Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Idaho Falls to Whitehorse, Yukon

“Babouschka lived in a little cabin in the coldest corner of a cold and frosty land. 
Her tiny little house was sitting right in the place where four roads came together. 
When Father Frost  was in the land, then Brother Wind howled at her windows 
and piles of deep snow piled around her house and hardly anyone ever came to visit her
 or passed by on those nearby roads. 
Babouschka’s heart yearned for the warmth of summer, the fragrance of the flowers, 
and the song of the birds, and for her friends.”     
(Thank you Craig for sending this to me)

(remember to click on pictures to enlarge them)

Babouschka goes RV'ing

I sent the above out in an email to a bunch of our friends and got such a funny response
 that I thought I’d post it here with an explanation.

We’d been traveling thru some very cold temperatures and snow 
and we were rushing north in search of warmer temperatures.    
That’s right – we were heading NORTH for warmer temps.

When I sent out the above picture, several friends asked “Don’t you have heat in that tin can?”

We’ll yes… we do.   We have the normal dashboard heat that uses the engine just like in a car, 
and we also could run one or both house heaters.

I did have the dashboard heat running on full and it was chilly in the coach.
The dash heat does a decent job but when it really gets cold you need to supplement it 
with one of the house heaters.    
What you don’t see in the picture however, is that while Sweet Babouschka was all bundled up 
and wrapped under the quilt – I was still in shorts and a t-shirt.

As we progressed north thru Idaho and Montana on Monday May 20, 
we continued to run thru some cold temps and snow but as we passed thru 
the Rockies north of Butte, the temps started to moderate as we left the precipitation behind.

Even the Doodles were huddled under the blankets
We overnighted in Shelby Montana at an RV Park where we dumped tanks, 
washed clothes, and took on water.   
We’d be dry camping again for and extended period, so Shelby was a good place 
to take care of these needs, and is only 30 miles or so south of the border.

Now that the long Victoria Day weekend was over, we set off on Tuesday morning 
and crossed the border back into Canada.   
As usual, it was a smooth and effortless process.

Entering Alberta Canada

We had no itinerary for our road ahead and decided where to stay as we rolled along.
Since we were both anxious to get back into the North Country, 
we added another 500 miles or so to the log and drove to Whitecourt Alberta, 
northwest of Edmonton where we spent the night at another Walmart.

As you can see – we opted for the deluxe site with the Doodle-friendly grass outside the door.  Unfortunately, the pool and hot tubs has been drained for repairs but we made do without.

Weds morning we were off again – destination unknown.

Since we’ve made this trip now several times we don’t stop anymore at the usual spots like the giant Beaver in Beaverlodge, or in Dawson Creek (mile zero of the Alaska Highway) but instead we buzzed right thru town past the sign.

The stretch of the Alcan, between DC and Fort St John tends to be quite busy.  
Traffic thins out a fair amount between FSJ and Fort Nelson, and even more so after FN. 
About 30 miles north of Dawson Creek, barely settled into our northbound trip on the Alcan, 
we were crossing a narrow bridge and a flatbed with a bulldozer on the back bounced by 
going in the opposite direction.   
Just as it passed by we heard a loud bang.    
A stone had hit the window in front of Kate and left a bullseye the size of a grapefruit.     

Normally I can fix stone damage – but this one is too big 
and will require a new windshield when we get back home.    
I’ve made  a temporary repair merely to keep the wiper blade from getting chewed up 
where it passes over the hole and hopefully stop any cracks from expanding..

Chips and cracks in the window are a normal part of life on the Alaska Highway.  Because of that, I usually carry about 6 windshield repair kits with me.    We’ve been lucky on our past trips that we’ve only had a few hits with minor damage that I was able to repair.

We had considered the possibility of spending the night at Walmart in Fort St John, 
but when we stopped south of town at the UFA Cardlock for fuel it was only about 2pm,
 so we decided to push on and just stop at a rest area or turn out further up the road 
when the mood to stop struck us.

