Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Waiting in Watson Lake

The day started early because we wanted to be at the shop when it opened. While mom and dad waited Rob and I went to Home Hardware. It has everything. Patience and Evander really enjoyed the bins of bulk nails. I understand. Nails are fun. They sound nice and are a little pokey without hurting. 
After we had wreaked enough havoc on the store we returned to the repair place where it was confirmed that a new alternator was needed and the battery was charging. 

Since it was going to take a while I headed to the visitor centre with the kids. We needed to make our sign. We were, after all, in signpost land. 
Our completed sign. It might not last. If we come back we will look for it. 

After we returned to our camp and did boring things like lunch and naps. In the afternoon Janet contacted us because they were on their way through. We were going to meet them in Liard the night before but since the van was broken we couldn't. I left Janet a text message and hoped that she would understand when she got cell service. 
Someone was jostling me. 

We made the best of the situation and did laundry and got groceries. Groceries involved cake because it was James' birthday. Good day to meet up. Good cake. Good visit. 

Alaska At Last

Our plan was to make it to Alaska so we had to go to Alaska. From where we were Skagway was a short hop, or a several hour trip, depending on your distance management. A short hop for us then. 

It was raining very steadily when we left and pouring when we got to Carcross so we decided to keep going in hope we got back in time to see it later. 

As we approached The Yukon Swinging Bridge I looked at Rob and said," you want to?", and he said, "we can do it the next time we come through, (wink)".  So we pulled over into the parking lot. YIKES, we were committed and they gave us the group discount (quite a good discount) and started in. The rain had mostly stopped but it was still gloomy. 
Gloom is no reason to not do things. 
What are we doing? Crazy people. 

It is an interesting walk telling about the Klondike and building the road and the gold hunt and such. And bears. 
We did cross the river on the bridge. I did not take pictures. Rob did but I did not. We survived our adventure and resisted the gift shop, $2.25 for ketchup chips, and continued on.

Did I mention that I was freezing? The cold rain and my footwear makes it hard to warm up. 
I am however thankful for split heat. 

The highway to Skagway goes from 3250 feet (I can't remember exactly) to sea level in about 120km. Quite an angle. It was also very cloudy, foggy and there were bike tours on the narrow road. I'm sure dad was having the time of his life. It didn't make for good pictures though. 

We managed to make it over the border without incident. The border guard did look for "Javier," and asked if we spoke English in Spanish, no French. The kids remembered to keep their smart remarks to themselves so they let us through. The interesting thing about the border crossing is that the American and Canadian sides (crossing checks) are about 35 kilometres apart. You keep waiting and waiting for the next one. 

Once in Skagway we had lunch at a playground. 
Advantages of a tourist town. New playgrounds and bathrooms. Disadvantages, tourist prices. You win some and you loose some. 

When we came 20 years ago I remember going and seeing things in Skagway. This time I remember the people. The day we came so did three cruise ships. Talk about crowded. I did manage to see some things. 
This is a giant snow plow for the railroad. It would really move the snow. I thought the town in Little House on the Prairie needed that the year the railway was snowed in. 
Sorry about the glare. 
This reminded me of the on of John Lake and Chief Whitecap. "Go that way". 

Much of what was covered in Skagway had been previously taught in other places on the way so not too much new. It was crowded and ice cream was $4.50 a scoop, American. We did make it to Alaska and that was the point. 
Mom wouldn't come closer to take the picture but we have proof that we made it. 

Look for the train
It is a narrow track made just for the gold rush because it could be laid quickly. It runs between Skagway and Carcross. The station is at the Canadian border crossing. 

On the way back we stopped to look at things. 

We were too late for Carcross but we did stop at the tiny desert. 
We walked across it. 
Evander really liked the desert. 

We saw a bear on the way back to camp. 
It took a moment to pose for me and I missed it. But nice profile shot. 

It was late when we got back so we make supper fast and then had sugar pies for dessert. Good reason to have a fire. 

Back to Watson Lake

While we were in Whitehorse we heard on the radio (we were so excited to get radio) that because of the forest fire the highway in Fort Nelson was closed. (There is only one highway out of Fort Nelson and if it was closed we weren't going anywhere). After Whitehorse we had no radio and no internet, except for a tiny bit in Carcross, so our information was limited. Fortunately we still had to go to Watson Lake. Both highways meet at Watson Lake. As well it was the place with information. Watson Lake has cell service and Internet. 

