Our fifth wheel and the truck

Friday, June 29, 2012

From Dawson City across the Top of the World to Chicken!

Hi again and a very warm welcome to any new readers. I certainly hope you enjoy reading my blog and get a smile, or a bit of a giggle, out of our adventures or misadventures as the case may be!!

Dawson City is amazing!!!!

But to start at the beginning. We arrived about lunch time and after getting the rv set up Norm and I decided to go down town to get a bite to eat and go to the visitor centre to find out some of the attractions in and around town.

Lunch was at Sourdough Joe’s and was just alright. After we finished we decided to grab an ice-cream which was just yummy - Black Cherry. Although it was wonderful, ice-cream is not a good idea if you are lactose intolerant!!!

Our visit to the information centre proved extremely valuable because there is just so much to see in Dawson City we could see that we were going to need more than 2 days to see it all! Plus we are going to be here for the summer solstice!!!!

Dawson City was established in the late 1800’s when gold was first discovered in the area. Life was pretty tough as you can imagine. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police certainly made sure that only those who were really prepared for the harsh conditions actually made it to Dawson City with the proviso that everyone had to have at least a year’s supplies before they were permitted to make the long trek over the Chilkoot trail. Some people had to make multiple climbs just to get all their stuff over the trail. Many people didn’t make it the climb was so tough. Mary Black, who went on to become the ‘First Lady of the Yukon’ and a eventually a member of parliament, actually crossed the Chilkoot trail when she was 4-5 months pregnant - so much for all the tough fellows who didn’t make it!!!

An example of the old buildings being maintained in Dawson City.

While in DC we took a walking tour of the town with our guide dressed in period costume. We were told about some of the strange things that go on under the Midnight Sun.

Our walking tour guide in period dress.

One of the strangest is the ‘Sour toe Cocktail’ which requires you to drink a cocktail that has an actual, real human toe in it!! In order to join the thousands of other drinkers who have successfully participated in this ritual, you have to let the tow ‘kiss’ your lips!!! Now let me tell you that this, and the ‘Dog Ball Highball’ cocktail, is one ritual in which I will not be participating!!!!! Apparently the custom began way back when a miner discovered a toe in a jar in a cabin and took it to the bar and I am sure it then became a bit of a dare game and has continued since.

Amazing old buildings throughout the town.

We also toured the SS Keno which was the last stern wheeler to travel the Yukon River. She is in dry dock now and is really interesting to visit. I wouldn’t want the job of keeping the fires going for the steam - four foot logs day and night being heaved into the furnace.

A tour of one of the mining dredges was also on the itinerary. What a huge piece of machinery! And the damage these machines did to the environment is still very evident throughout the area with huge caterpillar type piles of rocks and stones everywhere they have been.

The old dredge - the white cover is where they are doing some repairs to the deck.

The caterpillar type piles of tailings that are everywhere around Dawson City.

A trip to DC is incomplete without a visit to Diamond Gerties’ Dance Hall. Singing and dancing reminiscent of the early 1900’s with a chorus line. A lot of fun, although I think Jim had the best time with Gertie serenading him.

Diamond Gertie and her dancers.

On the evening of 20th June Jim, Steve, Nancy, Norm and I went up to the ‘Dome’ where we spent a couple of hours watching the sun go down at about 12.30am. There were quite a few people up there and the photos were absolutely stunning. The sun didn’t actually ‘go down’ it was sort of going sideways and went behind the Ogilvy Mountains only to reappear a while later. We watched it disappear and then decided it was time to head off to bed.

On the Dome for the night before the solstice.

This photo was at about 11.30pm.

At 12.30 the sun moves behind the mountains.  But was up again in an hour or two!

I thoroughly enjoyed DC and was so pleased that they have worked so hard to retain the history and presence of the past. Buildings are maintained in the style of old, and new buildings have very strict guidelines on materials and design so they replicate and maintain the character of previous times. With the exception of the main road, all the roads are dirt and the sidewalks are boards. I am sure that this must save money on road and sidewalk repairs (no frost heaves each winter).

But alas, as always our time is limited and it was time to move out. Our destination was

Chicken in Alaska but to get there we had to take a ferry across the Yukon River and drive the ’Top of the World Highway’.

That's our rig on the left of the ferry.

This was a stunning and wonderful day. We were packed up and ready to roll at 6.30am and headed straight down the highway to the ferry. Two rigs at a time we crossed the river and then THE highway. Well it was an interesting drive. The scenery was just magnificent and mind boggling and the views just went on forever.

The view from the Top of The World Highway - it goes on forever!!!

The Canadian side of the highway was marginally better than the US side although there were potholes and gravel all the way. It was only 108 miles and while we did make a couple of short stops and a stop at the border crossing it took us six and a half hours to make the trip. Very slow going but oh so worth it! Norm now has a t shirt that says he survived the ‘Top of the World Highway’!

We spent two nights at Chicken which was an interesting place - full of chicken ‘stuff’. We did take a walking tour of the old town site with a very knowledgeable young lady who explained much of the history. I was particularly interested in the story of ‘Tisha’ (mispronunciation of ‘teacher’) who arrived in Chicken as a young teacher from Colorado. I have bought the book telling her story so I have my nose stuck in that whenever I can.

Yep - a giant chicken in Chicken, Alaska!

Sadly we have had to say a temporary farewell to Steve and Nancy who have had to head home for family. Our thoughts and prayers go with them. See you soon.

From Chicken we are headed down the road to Tok for a stop at Sourdough RV. Their pancakes are legendary however if I don’t stop here this post is going to be tooooo long - again!

So I will leave you here and continue with our adventures in a couple of days. To all our family and friends we send our love and hugs as always.


Saturday, June 23, 2012

Whitehorse - Beringia, Brewery and other interesting places.

G’day y’all

I guess because we are in the wilds of the Yukon, it is fair to say that the wifi and phone reception have been very ordinary or non-existent so I apologise for the delay in putting these posts on line.  Not my fault this time - well maybe just a tad!!

Evidence of the vast flooding.

