Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

It’s been too long, I’m starting to forget things.  But here goes.

I did end up doing some small touristing at Watson Lake.  In the evening I went to the Northern Lights Center and saw a couple of short videos.  Then in the morning, while walking CJ, decided to at least take a look at the Signpost Forest.

Frankly it was a bit overwhelming–mostly stopped reading individual signs, but took a couple of shots, this one because of the number of years they’ve done the trip.  That’s a LOT of driving.  

Took two days to do the drive from Watson Lake to Whitehorse.  Stopped midway at Teslin Lake Provincial Park campground.  Yukon PP CGs are a deal–only $12, and at least some have free firewood.  Since I don’t do campfires–campfires are a social thing to me–that doesn’t matter to me, but still it’s nice.
Again my stretegy of not driving far and stopping early paid off–the CG was almost empty when I arrived and I got my pick of spots.  View won out over closer to the outhouse.

It was raining when we first got there, but after awhile it stopped and CJ needed a walk, and there appeared to be a path down to the lake from the campsite, so . . . .  Here’s a shot looking back up at the van.

Here are some taken down at the lake.  

Between the cloudscapes and the lake and the mountains, it was truly beautiful.

Met a couple there I’d chatted with before, up at Muncho Lake.  They remembered seeing me paddling out on the lake there.  Clearly our traveling preferences are compatible.  She wanted our picture, so I took theirs too.  They’re from Richland, WA.  They told me their names, but of course I don’t remember them.  

I don’t honestly remember whether the following came before or after Teslin, but my camera thinks I took these pictures before Teslin, so probably before.  Anyway, stopped at a roadside rest area for lunch, and it turned out to be at a Continental Divide.  A whole different one from the Atlantic vs. Pacific one I’ve crossed so many times and so many places before.  First, there’s the “selfie”of the van at the continental divide rest area.  I’ll let the signs speak for themselves in the following.  

Next stop, Whitehorse.  Where I was for the summer solstice, and which was better than (being a town of moderate size) I expected.

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North to Alaska #10

Lots to catch up on because of being without internet for four days, so here goes.  

The morning I left my nice campground, the sun came out, and I got to see that there were mountains out there.  

As promised, there was beauty around every bend, and I stopped several times on my 35 mile or so drive.  Here’s a few shots, including a “selfie”.  

That’s called Folded Mountain, you can see why.  According to the sign they had there, the Rockies stopped growing 42 million years ago.  I did not know that before.  

Shortly after leaving, I saw my first Stone Sheep!  And the only, so far.  I couldn’t figure out what the two right by the road were after.  Minerals, maybe?  Whatver it was, they were very intent on it.  The darker one was more nervous, she kept moving off then coming back as the van crept forward. The other two ignored me completely.  

I think this was the Tetsa river.  I stopped because of the view forward (2nd picture below; I cheated and took that one stopped in the middle of the road), but the view back along the way was even better from the roadside stop (1st picture below).

A couple more along the way.

That’s an alluvial fan up there.  Pretty amazing to think of spring floodwaters coming down fast enough to move all those rocks around.  

You can see more folding in that mountain. 

My destination that day was Muncho Lake; here’s my first look at it.

The picture almost does the color justice, but not quite.

There are two Provincial Park campgrounds up there; I checked them both out.  The second one was already full, so I hied back to the first and snaffled a good spot.  In fact, it was just about perfect.  Here’s the view from my lounging spot.

Even CJ approved.  Here she is, appreciating the view.

It was so nice, and I got there so early, I decided to take the boat out.  Here it is ready to go.

And here are a few shots from the water.

Got to talking with a nice guy from Fort Nelson and found out there was a fishing derby at Muncho Lake that weekend, which is why the campgrounds were so full.  Several campers had their boats in the water already.

Here’s a better shot of that cute chihuahua you can see in the boat.  Ok, two.  For the particular delectation of my sister Terri.  And because I thought he was cute, though yappy.  

I left the boat out, thinking I might take another paddle in the morning, but just as I was ready to do so, it started to rain.  So I said to heck with it, and got the boat deflatd and folded and stowed as quickly as I could.  At which point it stopped raining, of course.  But it was too much trouble to get it out again, and people were already cruising the campground looking for spots because of the derby, so I just headed out.  For another really short hop, to Liard Hot Springs, where I was greeted by . . .

I asked at the CG gate if they put him out there every day for our benefit, and the guy who answered me had a twinkle in his eye when he said, “Oh, that’s Fred”, so I don’t know if he was kidding or not.

