Archive | September, 2012

Day 4 – Fort Nelson – Edmonton

12 Sep

No pictures today. It was a long and boring drive. From Fort Nelson to Fort St. John, there is not much other than a few service stops and trees. Scenery is pleasant but nothing dramatic. As soon as you hit Fort St. John, “civilization” begins in force, and the agricultural plains of Alberta begin. More towns, lots more cars. The thing I noticed the most today was how much I missed the quiet and peace of my first 3 days. The further SE I drove, the busier it got, and the more stressed on the road I began to feel.

Tonight in Edmonton I was told by the front desk gal to bring all my things in from my car because of the high amount of theft. Great. That nice peaceful time is officially over, at least for tonight!

Tomorrow I’m either going to drive to Regina, SK, or Minot ND, depending on how I feel. My neck is killing me today, so not sure if I’ll be able to hack a long day. But I’m ready to push to the end now that the interesting part is over….

More tomorrow!

Day 3 – Whitehorse to Fort Nelson

12 Sep

Once again, no internet access in the north…. I’m sitting at a Tim Horton’s off the interstate going to Edmonton, trying to find a place to stay for the night, and updating yesterday. So…here you go!

Today’s drive was really fabulous. It was sunny most of the day, with just intermittent rain and clouds. Started early out of Whitehorse, and had some gorgeous scenery through the Yukon. I was in super-drive mode, and wasn’t taking time to stop and enjoy. So at Watson Lake, I decided to stop and have a bit of a cookout at the provincial campground there. I think I was the only person in the entire campground, so it was nice and peaceful. I was able to test out my new camp stove, which works great. It folds into a small flat pack that weighs just a few ounces and is smaller in height and width than a paperback. And I even started my fire with my flint, despite a doubting Thomas (you know who you are!).

Yum yum rib-eye…

In case you were wondering, the steak was very tasty. Also, that is a very small pan, it was only a 6 oz steak!

Watson Lake is large and clear, and looks like a fun place to play in the summer (and probably for frozen fun in the winter as well).

Watson Lake – Clear and Cold

For the Anglers….

The town of Watson Lake has one very interesting feature other than the lake – their sign post forest. This was started in 1942 by an Army engineer who was working on the construction of the Alcan. People still add to it now, and it has over 72,000 signs!

Man Made Forest

A Little More Detail

I liked the juxtaposing messages on this one: 🙂

Cookies or Heaven? Why Must We Choose?

After Watson Lake I finally had the long-awaited wildlife spotting. I saw several bison by the side of the road, and then a large herd. They are pretty huge and ugly-cute (or maybe just ugly) – except for the babies which are really cute. They were completely unbothered and uninterested by my presence, though I wasn’t interested in getting too close and seeing if they would react!

Bison….

Throughout the day I also spotted moose, fox, deer and black bear. I didn’t have a chance to get any shots of these, which was a shame, especially the bear. As dusk was turning into night, I saw tons of bear, but it was too difficult to stop on the highway without being a danger to other drivers.

There was lots of great scenery throughout the day.

After Watson Lake…Not Sure of the Name

Laird River

Muncho Lake – Half Rain Half Sun

South of Muncho Lake

Mid-afternoon I stopped at Liard Hot Springs, which I almost didn’t do as I had spent so much time hanging out at lunch and taking pictures through the day. But I’m so glad I did! It was really relaxing to sit and soak in the hot water, and felt great on my aching neck. It wasn’t too crowded given the lateness of the season, but I imagine is a mad house in the summer. I’m really looking forward to stopping there on my way back up when it will be really cold and mostly empty. The springs has great vegetation because of the warmth it gives, and it feels almost jungly. I wasn’t able to get a photo of the springs itself because I was worried about my camera, but this is on the walk into the springs…

Off the Path on the Way to the Hot Springs

Throughout my time I’ve been trying to determine where the road could seem a bit tricky when I’m driving back in October with a trailer. Today was the first day I felt there were some parts that were especially steep and/or curvy, especially around Muncho Lake up until Stone Mountain Provincial Park. The Stone Mountain area made me consider the number of ways one could slide over the edge down into a very steep canyon. Nice! Thankfully going back, the side of the road I’ll be on will be the side hugging the mountain (so don’t worry Elizabeth!).

I stayed in Fort Nelson for the night, which is a very small town. Not much to say about it as I arrived after dark and left first thing in the morning.

Sorry about the different picture sizes, pressed some wrong buttons….

