Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Watson Lake, Tetsa Lake and Whitehorse Yukon

After we pulled out of Liard, we proceeded to Watson Lake, Yukon.

Watson Lake is the home of the world famous Sign Forest.  This is a tradition that got started back in WWII when a homesick GI working on the original Alaska Highway made a milepost marker that included a arrow pointing and the distance to his hometown.

Watson Lake History

Over the years, travelers along the ALCAN have stopped and left their own signs for people to admire.  The town of Watson Lake supports this activity, dedicating land and wooden sign posts for people to hang their signs.  It has grown to probably an acre of densely populated signs.

Good luck finding any particular sign in there.  We tried to find the KYD (see you tube for the KYD stuff) sign, but had no luck.

All and all we found the Sign Forest to be a worthwhile and interesting stop, however I doubt we will stop there again until we have a sign to post.  Note to self:  Make it metal....

We did go to the Northern Lights Center across the highway from the Sign Forest and enjoyed their presentation of the Aurora Borealis.  This is a planetarium like theater and is quite good.

We stayed one night in a full hook-up RV park in Watson Lake.  All the RV parks are essentially parking lots with semi and full hookups.  Nothing remarkable there.

Tetsa River

We took off for White Horse the next day and overnighted in a RV park in the rural mountain area at the Tetsa River Lodge and RV park.  This was a rustic RV park where the water was supplied to our site via a garden hose and 15 amp power via an extension cord.  The generator did not sound healthy so we declined the electricity and lived on our own generator.

This place claims to have the "Best Cinnamon Rolls in the Center of the Galactic Cluster".  They may well be.  The Cinnamon Rolls earned them a spot in the RVs GPS for future stops.


Most RVers consider Whitehorse a point along the way - They stop an Walmart, fill-up and are on their way. They are missing one of the most interesting places in Canada.

There are many museums in town, excellent restaurants and wonderful natural history.  One of my favorites was the "Worlds Largest Weathervane".  This is a real DC-3 mounted on a pole and is turned by the wind.

Whitehorse is the start of the Yukon River and one if its claims to fame is the worlds longest fish ladder.

Claire at the headwaters of the Yukon

The Worlds Longest Fish Ladder

Headwaters of the Yukon
We stayed in Whitehorse for about 10 days for logistical reasons, but we were not bored at all.  We will be stopping at Whitehorse during our return leg.

Thursday, July 25, 2019

Liard Hot Springs

Laird Hot Springs Provincial Park is one of those incredible places you hear about along the Alaskan Highway.

During the 1942 construction of the Alaskan Highway, Laird was used for rest and recuperation of the troops - who would kindly once a week vacate the hot springs so the lady service people could use it.

After the war, the hot springs became a provincial park and a stop along the Alcan.

The government of British Columbia have turned this into an incredible must-do stop for travelers along the Alcan.  They have a large number of RV sites - unfortunately dry - that are large and comfortable.  They built a beautiful boardwalk (correction - rebuilt - The GIs in the 40s built the original) that snakes out over the warm water marsh leading to the hot springs and they also build a wonderful spring side bathing facility with changing rooms benches and toilets.
Liard Hot Springs

There is a faint sulfur smell from the hot water as it emerges from the earth.  The hot water keeps one end of the springs almost too hot, but as you get away from the source the temperature drops to more reasonable levels.  A tradition is to wade to the hot end and put a rock on the berm next to the water source.

Hot Water Source

Anyplace else in the world, this thing would be booked up solid years in advance.  It is truly one of the special places on earth.  It's remoteness keeps it accessible.

You can get a reservation for one of the RV spots, but the park keeps a large percentage of them on a first come first serve basis.  We got there just minutes after the park filled up.

Fortunately they have overflow parking in the rest area across the Alcan.  It costs the same as staying in the Park and it is one of the few rest areas on the Alcan that does not permit overnight parking otherwise.

So we paid our $28.00 Canadian and parked in the overflow.  But the next morning we were first in line and got a very nice back in spot.

All spots are dry - there was one water tap and a hand pump (really) for potable water.  There was no sanitary dump.  The rest rooms were all outhouses.

We think this helps keep the place accessible.

Liard will get another visit on our return to California - and anyother time we are on the Alcan.

Sunday, July 14, 2019

After Seaside, we moved to a non descript campground just south of the Canadian Border and did a couple of practice entries into Canada.  One of which was to Victoria on a fairly expensive car ferry.  We also scouted our port of entries settling on Abbotsford a few miles down the road.

On July 2, we made our RV entry into Canada - after a bit of panic where we thought we would not fit through the barricades of the entry station and made our first stop about 1/2 a mile into Canada at Costco.