The CG was pretty spread out, and I had reservations for two nights, so I got the bike down.  It’s a bit of a walk from one’s campsite up to the hot springs–my estimate is .5-.75 mile depending on where one’s campsite is.  By riding the bike to where the boardwalk up to the hot springs is I cut my walk at least in half.  It’s a good quarter mile walk on the boardwalk.

The hot springs:

Where the hot water comes in.  If you move around in that area, you find distinct hot and cold spots, because (I assume) the hot water hasn’t mixed thoroughly with the cold yet.

The middle area, where the water is well-mixed:

The lower area, which is more warm than hot, and where one also feels cold spots in places, down by one’s knees or feet.

Those are from my first visit, the afternoon of my first day there.  I went back the next morning, while it was still cool, and enjoyed it more.  But both times, I was distinctly more relaxed on the walk back than on the walk out 🙂.  It’s more of a spa experience than a swimming experience, though–at no point is it deeper than about my waist if I stood up.  My enjoyment of spas is relatively time-limited, so neither visit lasted more than about twenty minutes. 

Later that second day, took CJ for a short ride-run.  Stopped across the highway to see if there might be a trail (there wasn’t), and caught sight of this little guy.  I was off the bike at this point, but still had hold of CJ’s leash.

That second shot is from nearly the same distance as the first, in case anyone questions my judgement, just zoomed.  You can see s/he was curious about us, so we went back to the bike and left.  Figured there was probably a mom back in the woods somewhere, and thought it was just as well not to get too close to the little one. 

The rest of yesterday was nice and lazy.  CJ has taken to making a move on my lounging spot; here she is after one of our walks (we did several), not moving.  But I’m selfish, so that didn’t last long.

 It was a bit gray and rainy this morning, so there was no reason to dilly-dally around–we hit the road about 8:30. Saw critters today, which has me feeling less deprived (other people had been seeing lots, but me not so much), and took lots of pictures, of which there is a selection below.  

Two collections of woods bison.  

First group:

I didn’t even notice the calves at first.

Second, much larger group, some on each side of the road.  The top picture shows the ones on the left (west) side, the rest the ones on the right side.  

And finally, quite a bit later, this one lone bull.

A couple of bears.  Bear 1:

Bear 2:

And finally, a fox.  He’s a bit blurry, up in the top left corner.

He was trotting right along, so I was lucky to catch him at all.

Had to stop for this:

I can now add the Yukon Territory to my list of places I’ve been, and driven to.

Am now ensconced–or parked, anyway–in one of two RV campgrounds in Watson Lake.  Both are just gravel lots with hookups, but there’s electricity, and internet (cell), and showers, and a touch of shade where I am.  Across from me are a couple of fifth wheel rigs who played leapfrog with me all the way up from Liard.  Every time I stopped for wildlife, they’d pass me, then I’d catch up and pass them.  

Anyway, don’t know that I’ll do the tourist thing here in town.  There’s not a lot, and I’m having my usual reaction to being in a town.  Maybe you’ll find out in the next post.  But first, a shower.

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North to Alaska #9

Found a nice campground with wifi, so can catch myself up here.

First day out of Fort Nelson:

Here are several landscapes.  The Camping Alaska book suggested I’d be impressed by “magnificent mountains” and (see later) the altitude at Summit Lake, but . . . Not really,  Beautiful mountains, wonderful views, but I was expecting more for “magnificent”.  Probably more timberlines.  Or it may just be that the clouds hid the tops of all the mountains.

(Talking to the woman who runs today’s campground and motel, it’s probably a lot that the clouds are hiding the tops of the mountains.  She showed me some pictures of her surroundings on sunnier days, and it’s clear I am surrounded by mountains and not mere hills right now, even if I can’t see them.)

The white flower above was obtained in spite of a mob of mosquitoes before leaving Fort Nelson. The way the single white flower stands out atop the green foliage was what attracted me.  If anyone (cough, cough) wants to ID it for me. . .  

The views kept reminding me of the southwest–vistas and mesas, only green (and cold) instead of ochers and reds (and hot).  

A few more from the drive yesterday.  I’m doing really short hops through this part of the country–yesterday about 85 miles, today about 35–so feel free to stop often for pictures.

I have decided that pictures that include the van are my version of a selfie 🙂

Took a look at a campground down by the Tetsa river, but decided against it.  On gray rainy days, tucked in amongst trees doesn’t seem to be where I want to be these days.  Also–that IS where mosquitoes seem to want to be–so moved on.  To Summit Lake, which I loved.