We had a lovely drive to Teslin - and gorgeous views but nary a critter in sight. We were so confident that we would see moose on the way but alas - better luck tomorrow.

We stopped at the campground in Teslin and we were the only RV‘s in the place for about half the day. By the time we went to dinner there must have been another twenty in the park! Busy little place!. The park was right next to the most gorgeous lake overlooked by …… you guessed it - snow capped mountains!!! The afternoon was spent out and about.

They had a wildlife museum adjacent to the campground which we went to visit. It was small but very impressive with some of the best displays of animals we have seen. Norm was very impressed. After the wildlife display we took a drive out to the Tlingit (pronounced Kling - git I think) cultural centre. The Tlingit are one of the First Nation tribes and one the first of the First Nation groups to have achieved the enviable status of self government. The cultural centre was very interesting with one lady tanning a young, bull moose hide in the traditional manner. There were artifacts and beautiful displays of traditional craft work. The host was a young lady who was extremely knowledgeable and was able to talk to us about the traditions. We watched a video of the opening ceremony of the cultural centre which also covered some cultural information about the traditional way of life. So interesting.

Totems at the Tlingit Cultural Centre.

The six of us (minus Rick and Karen) went out to the campground restaurant for dinner and had a most enjoyable evening, even though the beef and barley soup, which had been on offer for lunch, had run out. Of course as soon as Norm realized that the basketball was on the TV in the lounge area he was in and out to keep an eye on the game!!

An early start the next day saw us heading to Whitehorse, the capital city of the Yukon. The drive was very uneventful with no critters - AGAIN!!!! Not happy Jan!!!!

We did make a stop at the Rancheria Falls which were just amazing. There has been so much rain and snow melt up here all the rivers are running very high and in fact this morning (Monday) there were lots of flood warnings across the country, Not in our area that I can work out, thank goodness.

We pulled into the campground in Whitehorse and after checking out the sites the lady assigned (which still had RV’s in two of the three), checking out the next ones she assigned (Jim could have got in but with slides on both sides of his RV, he couldn’t have opened them without hanging out into the driveway) we decided to try our luck at another down the road. Wow what a difference! The first one was mostly like a giant parking lot and the second, although a bit tight with some of the sites was treed and really pleasant and the staff were just so helpful and pleasant.

Two days of sightseeing in Whitehorse and soooo much to do and see. But, we will be coming back through here on the way south so we can take some time then to see and do what can’t get done this time. Mind you the weather wasn’t very kind to us - very cold most of the time and quite a bit of rain although Norm and I don’t usually let a bit of water get in the way of our sightseeing.

Our first day we planned on going to a wildlife preserve and taking a ride on the SS Schwatka up the Yukon River to the Miles Canyon - oops the best laid plans of mice and men!! The weather was pretty yuk for a walk around the preserve so the plans were changed to inside activities.

The first stop was the Yukon Beringia Interpretive Centre which looks at the Ice Age in the Yukon. I was surprised by the fact that the Yukon was, unlike the rest of Canada, relatively ice free during this time. The videos and displays of skeletons of pre-historic animals found in the area were really interesting. This area had been home to woolly mammoths, giant short-faced bears and lions. Many of the archaeological discoveries in the Yukon were made when gold miners were washing away the soil with large water cannons. Who knows what was lost by this method although they did discover lots of gold!

After the Interpretive Centre we stopped at the McBride Museum which looked at the more modern history of Whitehorse since the discovery of gold and some of the ‘5%‘. The 5% is that group of people who are eccentric, quirky and very different according to local artist and photographer, Jim Robb.  The McBride museum was also the site of the Government Telegraph Office which is the oldest building still in its original position in Whitehorse.

The weather had cleared up just a tad so Rick, Karen, Norm and I decided that we would go on the boat ride up to Miles Canyon and although it was very cold the sun did come out at one point. Who would have thought I would still be wearing my ‘Alaska” jacket a couple of days before the official start to summer?

The ride up the Yukon River through the canyon was just stunning with the most beautiful scenery. High basalt cliffs one minute then sand cliffs the next. It was just gorgeous. Thank goodness for digital cameras!! You never run out of film!!

On the Yukon River towards Miles Canyon.

That night Norm and I went out for dinner to the Klondike Rib and Salmon restaurant. What a hoot of a place. It reminded me of my grandfather’s work shed with all the bits and pieces hanging from the walls and ceiling. Old saw blades, boxes and lots of ‘stuff’! And the chairs were either green plastic or wooden and the tables were covered with green and white checked plastic tablecloths. BUT!!! The food was wonderful. Norm and I shared a whole rack of ribs (Norm’s first every rib meal) which was just so tender it fell off the bone. We followed it with some pie a la mode. It had apple, rhubarb and lots of berries in it and was so yum!! And then I had to waddle out of there as full as a goog!!!! But oh so worth it!!!

That evening we sat around a campfire, thanks to Steve and the wood he carts around with him, and ate ‘s’mores‘. For those of you who don’t know what a ‘s’mores’ is, let me enlighten you. You get two Graham crackers, spread peanut paste on one (if you want, this is an optional extra) and plop a piece of Hershey chocolate on top of that and then add a marshmallow that has been roasted on the campfire. Then eat!!! Very yummy and a tradition over campfires in the USA.

Norm and I headed off to the wildlife preserve early the next morning and had an enjoyable 4km walk around the site. We were able to see Thin Horned Sheep and a cute little lamb who really thought we were going to feed it and came gamboling up to the fence. There were two lynx kittens, however mum was keeping them under pretty strict supervision and although we could just make them out in the kennel they didn’t come out. We also saw caribou, moose, mountain goats, artic foxes, muskoxen and elk. And the good thing - the sun shone for the whole walk. We got lucky!!!

Talk about prehistoric monsters - this is a musk oxen shedding its winter coat.  Not that its summer one is much better!!!!

From there we met up with all the others at the Yukon Brewing Company for a tour. Although I am not a big beer drinker I have to say they make a few good drops and I love the names they give their beers. The brewery has won national and international acclaim for the beer ad their labels - which are all done by local artists. Part of the tour is, of cours,e the opportunity to taste all their regular beers and also their boutique beers. They are also expanding into vodka and whiskey!

