Farewell to the good ole USA!
Special visits with family in South and North Dakota sends us on our way. Kathy, Loretta & Charles, and Deb & Scott & Lance, welcomed us Saturday with scrumptious meals and welcome visiting.
It was a treat to see Sonya and JD and little Wayne Henry again in Devil’s Lake,
enjoy a potluck, say our goodbyes, and hit the road north.
Had to stop at Rugby, North Dakota, the geographical center of North America:
Crossing into Canada at North Portal, we made good time to Weyburn. We were an hour and a half earlier than we’d predicted, because we weren’t aware that Saskatchewan does not spring forward for daylight savings time. Had a fun time with Brad and Deanna, three of their kids and a couple grandchildren.
On our way out the following morning, we stopped for a tour of their house in town. It was built in 1908, and has most of all the original things in it. Even the two big boilers are over one hundred years old!
Deanna and Brad’s historic mansion on the hill in town.
Manitou beach is several hours north of there, and we decided a side trip was warranted to see if the “Dead Sea of Canada” actually is so buoyant that you can’t sink. The park was lovely, and we had our first campfire for this northern part of our journey. Hiking in the mornings and evenings, and we saw deer….. and a tick! (crawling on my back!) (Yikes!)We sure had fun, first at the provincial park, then at the Manitou Springs Hotel. I didn’t sink, but then I never do!
Traveling northwest, we passed through Regina, then Saskatoon. There we noticed a haze on the horizon, which gradually got thicker, and accompanied a smoky smell! The smoke from the fires at Ft. MacMurray were being blown southeast. We drove through the smoke, until we hit the Alberta border. Then it was clear blue skies again.
Our next exploration was Elk Island National Park. There are Prairie bison on the north side of the Yellowhead Highway, and Wood bison on the south. We didn’t see any elk, but we did go on several hikes, saw tons of buffalo,
and one smart goose who was setting on her eggs on top of a beaver lodge!
The park had placed five pairs of Adirondack chairs at various scenic places, and we found three.
We enjoyed the one near where we camped.
The campground wasn’t open, but the park ranger let us stay overnight at the parking lot by the lake. We enjoyed a gorgeous sunset.
In Edmonton, we got an oil change, shopped, and got picked up by Carol Stewart (who we’d met in Hawaii), and met Brian and Shirley Hewlett. Would you believe she’s related to Beth, so we had a grand time finding all the connections.
North to Athabasca, and most beautiful scenery in the Peace River country. We took pictures from the hill above town, and were the only ones at a little park just past town, at West Baptiste Lake. From there we drove to Slave Lake, through old forest fire areas, and along the lake. Our next destination was a beautiful little park, just out of Peace River, also the only ones there, and free! The following morning we headed to the grave-site of Twelve Foot Davis.
We saw three Timber Wolves!
Overlooking the Peace River, there was a layer of fog. After breakfast it lifted, and we were treated to a spectacular view of three rivers coming into the Peace. We heard a train whistle, and watched it work its way down to, and then across the river, along below us, and across a trestle on the Hart River.
On our way from the hilltop overlooking town, Denis noticed the heater wasn’t blowing warm, and the temperature was too high. Uh oh. Thankful for Alberta Auto Association, who is affiliated with our AAA, and we got a free tow.
Luckily there was a good restaurant within walking distance, and after most of the day at Canadian Tire, and a good lunch, we got to go to the museum, and walk to the statue of Twelve Foot Davis (He found out that a couple guys had 12 feet over their allowed 100 ft. each on their gold claims, so he claimed the extra twelve feet for himself and struck it rich, in British Columbia. Then he came up to the Peace River country, where he competed successfully with the Hudson Bay Co.)
Twelve Foot Davis
A tipi made with old plumbing and tools (this one is for Kevin!)
We saw a very peaceful snake along the Peace:
Did I mention Bears? Lots of black bears.
We stopped at Hommy Park near Hythe, which was part of land that Beth’s grandfather donated to the county. It is a beautiful park, along the Beaverlodge River, where Beth learned to skate and play hockey.We found some fresh beaver activity too!
