Oh, Thursday finally brought what I’d been dreaming of, a land of barren snowy peaks, spruce-covered mountains, frozen lakes, turquoise streams, miles of wilderness between services, and encounters with wildlife.
First stop on Thursday was Fort Nelson. I filled up and then stopped at the Fort Nelson Heritage Museum. There is not much RV parking at the museum. When entering, do not make the mistake I did and turn right into the paved area. First of all, it is a dump and water fill up station, so you don’t want to block it, and second, there is very little room to turn around. With Miranda and the toad, I literally did not have an inch to spare. Instead, just follow the dirt driveway as it loops around and park where there is space on the side.
The museum is full of wonderful artifacts about Fort Nelson’s history and that of the Alaska highway. The staff is friendly and full of interesting trivia. I particularly enjoyed the tales of the gentleman who maintains the antique cars on display. They all run. One of the cars turn 100 last year so, to celebrate its birthday, he and his wife drove it to Whitehorse and back! Cars today just don’t last! Upon first glance, the museum and grounds seem very ‘junky’, but there is method and order to the chaos. A visit is definitely a ‘must’!
giant crayon at the Fort Nelson Heritage Museum
Coming out of Fort Nelson, there is a sign announcing that there are no services for 250km or so. The ‘real’ Alaska Highway begins!
30km from Fort Nelson, I had to make a choice that I had been agonizing over for weeks. I was about 130km from the border of the Northwest Territories. It was very tempting to turn, go to the border, have lunch at the rest stop there (very convenient), come back, and spend the night in Fort Nelson. But most of the road to to Fort Liard, NWT, is gravel and there was a forecast of snow. So, I knew I’d be encountering mud and potholes and potentially vehicle-damaging conditions. I decided not to make the detour.
I stopped for lunch at Steamboat Mountain (apparently the mountain looks like a Steamboat, but I couldn’t see it). It was very cold and wet up there, but the views were fantastic!
view from Steamboat Mountain rest area
I passed a herd of caribou a short while down the road:
herd of caribou
I stopped again at Summit Lake, the highest point on the Alaska highway:
I continued on past one breathtaking peak after another only to be stopped by the last thing I expected to stop me in the middle of the wilderness:
the wilderness red light district?
The gal at the Fort Nelson Museum told me that I had to stop and take in the view at Muncho Lake, so I did:
The lake was frozen, but there was enough thaw near shore for me to realise that Muncho Lake is bright blue-green in summer. So, this might seem like a picture of any other lake, I have a feeling the ice is hiding a real jewel.
The Alaska Highway follows the curve of the lake, so RVers, be prepared to take things slow and to stay as far right in your lane as possible!
I then began to look for a place to spend the night and was suddenly besieged with the sight of something I had never thought I would see in the wild. Let me add a sidebar here that my favourite movie of all time is ‘Dances With Wolves.’ The main character, Lieutenant John J. Dunbar, is heading out into the frontier to see it before it’s gone and there is one animal he is anxious to see, the mighty ‘tatanka’:
Yes, folks, that's a buffalo. There was a herd of them, but this picture came out best.
Thank you to the folks in the car behind me for stopping and therefore, giving me permission to stop too.
I was seriously running out of steam by this point and it was already 4PM (which surprised me!). I was faced with another decision: continue to Liard Hotsprings and spend the night at the campground there (17$ and no hookups) or stop before the springs (free) and pay the day use fee Friday (5$). I chose the latter, stopping at a gravel turnoff with great views just 9km from the springs.
view from my livingroom on Thursday night
I knew that Friday night would have to be on hookups, so it just didn’t make sense budget-wise, to pay for a non-hookup site. Two days is just about as long as I can go on my battery. What about the generator, you say. Well, let’s just say that my genset was working just fine when it was tested in Vancouver and was very useful at the Chasm, but it will no longer start. I really don’t think I’m meant to boondock. 🙁
That downer aside, Thursday was a nice , quiet evening. I had bought a book about the Chilkoot Pass history at the Fort Nelson Museum, so I read until the book was done. It was 9:30 and still bright day light out. Thankfully, the loft area is fairly dark, so I was able to conk out in short order.
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