There is still so much to see in Whitehorse but we have run out of time so the dog sledding and white water rafting will have to wait till we come back through.

The next morning saw us set off early in the direction of Dawson City - gold rush capital of the Yukon in the late 1800's.

An important stop along the way was at Braeburn Lodge for cinnamon rolls. We were caught once before with the size of these rolls. But let me take a step back.

One of the things that the Alaska Highway and the north are renown for, are the cinnamon rolls. There are numerous places up here that lay claim to having best cinnamon rolls in the Yukon, British Columbia or Alaska. We stopped early in our trip up for cinnamon rolls and Norm and I decided to share one - really good move - they are HUGE!!!!! And it was smothered in icing sugar and it was warm and so yummy although very, very sweet. So, after our first experience, we had decided to have any other cinnamon rolls without the icing sugar. For our stop in Braeburn, we were told the cinnamon rolls were big enough to feed four. WRONG!!!! Six of us shared one and had plenty! They are ginormous!!

It was a real surprise when we walked into the lodge at Braeburn to be met with an Aussie accent. There was a gorgeous, young lady working in there who was from Melbourne. Needless to say she got a buzz out of hearing us talk too.

We spent a not so enjoyable night at the Pelly River Crossing Campground en route to Dawson City. Lovely, quiet place, didn’t cost anything BUT and it is a huge BUT!!!! The mosquitoes were so huge and so bad I believe that with a concerted effort two of them could have carried me off!!! We were having a campfire and more s’mores however I had to call it a night early as I was being eaten alive. I kid you not they are HUGE!!! And talk about bloodthirsty!!!

One other thing about the drive to Dawson City was the wildflowers that were lining the road verges. They are the most glorious colours from fuchsia to pale pink, violet, yellow, white and the gorgeous pinks of the wild roses just abound. And while we may not have seen lots of wildlife the gorgeous wildflowers certainly made up for it - a bit!!!

Because we had had a reasonably early start out of Pelly Crossing we arrived in Dawson City around lunch time but that is a story for another post so until next time take care one and all. Our love to all.




Thursday, June 14, 2012

On The Road Again.

At last we are on the move again although being stuck at Liard Hot Springs wasn’t exactly hard. It would have been a bit better had we had full hookups (and didn’t have to use the ‘drop’ toilets all the time!!!) Still it was a pleasant stop and enabled me to regroup and catch up.

When Norm and I had gone to Watson Lake on Sunday we had noticed a turn off to Whirlpool Canyon so I looked it up in the “Milepost” book. It was a must see whirlpool on the Liard River but the pullout was not suitable for RV’s. Jim had been told by a fella that it was the most impressive site he had seen for some time and he had been visiting the whirlpool regularly on his way down from where he lived in Alaska. So the suggestion was made on Wednesday afternoon that we all take a drive down to have a look. WELL!!!

Of course the Liard River was very full at the moment and in fact had broken its banks in a number of places along the Highway so when we got to the whirlpool we were expecting quite a bit of water but were totally unprepared for the site that confronted us! It was spectacular!! There was this huge whirlpool with ginormous trees that had been ripped from the ground, going around and around in this massive whirlpool. A section of the river had been dammed by trees to the point that the water on one side of dam would have been six foot higher than on the other. I even got so carried away that I took a couple of videos of the river and they don’t even do it justice. I wouldn’t want to be white water rafting in that I can tell you.

The wild and woolly Whirlpool Canyon on the Liard River.

On Thursday we got an early start and made Watson Lake in time for lunch. It was quite an eventful drive with the first interesting site just out of Liard Hot Springs.

A couple (I assume) had pulled their RV off the road to stop for the night. They extended their slide and had made themselves very comfortable by the look of it. Went to sleep and woke to the site of 20+ bison grazing and sleeping all around their RV. As we drove past taking lots of photos we could see them through the RV windows and we waved at them. There was a big bison grazing just near the driver’s door. Can you imagine stepping out of your RV and seeing yourself surrounded by that many bison? Just so funny!!

Ah dear, there are bison all around us - your turn to start the car!!!!

We saw lots of critters, apart from the bison, along the trip. Mostly back bears but we did see a mama brown bear with cubs which was so cute.

We pulled in to Contact Creek for fuel (only $1.33 per litre woo hoo!!!) and the lady was telling us that they had seen a mama grizzly with two cubs and Norm and I were wondering if that was one of her cubs that we had seen on ’Sunday when we went to Watson Lake. We did see the cub not far from, Contact Creek. Not sure I would want to run into mama bear though!

Watson Lake was looking considerably less crowded when we arrived about lunch time. I decided to make use of the afternoon and did all the washing! Boring!!!

In the evening Rick, Karen, Norm and I headed over the the ’Signpost Forest”. This was started by Carl Lindley , from Danville, Illinois in 1942 when the Alaska Highway was being constructed. And while his original sign is no longer there, when they celebrated the 50th anniversary of the highway he donated a replica sign to the forest. I might add there are approximately 75000 + signs there now. And they come from all over the world. While Norm and I didn’t have one we are coming back through Watson Lake on our way back to the US so we will do something about it in the meantime and we will be sure to leave a sign.

Just a few of the 75,000+ signs in the Forest.

After the Signpost Forest we watched a video of the history of the Yukon and the construction of the highway and then made our way over to the Northern Lights Centre to the Omni Theatre type of affair..

Here we watched a video about the size of space and our solar system which was very interesting however it was difficult to stay focused with the lay back seats with the video projected on to the ceiling. The second video held everyone spellbound as it was about the Aurora Borealis. I wasn’t aware of it, but the Aurora comes in green and red and very occasionally, blue.

The video maker had filmed in North America and Europe mainly and the film was amazing. I would love to see it for real however we are here at the wrong time of the year so Norm and I will have to make sure we go to Iceland in the winter so see it properly!!!! Yeah another trip!!!!

