep and a moose. Good thing it's not really dark here at night. We were exhausted when we finally fell into bed at 2 a.m. (there was another time change when we crossed over into the Yukon).

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Jake's Corner to Juneau Alaska 6/23/08

We started out from Jake’s Corner this morning and headed for Carcross YT. Walked around Carcross and it was very early.

We ended up getting a site for our coach for the next two nights and headed out for Skagway AK with just the car. What an interesting town.

this is an aerial shot of Skagway on the road back from Dyea

It was originally a mining town for the start of the gold rush up to the klondike. It’s very touristy so we just walked around a little and had some lunch then headed for Dyea. What is now Dyea National Park was originally where the miners came to start for the gold rush, but then the railroad and the tides worked against it and Skagway won out. Dyea was much farther inland and when the tides were up and the ships came in they actually put peoples belongings on to rafts and they just had to try to get it to land. If the tides were out then they just pushed the goods off the boat and wagons had to come out to retrieve them. You can see why Dyea was not the ideal spot. I think I heard that when the fortune seekers were coming north they had to have one years worth of provisions when they started out. While carrying our stuff to spend one night in Juneau I was thinking how heavy everything was. Can you imagine carrying one years worth of provisions? I think I have a pioneer spirit, but don’t know if I have the fortitude. All in all it was a nice hike and we saw evidence of bear in a few spots. There were a few piles of old skat and one that looked pretty fresh. No bear though whew.
While waiting to drive our car on board the ship I called the kids and discovered that one of the ships waiting in the harbor was the ship that our son and dil were on for their honeymoon. Anyway, we are now on the Columbia Ferry which is going to take us to Haines

and then to Juneau for the night. Onboard ship we got tons of photos. The views were just beautiful. We did spot a whale and got a video clip of basically just the water being spouted and his fin. We did see him, just not recorded as a still shot. We also saw a couple of porpoises playing in front of the ship. Sorry Shelly didn't get a still shot of that either, but the video clip shows them leaping lol.
Don't want to put all of the pics on here (it would take waaay too long)but here are just a couple.

We got into Juneau at 12:30 in the morning and still had to get out car and find the hotel. This is where I really miss having the coach and one of the first times that the gps was right on (thankfully). It was a very long day.
Tomorrow we hope to do some exploring before we have to be back onboard ship to return to Skagway.

Liard River Hot Springs to Jake's Corner YT Sun 6/22/08

As we were pulling out of the campground this morning the first thing we saw was buffalo and their babies. The babies are not small.

Then we missed a shot at a bear… just not fast enough. Not to be disappointed another bear was just around the bend and this time we were ready.

Then we drove and drove and drove. When we got to Watson Lake we stopped at the Sign Post Forest to hang our sign. I think you can read the history of the Sign Post Forest on this first picture.

As we walked around reading a lot of the signs I noticed this one and thought it was cute.

We finally found a place that was just right for ours.

Back at the visitor information I found this listing of how many new signs are added each year. They said occasionally they have to rearrange the signs as the weather takes its toll. Some of the poles were rotted at the ground this last year and they took off all the signs that were still good and put them on newly installed posts. So, they’ve gone from 12,000 in 1991 to over 64,000 in 2007. There were some from all over the world. I saw Germany, Australia, Sweden, and in Michigan I saw Webberville, Milford, Dearborn, Flint… lots more.

We also went through a museum in Watson Lake that was interesting and then across the street they had a one hour show on the Northern Lights. I was so tired I kept nodding off, but MM said it was interesting.
We didn’t take too many landscape shots today because it rained ALL day. Got this shot of Teslin Lake when we stopped for a break.

We’ve been advertising “Joe’s Headquarters” everywhere we went today. “HI” to everyone at Joe’s

We are now stopped for the night after 344 miles of travel. This is the view outside our bedroom window. Don’t you wish you could wake up to that every morning?

Fort Nelson to Liard River Hot Springs 6/21/08

Today we travelled another 189 miles and stopped early at Liard Hot Springs. MM figured out a protective shield for the toad and we still collected lots of stones on the wiper blades.