Then we tried to find their house/restaurant, but it looked like the lot was vacant. I think it was next to this old store:After poking around town a bit, we noticed a guy drive by slowly, staring at us. Just before Pouce Coupe, a RCMP car passed us coming from the other direction, and I noticed him looking at us too. I was beginning to wonder if we looked wierd of something. Anyway, I’d just slowed down to 70 (that’s kilometers/hr), as we approached town, when I noticed flashing lights behind me. I pulled over, knowing I’d been keeping within the speed limit, so I wasn’t too worried.
Well, he sat there for awhile. Wondering why he wasn’t getting out and approaching my window, I gathered up my license, insurance, while I waited for him. Then another car with flashing lights came up!
Oh boy, what now?! Well, it turned out we looked like a wanted vehicle on an Amber Alert, and the guy back in Hythe that was staring at us called us in! I politely invited them (a young nervous looking man and young woman) into the van, and told them the only place big enough to hide a child was in the bathroom, so they looked in there. I’d actually seen the pictures on Facebook the day before, so I knew what it was all about. I pointed out that we had three windows up on top and that van didn’t. They were very apologetic and polite, and it was rather an interesting experience! It was probably the most exciting day they’d had in Pouce Coupe in years!
For old times sake, we drove into the park at Pouce Coupe to see the place where we turned a picnic table over on top of us. Looks like we could still do that. (We’re very careful to sit on opposite sides of the table if it looks suspicious now!) Needed to pull off and pull our nerves together, too!
On to Dawson Creek, mile “O” of the Alaska Highway!
Mile O of the Alaska Highway!
NORTH TO ALASKA!
Fort St. John was our first stop after beginning the Alaska Highway, where we met a very talkative and informative lady, who filled us in on lots of interesting things to see along the way.
We passed by still smoldering forest fires just north of Fort St. John.
A beautiful hike up to Fort Nelson,
where we explored the museum first, especially enjoying the monument to those who worked on the highway (thinking of Grampa Claude)
Along the trail of the voyageurs, Denis had to try on a Beaver Hat!
then we were welcomed by Ron and Charlotte. We had a wonderful visit, bible study, and the following morning a humongous and luscious breakfast. They sent us on our way with a CD their son had made (very good Canadian country music), and a book.
Beautiful Muncho Lake was the perfect place for our lunch,
Stone Mountain sheep along the road:
Liard Hot Springs was a delightful soak, after we registered for our camp site. The first to welcome us was a big bull bison, followed by several females, parading right by us.We hiked up to the ‘hanging gardens’ before our afternoon in the pools. We soaked again in the morning before heading on up the highway.
My hair was wet from washing in the river, but Denis insisted I get in the picture with our first moose picture:
After a tortuous, pot-holed, rutted 2 km. drive on a dirt one-lane road, dodging downed trees, we arrived at the overlook for Smith River Falls. We decided not to hike in, as one fit-looking guy came up panting, and said the trail was as bad as the road with downed trees.
- Smith River Falls
Note an old forest fire area in the background; we passed lots of old fire areas.
A fabulous cinnamon roll (places along the Highway compete for their ‘world famous’ cinnamon buns). This one was from Coal River Lodge.
We shared it. That makes it only half as bad.
We got propane and gas and a walk by the lake in Watson Lake, Denis did some work, and then we found a lovely little spot off the highway to spend the night. We had the whole place to ourselves, and a nice walk to the falls both evening and the next morning. Talking or singing along the way, and carrying a big stick!
Carefully walking through the woods, because we’d seen our first grizzly just before arriving here!
Totally awesome color! ”The so-called Toklat grizzly from the Alaska Range is a striking pale golden color with chocolate-colored lower parts.” says Google. This is a ways from the Alaska Range, although not too far east from the St. Elias Mountains….. anyway, I’ve seen grizzly bears before, and never one this beautiful color. I’m going to say it’s a Toklat Grizzly! (Or at least, his cousin!)
After another cinnamon bun at Johnson’s Crossing, we drove to Jake’s Corner, and took the road down to Atlin.