The stretch between Fort St John and Watson Lake is about 565 miles, 
it crosses the Rocky Mountains,  and stretches my fuel reserves.   
Especially if we are going to spend a week or so dry camping at Muncho Lake 
and might need some generator time.    

Fort Nelson – 180 miles north of Fort St John is the last town before Watson Lake 
and the last decent priced fuel.  
Since my fleet cards no longer works at the Petro Canada Cardlocks,  
I’ve been pressed to find a place in town with easy access for 63’ of Partybus and truck.  

There are several other places down the road to get fuel, Testa River or Toad River 
to name just two, but their fuel is much more expensive and this early in the season 
I wonder if it’s from last year and would rather buy from somewhere that I know 
is selling a lot of fuel.   

This trip however,  I found a new public Cardlock in Ft Nelson, just south of the Alcan 
where I could top up and give me plenty of reserves.

The AFD Cardlock is south of the Alcan down 55th st then right and left, 
behind the Esso Cardlock
AFD has Public Cardlocks Stretching from Pink Mountain up to Dawson and is a good, 
albeit more expensive, alternative to gas stations.  
They pump a lot of fuel and service commercial fleets so you know the fuel is not stale.

I also prefer to use Cardlock facilities as there is plenty of room for big rigs to maneuver.

With a full tank of fuel, we departed Fort Nelson about 530pm.   
Tonight the dogs would have a late supper.  
We decided that we would stay at the 536 KM rest stop about 1 hr. west of town.   
We’ve passed it several times and its large, flat, and on top of a mountain 
so the long grade downhill is easy on a cold engine first thing in the morning. 

Enroute to our stop we were treated to 9 different Black Bears grazing along the highway,
 one about every 5 minutes or so.

KM 536 Rest Area
 When you leave Fort Nelson heading North, you pretty much leave civilization (and cell service) behind.   From here on its only found in the few small towns along the way.

When we stopped for the night at the rest area, we were surprised to find that it had cell service – a whopping hour out of Ft Nelson!    
Not only did we have cell service – but the internet was fast 4g!
Of course, being on top of a mountain also helped with a view of the satellites 
so we had internet and Satellite TV.

So after a 550 mile day we were parked for the night in a quiet comfortable stop 
deep in the woods of northern British Columbia.

One of our neighbors for the night.   I was impressed with the paint job on the trailer.

This rest stop was picked in part due to its proximity (100 miles) to our initial destination 
which was Muncho Lake.  That meant in the morning we’d only have about a 2 hr drive 
and would arrive early enough to get a good pick of the few campsites 
where we would spend 5,6,7 days or perhaps longer.

Between our overnight stop and Muncho Lake we cross over the Crest of the Rockies
 at Summit Lake – the highest point on the Alcan.

You might recall that on our last trip we stopped here heading south 
and were treated to the Northern Lights. 
That was late Sept however and it got dark at night.   
This is late May and we’ve left night darkness behind for the time being.

Summit Lake on the Alaska Highwayu
Once past Summit lake you have a long grade downhill

About 5 miles short of Muncho Lake I was able to snap this Black Bear.
See the black dot on the left.

Finally the shore of our destination, Muncho Lake, came into view.

Running along the shore of Muncho Lake between the mountain and the lake, 
you always see this herd of Stone Sheep.    
Knowing that they might be around the next curve it pays to drive a bit slower 
lest you have an unexpected meeting.

At the north end of the lake our campground came into view.

Our private lakefront paradise….   This is why we love it here!
170 miles from the nearest town.
Fresh air and clean water.

There are 2 Provincial campgrounds on Muncho Lake.
Strawberry Flats at the south end of the lake, and McDonald at the north.    
McDonald is the smaller of the two with about 15 campsites and is our favorite.

An easy gravel road with a loop at the end makes it possible to go in, 
take a look if you are towing, and drive out without any problem.

We drive by the sites to see what is available, then take the loop and come back and nose in
 to which ever site suits our fancy.