For some time after arriving, I was the only one there, though by nightfall the campground was over half full.  But being first meant I got to carefully consider all sites and pick the very best one (with a view, close to an outhouse.). Having selected the site you see above, I carefully maneuvered until this was my view from my lounging position.

After due lounging, and in spite of the cold–or maybe because of it, cold can be invigorating–CJ and I tackled a path that skirts–just barely–the shore of the lake.  Took this from our turnaround point.

The name of the park surrounding this spot is Stone Mountain.  Because of the clouds, I didn’t get to see the top, but here’s what I could see.

I’m not entirely sure why I like being there last night so much.  Partly the openness, I think, partly precisely becasue (at first) no one else was there, maybe even patly because there was no internet, and it was cold.

Speaking of cold–it was, but having been assured my propane tank was full, felt free to use the heater liberally.  Turned it off at bedtime, but around 3 am, turned it back on again.  Woke up a couple of hours later to realize it was off.  Tried to light it, but. . . nothing.  Figured the tank was empty, but when I stopped to get it filled this morning, the guy said he thought it had been about half full.  So now I don’t know what happened.

Regardless, in the morning coped with a combination of my little electric heater running off batteries, which lasted remarkably well considering the solar is working but slowly because of the gray weather, and the van’s heater, and lots of layers for warmth. Am so glad I remembered to bring my down jacket–didn’t have it on my wo previous trips, and had days I wanted it on both, so made sure to take it along this time.

In the morning, we got about 10 minutes of snow.

Here are a few pictures from the 35 mile drive this morning.  There were a few places where the clouds were thin, but mostly it has continued gray and cold.

And here’s my spot for tonight.  

I was going to post some more flower pictures, but I have to sit out in the cold to get the wifi, so maybe another time.  This is enough for one post, right?

Oh well, ok, just one, but only because CJ is in it.

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North to Alaska #8

Since it looks like I may not have cell service again until Watson Lake, next Sunday, decided to post while I can.

The museum is both within easy walking distance of the campground and worth seeing.  I took a lot of pictures, but will only share a few.

They have quite a few stuffed animals, and several beaver pelts in their mockup of a trapper’s cabin.  As always, i’m torn between pity for the animals and liking the closeup view.

It surprised me that the bear was a grizzly; she’s smaller than I expected a grizzly to be.given her age (23), she probably got to live out her natural life before being stuffed, so that’s good.

They also have TONS of old machines and vehicles, of which they say most still run.  Here are a few.

Posted the Hardly Davidson for Leonard; maybe he’ll comment if he sees it.

You know you’re getting old when your life starts showing up in museums.  That applied to several of the cars not posted, and to this:

We had one of these as I was growing up, and I inherited it from my mother.  Best teakettle ever.  Unfortunately, I abused it over the years, and several years ago had to throw it out.  Hunted for a long time to find one half as good.

Here’s CJ being a good girl.  As everywhere we go, she got praised for her beauty, BUT for the first time ever, the young woman who was admiring her understood instantly when, as we were discussing her mix, I said one of the reasons I think she has something like English setter in her is her coat, because it’s not like either a husky nor a German Shepherd coat.  Finally, got far enough north that people know what I’m talking about!

After supper we walked around the campground, and I checked out license plates.  My estimate is that two-thirds to three-fourths of us were from the States, with the rest from Canada.  Furthest away from home were from Florida and Vermont and New Brunswick.  Also saw several midwesterners, and a couple from Oregon and Washington.  Am beginning to see some rigs I’ve seen before.  The migration is on!

Well, better get going.  All my neighbors have left.  A few errands, then heading for the mountains.  Expect to post again from Watson Lake.

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North to Alaska #7

Saw my first bears, guys!  

Canada finally lived up to its bear warnings!  Every time I come to Canada, bear warnings are all over the place, but never before have I actually seen a bear.  But today, about 15 miles south of Fort Nelson, here they were–a mama and two cubs, in the middle of the road.  Fortunately for me, they were leisurely about crossing, because I had to get the camera out, get it on, get the window open, etc.  After stopping, of course.  

Doesn’t she look sleek and healthy?

That was the exciting part of the day.  But here’s a picture typical of today’s drive north just for pretty.