I have to mention the daylight up here!!!! It is daylight nearly 24 hours a day and absolutely messes up with the body clock. It is still daylight at 11.00pm and that is waaaay past my bedtime!!! We have had to stick foam in the bedroom skylight and vinyl in the exhaust fan so that we can get some sleep!!! The other night we were sitting around the campfire until about 10.45pm and it still wasn’t even twilight!!!

And the bad news is - it is only going to get worse the further north we move!! What a difficult problem!!! And that is probably the biggest hassle I have so I must be having a great life!!!!!

Friday we are driving to Teslin and then on to Whitehorse tomorrow where we will spend a couple of days. Rick and Karen have already gone on to Whitehorse in an effort to get some of their problems fixed. We will meet up with them when we get there.

Oops, forgot to mention that while I did the washing Norm went back to the clinic to find out if they had forgotten his tetanus needle on Sunday or if they had decided not to give him one. Bad luck there - had a jab in his shoulder. I guess that is better than getting Lockjaw!!

Okay signing off now. Catch you next time I have access to wifi. So until then take care of you and yours and love and hugs to our family and friends.


Tuesday, June 12, 2012

A drama or two!!!!!

G’day all!

We were traveling from Sikanni River to Fort Nelson when I finished my last post. It was an interesting drive with lots of water lying around and some wildlife along the road. We were fortunate to see a black bear on the side of the road early in the trip. We figured it was a bear but really as we drove past it just looked like a black blob on the side of the road.

It wasn’t that long after that Steve and Nancy pulled over suddenly and, thinking they may have been in trouble, Norm and I pulled up in front of them. I raced back to see if everything was okay and Nancy informed me that Steve had seen a black bear. Peering around the front of their vehicle I was able to see it and raced back to our truck for the camera. It was a big one and we got some really great photos. Our first serious wildlife sighting since the eight of us started our journey. After that we decided that it would be a good idea to be behind Steve as he was pretty good at spotting the wildlife as we went along.

We stopped off at the Trapper’s Den before arriving in Fort Nelson. We thought it might be an interesting place but turned out to be just another shop aimed at the tourists. There are a few of them up here!!!

Arriving at Fort Nelson we stayed at the Triple G RV Park. After setting up we set off for the Heritage Museum which was really interesting with many very old cars that are still in working order thanks to 80 year old Marl who still drives some of them for important occasions within the town.

Then on to the Visitor’s Centre where we found out about the next two stops and finally the eight of us went out for a lovely dinner. An early night followed as we had another day of driving again the next day. I am a little over the drive all day, set up, pack everything away the next morning and drive another day. We have been doing a lot of that since we left Phoenix. I am really looking forward to a couple of days in Watson Lake!!

We got an early start the next morning and headed to our destination at Strawberry Flats Campground at Muncho Lake. We had been advised to fill up with petrol before Muncho as they were pretty expensive! Ha!! We filled up at Toad River - $1.70 per litre!!! But then we checked out Muncho Lake at $2.00 per litre. Good move at Toad River.

Toad River was an interesting stop though. Apart from the cost of the fuel they had a shop (the usual touristy stuff) where the ceiling was absolutely covered with baseball caps!! They were from all over the world and made quite a colourful display. We only had our two Aussie ones and were reluctant to leave them.

Norm and I on the shores of Summt Lake - very cold!

We made it to Strawberry Flats and that is where some of our problems started! Oh boy if things could go wrong then they certainly did.

The sites were very small and difficult to get into but Jim and Jan (our heroes and the most amazing parking team) got our rig into our spot and put his own into the most difficult place. At one time he had his 35ft rig at right angles to the truck!! It was amazing to watch.

Rick and Karen had quite a difficult time getting into their spot and unfortunately their worries began here with some damage to the front fender and bumper of Rick’s truck. Then they had problems with the bedroom slide which wouldn’t extend, then the toilet wouldn’t stop running so an urgent repair job on that. The next morning as we were getting ready to leave their front jacks wouldn’t retract and had to be done manually.

Stone sheep

Early morning view of Muncho Lake from Strawberry Flats Campground - how amazing is that?

About ten miles down the road we stopped at a pull out to have a look at the view of Muncho Lake and the guys noticed the smell of rubber. After walking around the rigs the guys dismissed it as just the use of the brakes. It wasn’t till our next stop a bit further on, that the smell of rubber became even more noticeable and Rick discovered that two of the wheels on his RV were rubbing against each other! Oh boy! The guys soon discovered that one of the leaf springs on the rear set of wheels had broken causing them to pivot so that the rear wheel was rubbing against the front one. Bugger!!!

Okay so Norm, Karen and I jump in our truck and head back to the lodge at Muncho Lake so Karen can call the Good Sam road side assistance they have. Not our day - the phone lines are down and there is no way to contact Good Sam via internet.

Back to the broken down rig and Karen and Rick disconnect their truck from the RV and drive to Liard River where we are all heading, so they can make a phone call. One and a half hours on hold to Good Sam and no luck. Eventually they contact someone in Fort Nelson who can come out and fix the spring the next morning, Sunday, so they head back to the RV to spend the night!!! This is the short version of the story too!!!

The rest of us head to Liard Hot Springs Provincial Park where we planned to spend one night before moving on to Watson Lake. Well we arrive at Liard to find that the road from Watson Lake to Whitehorse has been washed out in four places and no-one can get through. There is only one road to Whitehorse and no way to go around unless we wanted to go all the way back through Prince George.

Well we pulled in to the three spots that we had chosen and Jim and Norm started setting up the RV’s for the night while Jan and I went up to the office to pay. EXCEPT, that the two sites we had chosen were ‘one night only’ (already booked for the next night) and if the road wasn’t opened by Sunday then we would have to move and potentially have to boondock in the pullout on the other side of the highway.

Jan and I discovered that there was a double site that we could potentially share that wasn’t booked and we could stay as long as needed so while I sat in the site to discourage any other RV’s from pulling in Jan hightailed it back to the guys to tell them to pull in the slides and get ready to roll and move both RV’s to the new site.

