Canada

Arctic Adventure Days #16 & 17

We are on our way home now. We’ve had our first of dirt roads and bears, so we won’t be stopping by the Stewart/Hyder area.

On these two days, we are backtracking on roads that we’ve already been on, and the weather is kind of crappy. That means not a lot of stops with new and exciting pictures.

We did stop for fuel at the intersection with the Dempster Highway and it seems we made it back just in time.

We didn’t see any big wildlife between Dawson City and Whitehorse. We did have some awesome ribs, salmon, and sticky balls for dinner.

When we were getting ready for bed, Kim found this in the bottom of her bag.

The missing key! Well it turns out after Whitehorse, we went back to Watson Lake and stayed at the same hotel. So, we gave them their key back.

The weather forecast looks like rain almost all of the way home, so we booked a room at the Bell lodge on the Cassier Highway for tomorrow. The next night should be in Prince George, and then on to home on Saturday.

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Arctic Adventure Day #15

Tonight we celebrated my graduation as a bear whisperer by drinking much beer, but not so much that we did the sour toe cocktail (Google it). So, not a lot of words in today’s post.

We camped in tombstone last night and woke up to rain. We tried waiting it out in the tent, by eventually gave up and drove the end (beginning?) of the Dempster while it was wet. It was a short drive to Dawson City today… We stopped and washed the Jeep on the way into town and then played tourist for the rest of the day.

We stopped by the visitor center. They had higher moose horns on display. Sometimes their horns become locked and they can’t get apart. The animals eventually die that way.

Mammoth tooth

More Mammoth tooth.

Riverboat on the Yukon river.

Downtown hotel. Home if the famous sour toe cocktail. This is where we stayed.

Piano player in the lounge.

End of the Dempster celebration.

Grilled cheese for dinner.

And some dessert.

Walked past the old mortuary on the way back to the room.

After being on the road for two weeks, and our little bear encounter (little encounter with a bear?) yesterday, we’ve decided that it is time to set our sights on home. Should be there by Saturday if all goes well.

Ok, there were more words in this post than I expected…

Arctic Adventure Day #14

Today was supposed to be a boring day, heading almost 500 miles down a road we just drove up a couple of days ago… By the end of the day, it was probably the most exciting day of the entire trip.

We got an early start out of Inuvik – the weather was supposed to turn soon, so we wanted to get as far down the Dempster as we could while it was still dry.

The road was in great shape, we did get a little bit of rain between the two ferries, but it didn’t slow is that much.

When we were in Montana, we borrowed forks from Kim’s sister and told her we’d take some pictures with them, so we stopped at the Arctic Circle sign.

After lunch at the restaurant at Eagle Plains, we continued South on good roads. We were commenting on how we hadn’t seen any big animals in a few days when we see a fox on the side of the road… Ok, not exactly big. Then just north of Engineer Creek, I catch something out of the corner of my eye, slammed on the brakes, and backed up 50 yards to get a picture.

We never did see Mom around. Probably hung out for 10 minutes or so before he took off.

There is a lake called Two Moose Lake on the north end of tombstone park… We joked that it was called no-moose lake because there was nothing in it on our way north. We wondered if there would be something on the way back. As we approached we were looking at a big rock in the middle of the lake and it lifted it’s head up! We pulled over to a viewing platform to get some good pictures.

It was interesting, the birds were following it around… We watched the for a bit and then went back to the car to get the 360 camera – we were parked back away from the viewing platform because we didn’t want to spook him. Kim stayed at the car while I grabbed a 360 shot from the platform.

While I was getting this picture, a cow and a calf ran into the lake. The cow was looking at the shore and there were noises coming from the bushes. I ran back to the car to get my camera before a second calf came out. Kim tells me to stay near the car… You should ALWAYS listen to your wife (my mother needs to stop reading here). Of course I ignored her and went back to the viewing platform because it was a better camera angle.

(Really mom, stop reading, this is your last chance) Then I heard some huffing noises back towards the Jeep… Apparently the noises in the bushes were not from a second calf… This guy was barrelling down the road as fast as he could.

Kind of a blurry picture, but can you blame me, he was between me and the car (did I mention the bear spray is in the car?)… This is where I stop taking pictures for a bit because there is a very large grizzly bear running towards me (did I ever mention grizzly bears are fast). Well, I start waving my arms and speaking to him as calmly as I could. He decides I am interesting and slows down to check me out, walks up to the entrance of the viewing platform less than ten feet away, and stands up on his hind legs and decides to talk back to me. He was very tall, 7′ maybe. I think he would have been able to stick his nose in the door of the tent on top of my Jeep.