2 Days Down….

10 Sep

Day 1 – Anchorage – Tok

Despite my best intentions, Anchorage to Whitehorse did not happen in one day. My lack of organization meant it was probably best to shorten the day, so I had a leisurely drive to Tok. I had to start the day going in the wrong direction though, for another yummy latte from Steam Dot (which is in south Anchorage), my favorite coffee house in town. I also had to buy a pound of coffee to drink a long the way. A 30 minute detour but well worth it!

The first day was a gorgeous drive, and I was fortunate enough to have sun for the first two hours. Of course, as soon as I decided to stop and take a picture, I hit clouds and rain, and it remained like this for the rest of the drive.

First Photo of the Trip, Still in the Mat-Su

The colors were amazing, though. The birch trees were such a vibrant yellow that at some points I thought the sun was shining. With some deep red ground cover and the dark green of the black spruce, it was pretty spectacular outside despite the clouds. Unfortunately I was not able to capture this on the camera – I still need to play with the settings on my point and shoot and see if I can capture reality a bit better. If anyone has any tips please share!

Trying to Show a Bit of Color

I didn’t see any wildlife, except for two swans. Hoping for something tomorrow, as I hear the drive through the Yukon and British Columbia has some great opportunities for sightings.

Near the Wrangell-St. Elias

I stayed at the Burnt Paw and Cabins Outback in Tok (no, I really don’t understand the name either), which is a small establishment with a few individual cabins. It’s cute and comfortable and immaculate – and typically Alaskan expensive! I was lucky to get the room, as everything was full for the weekend. My only minor annoyance was this morning. There was no seat available to have their free breakfast, so I decided to hit the road, but thought I would have them fill my thermos with coffee before I left. For the privilege I would have to pay them $2. On top of the $119 for the cabin and declining the free breakfast. I know, it’s kind of petty, on both our parts. Mornings are not my thing, and I really hate being nickled and dimed. I got a pretty decent thermos of coffee at the gas station instead, for $1.75. After paying $4.36 a gallon! This is not a cheap trip….

Day 2 – Tok – Whitehorse

The weather today was abysmal. As soon as I left the Canada Customs Post, it began to snow. And snow. And snow. It snowed almost non-stop for the next 4 hours, with a few breaks here and there.

I Bet You Wouldn’t Get Out of Your Vehicle Either….

Now, I love snow. But, I also know I missed some amazing scenery. The clouds were so thick and low that you really couldn’t see too far beyond the sides of the road in many areas. So disappointing!  At Destruction Bay I stopped to get gas, and asked the attendant if this was normal. He said it was indeed. No wildlife sightings either, other than…a rat. Hmmm….

Kluane Lake is quite a famous spot around here. Look it up on the net and see how beautiful it is on a sunny day. This was my view (still nice, but kind of limited)…

A Shrouded Kluane Lake

Around Haines Junction it finally cleared into a nice rain, and about 60 miles out of Whitehorse I saw the sun for about 10 minutes.

Somewhere Near Haines Junction

Because of the weather, I didn’t take time to stop and explore at all. Just drove drove drove. Made good time, and no back or neck problems so far.

Whitehorse, where I’m staying at the Historical B&B, is a neat town, with a historic commercial district along the Yukon River.

Yukon River – Downtown Whitehorse

It’s very friendly, surrounded by gorgeous landscape, and seems like a great place. I decided to take a walk before dinner, stopped and got a coffee, and then of course the skies opened up and I got drenched. Precipitation is definitely a theme of the day. To ease my suffering I had a nice dinner of grilled salmon.

Not very eventful today, and no crazy stories to be told, but I’m pretty happy with that given my ability to attract travel disaster. Tomorrow I’m off to Fort Nelson, and hoping for a stop at Laird Hot Springs….

See you then!

The Day Before the Longest Road Trip I’ve Ever Made….

7 Sep

Before driving 4,300 miles, most people would probably spend a couple of days preparing. Me? I’m setting up a blog, watching re-runs of the Real Housewives of New Jersey, and delaying going to Wal Mart to find some necessary items for my trip. But that’s fairly standard for me.

I’m hoping to keep this updated every night with a few pictures and a description of the trip. We’ll see if I manage.

Tomorrow my goal is to drive from Anchorage to Whitehorse, YT. Along the way I’ll be seeing some scenery like below. These pictures were taken during a recent day trip to Matanuska Glacier, which is an hour and a half outside of Anchorage.

I’m looking forward to making the drive and seeing some new areas of North America. I really love the dramatic northern landscape, and to be able to drive during autumn will be great.

So…off for final errands. Hopefully you’ll see an update from me tomorrow evening!

xo