Posts Tagged With: Robinson Fuso

Day 58 – Whitehorse and the Klondike Highway

Sunday, June 18
Lessons learned:
In most parts of Canada, you can only buy beer, wine and spirits at a government operated shop or a private shop dedicated to selling alcohol. The availability of those shops is highly restricted and almost all are closed on Sundays, Mondays and holidays.
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Our plan for Sunday was to do a little grocery shopping and visiting a liquor shop before starting our journey up the Klondike Highway towards Dawson City.
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Our first stop was at the Wal-Mart. The parking lot was full of RVs and campers. Some of them appear to have been there for a long time.
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The Wal-Mart was as disappointing as the other ones we’ve been to in Canada. The shelves were half empty and the prices were much higher than expected, even considering the location. There weren’t very many customers either.
We went to the  President’s Choice Grocery Superstore. It looks like everyone goes shopping on Sunday. The store was packed and the fresh produce was seriously depleted. We bought what we could.
After another couple of stops, we started the next leg of our journey. We drove north on the Klondike Highway towards Dawson City.
The Klondike Highway from Whitehorse to Dawson City is a 321 mile paved highway with very limited services along the way.
Even though the road is paved, frost heaves often appear without warning. You are driving along and suddenly the highway drops for a short section, kind of like very large reverse speed bumps. Sometimes there are cones or flagging along the side of the road, but usually the only thing you see is the tire marks from cars slamming on their brakes. And then you’re in the middle of it.
We passed this accident which was probably due to a combination of speed, frost heaves and a slight turn. Everyone seemed to be ok, the vehicle was not.
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We stopped at the Watson Lake Territorial Campground to see what kind of amenities we could expect in Yukon Territorial Campgrounds. It was already quite full.
Northern Canada is subject to wildfires.
We picked up a guide to the forest fires along the Klondike Highway. The section of road from Whitehorse to Dawson is part of the Fire Belt.
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It is part of the natural cycle of forest growth and rebirth, but this far north, it takes a long time to recover.
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Most of the trees are dependent on periodic fires for the health of the forest. Fireweed is a treasured flower in the northern climes because it is one of the first plants to bloom after a fire.
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We planned on camping at the Pelly Crossing Territorial Campground. It seemed to be at a good halfway point along the highway.
When we got there, we didn’t find a Territorial Campground. We found a mostly derelict campground. There were no signs. Most of the campsites were overgrown and even the road through it hadn’t seen much traffic. It wasn’t a place we wanted to stay for the night, so we continued driving north.
Even though we were tired, we stopped to look at the amazing view at Five Finger Rapids.
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We found a promising territorial campground at Moose Creek.
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It looked like a really campground. It had signs and a place to pay for camping there. We found regularly maintained vault toilets, shelters with seasoned firewood, and a water pump.
Fortunately, there were several empty campsites to choose from. We found one that worked great for us.
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There were fire rings and picnic tables at each site.
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The rest of our drive along the Klondike Highway was uneventful.
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Day 56 – Yukon, Alaska Highway to Whitehorse

Friday, June 16

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We crossed into the Yukon Territory right before we came to the end of the Stewart-Cassiar Highway. It ends at the Alaska Highway.

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Considering the reputation of the Alaska Highway, it was amazing to find it just like most interstate highways.
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However, the weather was definitely not like anything we had seen before. Over a period of a few hours, we saw sun.
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Clouds.
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Rain.
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Snow.
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Snow and blue skies.
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Clouds.
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We saw several overland vehicles including an GXV one.
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We stopped in Teslin.
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To reach it, you cross over a significant bridge over the Nisutlin River and follow along the Teslin Lake.
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There is fuel, an RV friendly campground and a free dump in Teslin. We took advantage of the fuel and dump before continuing our journey towards Whitehorse.
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We decided to push on to Whitehorse. After reading over several reviews and guidebooks, it sounded like Hi Country RV Park was going to be the best option.
We were ahead of the biggest part of the tourist season, so we were hopeful about finding a campsite. As it turned out, there were lots of other people with the same idea. After spending some time with the front desk, we were given the option of a site that wasn’t really a site. It wasn’t a site. There wasn’t any way anyone except a tent could have fit in that space. By the time we got back to the front desk, a cancellation had been found. Fortunately, we were small enough to fit in that space.
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It was a great relief to have a campsite for the night. The downside of freestyle travel is that sometimes you don’t find a campsite where you want it or you wind up having very long days trying to find a campsite. Today we were lucky.
We planned to spend the next couple of days in Whitehorse.
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Day 55 – Stewart-Cassiar Highway

Thursday, June 15, 2017

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We left the Salmon Glacier on the morning of June 15 and drove back to the Stewart-Cassiar Highway.