The . . . interesting part of the day has been using map apps to navigate in Fort Nelson.  They have varied from inaccurate to dead wrong.  Apple kept insisting a road exists that the satellite view quite clearly shows cutting through buildings.  But am now ensconced in the Triple G campground, which is nice enough but expensive.  They don’t quite have a monopoly here, but close, and are clearly taking advantage of that fact.  

Had planned to stay two nights, but now am wondering why I would want to.  There may be things to do, but my disinclination to explore towns is kicking in.  Don’t have to decide right now, of course.  

Off to walk CJ, and see it the museum that is theoretically within walking distance is, and is worth seeing.

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North to Alaska #6

First a few pics from later yesterday:

That’s a peek at the lake the campground is on the shore of. (My graduate advisor Dr. Snow would be appalled by that sentence. He was adamant about not ending sentences with prepositions.) None of the campsites really had a view of the lake–this was as good as it got.

And had to get in some pics of the wild roses that are everywhere, all over BC.  They have a lovely faint rose smell to them, unlike 90% of the roses you can buy these days.

As CJ and I took our afternoon walk, we saw this party taking pictures down at the boat ramp.

They were quite dressed up, but didn’t quite look like a wedding party; maybe prom?  But then, why pictures by the lake?

By morning, the rain was back, which concerned me because I had wanted to stay in a free Provincial Park CG tonight, and I knew that would mean driving on muddy roads.  Decided to try it anyway, so when we got there, took the turn and headed out the, sure enough, very muddy road.  The road itself wasn’t too bad, but the way the van responded to it was scary.  Apparently the engineers at Mercedes think the thing to do if one or more wheels starts to lose traction is to eliminate power to that wheel.  Or something.  What happened was an exclamation point showed up on the Panel Of Idiot Lights (so helpful), and the van stopped responding to the gas.  I was afraid it was going to strand me at the bottom of a muddy hill, so turned around and made it back to the highway.  

Once in camp, I pulled out the manual and managed to figure out that the ! means at least two distinct but possibly related systems are interfering.  I choose the word deliberately; MB would claim they are safety systems, but so far my experience of them is just that they remove control from me in unpredictable ways.  One system is the Acceleration Skid Control, the other is the Electronic Stability Program.  Or it could have been the Anti-lock Braking System.  (See what I mean about the uselessness of idiot lights?  Exactly how is one to know which system is taking over, and therefore how to respond?)

My bet is on the Acceleration Skid Control system; the good news there is that I can turn it off then next time I’m driving on mud. But the EBS will still be allowed to interfere.  Which bothers me a lot, because I don’t want to be limited to pavement or dry roads for the rest of the trip.  I may call my dealer to see if I can learn more.

Anyway, decided to stop for the night here, because of the river.

The water must be quite deep, because the current is fast and the river is very quiet.

CJ and I went for a walk up the river a ways, as a result of which here are some mystery photos.  Mystery in the sense of, what are these things?

First, a flower.  In classic annoying fashion, the phone insisted,on focusing on the rocks in the background, and there are only buds not flowers to help, but–what is it?  (This is not a quiz, that’s a real question.)

Regardless–the rocks are pretty, aren’t they?

And is this the same as the above?   I think so, but thanks to fuzzy focus, I’m not sure.

This one looks a bit like columbine to me.  What do you think?

(Seriously wish I could make cameras focus, close up, on flowers.  One of the banes of my existence).

Second, I thought maybe these looked a bit like bridge supports, but who would put a bridge there?  Yet if that’s not what they are–what are they?

Finally, this looks like something that fell apart, a tank or shack or something. But how did it even get over there in the first place? And what was it? Near as I could see, it’s aluminum, but that doesn’t help much.

This one’s just because.

This one reminded me of crossing the Salmon river in one as a child, for a church picnic.  All I remember about the day is going over and back in the cable car, and there was a woman who didn’t wear a bra, which shocked the heck out of me at the time.  

These are from the morning walk with CJ.

Saw tracks like these two different places.  Am still debating.  It seems too big for deer, but somewhat small for elk.  Pretty sure it’s not bovine.  Any opinions?

Here’s the campground from up the road a bit.  In the top pic, you can see my van in the middle down by the river.

Next stop, Fort Nelson.

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North to Alaska #5

So it’s been a few days, and a few campsites since my last post.  I’m trying to hit a balance between feeling I should post every day whether or not I have anything to say, or show, and not posting for so long that it all just feels like too much and there’s no point and I quit altogether.  Not sure I’m there, but will keep working on it.

