(You might want to pour yourself a cup of tea and get comfy! This is my first internet connection in three days……)
May 19, 2009, Tuesday, day Nine
Fort Nelson to Laird Hot Springs
What a spectacular day! After the guys fueled up, John got his windshield ding fixed and Naomi figured out what to do about the dentist, we headed to the local Pioneer Museum. It’s amazing to me how much stuff can be collected for an area that was relatively unpopulated until 1942 when the 2000 soldiers arrived to begin construction of the Alaska Highway.
Fort Nelson was originally Mile 0 for the highway until the stretch from Dawson Creek to Fort Nelson was completed and then it became Mile 300. Even today the population is just over 5000. But this museum was pretty extensive and seemed to include a little bit of everything historical about the town and the area. It was a good way to start the day.
Official departure was around 10:30, we made two stops for a total of about 40 minutes and made it to Laird Hot Springs Provincial Park by 3:30. That might not seem like a lot of driving time, but oh where that highway took us! Up and down (and up and down and up and down), around mountains, alongside beautiful lakes, over rivers and then along side the rivers. I was bouncing from the front seat to the sofa to try and get shot after shot of some of the most breathtaking scenery I have ever seen. We saw caribou, stone sheep, bison and a glimpse of a bear. The sky was a perfect backdrop for the stunning white crowned mountain tops, the mountain tops were the perfect background for the spectacular lakes and rivers we drove by. Honestly, I took close to 500 pictures. It’s embarrassing, but I just couldn’t stop myself. (Plus it distracts me from getting too involved in all of the 8%-9% grades that we were either going up or going down). I’ve tried to pick just one (ok, sometimes two…maybe three) pictures from each hour of the day’s drive. Here goes –
The day started out pretty cold, but we were so pleased with the sunshine that we didn’t even care as the hills gradually became more and more covered with the white stuff.
Setting out –
Before too long -
the snow was all around us!
11:30 – 12:30
We did stop for a photo op at Steamboat Mountain Summit –
And then just to be silly –
(Can you see we’re a little bundled up? I think it was still below freezing at this point.)
12:30 – 1:30
We stopped for lunch at Summit Lake – the highest point on the Alaska Highway. (We were at the lowest point just that morning when we were at Fort Nelson).
Peanut butter and Jelly have rarely been set to such lovely surroundings!
It’s good to meet friends on the road.
1:30 – 2:30
Views from the side windows -
Muncho Lake. This was absolutely stunning. It’s seven miles long and for a good part of it we were driving right along the edge (with a stone wall beside us). The color was amazing – even with it mostly covered with ice it was dazzling.
(That our little caravan coming around the corner)
So beautiful! I couldn’t resist going over my allotment of pictures on that one
And here is a moose – making it’s way (rapidly) down the river –
Did you know that moose can swim continuously for several hours, dive to depths of 20 feet, and can remain submerged for up to a minute? Well, now you do!
He’s just a dot in this picture (toward the right) – I think he was in the express lane!
By 3:30 we were at our campground for the night – Laird Hot Springs Provincial Park. No hook-ups, but two wonderful hot (and I mean HOT) springs.
Here are John and Rosie and Gary and I enjoying a relaxing dip in the spring –
It was a lovely way to end a beautiful day. (Not to mention a great dinner and fellowship around a campfire!)
Wednesday, May 20, 2009 Day 10 – Entering the YUKON!
Laird Hot Springs to Continental Divide Campground
Another gorgeous day! The early daylight is making early risers out of us, and Gary and I were out for a walk (after breakfast!) by 6:30. (scary, isn’t it?).
We walked out to the hot springs to check out the second pool – it was just as lovely as the one we had taken our dip in, but much deeper. And so beautiful in the morning light –
We pulled out right on scheduled and continued our trek North and West. We had seen several signs warning about Bison herds, but had only spotted a couple along the road. We weren’t too far down the road when we finally came upon a herd (ok, so it’s not a Dancing with Wolves size herd, but we felt it was pretty sizable!).
And imagine our delight to find several young ones in the group – and one even nursing.
We continued to keep our eyes peeled for wildlife along the side of the road and a couple of time spotted a black bear grazing near a tree line. We finally hit the jackpot though –
Made my day!
The road was pretty much winding through forested hills
as it followed the Laird River west.
I was excited to see the snowcapped mountains on the horizon
but wasn’t so excited about the fact that I couldn’t see any more of the road. Gulp.
We made it to Watson Lake and the Signpost Forest just before noon.
Travelers from all around the world stop there and nail a sign to one of the posts in the “forest”. We came prepared –
And were glad that we had joined in the tradition.
A quick lunch and on to the last bit of our trip for the day.
We did hit a couple stretches of gravel – not a real problem to drive on, but boy does it kick up the dust. It’s one of the good times to be the one out front!
As we were approaching our destination for the day -
And finally the view out of our picture window here at our resting place for the night.
Snow notwithstanding, we ate dinner outside and enjoyed a lovely campfire with some neighbors from Austria.
Tomorrow we will be splitting up for a bit. We’ll leave together, but Jay and Naomi will be heading into Whitehorse for a dentist appointment (yea!!!) while the rest of us head to Carcross. Once they’re finished at the dentist they’ll come down and join us. We are planning on camping in Carcross and then driving down to Skagway for the day on Friday.
Map of Days 9 &10
Map of Day 11 (Jay and Naomi’s route is the little blue line!)
(OK, I’m back to the present! The Carpers did indeed head to Whitehorse for the dentist (and Naomi did get her tooth fixed enough so she’ll be comfortable for the rest of the trip) and we are settled in at a little campground in Carcross. The guys have just finished up washing the rigs and cars – boy, were they dirty! I’ve finished up some laundry, worked on getting this post ready to go and now I need to get the vacuuming done. I do have some pictures of the drive today – but I’ll spare you right now. I mean, really – how much of this road stuff can you take! We won’t be heading into Skagway until Saturday, so tomorrow is a little up in the air. But with all the tourism information we have, I’m sure we’ll find something to do!)