As it turned out this was a wise decision as I am writing this on Monday and it doesn’t look like the road to Whitehorse will be opened to traffic until Tuesday. Apparently an alternative one lane route is being developed and the 300 trucks that are waiting at either end of the washout will be able to use it tonight with the other traffic will start moving tomorrow.

The stories that we had heard about the bank up of traffic in Watson Lake, cars and trucks and RV’s parked on the side of the roads and in ditches, the town running out of supplies and fuel were greatly exaggerated as Norm and I found out on Sunday when we had to take a flying run up there for medical help. Yep you guessed it, Norm had an accident! He was cleaning some mud from the front of the RV when he stood and turned and hit his head on the hitch. What a mess!!

Well the statistics were! Departing Liard at 1.00pm and fuel - $1.87 per litre. En route to Watson Lake -four black bears, one brown bear, one grizzly cub, two bison, nine cars heading to Liard and one car going to Watson Lake and six bicyclists. Distance to Watson Lake - 128 miles. At Watson Lake - fuel $1.36 per litre, 8 stitches in his head at $67.50 per stitch! Watson Lake back to Liard - 128 miles. Fuel at Contact Creek $1.33 per litre. Six black bears and six bison, five trucks and six cars going to Watson Lake and one car and two bicyclists heading towards Liard. Arrived back at Liard at 9.00pm. And you know what - he didn’t even have a headache!!! No brain no pain!!!!

I did manage to do some shopping in Watson Lake so we would have plenty to eat if the road wasn’t opened for a couple of days. Plenty of supplies were available (except milk- I got the last two litres of lactose free milk) as some of the produce trucks that were delivering to Whitehorse were stuck in Watson Lake and rather than let stuff go off they were making sure that the town was supplied. Thoughtful truckies!

Well we have heard today about the trucks going through tonight however it is raining once again at Liard which doesn’t promise good things as there are concerns with the Liard River, which was very high yesterday and had broken its banks in some places along the road and also, although Watson Lake is a fair way from here if they get more rain there may be further damage to the roads up there.

Mind you, if you had to get stuck somewhere I am absolutely certain there are far worse places to be stuck than Liard. The hot springs are just wonderful and Norm and I have spent a lot of time in them over the last three days. There is even a resident moose that likes to smooch around in a field just next to the boardwalk that goes to the springs.

Beautiful Liard Hot Springs.

We have all decided to stay here till Wednesday when we hope that there may be some room at the RV parks in Watson Lake (hopefully) where we will spend one night before heading further into Yukon Territory.

There is no wifi in the park here but I will try to get on at the lodge across the road to post this. If not it is going to have to wait till we are in Watson Lake.

We hope you are all staying well and happy and that all is right in your world.

Love and hugs from us.


PS No time to edit.  As at posting the road is open to trucks and maybe start the backlog of cars going through today.  Read about the storms back home - please stay safe everyone.
Pictures to come late as I am sitting in the lodge across the road from the park and hacking into their wifi.  Now off back to the park for breakfast and a soak in the hot springs - what a hard life!!!!!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

A Not So Great Start.

Wednesday morning and we are due to start the first day of our trek north with Rick and Karen (Texas), Jim and Jan and Steve and Nancy (both couples from Minnesota). It has been raining cats and dogs for the last couple of days and nights and the park has turned into a bit of a muddy quagmire so it seems like a good time to move.

We are up and ready by 8.00 although Norm was pretty soaked from doing all the ’outside stuff’ in the rain and I am just a tad wet.

And we are off.

Our first overnight stop was at Sikanni (pronounced Sickenee) Chief River RV. Not a long drive although Norm and I did have to stop after about 50 miles to get the new tyres tightened and when we finally caught up with the rest of the group they were just sitting down to coffee and cinnamon rolls at The Shepherd’s Inn. Now I love cinnamon rolls but knowing how big the ones are at home Norm and I decided to go halves. Good idea that one. The rolls were straight from the pan and piping hot and oh so yummy but there is no way that I could have eaten one on my own. They were HUGE!!!! Next time we might even suggest we share and go quarters!!!!!! Apparently the cinnamon rolls at this end of the world are quite the thing with every stop trying to outdo everyone else and having the title of The Best Cinnamon Rolls in the North”. I think I will enjoy being one of the judges for that competition.

One thing that has struck me on this drive and I may have mentioned this before in a previous post but it is the destructive presence of the pine beetle.

                                          A very fuzzy picture of the reddish brown trees
                                          some healthy green ones.

This beetle is making such a mess of the forests up here (we saw it in Yellowstone and in the Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado). The beetle destroys the pine trees and in the initial stages, the trees turn a reddish brown colour before dying completely and turning black. Apparently the only way to stop them is with extremely cold (like freezing!!!!) temperatures for a period of time. Bit like the DieBack situation in our Jarrah forests in West Australia except for the freezing temperatures!!!!!!

                                          Coming down the hill into Sikanni - very slowly!!!

We pulled into the rv park and had places right next to the river. In fact Jim’s rig was about 10m from the banks. Then Rick and Karen, us and the Steve and Nancy. It was still raining and the owner of the park was explaining the ‘white ties’. There was a steel pole with an eagle carving on the top - the Watcher of the River. It was placed on the edge of the river although the bottom of it was now in the river. The pole had white marker ties up it and the river was lapping at the bottom tie. The owner explained that if the water reached the third marker then we would need to consider moving the rv’s. It was still raining and the river was flowing at quite a quick pace.

Anyway we decided we would be fine and all had lunch then had a bit of a get together to decide on future stops and parks. After that we all checked out the river - yep up a bit - and retired for the night.

    If you look very closely you can see the first plastic tie just above the water level!

The owner did suggest to Jim that he might like to move but Jim decided to tough it out - it was only for one night!

Well at 4.00am we are awakened by a knock on the door. The river is still rising. Rick was up and had decided that retreat was the better part of valour and was going to move his rig. He had spoken with Jim who also decided to move. Norm woke Steve and Nancy and told them our plans and left them to make their decision. They were on the highest ground so decided to stay put although Nancy told me that they didn’t get back to sleep so a really interrupted night for all.

The three rigs were prepared - slides in, power disconnected etc - and then moved to higher ground a bit away from the still rising river.

