This is Awesome!

I can’t believe I’m boondocking and working on my main computer while surfing the net. If I could only get my generator back on line life would be perfect! My batteries are holding up well, but are definitely due for a good charge. Tonight I need to ration my battery usage to ensure I’ll have heat throughout the night (I have to wonder if the weather is ever good in Dawson Creek!).

Before anyone comments, I’m still having the same issue I’ve been having with the generator–no gas is getting to it and it looks like I’ll have to change out not only the fuel filter but also the entire line. The project is too daunting for words and I’d rather focus on finding a tiny portable genset, something with just enough juice to recharge the batteries but not actually run anything. I don’t need or miss 120V power when I’m boondocking and can’t bring myself to sink money into the onboard generator without knowing that it’ll definitely pay off. I’ve seen several possibilities for less than $100 on Craigslist, but I’m always too late. I’ll keep checking.

At any rate, thanks to Google (and Telus!), I have plotted my way to Banff, concentrating on getting to Jasper. I’d really like to get to an RV park near there tomorrow because the batteries need charging, but the distance seems a bit ambitious on an unknown route. I have lined up where I hope to stay and made a note of the distances between the major centres so that I can decide mid-afternoon whether I need to stop or keep going.

The weather forecast for the next few days isn’t promising. The prairies have been hit with a cold snap and there is a snowfall warning for Jasper. So, I’m highly motivated to get to a place where I can justify paying for hookups in case I need to hang out for a few days. But I am not wavering on my itinerary. It took longer than I thought it would, but I am finally making my way back to places I thought I’d see in the spring of ’09!

Attack of the Condiments!

It was impossible to get any work done parked in Fort Nelson. I parked along a side street, but there was a lot of pedestrian traffic of the youth variety and they were very rude and curious. Even though I had the blinds down, kids stopped to knock on the windows and once I heard a boy say “I think the car’s unlocked!” (it wasn’t). So, feeling a tad disgruntled, I rolled out of town.

When I passed in May the turnout that was my destination last night, it was exactly the same as in May of ’09, a nice pullout a good ways from the road with trees offering privacy and noise reduction. Unfortunately, the tree cover was thinned over the summer, but the turnout was still the best choice between Fort Nelson and Dawson Creek. I remember very clearly how hard I looked for a suitable place on my way up the Alaska Highway the first time!

It was just past five by the time I was set up and dinner was foremost on my mind. I opened the fridge to discover that an entire jar of French’s mustard had exploded over every single thing in my fridge. Getting a picture was the last thing on my mind; turmeric stains something awful!!! It took almost an hour and two rolls of paper towels to get the fridge spic and span. I tripled my use of the time by defrosting the fridge and also clearing out older products.

Next came a quiet evening–a nice dinner, a movie, and then to bed early (9) with a book since it was getting chilly and reading in bed under the feather duvet is so much nicer than sitting by a cold window in the study! I thought I would conk out early, but I read until well past 11 (darn that John Grisham!) until my iPod Touch ran out of juice!

I awoke this morning to sleet. When I finally worked up the gumption to get out of bed, I didn’t dawdle since I suspected the weather was going to get worse. I was right–sleet quickly turned to snow, thick flakes that melted when they hit the pavement but otherwise coated the trees and shrubs. The sky was grey and heavy. I debated whether to pull over or push on, and chose the latter since visibility was okay and the roads weren’t slick. I aimed for the Walmart in Fort St John but hit it much too early to stop, so I continued on to the Walmart in Dawson Creek where I am parked for the night.

There was one long muddy stretch that was a bit tough and covered the rig in a viscous layer of sludge, but otherwise the drive from Fort Nelson to Dawson Creek was good. I stopped for lunch about a half hour out of Fort St John to discover that my tube of honey mustard had decided to attempt suicide by jumping out of the door to the bottom of the fridge. The salsa either couldn’t live without the mustard or wanted to make sure it succeeded and jumped after it. The heavy glass jar of salsa landed on top of the tube of mustard with enough force to blow off the cap and squeeze out the contents all over the bottom of my fridge. The jar didn’t break, but the cap flew off and thick chunks of tomato and onion joined the honey mustard. Yum. 🙁

At least, it was only the bottom of the fridge that I had to clean this time… And I might be out of French’s plain mustard and honey dijon, I still have six other kinds of mustard to get me through to the next grocery day. Yes, I had eight kinds of mustard in the fridge. It’s my favourite condiment. 🙂

Coming up to the lunch stop, there were several signs announcing ‘severe grades ahead’, the kinds of signs that are badly needed on the Sea to Sky highway! Shame on BC highways! These ‘severe grades’ were just 8% slopes and I rode them down in D2 with no use of the brakes whatsoever, shaking my head at the two RVers who passed me at the crest of the hill, started down it at full speed, jammed on the brakes at the first turn, and then rode down to the bottom with the brake light on. Last fall’s incident sucked, but I really am glad it happened.