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The 450 mile highway starts at Kitwanga in the south and the junction with the Alaska Highway to the north. It is one of the only two British Columbia roads that links central BC to the Yukon. The other is the Alaska Highway.

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The services available along the highway are limited. There is a helpful map with the services marked on it at the sign for the highway.

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There are a few communities along the road, but most of them are very tiny.

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The scenery is beautiful.

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We saw lots of animals along the way. On June 15, we saw 10 black bears along the side of the road. They were eating plants.

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We saw a mother with two older cubs. We stopped long enough to get photos, but we were careful not to get out of the vehicle or block the road.

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We also saw a moose, but didn’t get a photo of it. We heard about a wolverine, but didn’t see it, just the remains of an animal spine that it dropped when crossing the road.

We passed the occasional vehicle, but not a lot of them. We saw a German Overland vehicle stopped at a gas station.

The road is paved for the most part, but it was gravel or dirt for large sections. The road is not exactly flat. It is a real challenge to maintain the road in the severe cold temperatures up here.

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There are also lots of rivers and streams that need bridges.

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There aren’t too many places to camp, so we looked over the map to find a place to camp for the night. We found a British Columbia Forest Service Campground that was at a good distance for today.

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Sawmill Point Recreation Site BCFS has ten free campsites along a lake. There is a steep road down to the lake and campground which isn’t a problem for us. 

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We settled into a nice campsite along the lake.

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The German Overland Vehicle came in while we were eating dinner. I was able to get a quick photo of their rig, but we never saw the people inside. Sometimes that is the way it goes.

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It was a quiet night.

 

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Day 54 & 55 – From Stewart to the Salmon Glacier with a stop in Alaska

Wednesday, June 14 through Thursday, June 15, 2017

We make a detour on Stewart-Cassair Highway to visit Stewart, British Columbia, Hyder, Alaska and the Salmon Glacier in British Columbia.

This installment covers our side trip to Stewart, British Columbia to see the Salmon Glacier.

The Salmon Glacier is the world’s largest road accessible glacier and the fifth largest glacier in Canada. The photos of it looked pretty incredible, so we wanted to make a detour to see it.

Jon and I decided to take a detour down the Glacier Highway (Highway 37A) – located off the Stewart-Cassiar Highway 37 at the Meziadin Junction.

This highway is a 40 mile drive to Stewart, British Columbia. From there, we followed the Salmon Glacier Road through Hyder, Alaska to the Salmon Glacier in British Columbia.

The scenery along the Glacier Highway is really amazing. There are row after row of mountains with and without snow on top.

We stopped briefly to see the Bear Glacier.

The Bear Glacier used to block the Strohn Lake’s outlet and occasionally caused flooding. It was notable enough that it was designated a Provincial Park in 2000. But it has been in retreat and now doesn’t even reach the lake.

The Day Use area has been closed. There are no longer signs for the glacier, but there are a couple of pull-outs where you can view the glacier.

We stopped in Stewart, BC. This town is at the end of the Portland Canal and Fjorde.

It is the fourth largest fjord in the World. It is also Canada’s most northerly Ice-free port. Like many places we visited in Canada and Alaska, it has gone through a boom and bust cycle primarily associated with mining. Right now, it is in a bust. The town had definitely seen better days. There was nothing going on in town. The Information Center was already closed for the day. Most of the businesses were still closed for the season although there were a few that had just closed for the day already. We were ahead of the season a little, but we were surprised to see how little was open. The occasional rain certainly didn’t make it look any more appealing.

The weather was cool and misty with occasional sprinkles of rain. This trip has taught me that most of the places with glaciers have a lot of snow in the winter and rain in the summer. This was true for Stewart, too.

We stopped briefly before driving to the Salmon Glacier. We had hoped to find out more information about the road and conditions. We did actually have a little cell and data signal in Stewart, so I took advantage of it to download the Stewart Salmon Glacier Travel Guide.

Stewart Salmon Glacier Travel Guide

To reach the Salmon Glacier, you have to cross into Alaska. There is no US Customs at the border, but Canada does have a manned border crossing when returning from the Salmon Glacier to Stewart.

