It’s pretty hot here in Glendale today (with promises of the 90’s by Wednesday), so I was feeling just a little reminiscent of our drive to Alaska. Snowballs and hot springs – ah, now there are some memories……
May 21, 2009 – Catching up – Day 8 + 9
(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!)
This is a little “time hop” memory from exactly six years ago. Monday, August 17, 2009. Just in case you’re a bit overwhelmed by the heat, here are some photos of glaciers! Enjoy!
If this is Monday, this must be……
So where was I, before I was so rudely interrupted by no internet? I can’t begin to remember what day (of travel) this is. I can just barely remember what day of the week this is. And the actual date – now that’s really a stretch! Thank goodness for auto-fill on the computer!
But we have been quite busy since I last had an opportunity to post. I’ll have to do a summary, with just a couple of pictures since I’m so far behind, but I’ll let you know where you can find more pictures if you’d like a larger sampling of the areas!
Jasper –Columbia Icefields – Banff
These three areas all stretch together down the Canadian Rocky Mountains. While we hit a bad stretch of weather while we were in these Canadian National Parks, we still could see the beauty of the area. If you are a hiker or biker or climber or kayaker or shopper – these are ideal towns for you to visit. If you’re “Slightly Over Weight Early Retirees” (a humerous (?) explanation of SOWERs) there is still a lot of beauty to see. And all with just the right amount of hiking involved!
There was Mt. Helen Cavell – a lovely hike to the base of the mountain and the edge of Angel Glacier. The drive there was beautiful and the mountain and glacier were impressive.
Then there was Maligne Canyon and Medicine Lake – more incredible displays of God’s handiwork.
Before we set off for Banff the next morning, we visited Athabasca Falls. It was raining pretty hard, but you could still see (and hear) the power of those waterfalls. Quite a way to start the day!
The road between Jasper and Banff – the Icefields Parkway – is considered to be one of the most beautiful drives in the world. We started out in the rain, and ended in the rain, but along the way the clouds cleared and we could appreciate some of that acclaim.
When we hit the Columbia Icefields, the sky was beginning to clear and the sun was working its magic on the mountains around us. We did a Tourist Splurge, and took the Ice Machine ride up onto the Athabasca Glacier. It was incredible!
By the time we were pulling into Banff, it was pouring again. Bummer. Banff is a very lovely tourist town – shop after shop after shop. One of the reasons we were in Banff was to connect with a cousin that I hadn’t seen in almost 25 years. He was in town for a convention (that he was actually running) and he was able to break free long enough to treat us to an exquisite dinner at the Eden Restaurant. It was a six course meal (all the courses were “French Cuisine” size – small but mighty) and they were all amazing. I don’t think I have ever had a meal where the silverware was replaced for each course and our own maître de explained each dish as it was served. I’m soooo glad we didn’t come in our sneakers!
OK, so that was Banff. I know we didn’t really do it justice, but the weather was just too miserable to do a lot of sightseeing, and there just isn’t any more room in our house on wheels for more “stuff”, so we tend to stay away from those cute little shops.
It was still raining the next morning as we set out for Calgary, but still we could envision the beauty that must have been just beyond the clouds. Before we knew it, we were out of the mountains and headed into Cowboy Country. And lots and lots of houses. And lots and lots of cars. Ooooo – city driving! We did stop at a couple of the small towns on the way into Calgary and ended up spending most of our day at the Millarsville Farmers Market and annual County Fair.
This was a great day! Lots of local color, as they say – from the farmers market to the rooster crowing contest to the vegetables, flowers, jams and jellies, cookies and pies (etc., etc.) judging to the livestock competition, talent show, pie eating contest, horseshow and tractor pull! Oh, and it also had a Fiber Arts (i.e. quilts) display and judging along with photography and art. It was jam packed with local talent and fun, fun, fun! We’re glad we made a day of it! (Even though one of the reasons we “made a day of it” was because once we got parked we pretty much had to wait until the parking lot cleared before we could leave! Ah, the joys of life in a big rig!)
The next day we checked out a historic ranch – The Bar U. Just so happened there was an “Old Time Ranch Rodeo” that day, and while it wasn’t quite the Calgary Stampede, it sure was fun! There were 14 ranches represented with great names like Quarter Circle L and Mesabi & Anchor P, and they competed in five different events. Our favorite was Wild Cow Milking. Here’s how it works –
There’s one cowboy on the horse and two more on the ground. In the arena are about a dozen wild cows. The guy on the horse has to lasso one of the cows and then the other two have to subdue the cow anyway they can and one of them has to milk it. It looks like this –
I think he’s signing up to be the guy on the horse next time!
Aside from the fact that twice in the middle of the show it started to pour (hence all of that nice mud!), it was great fun!
So that actually brings us to today – which I THINK is Monday, August 17. We spent the day doing some other historical sites –
Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump and Fort Macleod and tonight we’re parked near the Remington Carriage Museum which will be our final stop in Canada tomorrow morning. (And as a bonus I have been able to get on the wi-fi from the nearby visitors center and finally get these pictures uploaded and this blog updated!).
OK – here are the links to more pictures
Banff to Calgary
Millarsville Fair Day
Bar U Rodeo
I did take some pictures today, but they are still living in my camera. I know I’m feeling a little pictured out – I can only imagine how you must feel! Maybe next time!
Next stop (well, after the Carriage Museum) – MONTANA!!!!!
Six years ago –
May 24, 2009 – Spectacular!
The Fjord Express to Juneau – Day 13 – May 23, 2009
From the drive to Skagway through White Pass (where many of the Gold Rush miners crossed into Canada)
to the wildlife we saw
on the beautiful cruise we had down the Lynn Canal
to walking around Juneau, the capital of Alaska (did you know you can’t get to Juneau by road? How crazy is that!)
to visiting the “Magnificent Mendenhall Glacier”
to the cruise back up Lynn Canal
to the drive back up to Carcross, with the setting sun reflecting off the mountains (picture taken at 10:15)
it was an OUTSTANDING day! Thank you Fjord Express for orchestrating such a good day. Thank you God for providing such a magnificent place!
beautifully, gloriously robed,
Dressed up in sunshine,
and all heaven stretched out for your tent.
You built your palace on the ocean deeps,
made a chariot out of clouds and took off on wind-wings.
You commandeered winds as messengers,
appointed fire and flame as ambassadors.
You set earth on a firm foundation
so that nothing can shake it, ever.
You blanketed earth with ocean,
covered the mountains with deep waters;
Then you roared and the water ran away—
your thunder crash put it to flight.
Mountains pushed up, valleys spread out
in the places you assigned them.
You set boundaries between earth and sea;
never again will earth be flooded.
You started the springs and rivers,
sent them flowing among the hills.
All the wild animals now drink their fill,
wild donkeys quench their thirst.
Along the riverbanks the birds build nests,
ravens make their voices heard.
You water the mountains from your heavenly cisterns;
earth is supplied with plenty of water.
PS – I’ll have LOTS more pictures and details of this beautiful day next time I post. But right now we’re hooking up and heading North. And it looks like we’re saying good-bye to internet for the next couple of days. Have a blessed Lord’s day!
June 1, 2015 – I had such a good time reading this memory post that I checked out this one that had many more photos from the cruise and and our final days getting to Alaska. So if this gets you in the mood for some more snow covered mountains and crystal clear (though icy) lakes – here you go!