Monthly Archives: August 2009

Aug 11 What is it About the Yukon? Or is it the north??

Moody sky over Whitehorse (from the Alaska Hwy)

Moody sky over Whitehorse (from the Alaska Hwy)

What is it about the Yukon…or is it the north in general that draws me? I was born and lived in Northern Ontario until I was in grade three, not very long and yet something clicked over in my brain then. Although I have lived in Southern Canada since then I have yearned for the north. The first thing I told Fred, once I realized that we might have a life together was, “I have to live in the north…I don’t care where but the north.” He said…no problem, fine and then real life set in. I have carried this love for the north ever since. People are going to Costa Rica and Cuba. I want to go to Baffin Island. They dream of Hawaii and I want to go to the North West Territories. Having some of my children in the Yukon makes me feel lucky because although I don.t see my grand baby often enough, I get to come here quite a bit.

Northern wild life

Northern wild life

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Aug. 9th A surprise ending.

im-going-there

I pulled out of the park drive way to see a sign that let me know I was heading in the right direction. I was heading to Atlin which was going to be another long day of driving but I was going to be doing most of that driving in the Yukon. It would be my first time out of BC in my X country tour so I felt  like I was actually making progress.

The road was narrow and still had no lines on it. I was getting used to it though and hardly noticed. Not many vehicles on my side of the road but lots of great big campers heading south past me. I love the size of Vincent. I am not sure I would want to drive one of those monsters. I wonder how much gas they use. I met a guy pulling a large 5th wheel in the park and he said he was getting 9 miles/gallon. Whew. I haven’t done the math and don’t know what Vincent is getting but it is more than that.

Main Road no lines

Main Road no lines

I was excited and had to jam on the breaks when I got to this sign:

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And then there was a change in the road. We had lines again. I was so glad to see them. The road just seems bigger and easier to navigate with them. Funny, I thought I had learned to cope but my relief was really noticeable.

Lines are back

Lines are back

When I reached the Alaska highway I had a decison to make. I thought that the town of Watson Lake was at the junction. I now realized that it was 22 km to the east. It would take me WAY out of my way and I am getting really tired of long days of driving. On the other hand, I had no campground info or anything for the Yukon yet and the Watson Lake Info centre was supposed to be BIG. I will be making my way back through WL on the way back so I didn’t need to go now. I sat and dithered at the junction for a few minutes and then, held my nose and went East. In the end I was glad I did. The info centre was great. They had a film about the building of the Alaska  HWY and lots of camping stuff.  The woman there gave me all of the rules and regs about driving in the Yukon (the only thing that threw me was she used miles instead of km in everything she said. I guess she deals with Americans most of the time) All very useful. Also, it is the location of the sign forest.

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vincent-and-sign2 forest-2

old-women

I loved this sign and would love to meet the woman who put it there

After lunch I headed for Atlin which I have to access along the Alaska Hwy. It is south back into BC. I drove and drove. I got out and circled the car and did stretching exercises. Finally I reached Teslin. I still hadn’t passed the road to Atlin. I wondered if I missed it.

teslin-bridge

Teslin Bridge

Finally I reached the road. Whitehorse was so close. I didn’t make the turn and arrived in Whitehorse half an hour later. Everyone was happy and surprised to see me 2 days early but I had had enough. I drove 565k that day and I was tired, stiff and ready to settle for a bit. I will go to Atlin later or catch them when I am here for the baby in January.

Sight for sore eyes (and bum)

Sight for sore eyes (and bum)

It was good to have Story give me a hug before bed and to roll into a real bed after a hot bath. I am settling here for a few days to try and pull some money together, give Vincent a good cleaning and plan the rest of my Yukon junket.

I want to thank those of you who are passing my website around. Yesterday I got note from someone who I have never met and who would like me to visit her in Alberta. I love that.

Until next time. Continue reading

Aug. 8 A long drive

Written August 8

Decisions decisions

Decisions decisions

I woke up a couple of times during the night to the sound of rain. Light showers I guess because when I got up, nothing seemed wet and the sun was shining. The earth must be like a sponge right now because it has been so long since it rained. I ate and packed up. I was sad to leave. The little campground was friendly and I actually considered staying an extra day but I didn’t. Continue reading

Aug 7 Starting on the road to the Yukon

I can’t believe it. I am sitting in a campground which is truly in the middle of nowhere and I have an internet connection. No phone but internet. It boggles the mind. My campsite overlooks a little lake and is surrounded by fireweed. Ummm beautiful.

View from the campsite

View from the campsite

The effects of not much sleep plagued me most of the day. I munched on nuts and seeds and gulped hot tea but even with that, I did get out and stretch more often than I might usually.  I met several people travelling, one woman with her two daughters heading for Watson Lake, Whitehorse and Dawson. We said we would probably meet again.

Stop along the way  Signpost at the junction of 16 and 37

Stop along the way Signpost at the junction of 16 and 37

Something I have mentioned before is the speed limit on the roads here. 100km. After I hit hwy 37 going north toward the Yukon I realized that even though it is a major highway, it is a much more secondary road, narrow and winding, but still 100km. Oh well, there really were very few other people on the road. I let myself go and rarely had to pull over for anyone. That could be because I actually hit the speed limit or because there were hardly any people to pass me.