    The three rigs first thing in the morning.

We woke up the next morning to find the river lapping at the third tie and Jim would have had to drive through a bit of the overflowing river to get out of his site. We would have been fine and so would Rick and Karen but given the rapid rise of the water it was a wise decision. We didn’t know how much water had been dumped up river.

                                                    As you can see the only tie showing now is the top one!!!

Just as we were preparing to leave we were visited by a young man in a truck who had been instructed to come down (some sort of government agency) and check to see that we were all okay. I was most impressed by that gesture and also by the owners of the park who were so accommodating and helpful and such lovely people.

I must add that by the time we left the park at about 8.30am the water had risen above the third tie. No-one is going to be parking in those sites tonight!!!!

As I write this we are driving down the highway, in convoy, to our next stop. The scenery is pretty bland at the moment with the road wending its way through pine forests to the right and to the left and in front. Oh how quickly we get blasé!!! 

I hope I will be able to put this and some photos up this evening when we arrive at our next stop so love and hugs to family and friends, stay safe and be happy!!!!!

And just after I finished this and put the camera away - guess what!!!  Oh well you will have to wait for the next post!!!  Suspenders!!!!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Oops and arriving in Dawson Creek.

We are now in Dawson Creek, British Columbia, Canada and tomorrow we start our journey north.  The other three couples are all here and as I type this it is raining cats and dogs!

Before I get into the last couple of days I must tell you about the drama as we drove from Phoenix to Bullhead City in Arizona. 

We were driving along Interstate 40 and turning north through Kingman when we had to stop for a short stop for Karen.  We pulled into a parking area and Norm got out to check things out (it was our first day on the road).  He jiggled the spare on the fiver and decided to tighten it as it was a bit loose.

A guy had driven up in his truck and told Norm that he was glad he was changing it!  Surprised Norm, who wasn't changing anything and explained that to him.  This bloke went on to explain that he had been behind us and had noticed a problem with one of the tyres on the fiver.  He pointed it out to Norm and explained that we had some 'tyre separation'.  He asked Norm if he wanted a hand to change the tyre and then said that if we drove a little way up the road we could use his tyre business facility.

To cut a very long story short, half an hour later we drove out of his business with four new 10 ply tyres to replace the 8 ply ones that were standard on the fiver!!!!  We are still not sure if he was trolling the interstate drumming up business or if we were just extremely lucky that he saw the problem.  When we inspected the suspect tyre it did look damaged and being the optimists that we are, we will choose to believe that we just got very lucky.
The reason for this story is that last night we were advised to get the truck tyres checked as our good Samaritan thought they may be a bit low for the long haul to Alaska and back.  And no, we don't think this Samaritan doesn't own shares in a tyre business - do you Jim??????

     Lac La Hache

My last blog came to you from Lac La Hache, BC.  From there we moved on to Prince George where we were going to stay at Mama Yeh RV Park - closed!!!!!  So we moved on to Bee Lazee RV Park which was fine for an overnight stay.  Norm and I drove into PG to organise a new pre paid phone card so now I have one for Canada, one for the USA and of course one for Australia.  Certainly heaps cheaper than roaming from Australia and the USA.  Coverage up here is a bit like that of West Aust.  - very patchy in rural areas - or which there are a lot up here!

From Prince George we have now moved to Dawson Creek.  The drive up was absolutely spectacular.  We drove through snow covered mountains and high valleys, grazing and farming country, along river courses, and just stunning scenery. 


We also passed a moose on the side of the road.  I was driving and Norm was snoozing so no photos of course.  I must admit I scared the proverbial out of Norm!  He was snoozing and I start yelling 'Moose, moose, moose!'.  He jumps up yelling 'Beep the horn, beep the horn!'  Of course I did and the moose took off into the bush.

A bit later a bald eagle flew in front of the truck but even I wasn't quick enough with the camera to get a photo.  Hopefully we will see more wildlife as we go along and the camera will be ready.

Dawson Creek is the start of the Alaska Highway and yesterday we went off to watch a video of the construction of the Highway during WW2.  What an amazing engineering feat and such a short time frame in which to get it done?!!!!  After watching the video we went to the Mile 0 Marker and took some photos and yes I will post them - soon!  And here it is!!

We really have been taking it easy since we arrived in Dawson Creek.  Norm has gone off to have the tyres checked and I am trying to get this up to date and do some more chores.  For such a small home there sure is plenty to keep busy.  Mind you I think I create 'stuff' to do.  I keep rearranging cupboards in an effort to be more efficient and safer.  We had had an accident when we arrived in Prince George in that one of the cupboards had popped open with all the bumps on the road, and Norm's cereal box had burst open on impact with the floor.  I cleaned up but needed to find a way to keep it from happening again.

The rest of our traveling companions are now all here in Dawson Creek so last night we all had dinner together and had such a lovely time.

Tomorrow we head out early in the morning to go on the first leg of our trip to Alaska. So until my next post I wish everyone a safe and happy time.  Our love to our family and friends and we think of you all often.


Friday, June 1, 2012

Seattle at last!!!

I had composed these three blog entries as one but decided to split them up to make it easier to read!!!  Yeah right!!  Maybe I should have posted them on different days to make it easier or at least posted them on the days I wrote them.  Oh well I make the same promise I always do - I will try to do better next time!  Now now don't be so sceptical!!!!

We had two more stops before Seattle and stayed in two lovely parks. The first was Joe Creek Waterfall which was beautiful and did actually have its own waterfall and gorgeous water hole that would be fabulous for swimming in the heat of summer (does it get hot enough for that this far north???). The second park was out of Silverton, OR. and was lovely and although it would have been nice to stay longer however we are on a pretty tight schedule so no tarrying I am afraid.

It was a park in Silverton that Karen and Rick did us a huge favour! The amount of alcohol that we could take into Canada was a lot less than we had in the rv so they very kindly helped us significantly reduce our reserves. We will need some more help before we cross the border though, so they will need to help us a bit more. We appreciate their ongoing support!!!!!!!

