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.


  1. Outstanding post, and yes, Cold Momma Kate is tooooooo funny with you in shorts and a T-shirt. That is funny. Your run is so adventurous and remote, I can't imagine. Radeen and I like towns, not sure we could do this. The windshield really is a pain. I can't believe that. Crazy truck and bulldozer. Errrrr. Photos are fantastic and I always love the writing, makes me feel like I am there.
    Hayden.... in Grenada

    1. Glad to hear that you made it to Grenada where IS can rest safely for the summer.
      Happy trails back home.

  2. Such a beautiful view and so peaceful, it must be hard to leave!
    Never had the desire to head North but I have to admit that you have changed my mind!

    1. Glad that I'm helping to change your mind. Its all good!

  3. Just yesterday you guys were on my mind and I was anxiously awaiting an update. I know how internet can be on that journey but I was craving a blog post from you and this morning here it is! What a great adventure. Sorry about the windshield, that is just bound to happen on this trek but that's a nasty looking one and so early on. Our much smaller break occurred as we were leaving Alaska. I loved the pic of Kate all wrapped up. Just adorable and the story was perfect! Oh the memories that flashed through my head while reading your post! Great memories that make me want to make that trip again. And on our next trip there we will have to stop at Muncho Lake for an extended time. I remember the beauty of that place but now I know which campground and site thanks to you! We know 8 or 9 couples making the trip to Alaska right now, most for the first time. I sure love reading about your adventures the most as you make it so interesting and informative. Take care, give your 3 girls a big squeeze from me. Oh... did you hear that the Kohl's got a puppy? He's a male Auzziedoodle that they have named Auzzie. I've only seen pics but he's adorable!

  4. 8 or 9 couples... wow! Maybe that is why it seems more crowded so early in the season. Sort of like trying to climb Mt Everest LOL
    Glad you are enjoying following along. (just like I always enjoyed yours)

  5. I had to replace our windshield about a month into our trip. I now have six chips in the replacement windshield. I'm not replacing it until we get home if I don't have to.

  6. I always enjoy your posts. We live in Eagle River, AK and make the trip twice a year. Came back in early May this year and loved the road conditions, that is until the Tok cutoff, there is a long stretch all torn up in addition to its normal frost heaves. Didn’t even stop at the house this year, headed straight to the beach in Seward for a week, cold and rainy but still a beautiful spot, the work at the house could wait. We too prefer the provincial campgrounds that are quiet. Our former neighbors here now live about 10 miles east of your new home, in Catalina. Enjoy your summer, we have had 4 days in a row of sun!!. Patty

    1. Thanks Patty. I can't wait for the Tok cutoff. My "favorite" part of the trip.


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