Tonight’s game plan is to research the first phase of my detour. I would like to get to an RV park in the vicinity of Jasper tomorrow (Hinton, perhaps) and then spend two nights there, giving me a full day to explore the town.  It would be a long day (equivalent to Dawson City–Whitehorse) and will take me on a secondary road, Alberta highway 40,  so I want to research this road to make sure it is RV suitable (thank you to Mile by Mile!).  When I debated going through there in ’08, many readers left me some suggestions, so I am also going to consult the notes I made back then.

It’s pretty exciting to be going east tomorrow into Alberta, but I am acutely aware that I am entering the Canadian equivalent of the Bermuda Triangle and I will be on my guard.

Slowing Down

It was a slow, easy drive to Liard Hot Springs last night. I decided to be a tad cheeky, what with a full hookup park next door and dry camping spots available for the exorbitant cost of $21 at the provincial park, and just spend the night in the parking lot across from the park entrance.

Beta Pool was closed because of bear activity, so I had to hang out with a million other people in alpha pool. It wasn’t the most relaxing hot spring experience of my life, so I didn’t soak for long.

It was nice to get back to the rig, shower, and then hunker down for the night. I made a nice dinner, watched a movie, and read.

This morning, nothing short of a natural disaster could have gotten me moving at a speed faster than a crawl. It was the first time in months that I was able to just lie in bed with the cats, read, and know that I had nothing and no one waiting for me. I lingered over coffee and breakfast, then set off around 10:30.

The drive from Liard to Fort Nelson is very technical; lots of tight turns and 7 to 8% grades. It was my first time doing it in that direction and I had a lot of fun. I saw more buffalo and caribou today than in all the sightings I’ve had in my life combined.

I’m going to get some work done, gas up, then head to a turnout I stayed at in the spring of ’09. Tomorrow, I’ll move on to Fort St John or Dawson Creek and then the adventure will begin!

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No Need to Dawdle

The internet in Whitehorse is pretty bad, so I had a frustrating night there trying to get work done and ended up going to bed way too late. I needed to be out of my spot by 11 Thursday morning and still had errands to do, so the morning was pretty painful. I managed to get to two stores and then lost time back tracking to Canadian Tire to get my debit card. It’s the new kind with a pin number and I’m not used to not getting my card back immediately after it’s slid through the card reader. It was therefore much too late to get groceries and beer. I decided that I could get some beer in Watson Lake and that I didn’t need to ‘stock up’ on groceries since I’m heading back into civilization anyway.

So, I pulled out of Whitehorse at 11 and headed straight for Nugget City. I stopped in Teslin for lunch fixings and a nice picnic since I’d been given a ton of veggies before pulling out of Dawson. Teslin is still the prettiest spot in the Yukon in my mind!

Teslin Lake

Sometime after Teslin I started to get quite sleepy, so I pulled over for a leg stretch at George’s Gorge:

George’s (Gorgeous) Gorge

The ride from Whitehorse to Nugget City is one of my favourites; the road is in good shape and you can actually enjoy the scenery. It’s not a technical drive at all, so I was still reasonably coherent when I pulled into Nugget City. It’s a good thing for that since my friend Amber threw herself into my arms the second I stepped out of the rig! We haven’t seen each other since May of ’09!

Forget setting up beyond plugging in the rig; I was quickly spirited away to the lake where a pair of trumpeter swans were swimming.

The male got spooked by a beaver and took off to make sure everything was good.

beaver coming up for air

After two days of hard driving, it was great to get off my butt and get some exercise in fresh air! By the time we got back to the main part of the property, I was famished, so I headed to the restaurant and grabbed a beer after putting in an order for a chicken stir fry .

Amber works late hours so she came back to see the cats on her break around ten, then showed me the digs she’s had all summer. It’s a fifth wheel, the second one I’ve visited this summer, and I have to say I really like the way they are split into several levels…

Since there’s no cell service at Nugget City, I couldn’t get online, so I went to bed at a much more reasonable hour and slept well. This morning I had time to eat breakfast before Amber scared the living daylights out of me by sticking her face up against my back window and then rocking the rig so I’d noticed her. I just about hit the ceiling! She helped me pack up, we did the round of good-byes, and then she became the first ever passenger I’ve carried in this rig, traveling with me from the RV park to the restaurant.

I pulled out of Nugget City around 11 and drove to Watson Lake. After getting gas, groceries (including the black bread and gyoza I can only find here), and enough Yukon Brewery beer to get me through to next spring, I’m now parked downtown and plan to do at least an hour’s worth of work. I’ll then meander down to Liard hot springs, then I will have a couple of overnight options. I’d really rather not go much further than Liard tonight since I’m beat. I need to start boondocking; I’d forgotten how expensive it is to stay several nights in a row at an RV park!

And, so, another summer in the Yukon draws to a close…