After I thought our conversation was over, he takes a couple of steps away and then stands up to check me out again.

All this time, he keeps looking over at the moose calf, which fortunately for me seems to be good preferred choice for dinner.

After what seems like forever, but probably has only been a minute, he walks down the road away from the Jeep and into the brush. With the best out of sight, I slowly back up towards the Jeep and then do a mad dash for the last 10 feet.

Well, it turns out he was not done checking us out… He had looped around the lake side of the viewing platform and did a lap around the Jeep… Which allowed me to take some more photos from the safety of my car.

All the while he kept his eye on the moose calf. Eventually he started running again, and we watched him run all the way to the other side of the lake.

This was all about a half hour from our campsite. We’re debated driving all the way to Dawson City since I was all amped up on adrenaline at this point. We decided to stick to our original plan of the Tombstone campground. Once we were in a spot, I grabbed a ranger as he was walking by to let him know about the bear in the area.

Here is our hopefully bear free campsite.

We have been in the road for two weeks at this point, and we both have the “getting home disease”. We are going to hot the sights at Dawson City tomorrow and then probably start to push hard for home.

Arctic Adventure Day #13

Today we embarked on the final northbound leg of our trip – the new road up to the Hamlet of Tuktoyktuk. The weather has been dry for several days, so the road was in very good shape. There were still a few long stretches of soft gravel and a construction zone for the last 20km or so before town. We could tell that the road would get pretty sloppy if it was wet.

As you come into town, you get to their brand new sign.

One thing you can’t see in the pictures are all the mosquitos. They were big and everywhere. It was a bit windy which helped.

Here is a 360 view at the Tuk sign.

Next, we drove to the end of the road to see if we could find Tundra’s family. Alas, they were not around, so I guess we’ll have to permanently adopt her.

Selfie at the sign.

Jeep at the sign.

Arctic Ocean 360

Had to dip our toes in the Arctic Ocean!

While we were on the beach, a couple of locals just finished up filleting their “fish” on the beach… It was a beluga whale. They leave the fillets covered on the beach and any of the townspeople can come grab a piece.

Here is a close up of a filet… Nothing for scale in the picture, but it is probably eight inches thick.

Then it was back down to Inuvik and or hotel room. I realized that I did not post a picture yesterday, so here it is.

No watch picture today, it is the same as yesterday.

Arctic Adventure Day #12

Lots of milestones today. We made it to the Arctic Circle, Northwest Territories, and Inuvik. It is really hard to describe the landscape up here, particularly when we were in the mountains. You could see forever – the landscape seems larger than life.

The road was fairly mucky up to the Arctic circle, and slowly improved as we moved north. The last 100 miles, dist was more of an issue than the mucky roads. And the last few miles into Inuvik are actually paved!

Here is the Arctic circle sign.

Selfie

We really haven’t seen too many animals the last few days. On this leg of the trip we saw a bunch of rabbits, a grouse (or some kind of game bird on the road), and tons of Ravens (they are really loud). We also saw this guy begging for food at the Arctic circle.

360 at the Arctic circle

Northwest Territories

Selfie

360 view

Peel River ferry

Fort MacPherson visitor center

MacKenzie River ferry

Dirty Jeep in Inuvik

(Mostly) clean Jeep in Inuvik

There is either 12 hours or an instant of darkness here… My bet is that it just stays light all the time. Don’t think I’ll stay up all night to verify.

Arctic Adventure Day #11

Our goal today was to make it to the Dempster Highway. We woke up early, so we could hit the road to ensure that there were campsites left at the Tombstone Campground when we arrived.

After the first hour, we stopped at the Braeburn Lodge for a giant cinnamon roll. We had part for breakfast, part for lunch, part for dinner, and still have some left over for tomorrow.

Or next stop was in Carmacks to pick up some ice. The cooler has been working pretty well, we’ve been adding a bag of ice every couple of days. This picture shows what it looked like after 3 days with no new ice. The block is from the start of the trip!

We checked out the Five Finger Rapids viewing area. It was starting to rain, so we didn’t stay very long.

Tundra checked them out too!

We made it to the Dempster

This is the visitor center at tombstone.

We had lunch there as well.

Since it was early and the road was in good shape, we decided to continue on to the Engineer Creek campground. The ranger at the visitor center warned us that it is pretty buggy.

Car is getting dirty.

The ranger didn’t lie, there were lots of bugs here, mostly in the campsites – the road through the campground was pretty clear. We spent lots of time in the cooking shelter to get away from the bugs.