Denis and Deanne at Atlin Lake
This is about the most beautiful scenery I’ve ever seen. Beautiful blue sky, snow capped mountains, and crystal clear lakes.
We explored around the little town, enjoyed lunch by the lake, then headed to the public gold panning stream. Spruce Creek – it was a little hard to find, but when we found it, we were quite happy with the flakes of gold we saw in our pan. We were also happy for the solitude as we camped there for the night.
The next day, we hiked to a lookout spot on Monarch Mountain.
Gently carrying our snacks, we munched on the best shortbread apple tarts!
Resting along the Monarch Mountain trail.
Scenes along the Highway….moose (3), grizzly (1), sheep (several), caribou (1), elk (1), wolves (4), black bear (8), eagles, bunnies, arctic ground squirrels, mountains, rivers, and construction!
We decided to drive to Six Mile Resort and RV park alongside the Tagish River. We were only the second ones to camp this year. A couple from Holland, who had rented a camper, were parked there too. They wondered why we got in for half what they had to pay, so it was explained that they were the furthest north Passport America campground. (He hee)
More breath-taking scenery as we made our way down to Skagway, through the clouds up on the pass, and alongside the rocky, half frozen area called “Tormented Valley”, down past multitudes of waterfalls, into town.
We explored the docks, looking at all the boats. Didn’t buy one, though. So after that fun morning, we drove to Whitehorse, took care of business (shopped), and headed for Takhini Hot Springs, where we camped for two nights, and soaked and soaked and soaked!
North past rivers and lakes, the Klondike Loop to Mayo, on the Silver Trail was our next destination.
After two hikes up the hill at Devil’s Elbow (a forgotten pair of glasses at the lookout, led to two hikes.), seeing lots of forget-me-nots, we wandered through town, looking at all the old buildings, the Stewart River, where the steamboats used to put in to distribute supplies and pick up ore for the miners. Our camping spot for the night was at a park right on the Mayo River, about eight feet from the riverbank (and free)!
We saw so many arctic ground squirrels and snowshoe hares, that we aren’t counting anymore!
Did I mention we aren’t counting black bears anymore, either?!
Seven black bears later, “Smelling the daisies!”
On to Keno, on a rougher gravel road.
We met Leo, the owner of the hotel, who told us lots about the area’s history and mining. He encouraged us to drive as far as we could, and hike the rest of the way to the top of Keno Hill. If we weren’t back by 4 pm, he’d come get us with his 4 wheel drive rig!
Hoary Marmot on Keno Hill
Willow Ptarmigan: still in it’s winter dress
Denis at the Keno Hill signpost
What a beautiful opening in the sky!
From the top, we could see a round rainbow in the cloud around the sun. I tried to block the sun with my hand:
Leaving a message for Leo, that we were down safe, we began the next part of our trip: On to Tombstone Territorial Park!
Between Stewart Crossing and the beginning of the Dempster Highway, we saw a BLACK WOLF! It tore across the road in front of us so fast, we didn’t get a picture. But we knew it wasn’t a dog, or a fox, or a cyote, and it looked like a wolf! Asking the park ranger about it, he said there were 4 wolf packs in the park, and YES, most definitely there were black wolves in the area: jet black!
Beginning transition from winter to summer camouflage
Campground closed, we boondocked near the trail-head to the Goldensides Hike.
We had to detour around the snow-covered trail, and scramble through the bushes and tundra to reach this overlook.
The following day, we drove to the highest point on the Dempster Highway, then got into the campground. Free wood, which Denis had to split, and hours of sitting around the campfire. A luscious steak and baked potato supper, followed by marshmallows, then a hike.
on the Klondike Trail from our campground.
The following morning, we were the first to sign the guest book for the year at the interpretive center. We took a short hike from the campground there.
Ptarmigan in summer camouflage
Denis sampled the Labrador Tea, made from local herbs. Another little hike down to a beaver pond was next on the agenda.
On to Dawson City, and the 31st annual international Gold Show!
See that gold!
A little hike to Crocus Bluff, a drive to the top of the Midnight Dome, and we are off to Alaska! The Top of the World Highway opened a few days ago, and we are off to more adventures!