We have driven through the most gorgeous country from North California up to Salem. Amazing mountains covered with fir trees, huge lakes, waterfalls, farming country and around Silverton there were numerous nurseries with the most stunning plants ready for planting.

I have been just blown away by the rhododendrons! When we were driving the Blue Ridge Parkway last year we were too early for them but this year and where we have been driving they are just stunning. I have taken quite a few photos of them but I really don’t think they do the flowers justice. I would love to be able to grow them, and the dogwoods from the east coast, at home but not cold enough or enough rain.

Finally! We arrived in Seattle and settled in to our usual park on Lake Sawyer. It was Memorial Day weekend so the park was packed but we lucked out and managed to get a ‘pull thru’. Norm and I are not that good with ‘back ins’. It is okay if we can back straight in but when we have to get the rv around a corner - well you could say it poses some difficulties!

We settled in and on Saturday night we joined Rick and Karen at Rick’s sister and brother in law’s home for dinner. We had an awesome dinner - Joanne is a great cook - and the company was wonderful. After a long day on the road we headed back to the rv and hit the hay very quickly. Another busy day coming up!

An early start to the day took us to Home Depot to buy Norm’s new toys. A generator (so we can boondock in Canada and Alaska), a new compressor (the other one wasn’t big enough) and a new tool box for the back of the truck to put it all in! Then off of Jo Ann’s to buy the foam for the bedroom skylight - don’t ask - long story!!! (Which we didn’t get but did get other essential (sewing) ‘stuff’!

We then headed over to see Don and Kelli and stay with them for the night. The plan was to stay with them some of Monday and then head back to the rv so we would have Monday afternoon and Tuesday to get all the jobs done before we crossed the border into Canada on Wednesday. Well!!!! That plan lasted about 5 minutes after our arrival. To say that Norm and Kelli ganged up on me is putting it mildly and then they brought in the heavy guns and Don joined in!! What chance did I have????? So the new plan was that we would stay two nights and I would get the washing done at Kelli’s.

If you are ever in Seattle I recommend having fish and chips at ‘Spuds’. It is THE best fish and chips I have had for a very long time. The restaurant is a Seattle institution and sits overlooking the water.

Back to Kelli and Don’s and a leisurely afternoon (or what was left of it) chatting, reacquainting ourselves with the gorgeous Greta and Faith and thinking about dinner. Don and I went done to the supermarket and bought some steaks for Norm to cook on the Barbie and we sat out on the deck having dinner. A gorgeous way to spend an evening.

Monday saw a leisurely start to the day with Norm and I taking off to get the washing and Kelli and Don going off to pick up Kane the guide pup they are currently training. Another gorgeous Labrador.

We visited the Chateau Ste Michelle and took a wine tour and tasting which was very interesting and tasty. Some of the wines were really lovely but patriotism means that I have to say they aren’t as good as Aussie wines!!!!

Home to a wonderful slow cooker dinner and visitors afterwards. Kelli is the most amazing cook. She thinks about something and then before you know what is happening it is done. We the friends coming over Kelli whipped up two raspberry and rhubarb pies. Just like that (click of the fingers)!!! Talk about yum!! What a wonderful evening just sitting around chatting and eating Kelli’s wonderful pies!!! Life doesn’t get much better!!!

Reluctantly saying farewell to Kelli and Don (we love you guys), the next morning we headed back to the rv and all the jobs to be done. Norm had to install the tool box and figure out where to put all his new toys and I had a huge shop to do, stocking up on goodies for the trip and a few other chores around the rv.

DRAMA!!! Norm opens the box with the new compressor and finds it has been used and is a mess. So off he goes with Rick, back to Home Depot where the lady is so concerned she gives him $30.00 off the price. Now it was $129 and discounted to $99 which now means that it was going to cost $69 however because they had already given Norm a $65.17 refund on the previous compressor that he returned it was now going to cost us $3.83 - sort of! You win some!!!

While Rick and Norm dealt with all the ‘men’ toys, Karen and I took off to the supermarket to do some shopping. I was stocking up on lots of bits that apparently cost an arm and a leg once you get into Canada and Alaska so all we will need to buy while up there will be the fresh produce. Well that is the plan anyway,

After once again helping us reduce the amount of alcohol we were carrying we all headed to bed in preparation for the drive tomorrow and crossing the border. While we have done everything we can think of to meet the Canadian requirements we are still hoping that we cross the border without having to go through the hassle of a search. Experience of other rv’ers is that if you are searched the officers remove everything from every cupboard and storage compartment and then you have to put it all back. We would prefer for that not to happen.

We set off early after deciding not to take Interstate 5 as it had lots of roadwork’s and was extremely heavy with traffic. We got a reasonably easy drive up to the crossing at Sumas, Washington and would you believe it the officer asked us where we lived, did we have anything that we wanted to declare or get rid of, did we own the rig or rent it, how long we were going to be in Canada and were we traveling with the folks in front? Oops forgot to mention he also asked us if we were carrying any firearms! Apparently anyone with Texas plates their vehicles is a bit suspect in that regard! We answered all his questions as he checked our passports and then he wished us a good trip and sent us on our way. Easy and painless.

Our first stay in Canada was in the most beautiful spot in Hope, British Columbia. The drive to Hope was just stunning. Mountains everywhere and the town is surrounded on all sides by mountains. Our rv was backed up against the Fraser River under fir trees and was just gorgeous.

Our next day is spent driving to the 100 Mile House Campground. We pulled in and pulled straight out again. Not a place to stay. Some young people told us that the camp hosts hadn’t been there for 6-8 months so many people just pulled in, boon docked for nothing and then left. We wanted something a little more up market so we headed for an rv park at Lac La Hache.

It looked a bit rough as we headed down a dirt road and as we approached however we had really easy pull throughs we a beautiful view of the lake behind us. The lady host also sold me a loaf of beautiful home made bread which would have been lovely for dinner however it was a bit late in coming so it made lovely toast the next morning and sandwiches for lunch.

When in Canada you say bye or au revoir. So au revoir for now and more to come in the next couple of days as we finally arrive in Dawson Creek to meet up with Jim and Jan, who have done all the planning for this amazing adventure, and the rest of our traveling companions.