Narrow roads still 100

Narrow roads still 100

Today I have had to be mindful of my gas gage. There are very few communities along this road and so gas is a very important thing to have. I have decided to top up at ever station.

I drove for a while through mixed forest with lots of fall flowers on the side of the road. Some of the bushes have yellow leaves. Oh, I so hope that is because they tend to grow that way and not because it is coming to be winter. I met some people in the campgroundn(Meziadin Lake Prov. Campground) who said that I am not going to make it to Inuvik before winter sets in unless I really beat it. I may have to wait until next year. Well, I will see. The distances are long yes…but there is not much in between so there may not be much stopping so it may take less time than I think. It looks far on the map though. Whitehorse is still about 8 inches on my BC map but I can’t find a scale so I don’t know how far it really is. I want to take it easy though. Hopefully be there by Tuesday.

Snow capped mountains heading my way

Snow capped mountains heading my way

The campground, although it is a provincial one, has the feeling of family. Everyone wandering around meeting each other and checking out gear. Fun. Many people are retired and once couple told me about their travels. They have been going since ’83 and still haven’t seen every road in the country. They shook their heads at my quest. These days sometimes I wonder too. Seems I am missing more than I am seeing. Probably more straight forward to head for the moon. At least there is only one road there.

I met a guy from the US. He and his wife have given up ‘home’ and live in a modest sized 5th wheel. They usually pick someplace to winter but in the summer they travel. They have been here for a week and are coming from the Yukon. He had all kinds of tips for me. I like the idea of carrying my home with me. It would sure keep you honest with the stuff wouldn’t it. Although his house is bigger than Vincent, it is not that big. No place for the grand kids to stay. I guess real gypsies had the advantage that they carried their community with them when they moved. I will have to give it some thought. Well, it is early but my body is asking for bed so off we go.

mountains-closing-in

Aug 6 and 7 Goodbye to Haida Gwaii

Well, I am back on the mainland after a basically sleepless night on the ferry. Boy, they make those reclining chairs uncomfortable. Because that ferry takes 10 or so hours to make the passage, there are berths available for anyone who wants to pay for them. On the daytime trip last Sunday, everyone sat on the deck, watched for whales and met people. This trip was totally different. I would say almost every one booked a berth because there was almost no one on the deck, inside or out. The place was deserted except for a few crazy people who armed with air mattresses, blankets and pillows took up space on the floors and seats for the night. The seating, like park benches made to discourage the homeless from sleeping on them, has fixed arm rests so that no one can lay across them. Each individual seat reclines a bit but not enough to be comfortable. I brought my pillow and tried to make my self comfortable to no avail. I think I dosed for a bit but around 3 gave it up and sat looking out at the dark horizon. I felt pretty good. Could be because someone told me that there was a shower on board and I had my first good hot shower in a week just before I settled down.

Yesterday Alexander and I headed for the north end of the Island to see Massett and go for a hike up Tow Hill. From the top I would be able to see Alaska and maybe even Canada. I put $30 worth of gas in before we left. At $1.12 a litre, I thought I would get gas on the mainland and just wanted enough to get me there and back. Well…who knew how far it was. A two hour drive (give or take a few minutes) to Massett, then a trip through old Massett, then the gravel road to Tow Hill. I put another $30 in on the way back at the gas station in Massett. $1.22/litre. I would have saved money to fill up properly in Skidegate the day before. Isn’t hindsight wonderful. Continue reading

August 6 Sleeping Under the Full Moon

Written Aug. 6

Yesterday I packed up my stuff and said goodbye to Alexander and Zander. I was going to spend the night at the recreation site just outside of town to sleep under the full moon. Of course, after a busy day doing laundry and revisiting the Haida Cultural Centre, I arrived late to the campground and found all of the sites full. I started back to the house where I knew I was welcome but on my way passed the day use site. It was empty, sits right on the water and looked very welcoming. Welcoming except for the sign that said, “DAY USE ONLY. NO OVER NIGHT PARKING.” That was pretty intimidating. I pulled it in and tucked Vincent out of sight of the road. Then I sat down and had some dinner. I thought it over. I guessed if the RCMP paid me a midnight visit, I would plead my case. If they didn’t, I was situated.

Camping spot

Camping spot

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Aug. 4 Not much to say

I am enjoying my time here. Yesterday I went to the Haida Cultural Centre and today I am returning there for a few more things. There is a full moon with an eclipse tonight so Vincent and I are heading for a camping spot on the beach for the night. Tomorrow the north end of the Island and taking an 11pm ferry back to the main land. I could spend a life time here. I want to see it in winter and summer, spring, fall, rain and mist. Alexander says that because it is West, far west in Canada and on the medicine wheel. He says west is internality and endings. It is easy to be internal here.

Here are some pictures from yesterday.

Probably a few days because there is NO internet where I am going.