There we learned Costco in Canada does not take the same credit cards.  We found one that worked for gas and hit an ATM to get Canadian money to pay for our groceries.  It was then onto BC-97 for the run up through Prince Rupert to Dawson Creek and milepost 0.

Milepost Zero
We overnighted in Dawson creek to recover a bit from the long run up BC-37 and to get some dog treats (she needs very special treats) and then headed out on the fabled Alaskan Highway.

We knew that it had long since been completely paved (thank you Canada) but were surprised by the quality of the highway.

Our first destination was Laird Hot Springs and the provincial RV park they have there.  We planned on spending 2 nights at Laird to both enjoy the natural hot springs and the rest up from the long drive.

The British Columbia Highway Department keeps to foliage along the highway trimmed back 20 or more yards and there is a very good reason for this.  The animals.

 We were astonished at the number of large animals we saw alongside the road.  You needed to clearance to see the animals and to slow down to allow them to cross - or as the case may be - take pictures:

One of 12 Bears we saw alongside the road

Young Adult Male -- The Bull that wandered through the Campground was much large.

Herd of Females, Calves and young Adults

Fox, shot through the side screen

We overnighted in a "rustic" (self described) campground in the remote Tetsa River area.  It advertised hookups.

Well the hookups were a tee off of a garden hose and a 15 amp extension cord stretched into the campsite.  We went ahead and took the water, but decided to decline the electricity.  It was being provided by a local diesel generator and didn't sound terribly healthy.

 The rustic campground was more than made with the Cinnamon Buns from the camp office the next morning.  The Milepost claims they were "said by thousands" to be the best there ever was.

In the future we will stop for Cinnamon Buns - maybe not to camp.

The next morning it was back on the road to Laird Hot Springs.

Saturday, June 29, 2019

Week 1 - Sacramento to Seaside Oregon

We finished work on Friday, and took off from Sacramento Saturday morning and headed up the I-5.  Our first stop was in Corning California at the Rolling Hills Casino.

Rolling Hills is our favorite California Casino and it offers fine hotel rooms, an excellent RV park - one you can get into, some decent restaurants and of course the Casino.  It advertises itself as being 1/2 way between Portland and Los Angeles.  Other than the casino, there is not much in Corning and it is more of waypoint than a destination.  However the lunch buffet can't be beat and we had to leave a little money (no more than $20.00 per head) on the tables.

Heading on North we ran out of daylight (a problem with the toad keeps us from driving at night) near the 7 Feathers casino in Oregon.

 This was a place we had never been before and it is the most "Las Vegasy" Indian Casino we ever seen.  Very large, ornate with lots of restaurants and bars - most importantly a smoke free portion of the Casino with a very fine sports bar.  It books top entertainment - Creedence was playing the night we were there, but the show, sadly for us, was sold out.

It caters to the mobile public offering truckers a large lot with free shuttles, a very fine RV resort that compares favorably with any other RV resort we've been in, but most importantly for us a "RV Dry" parking lot that is totally free.

These are long spots in the parking lot - long enough for the RV, but we had to park the toad elsewhere, not far from the Casino (also with a free shuttle)

The next morning we took off again and hit our first destination - The Evergreen International Air and Space Museum in McMinnville Oregon.

This place has 4 buildings:  1)  A space museum that has artifacts from the Space Race, some retired missiles and some cold war aircraft including an SR-71 (with payloads) and Global Hawk (yay team!) mockup.  2.)  A large movie theater for aviation related movies - that was sadly down the day we were there.  3.) An aviation museum that contains a large variety of aircraft including the infamous Spruce Goose of Howard Hughes fame.  Lastly and certainly not least a waterpark for the kiddies that has a retired 747 on the roof with waterslides coming out of it.
Ginger and the Evergreen Waterpark

 But one of the best and unadvertised features of this place is that if you are going/have went to the Museum, they don't mind you boondocking in their parking lot.  This is quiet, paved flat, has roaming security and is one of the best boondocking experiences you can have.  The dog was particularly happy with the open fields around it for squirrel observations.
The view out of the Front

 After touring the Museum we took off for Seaside Oregon and the Thousand Trails there.  We will spend 4 days there.

A little more RV friendly than Santa Barbara.

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Alaska is upon us...


After multiple years of planning, we are taking the RV to Alaska. We will both be taking extended leaves from work.

I've spent the last couple of months repairing the RV, installing a WiFiRanger and "culling the cargo" to try and get some of the weight down.

We will go up the I-5 to Seaside Oregon, then to Birch Bay Washington and will most likely enter Canada at Aldergrove, then to Dawson City BC for the start of the Alcan.

From there things a bit nebulous (no sense in over planning these things) but will most likely include Laird Hot Springs and Whitehorse.

We are excited beyond belief.  Watch this space for further developments.