Tombstone Government Camp

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…

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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 #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.

Alaska Ride – June 8th – Day #14

Two weeks on the road! Today we are heading back down the Dempster and continuing our journey toward Alaska. We got out of bed a 7a and went on over to the hotel restaurant for a quick breakfast. Then it was time to pack our bikes and begin our journey.

Right before we left, I grabbed a shot of the two BMWs that are heading back down on a truck tonight. They didn’t have the greatest tires on for the conditions.IMG_0411

We took it slow to get some confidence back after the crash the other day. My dad was pretty tentative yesterday on the whole trip to the Arctic Circle and back. We stopped at the first two rest areas, got off the bikes, and assessed our situation. The road was in good shape, although we could see some showers forming to the south (our direction of travel).

We stopped for lunch at Engineer Creek again. The black muck that was there last time had dried up, although i don’t know that I would want to stay there except in an emergency.

The road is pretty dusty to this point, and there seems to be more traffic in both directions. I was letting my dad set the pace – I stayed quite a ways back to stay out of the dust. Eventually, the rains did come. Just enough to keep the dust down on the road, but not make the road too slick.

The scenery heading southbound into the Tombstone area was much more interesting than on the way up. The mountains were in front of you the whole time. We didn’t stop to take any more pictures though.

We stopped at the Tombstone campground for a quick rest and to put some fuel in the bikes. It was such a nice place we decided to spend the night here. We have a very nice spot that has plenty of room for both our tents and tarps.

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It is right on a creek.

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And has great mountain views!

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We got rained on a bit as we set up our tarps, but nothing too serious. Once everything was squared away, we went up to the cooking shelter to make dinner – they have a shelter set up away from the campsites so you don’t attract bears to your tent 🙂

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They also had a food locker right next to the shelter, so we left our food and stoves. We’ll just walk up in the morning and make our breakfast.