Or as we say in Australia (sometimes) - Ooroo!

Magnificent Mammoth Lake - what a stunning place!!

Another riveting and enthralling episode in the adventures of us!

Our friends Mike and Mo are working at Crystal Crag Lodge up on Mammoth Lakes and we are looking forward to catching up with them. I have been following Mike’s blog and have had quite a few laughs at some of the predicaments that they have found themselves in.  We caught up with them for dinner on our first night and laughed the whole evening.

The next day, Rick, Karen, Norm and I took off for a day of sightseeing. We went up to the lodge to see where Mike and Mo are working and were absolutely blown away by the most amazing scenery! Talk about a slice of heaven here on earth. The waterfalls, crystal clear lakes, snow capped mountains and pine covered slopes were unbelievable.

I find I take a photo and then look away at something else and then look back and am so moved I need to take another photo. Needless to say, I take way too many, so thank goodness for digital cameras! It is impossible to take lousy photos when you have such stunning scenery.

Mike and Mo joined us all for dinner and we had so much fun. It was difficult to say our goodbyes so we agreed to try to cross paths somewhere later in our travels.

The next day was a really long day with about 330miles to get us from Mammoth Lakes, up through Reno, Nevada and then back into California to Dunnigan. Now that was an interesting RV park! Quite a few permanent residents that had a very interesting vocabulary that we listened to rather late in the evening! They did quiet down and we were able to get a decent night’s sleep in the end.

Our next two overnight stops took us up into Oregon which is just the most stunning countryside. It is just beautiful with wooded hills, lots of rivers and farming country. I think I could live in Oregon but then again I say that about so many of the places we visit. This country is just so diverse!

I don’t know if I have commented before but this country has sooooo much water. There are lakes, rivers and streams everywhere! I guess when you have so much water, conservation isn’t really necessary. I could probably count on the fingers of one hand the number of times I have come across dual flush toilets. Just saying!!!!!

Our next stop is Seattle at one of our favourite RV Parks and catching up with more wonderful friends Kelli and Don and their St Bernard’s Greta and Faith and Kane who is a guide dog in training.

For those of you who are new to our blog Kelli and Don came to our rescue when we in need of somewhere to leave the rv and truck when we took our cruise to Alaska in 2010.

We had made friends with a couple, Mary and Bruce from Wisconsin, and while we were visiting them I was searching on the internet for a park or somewhere to leave the rig while on the cruise.

Unbeknown to me Mary sent an email to, Sandra, her sister-in-law in Seattle, asking if she knew anyone with room for an rv. Sandra then sent the email to everyone in the Guide Dogs for the Blind group in which she was involved and Kelli and Don put their hand up. They looked after the rv and took us to the cruise ship and then picked us up on our return. Such wonderful people! They made us so welcome and we really appreciate everything they have done for us but especially, their friendship. We were so looking forward to caching up with them again.

Here endeth this episode in the life and times of the real GRAY nomads! Be healthy, be loved and above all be happy. Love and hugs from us.

We’re baaacckkkk!!!!!! Another Beginning.

It could be good or it could be your worst nightmare!!! The Aussies are back in the US!!! We left Perth on Monday evening, 14th May and flew to LA via Auckland NZ. In fact, we left Auckland at 9.30pm Tuesday 15th and arrived in LA at 2.00pm on Tuesday 15th!! Just love that International Date Line. We had a 14 hour layover in Auckland so had spent the time sleeping at a motel and then spent the night in LA before heading to Phoenix early on 16th. Our arrival in Phoenix was very special because we were met at the airport by our friends Rick and Karen. They had a lovely sign welcoming us back which was terrific. They took us straight out to the RV storage facility where we had to pick up the truck and fiver. The staff and facilities at Coyote Pass RV Storage in El Mirage are fantastic and we can certainly recommend them if anyone is looking for storage. The good part was that Doug, our rescuer in Phoenix when we had the trouble just before leaving last time, had done all the right things and the truck started first time and the fiver was in excellent condition. We then took the fiver to a dealership to get the wheel bearings repacked while we had a delightful lunch with Karen and Rick back at their campground. It was so wonderful to be able to catch up with the last year over lunch. We have so much fun with these guys. Karen and I ducked down to the shops so I could pick up a few essentials for the fridge and pantry although before we leave on Saturday an extended and very serious trip to the supermarket is on the agenda. Obviously before we left last time we emptied the fridge and pantry so it all has to be restocked - long shopping list being developed. Thursday, Norm and I spent the day unpacking all the clothes and ‘stuff’ we had put in storage in the fiver and unpacking the suitcases and putting everything back in its rightful place. Needless to say an early night was on the cards! Friday was to be our last day in Phoenix so Karen and I headed off to the supermarket for some serious shopping. We had a really good giggle as we were heading back to the campground. Karen and I were loading the shopping into the truck as a lady, a bit older than us we think, came up to Karen and very politely asked her, “Have either of you two ladies ever had a colonoscopy?” Of course I am just about having an apoplectic fit while Karen is very politely telling her that it isn’t that bad and she shouldn’t be looking after the children as she may have to get to the ‘potty’ in a bit of a rush in the preparation! We really cracked up in the truck on the way home! Early Saturday morning Norm and I got up and started going through our pack up routine. We are a bit out of practice and had to check very carefully that we were doing everything in the right order and doing it correctly. A small hiccup with attaching the truck to the fiver was very quickly rectified and no problems. I must admit though it did take us a bit longer than usual but I am sure we will become more efficient as we go along. Our journey today isn’t too long as we head up I17 towards Flagstaff and then connect with I40 to get us to Bullhead City which is still in Arizona. We will only be staying overnight and we may use the afternoon to do some domestic chores that have to be done. (Boring!!!!!) We spent a hot night in Bullhead City and then left early the next morning for Inyokern in California. Another hot night and so looking forward to the cooler weather forecast in Mammoth Lakes. More to come as we move north. See you somewhere in the great outdoors or they say here - see ya on the road! Take care and be kind to you.