Our site - #13 is private with a great lake view,  good solar, 
and even a view of the 119 satellite so we are sitting here with all the comforts once again.  
Site 14 would fit that same criteria as well.   
The other sites along are all great as well, just might not be satellite friendly.

We originally paid for 3 ngihts (Thursday – Saturday) and on Sunday we paid for 3 more.
A heavy passing T-Shorm afforded me the opportunity to go outside with a car mop 
and give the bus and the truck a fresh water bath.    
I was able to get the heavy dirt and road grime off and now both look presentable once again. 
For how long is anyone’s guess.

Meanwhile – the nearest towns are about 170 miles or so in either direction.  
This is a great place just to enjoy the peace & quiet, the fresh air, and the great scenery.

Word has it that there has been a bear about as well but we have not seen it yet.

Our view out the front window
On Monday -  Memorial Day – we took a day trip and headed 40 miles down the road 
to Liard Hot Springs Provincial Park.

On our first trip north we stayed at the campground here, 
but since then we much prefer the smaller, quieter, 
and much more private environment at Muncho Lake, 
and so we commute to the hot springs when we are in the mood for a hot soak.

To enjoy the natural thermal springs, you park and then approach the springs 
on a wooden walkway that is about ½ mile long and passes thru a lush forest 
resulting from the downstream runoff from the springs.

A large cedar platform has been built with changing rooms with rest rooms further up the slope.
There is an upper and lower pool

The upper pool, pictured below,  receives the hot water from the spring 
and is the warmest of the two.  
As you move upstream in either pool the water gets progressively hotter.    
At the upper end of the upper pool it is quite hot.

Kate enjoying the Lower Pool
Separating the two pools is a small dam with a spillway.
The water is about 1 meter deep in both pools.

The pools are crystal clear and have a slight Sulphur smell.

It’s not hard to imagine just what a wonderful treat these rejuvenating waters would have been 
for the weary soldiers building the Alcan back in 1942.

After 6 days at Muncho Lake we decided to move on.
The Ocean at Seward awaits...

Our solar system paired with the new Lithium batteries are meeting all expectations...
We dry camped for the 6 days and did not need to run the generator once.

Our destination for the night was open - and we eventually decided to drive all the way 
to Whitehorse, Yukon for a 440 mile day.

Along the way we stopped at the sign forest in Watson Lake to check on
our sign that we put up on our first strip 5 years ago.

It's still in great shape.

So we are now in Whitehorse for the next 4 nights.

I'm not certain yet if we will detour somewhere or make a beeline for Seward.
Time will tell.

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Page Az to Idaho Falls, Id

We've been back on the road for a week now and have only made about
1,000 miles off of our 4,000 mile trip - but that is changing....

After leaving Deadhorse Ranch State Park after an overnight, we
traveled about 250 miles north to the Wahweep Campground in the
Lake Powell National Recreation Area.

Then after a night there, we moved another 2 hours north into Utah Red Rock Country
where we spent the last 5 nights.

This morning it was time to put the pedal to the medal, and get into "Trucker Mode" 
So we moved 465 miles north to Idaho Falls Idaho, where we are tonight
spending the night in a Walmart Parking lot.

The weather everywhere north of Arizona is cold and wet, followed by
more cold and wet.

But north of the border its much dryer and warmer....
So northward with haste we will flee.

Here is a map from the blog that shows our travels since we left Tucson.

(remember to click on the pictures to see a large size photo)

Arriving at Lake Powell NRA

Wahweep is a lovely campground with Full Hook up and dry campsites.
Over the years it is getting a bit pricy now but it still is a wonderful spot.

One View of the lake

A view of one of the camp roads

Our site - a FHU Pull Thru

The next morning we were back on the road headed North on US89 which is one of our
favorite roads.   The scenery on US 89 changes constantly.