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Alexanders House on the Beach

Alexanders House on the Beach

Zorro

Zorro

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August 3 Sleeping Beauty Hike

Written in the evening of Aug. 3 from Alexanders house

The moon rose red tonight. Although it is not full until Wednesday, it is hard to tell by looking at it today. It is a big and round as blushing tomato. It could be magic or it could be the heavy mist of smoke in the air. There are no fires here but many burning on the main land. Sometimes we can smell the char in the air

Front yard in the morning -tide out

Front yard in the morning -tide out

I slept in a bit this morning. Zander’s alarm woke me around 6:30 but I didn’t pay much attention. Isn’t it nice when the alarm isn’t ringing for you. He had threatened to hit snooze several times…but I didn’t hear it. I didn’t get up til 7 ish and then I just stayed in my bed looking out of the window at the water. It looks like something I might have seen in a painting. It took me a while to drag myself away and pick up my journal.

Alexander’s home is a curious mixture of water front cabin and long house. It has electricity but water is collected in a cistern in the rainy season. Since there is no toilet to flush, laundry or showers to have, the water lasts well. Everything is harvested and used with absolute efficiency and honour to the place it has come from. The conversation around the table is philosophical, intelligent and fun. I am enjoying the company and the freedom to ‘just be’ here. Continue reading

Slow Boat to Queen Charlotte Islands

Written the Evening of Aug. 2 from the town of Queen Charlotte on Graham Island

I am staying at the home of Alexander and his son Zander in Queen Charlotte which is often refered to as Charlotte. They live in a beautiful cabin on the beach. The view from here is great. I will find it hard to sleep with with the almost full moon reflecting in the water outside of my window.

Evening in Alexanders cove

Evening in Alexanders cove

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August 1 Smithers to Prince Rupert

I wrote this yesterday and this morning woke up to that amazing hanging mist again. It is cool…what a relief. I am told that the Island doesn’t have much in the way of internet or cell phone accessibility. I will be getting back here Thursday night fairly late…so you may not hear from me again til Friday or Sat. That is, if I make it on this ferry. Cross your fingers.

Evening August 1
It is amazing how soothing a day of driving can be. Uplifting and inspirational too. I left Smithers today after getting Vincent and oil change and check up. He checked up fine. Better than I would I think. We got on the road heading for Terrace and a couch surfing location. The quality of the light was amazing. Something about the mountains, the hot air, the blue sky and the sunshine. Things were almost white. There was a haze over everything and the leaves on the trees shone silver. It almost seemed like an altered space as I followed the road west.

Leaving Smithers

Leaving Smithers

The road was excellent, fast and in good repair. The speed limit was 100 and in many places, I managed to quit rubbernecking long enough to actaully get up to speed. Of course there were many times that I pulled off for pictures too. The mountains became more rugged but the road seemed to maintain it’s ease. Out there you get a tremendous feeling of space. I saw very few other cars and not much to show that the land was inhabited except for the ribbon of pavement. There were a few small communities and in some areas a bit of farming or a few driveways but most of the time it seemed just like me and the sky.

The trans Canada. An old friend

The trans Canada. An old friend

I found myself wondering about the people who made this road, back before there were front end loaders and heavy equipment to help. It must have been grueling. It is easy to forget those workers when you are whizzing along at 100k but their stamp has changed the land forever. I guess historically the train track went in first but still.

7-sisters

When I got to Terrace, my contact was apologetic but, it was a long weekend. She had expected me Friday night (oh that is what happens when you lose a whole day) and she hoped i would be OK. I looked around and decided that I would see more of Terrace on the way back from Prince Rupert. I decided to try to catch the Sunday 11am ferry instead of the Monday 9pm. It is a 12 hour ride and I didn’t want to arrive at the literal crack of dawn. I was so intent on not spending any more camping money but there is an RV site just above the ferry terminal so I grabbed a spot.

Carved eagle at Terrace Info Centre

Carved eagle at Terrace Info Centre

A good deal of the road from Terrace to Prince Rupert follows the Skeena River. I had the water on one side of me and the railroad on the other. I kept waiting for a train but I was not on the right schedule. The river kept me entranced though. It seemed to be very high and moving an incredible speed. I wondered when I started to get close to Prince Rupert, if the tide was flowing in because all of a sudden it was very rough and almost seemed to be trying to flow the wrong way. I wished I had a local with me to tell me what I was seeing. There were many viewing points and they all seemed to be very busy with cars, trucks and campers. Something to do with the weekend? Fish? Something else? Who knows.

One of many hydro towers in the Skeena River

One of many hydro towers in the Skeena River

I am nervous about this whole enterprise. I want to see the Queen Charlottes and can’t leave without doing that but I will have to leave Vincent in an unprotected parking lot while I am gone and he will be guarding most of my stuff. I am only taking a very minimal amount. I hope some of you will join me in wrapping Vincent, Karma and the gang in a beautiful white light of protection so that he feels loved and safe while I am gone.

I think that I will be able to post some pictures from there. My host has a computer so…talk soon.

moose-xing