Saturday, May 21, 2011

Watson Lake, Yukon Territory

I found out there really IS a Watson Lake. It’s just a little farther away from the town of Watson Lake than Wye Lake, Second Wye Lake and Hour Lake. The airport is on the north side, with a primitive campground and boat ramp on the south side, where we went to take this picture.


We spent some time exploring the World Famous Sign Post Forest today.DSCN6330

There are now 17,642 signs posted, starting with the one posted in 1942 by a homesick US Army G.I., Carl K. Lindley of Danville, IL. He was working on the Alaska Highway and posted a sign pointing the way to his hometown, along with the mileage from Watson Lake. The 10,000th sign was posted in July 1990. Carl K. Lindley and his wife visited the site again in 1992, 50 years after his first post was erected.

People post signs with their names, their street, their city, a message, a license plate, whatever they wish. They use wood, metal, trays, paper plates, hub caps, even bed pans, toilet seat covers, dust pans and boots!DSCN6282










We spend time in the winter near Sierra Vista, AZ, so we noticed this sign.DSCN6293

There were a few indications of Escapees (SKPs) contributions, including North Ranch in Congress, Arizona.DSCN6294

Aguanga, California is the location of the Jojoba (pronounced ‘hohoba’) Escapees Co-op.


This pole bore more Escapees stickers on all sides than we could count!DSCN6340

A small amphitheater has been built in the center of the forest.DSCN6304

Someone else has a pet named Shadow.DSCN6309

Now there are 17,643 signs if you count the one Dennis put up today for the Escapees RV Club.


The Visitors’ Center has a mileage signpost outside the entrance. It offers an 18-minute film on the building of the Alaska Highway, and a wealth of information and brochures from knowledgeable and helpful staff.DSCN6313

This evening, we went to the Northern Lights Centre to view some films about the universe and the phenomena called ‘aurora borealis.’ It was very interesting, and will probably be the only time we’ll see the lights, since we have such long days this far north. The best time to see the Northern Lights is in the winter when the nights are long and dark.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Out of Touch For Two Days

Darn! I thought we’d have Internet access in the Liard River Hot Springs Provincial Campground, but I was sadly mistaken. Although there were lots of trees, we should have been able to shoot the satellite dish above them and connect online. In this pic, the dish is searching, but pointed in the wrong direction.


Try as we might, we never got connected. So we had another couple of days of being out of touch. Even Jim’s cell phone with Canadian coverage (which he generously shares with us) didn’t connect. We must have been too far from a cell tower.

To catch up on the last few days, I’ll just post some photos and a few comments.

It was cloudy, but the scenery was still pretty spectacular.DSCN6197

Caribou seemed to be unaware that we were passing by.DSCN6204

I never get tired of taking pics of our incredible surroundings.DSCN6209

Bison are plentiful here.DSCN6214

We hosted happy hour.DSCN6219

When it started raining, we all huddled under the awning.DSCN6226

It took about 10 minutes to walk from the parking lot to the hot springs.DSCN6233 

It was worth it to enjoy the hot mineral waters.DSCN6252

Sometimes you get lucky with wildlife and have a chance to capture them without a problem. This Mom and her baby were on the left side of the road when I spotted them. I slowed, then stopped as she meandered across the highway, seemingly unaware of our presence.DSCN6255

But later, I spotted a black bear on a hill to the right. As fast as I could point him out to Don, he turned and ran into the woods out of sight. It was our first bear sighting, but no way to get a picture.

We crossed over from British Columbia to the Yukon Territory today.DSCN6260

We’re staying in the town of Watson Lake, home of about 1,000 people and Wye Lake. Why is the town named Watson Lake and not Wye Lake? I hope to find out.


Watson Lake is also the home of the famed Sign Post Forest. We’ll explore that tomorrow.

We had our usual happy hour, this time in the shade of trees that line the western border of our RV park.


Then we drove to a restaurant about 15 miles up the road for dinner.DSCN6269

Don’s steak was overpriced, but good. I chose to wait to eat dinner until we returned home, because nothing on the menu appealed to me. The gift shop was full of overpriced ‘tourist’ goods, but there were several outstanding works by a local woodcarver, like this 3-D inside of the entry door.


Tuesday, May 17, 2011

“North To Alaska!”

I can finally say that familiar phrase “North To Alaska,” since we drove our first miles on the Alaska Highway on Monday. We went about 217 miles from Dawson Creek, and spent the night at Prophet Airstrip, formerly Prophet River Provincial Park, which is a lovely free boondocking (no hookups) spot about 1/2 mile off the road.


The only problem is that we had no Internet access. Neither ours nor Dennis and Carol’s Datastorm satellite dishes were able to tune to the right satellite. We’re pretty sure it wasn’t because of the trees; we just seemed to be in a ‘dead zone.’ So we had our first day without a blog. Or email. Or Internet access for any other purpose. It was also our (mine and Don’s) first day without TV. We put our DirecTV service on hold for 3 months, since we knew we wouldn’t be able to tune in the satellites as we went further north. We still received non-High Definition channels in Dawson Creek, but the only news channel we could find (all our network feeds are HD) was from San Diego. Imagine sitting in Northeastern British Columbia and getting Southern California traffic and weather!

So yesterday we enjoyed the peace and quiet, with a nice walk through the woods (Carol must have been walking backwards)…


…saw some scat (animal droppings) and feathers…


Don and Shadow took a separate walk…DSCN6079

…followed by our happy hour gathering…DSCN6065

…some yarn crafts…Marilyn shows off her progress and a bit of tangled yarn she had to sort out…


Umm, Carol, the baby cap is a bit small even for your petite head!


…a few cocktails, like Mary’s Skinny Girl Margarita…


…Claudette helped gather wood…


…and Jim helped build a campfire…


…Dennis got the fire started burning…


…then everyone except Jim moved away from the smoke!


We ate dinner in our own rigs and went to bed before dark. (Sunset is after 9:30 pm, and darkness doesn’t happen until much later.)

Today, Tuesday, we drove about 180 miles. We all saw wildlife, with varying degrees of success in getting photos of them. Mine all turned out like this:


I think you’ll see some better photos on Dennis and Carol’s and Larry and Marilyn’s blogs.

We saw some beautiful scenery today, but I don’t think we’ll be kayaking soon, at least not in this lake.


We had planned to stay at a place simply called “115 Creek,” a former Provincial Campground. However, when we arrived it looked pretty muddy so we went on down the road. The backup plan was to stay at Toad River Lodge, a campground with hookups. Before we got there, Dennis found an area next to a gravel pit, where there was plenty of room for all of us. We thought about going on to Liard River to enjoy the Hot Springs there a day ahead of schedule. But we decided just to stay here for the night.


The view from ‘on high.’DSCN6173

However, Dennis got even higher for his pics, so I’m sure they’ll be better.DSCN6171

As usual, happy hour was a fun time to share our day’s adventures. Notice Pat with her binoculars checking out the slope across the road. We spotted doll sheep and elk on the very steep hill. My camera didn’t reach far enough to capture them, but I’m sure Dennis got some good shots.DSCN6187

My final shot of wildlife for the day came out pretty good. I don’t think the critter survived, though.


Another night of boondocking isn’t too bad. We’re watching a DVD movie tonight while running the generator, and enjoying beautiful scenery and the lack of wind. A free night helps balance out the diesel prices. Now we can look forward to those hot springs tomorrow!