US 89 in Az 
We arrived at Red Canyon National Forest Campground around noon and had our pick
of the sites.    It is dry camping at 7,200' and in the summer is a welcome cool
oaisis from the Arizona temps down lower.   This time of year, with a bunch of cold
fronts coming thru - it was downright cold at times.

The Red Rock scenery makes up for any inconveniences that the weather might dish out.

I selected our site as it had perfect sun for the solar panels, and a clear view of the
satellites so we had all the conforts.

We hung out here for 5  days to delay our arrival in Canada since this weekend is
Victoria day weekend - a long weekend which would have meant more crowds in
the campgrounds along the way.

Our view out the front window

A dry wash in the campground
As I said - we had a run of wet and cool weather, and even had a day of
snow flurries.

All was well inside of our cozy home where Kate snuggled under the beautiful blanket
that Vicki (remember her broken bones?) knitted for us.

Red Canyon is only about 20 miles from Bryce Canyon NP and Kodachrome SP
but we've been there many times so we did some exploring of lesser known areas.

One day we drove about 10 miles up a dirt road to see Tropic Reservoir.

Back at the bus - Gracie kept warm on Kates lap under the blanket.

This morning (Sunday) we got back on the road.
7hrs later we parked at Walmart in Idaho Falls, Id.
Tomorrow we'll overnight at an RV Park in Shelby Montana, just a few
miles from the border.   We'll drain tanks, do some laundry, fill the fresh water,
and cross into Canada.

Our plan is to be in Dawson Creek on Weds the 22nd and then the next day
start our ride up the Alaska Highway.

We'll probably spend a week or at Muncho Lake, and where else we'll see as we go.

When we get to Whitehorse in the Yukon, we'll decide if we want to go to Dawson
and take the Top of the World Highway to Alaska - or just stay on the Alcan and
instead spend a week or so at Congdon Creek Govt CG on Kluane Lake - which
is one of our favorites.

Decisions...  Decisions.

See you up the road.

Sunday, May 12, 2019

North to Alaska

Ok this post will be a quickee.
You like a quickee right?
Everyone likes a quickee....

We are finally back on the road.

After an action packed Fall and Winter filled with dozens of guests,
lots of laughs and a few tears....
 We are back on the road headed north to Alaska
for our third summer season.

I brought the bus back to the house this morning.
Filled the water tank with some nice soft water.

Filled the Fridge & Freezer to the bursting point.

And at 1145am we were headed down Dove Mountain Road,
the only road to/from our house,
 for one last time for this go around.

Every day for the last month or so the desert has been surprising us with new flowers.
The view of the Palo Verde Trees in Bloom were a wonderful send off.

Palo Verde on Dove Mtn Rd Marana

Our destination for night one is Dead Horse Ranch State Park in Cottonwood Az,
just outside of Sedona in the Verde Valley.

Headed north on I-10 then I-17 we dropped down the 5 mile grade into the Verde Valley

5 mile 7% Grade into The Verde Valley

DHRSP is a great home base for visiting Sedona.
We've stayed here several times.
On this trip however it is just a one night stop so we chose a pull-thru site
so that we would not need to unhook the toad.

The view west from our site.

Passing showers over Mingus Mtn Cottonwood, Az

Our spot is the extreme left of the photo below.

Tomorrow is a 4 hr drive north to Page Az where we'll spend a single night
at Wahweep on Lake Powell, then on Tuesday we plan to head a couple hrs north to
Utah route 12 just west of Bryce Canyon to a small National Forest Campground
called Red Canyon, that we've stayed at before and just love.

Its first come first serve and I don't anticipate a problem (fingers crossed)
If we get a nice spot we'll probably hang there for 5 days or so and let the Canadian
Victoria 4 day weekend get passed before we venture into Canada.

We might stop at Yellowstone and hang there over Memorial Day at another nice
National Forest Campground that we love....

Then again - we might must make a dash north to Dawson Creek BC and get
a head start on the Alaska Highway.

Time will tell.

Stay tuned....   we're back in action.