We got an early start and the traffic was very light for the first few hours. The roads were as we expected, mostly good with a few spots that were loose gravel and very dusty. There were a lot of twisty curvy roads with a couple of spots that had grades from 6 – 9%. All in all very nice.
We were promised wildlife and today was a great example. We saw Stone Sheep, Buffalo, deer, caribou, snowshoe hare, beaver and a bear (the bear was too far off to get any shots).
Stone sheep & baby



The hare and beaver escaped our camera, but I’ll try to be faster. The caribou, stone sheep, and buffalo were actually right on the highway and we had to stop for them to move. And with the roads so twisty you can see why you don’t travel too fast.
The views were magnificent! Every turn you came out of brought another ooh or aah. They call this Indian Head Mountian.

The color of water at Muncho Lake was a beautiful turquoise they say it's from the copper leaching into the water. We stopped for lunch here.

I got this shot of the beaver dam and just as were starting to move again I saw a beaver…too late.

I took over 125 pictures today – here are just a few of the scenery ones.

We were passed by a lot of the rally cars again today. Makes sense since we’re all going to Alaska. We notice a lot of motorcycles making the trip too. Here’s a car that got an up close and personal look at a moose.

We arrived early at the hot springs and went right in. You travel down a boardwalk to get there.

There is an upper and lower spring. The lower pool is shallower and only about .4 km on the boardwalk, the upper is about .9 km down the boardwalk and we thought hotter. We went in the shallow pool when we got here and the other one after dinner.
This was a Provincial Park and one of the prettiest camps we’ve had so far on this trip.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Dawson Creek to Fort Nelson

Okay, so I've figured out that 1400 miles is not your typical 1400 miles lol. This is going to take awhile. We travelled 282 miles today. Got a few cool pics. Had to do the corney lumber jack

Then we got a couple of good shots of the Rocky Mountains through the windshield lol.

And just when we were feeling lonely . . . .

When we got to Fort Nelson we noticed a lot of Rally cars. They are travelling from Panama to Alaska. Don't know how many, but there are lots. Here's the one like the James Bond car.

The museum next to our campground has some of the equipment to build the original highway to Alaska.
Having trouble downloading pics.
But, I have the perfect ending to the perfect day. I got an email from a friend at work and they've found my replacement. I think she'll do a great job!

I just wish I could be there to help train her. Thanks to all those at the office that gave her a hug for me.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Dawson Creek BC

Wednesday, around 1 we left Betty and Al's and travelled another 276 miles to Fox Creek on Hwy 43. It was a really nice campground about 1km off the highway. Thursday we woke up early and decided to get going. It was only 173 miles to Dawson Creek BC. We did make a couple of stops along the way. One at the Grande Prairie Information Visitor center that had an interesting museum with the area history. Lots of the history was about 10-20 years before my grandparents made their trip to SK so I found it quite interesting to see what they might have gone through. Our second stop was to get a cheesie shot of this huge beaver in Beaverlodge. It is 15 feet high and is perched on a 19 foot log.

We arrived in Dawson Creek quite early with the time change (we are now 3 hours earlier than at home - 7:00 here 10:00 home). We set up camp and then took the car in for a much needed wash and to get some more touristy photos lol. There were three signs that I saw that said the beginning of the Alaskan Highway and I didn't want to miss the right one so we took one of each.

Notice anything different about my Maintenance Man? He's becoming my Mountain Man hehehe.
We also got a shot of this grain elevator. There was a gift shop inside.

We've gotten a few questions from friends that I thought I'd answer here. The temperatures that we've been having are around 40 overnight and in the 70's for the daytime. Most of the time it's quite sunny and nice. We haven't had rain since...oh yeah, yesterday on the way to Fox Creek... oh well, we're on our way now to start a new record. No rain at all today!! We did see a glimpse of the Rockies today.

The fuel prices have ranged from $1.31/liter to $1.44/liter.

I was thinking that since we were at Dawson Creek that we were almost to Alaska. No way!!! The Alaskan Highway is 1400 miles!!! We aren't even near Alaska. Doing 500 miles a day would get us there in 3 days. Five hundred a day is a lot in this get up. Good thing we aren't in a hurry.

I'll try to update again as things happen and when wireless is available. Keep posted.