The Yukon Addendum and British Columbia (BC)
The travel pearls are around my neck along with a silver ancient twig deer from the Watchtower at the Grand Canyon that Jim gave me.
The Wojos, who traveled the Alaska Hwy a couple of days before us, dealt with closed YT rest stops—which means no one plowed the several feet of snow. They must open on April 1, which was great for us. There is little traffic on the highway.
A small caribou herd walks through the deep snow as we drive by. Some still wear their antlers, not expecting Spring any time soon, I theorize.
We spend our second night on the road in YT at a closed campground, the opening to which someone generously plowed.
Jim gets in bed first with the hot water bottle and I sit and read a bit soaking in the natural beauty and late day sun. We leave the heater on for the night ($2.50 diesel) and are cozy and warm in our nest. The next morning, it is -13 degrees. It’s a stumbly kind of morning; I need a long overdue shampoo; rosa the stoma is very upset that irrigation is delayed and greatly needed. Neither of these things is good to do in -13 degrees. The water pump is frozen but there is enough water in our water bottles for tea and, ironically, the milk and juice in the fridge aren’t frozen. I can’t flush the toilet, it’s frozen. Jim starts the engine and more warmth comes with the cab heater. I get in my seat and I’m happy again.
The untouched snow is porcelain with its sculptured curves. I can’t capture it with my camera, but my mind catalogs it.
Someone creatively addresses the limitations of an insufficient law enforcement budget.
We don’t walk the Watson Lake license plate forest, it’s submerged in several feet of snow. We stop at Kathy’s Kitchen in Watson Lake for breakfast (no Tim Hortons haha). There are two signs on the restaurant, a For Sale sign and a “full-time server needed ASAP.” Not sure what to expect.
A cheerful young woman greets us and takes us to a table. She wears a hook device in place of a hand on one side with the straps running across her back. It doesn’t slow her down. She brings me a lovely pot of tea on a little doily. Ahhhhhhhh. When we order, she offers to bring Jim a slice of sourdough bread and me brown bread as we split orders. The Denver Omelet is delicious. I love the photo on canvas overhead. Someone caught the rusted cars and the “rusts” of fall to make a beautiful image.
Near us, four decades of English Canadian construction workers chat over their own pots of tea. They chat about upcoming projects and how they will staff them.
“You can get a permit to wire your own house.”
“Jim you plan on going home on the weekends.”
“Rick’s ashes came back yesterday. It’s as it should be.”
“It’s snowing down south.”
“This climate change kind of sucks.”
“I know these regulations can be confusing.”
“It’s all French to me!” (get it?)
We leave with a warm feeling in our stomachs and in our souls waving goodbye to the server and the cooks. It’s a good place on the Alaska Highway.
The General store is across the street and Jim needs milk. Old men sit around the tables near the deli with their mugs, talking about the weather and telling stories.
We are ready to continue our trip and move into British Columbia. The sun is warm and bright, the snow white and the sky ever so blue.
Warning signs about rockslides keep us alert. The roads are blessedly clear and dry except for a few slippery areas. Ft. Nelson is the next city.
Remnants of wildfires in past year line miles of highway.
Now that we are in Canada, I request that Jim only wear his Cabela’s Camouflage Comfort Coat when no one but the animals see him.
There are many single and groups of bison on the side of the road standing and lying in the sun. Two bison make it across the road just in time to save them from being hit by a semi-truck. Down the road, mamma and baby bison walk along in the snow. It’s such a beautiful day!
We reach Laird River Hot Springs, Provincial Park. The park is open for day use and is beautifully maintained with a wood floor and changing rooms next to the steaming spring. It’s one of our walks today, but we have no intention of going in the wonderfully warm water—because after that we have to get out in the cold air.
Four people sit and float around in the water. It is tempting. I take one shoe and sock off and stick my foot off. It’s wooonnderful! I put my shoe and sock back on and we turn to go.
“ I want to put both feet in the water.”
I take my shoes and socks off and sit on the edge of the stairs and tentatively put both feet in up to mid-calf level. Reluctantly, Jim takes his off and slowly puts his feet in the warm, moving water. We sit enjoying the warm water swirling around our feet.
A late middle-aged man wearing only big swimming trunks with a Canadian flag
on them hurries by us and right into the water. Soon his wife tentatively steps into the water and sinks down.
“I’m not coming out until June when it’s warm,” she declares.
After several minutes of bliss, we get out and shake our feet dry and put on our boots and socks. Our cold, neuropathied feet feel so good as we walk back to the Sprinter.
We’re driving through mountains now with lots of white snow on them and plenty of sand on the winding roads. Coming into Ft Nelson we decide to stay at a hotel for the night to catch up on things you can’t do easily on the road—it even has a bathtub. The Internet service is good and I check messages on FB and email as well as news sites. No one needs us and I am relieved. It is good to be unhooked from the world. Somehow the natural world surrounding us is all we need
Dawson Creek is next on the trip and we start off in good spirits. However, it appears to be “one of those days” for me. No walk today. I decide to go back and lie down to see if my aching surgically modified body and nasty nerves settle down. I fall fast asleep. Because of our medical conditions, it is important to have our luxurious bed ready at all times! I wake up refreshed.
Traffic increases as we get closer to Dawson Creek and places to stay are limited. I check the “AllStays” app that is invaluable in finding unusual places to stay. However, Walmart is the only option here. The next morning is cloudy, but warmer which we welcome.
We are already missing the wilderness.
Breakfast is at Tim Hortons.
Me: “Look the TH television is showing how to make a coat rack from hockey sticks.”
Him: “Only in Canada.”
By now we are aware of the terrible tragedy of the team bus of young hockey players being struck by the tractor-trailer in Saskatchewan. It casts an air of sadness over Tim Horton’s.
We leave Dawson Creek and see a small sign for “Pouce Coupe”. The driver is going too fast for a photo and there’s no point of asking him to turn around. Perhaps I need to resurrect the idea of “5 turn-arounds-no-questions-asked per trip.” Ok, so there is lots of traffic and winding road. Now girlfriends are another story. Once while she drove me to the airport in Lake Tahoe I spotted a Sierra Trading Post store. We instantly agreed that we could make both the store and the airport. Driving in West Seattle, I spotted a For Sale sign and mentioned I was interested in possibly relocating. My friend Kathy, screeched to a stop and then backed up full speed to stop at the sign. Judy, a longtime Michigan friend would top both of these experiences.
A sign announces the sale of “Sea Cans”. These are the container vans that carry goods on barges to Alaska and other places that rely on the waterways—or can be turned into houses in remote Alaska communities. I like the name “Sea Cans.” And so we cross British Columbia with good humour and good memories and head into Alberta.