Anyway, after the last post I spent a couple of nights just south of Prince George, in a private CG in order to have electricity for AC.  The temperature was in the mid-80s both days, and heat is just not my favorite thing.  Originally intended only one night there, but the spot

was nice and shady (80s aren’t too bad if we’re in the shade), and the CG had good laundry facilities, good restroom and shower facilities, and good water with which to replenish my tank, so I decided two nights were warranted.  Got various housekeeping chores done, took CJ on a decent ride-run early enough in the morning to beat the heat, and lazed about a bit.  Here’s CJ and my feet after we got back from the ride-run.

The next morning was devoted to errands in Prince George–groceries, visit to a hardware store, separate visit to liquor store for wine, and diesel. At which point I just wanted out of the city.  I think I’m getting more urban-averse rather than less so in my old age. Drove awhile and found a spot to pull over for lunch, then drove some more.  Here’s a few shots typical of what the countryside looked like much of the day.

Eventually we were getting more into the mountains and seeing any number of ponds and small lakes.  Decided to pull in to the Provincial Park at McCleod lake to check it out and get some pictures.

Thought about staying there for the night, but decided to make a few more miles before stopping.  Ended up at Azouzetta Lake Lodge CG

(You can also see where I am now in that screenshot, in the top right.)

Azouzetta Lake is a beautiful setting. . . 

. .  But did you notice that big yellow machine on the right in the top picture?  Yup, the campground is very much under construction.  Which would have been no big deal–wasn’t, really–except they kept telling me they’d stop with the noisy machines in just an jour or so.  For hours they told me this.  I wish people wouldn’t do that–just tell me the truth, if it’s going to go on for four hours, just say so so I know what I’m dealing with.  Anyway, it’s going to be an excellent place when it’s done, but I wouldn’t want to spend a whole day there right now listening to those backup beeps.

That night the skies opened up and dumped on us big time, then settled in to a steady, heavy rain.  I ended up getting out early for me, by eight o’clock.  Since it was raining most of the way, opted not to do the (maybe) more scenic route, but took the more primary highway almost to Dawson Creek, the “official” beginning of the Alaska Highway.  However, decided against going in to Dawson Creek to find the marker and get the picture, partly because of that increasing urban-aversiveness mentioned above, so turned north a bit before and drove on up to Fort St. John.  Which is also way too citified for me.  

My impression of the Alaska Highway so far is that you can tell it’s the main artery for a lot of traffic.  It looks tired and much-used, and the traffic increased by several orders of magnitude when I turned onto it.  But we’ll be on it for several hundred miles now, until we turn north at Whitehorse.  

After lunch and diesel in Fort St. John, and consulting weather apps to see how best to avoid rain, decided to stay at one of the Provincial Parks just north of town.  Canada’s Provincial parks, by the way, have consistently done well by me on all my travels.  Tried Beatton first because it’s further off the highway, and decided to stay.  Here’s my spot.

Google showed evidence of trails, so this morning CJ and I went looking for them.  Turns out they are nice wide swaths in the forest maintained by a local cross-country skiing group.  There was a sign saying no dogs on the trail, but it clearly was intended for ski season, so off we went.  Here’s a couple of shots of my grass-eatin’ fool of a dog.

The big advantage of her grass addiction from my point of view is she falls behind and then runs to catch up, so she gets a bit more vigorous exercise than when she only paces along sedately by my side.  

Bluebells . . .

And dandelions. . .

. . . And butterflies 

. . . were all profuse and beautiful.  (I worked hard for that butterfly shot, they refused to hold still for me.)  Unfortunately, mosquitoes were even more profuse, and if my repellents are working at all, I need to apply more next time.  So I didn’t look around as much as I would have liked, or take as many pictures because standing still caused them to swarm around me, but did get a few good shots.  Which you can enjoy in the mosquito-free environment of your own home 🙂.

Got that top picture later in the walk, braving the mosquitoes to get it because I thought the gone-to-seed weeds were so pretty.

Here’s another in-spite-of-mosquitoes picture.  Saw several of these little guys, mostly out of the corner of my eye. They aren’t as showy as the big yellow butterflies, but I thought they were kinda pretty.  This one was maybe 1-1.25 inches across.

So, all caught up now.  Will go for another, shorter walk this afternoon (morning walk was 2+ miles according to my step-counting app). Fort Nelson is only 240 miles away, but I’ll probably do it in two short hops, stopping tomorrow night in a freebie where I don’t expect to have cell.  


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