When we got to Teslin Dad mentions to Rob that his battery light has come on but nothing else. We couldn't see anything so continued on. At lunch we met a group of cyclists that have been all through Europe and are now going through Canada. Crazy. 

We got just a little farther up the road when Dad pulls over. He couldn't shift anymore and all his lights were on. A little quick testing ( Rob has a variety of tools and such with him) it was determined that the battery was dead, or almost dead. Since we were on the side of a narrow road, and since it doesn't matter to the giant RVs that you are stopped they just hurtle on by, we decided to try to make it to a pull off. 

Rob hooked up the booster cables and we settled in to wait.
While we were hooked up Gord, Gord from Watson Lake, stopped as he was passing. We have a distinct look. He was on his way to Atlin. He mentioned that his wife was going to Whitehorse and then back to Watson Lake of we needed parts,because we likely did.  

It took one more charge before we got to Watson Lake. We arrived at 5:30 on Friday as everything was closed. After a phone call we determined that the shop opened at 10. What else could we do? We found a campsite and settled in for the night. 


Saturday, July 11, 2015

Shopping day

After Atlin we had done everything and we knew that it was starting to fill up for the music festival so we weren't that interested in staying. We also were running short on vegetables and fruits, four apples remaining and very little travel snacks. How can you travel without Nibs? Off to Whitehorse we went while Rob and dad went back to Atlin. 

It isn't much of a trip. I think some people do it everyday. It was almost lunchtime when we arrived so, because Evander had cried the day before while looking at my phone when he saw the McDonalds app, "fryies", we went to McDonalds. Wifi here we come. We had fries and watched the news, it is really hard to keep up when you can't get anything and tried to use the wifi. It sadly was terrible so we could get a tiny bit of our feed but not really send anything. During that time Xavier was freezing. When we had left the camp site it had been a nice 20C but as we got into Whitehorse it was windy and cloudy, maybe 15C. None of the children had brought a sweater. Fortunately everything is very close in Whitehorse. Across the parking lot was a Salvation Army Thrift Store. We got sweaters and Evander got a rocket alarm clock that he carried around the store saying, "airpane".  That done we started out to Wal-Mart.  

I got a little turned around somewhere and ended up doing a giant loop but while doing that we found the recycling depot. That was on our list so we hopped out and dropped off our bin of cans. The boys observed that Whitehorse likes mineral street names. 

It only took a couple of hours and some back and forth but we did finish our shopping and we still had time for a museum. We went to the museum of transportation. 
It is just long enough to impart information but not so long that you feel overwhelmed. 
I really enjoyed the part about the Chilcoot trail. The men coming to the Yukon for the gold rush had to bring 1000 pounds of supplies and $200. There was no easy way to bring the supplies up, just walking over and over again. It took about 30 times up the stairs that had been carved into the mountain to bring all the supplies. 
Fortunately when they got to Dawson City they still had to cut down trees, cut lumber and make a boat before continuing on. A pleasurable time. Most had never made a boat before. 

There was also a part about modern transportation, including the making of the Alaska highway. 
Evander would walk up to things,look at me and say, "cheese" so I could take a picture. Then he would walk away. His favourite part was the playroom. We didn't manage to get outside bit I heard there is a big sandbox. 

The guy's had started supper when we got back and we were content. We were also glad for the fire because it was getting cold. 

Friday, July 10, 2015

Atlin and the Lake

We arrived in Atlin on Monday morning and tried to contact the people we were looking for. This is a town with many mountains but no cell service. None at all. There are a number of pay phones though.
We did find a steam shovel for Collin,

And a pretty bench.

While we were looking for a phone I found coffee. Atlin has a speciality coffee roaster. They have a trailer. I had some. 

Rob managed to get in contact with the people and we made it to the house to meet them. It was the saw mill, and small engine repair and maybe the car wash. I am pretty sure they own a little of everything in town to keep it going. 

From the house we went to another house. This house needed plumbing and thus the reason we were in Atlin. Rob took an hour to look around and make a supply list then we went to a house boat. We were going to spend a night on th houseboat. 

By this time it was getting late so we stopped for lunch
Then we headed to grab stuff for the boat and leave for the night. 

Leaving Atlin
Evander helps drive. 
Also pretty
Xavier making a game. 
Sticks and rocks. The greatest. 
After the rocks and sticks we settled in for the night. I practiced flint chipping because we were on a flint beach. There was a lot of rock throwing and then we took advantage of running water.