Not sure if this means it is going to be dark for an instant at 5a, or if it isn’t going to get dark 🙂 hopefully tomorrow we’ll see what my watch does when there is no sunrise or sunset.

Arctic Adventure Day #10

We spent the first part of the morning searching for the room key. Clearly we had it some point because we were in our room, but we couldn’t find it anywhere. After tearing apart or bags twice and digging through the garbage, we gave up. Fortunately there was no list key charge. If we find it along the way, we’ll drop it in a mailbox.

We altered our route today and went to Whitehorse. This gave us a shorter day and allowed us to take our time and visit things like the signpost forest.

We didn’t see too many critters today. A black bear ran across the road right outside Watson Lake and a fox did the same thing later on in the day.

We did cross the Continental Divide again.

Stopped in Teslin for fuel and lunch.

Also checked out the wildlife gallery in Teslin.

Muskox

A friend for Tundra.

Moose

Hedwig

There is a giant mountie at our hotel

And a big room

And a big bathroom.

Not very much night left!

Arctic Adventure Day #9

After a long day of driving followed by dinner and itinerary replanning, I am beat. So, there won’t be a lot of words in this post, mostly pictures.

I do have a couple of quick things… Between this trip and my motorcycle trip in 2014, I have now been on the entire Alaska Highway. Also want to get in a quick critter count for the day: 2 deer, a golden eagle, 3 black bears, a bear with brown fur (couldn’t tell if it was a grizzly), a bunch of sheep, and some bison.

Lunch at summit lake.

The Alaska Highway.

Sheep

Baby sheep

Bison

First Yukon sign.

Room

Sunrise/sunset.

Arctic Adventure Day #8

Well, we slept in again today. Did not get on the road until 10a. We stopped at the main road where we had cell service. One of the kids at home is out of contacts and we had to transfer some money so she could buy some more.

Started making some serious northward progress today mostly on highway 40 in Alberta. Apparently there is a big caribou here in the area. There were periodic signs asking to report caribou sittings, and these funky yellow signs. We never saw any actual caribou.

We did see 3 black bears all around the town of Grand Cache. The first one we saw was a cub running as fast as it could… Presumably to mommy which we didn’t see. We also saw two very large roadkills today. I thought the first one was a horse, but it must have been a moose – it was huge! The second one looked like a cow elk. I was surprised that there weren’t destroyed cars nearby.

Had a couple of interesting rest stops…a campground about a mile off the highway.

And another campground right next to the highway. Apparently there are lawyers in Canada too.

Also hit our first big construction zones today. No pilot cars, but long stretches of reduced speed limits.

Saw some elk…. Crappy picture from my phone.

And Tundra wanted a picture with the world’s largest beaver.

Made it back into BC.

And found milepost 0 of the Alaska Highway ( which also happens to be a Pokemon gym that we took down)

We stopped for the day at a hotel in Fort St John. We are going to try to push to Watson Lake tomorrow. It is a pretty long haul, so we figure getting a hotel at both ends would be nice. If we get tired along the way, we may just decide to get a campsite.

Ok, I messed up with my watch. Apparently, I have to force it to update the current location every time I want to view the sunrise/sunset data. I figured it out today when the times did not update to reflect the timezone change. So, all of the other photos have been off the same location… Here is the photo for my correct location tonight.

Arctic Adventure Day #7

Or goal was to be out of bed by 7a this morning, but we forgot to set an alarm, so it was more like 7:30 or so. We took quick shower, and then we were off to the Icefields Parkway.

We saw lots of glaciers!

And waterfalls too!

At the Columbia Icefields, we stopped at the chalet to see if we could book a ride out onto the glacier, but they were sold out until 4p and it wasn’t even noon yet. Need to plan in advance next time.

We did learn that the “snow dome” that makes up these glaciers eventually runs off into the Pacific (Columbia River), Arctic (Mackenzie River), and Atlantic (Saskatchewan River) Oceans.

More snow pictures.

Once we arrived in Jasper, we started heading east to our campground. On this short stretch of road, we saw elk, Rocky mountain sheep, and bighorn sheep. Kim took pictures with her phone, but apparently the app I used to transfer files requires a data connection… Back to the drawing board I guess.

We got checked into our campsite and we were not going to put out the awning, but then it started to rain… That is why the car is in kind of a funky spot.

We bought a fire permit, which gets you all the wet wood you could possibly burn during your stay.

Cooked some brats over the fire.

They finished just in time for the rain to start again, so we ate dinner under our awning.

Sunrise and sunset are going the wrong way! I guess we are not heading north faster than the days are getting shorter. That should change real soon!