Once in Alaska, you reach the town of Hyder, the friendliest ghost town.

It is even smaller and less notable than Stewart. Hyder is famous for its bars.

Just past Hyder is a Fish Creek Wildlife Viewing Area. During salmon season, this is a great place to view bears. At this time, not as good. Plus it was sprinkling.

As the road continued, we crossed back into Canada. We surprised a hoary marmot.

We kept getting tantalizing views of the glacier when we would go around a curve.

Since it was getting rather late and visibility was dropping, we started looking for a place to camp for the night. 

We passed by several nice spots, but most of them already had someone occupying the space. 

We finally came to a nice wide spot with a view of the glacier.

Considering the time, we thought this would be a good place to stop for the night. We couldn’t go any further on the road because only a small path had been plowed through the snow. We certainly wouldn’t fit. A small car might find it passable.

It was cold and windy with a lot of fog, mist and drizzling rain.

The view was pretty amazing. We hoped to see it more clearly in the morning.

In the morning, we were able to see the Salmon Glacier. It turns out that we were camped on the overlook.

It was amazing to be able to look down on it.

It was time to continue our journey.

We didn’t stop to take a lot of photos on the way back down.

There aren’t that many places where the road is wide enough for vehicles to park while there was still so much snow on the road.

But we did stop to see the blue pool.

We had to stop for Canada customs on our way back into Stewart. It all went smoothly.

We stopped at the Visitor Center in Stewart. It wasn’t particularly helpful.

We saw a number of wild animals along the road to and from Salmon Glacier. Unfortunately, we didn’t get photos of any of them today. We saw wild black bears on Glacier Highway. He did what they are supposed to do and moved away quickly into the brush along the side of the road. We saw a moose and Jon spotted a porcupine along the side of the road.

We stopped at the Bear Glacier for a couple more photos.

We did see another black bear along the side of the road.

More about our travels down the Stewart-Cassair Highway in the next post.

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Day 53 – Prince George and Sunset Lake 

Yellowhead Highway – Central British Columbia 

Tuesday, June 13

It looked like Prince George was probably our last big chance for shopping for a long while, so we stopped. Prince George is a large town and seems like it functions as a shopping destination for much of the surrounding area.

We shopped at a Wal-Mart. So far, the Wal-Marts in Canada have been pretty disappointing. The shelves are often half empty and the prices aren’t nearly as low as usual. Many of them do allow overnight parking in their parking lots.

We found a private liquor store and bought some Canadian wine and beer.

We stopped at a Canadian Tire shop. Imagine a cross between an automotive store, a tractor/farm supply, a sporting goods shop, and a Wal-Mart. They have a little bit of everything.

Canadian Tire

2017 is the 150th birthday of Canada. Most stores have big displays of Canada merchandise near their entrance. Since we assume that we will still be in Canada on July 1st (Canada Day), we decided to get into the spirit of the event. We bought shirts, a pot holder, a can koozie, flip flops and several other small items.

After this, we headed west on the Yellowhead Highway (Canada highway 16). Generally speaking, there are only two highways leading from central British Columbia to the North. The Stewart-Cassiar on the western side of BC and the Alaska Highway along the eastern part of BC.

We had a Road Atlas, but it seemed like the maps of Northern British Columbia and the Yukon must be woefully lacking in detail. The reality is that there just aren’t that many highways. It is a mighty big area with a relatively small population.

After looking over the maps, we decided to take the western route to the Yukon and return along the Alaska Highway.

We saw our first wild moose.

Female cow moose

We decided to try another BC Forest Service campground. We found one that was a little bigger this time. Sunset Lake was near Topley. It had eight campsites and a day use area. 

Sunset Lake BCFS Campground

The campground had a mix of campsites. There were several right next to the boat launch. After our experience with the teenagers, we chose one that was screened from other campsites by trees and brush.

Jon had a chance to try out one of the Canadian beers and the Canada can koozie.

The lake was really beautiful. We went for a walk around recreational areas.

It was nice to have a chance to hang out and enjoy the weather, scenery and peace and quiet of this place.

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Day 26 – Driving to Saline Valley 

May 17 

The next morning, Marc and the other XP vehicles were going to continue on the South Eureka Valley Road to Steel Pass and then down into Saline Valley.

We’ve gone through Steel Pass in other vehicles, but the Robinson Fuso is too big to make it through. So we were going to take the Saline Valley Rd. to enter the valley from the north on roads that can handle larger vehicles.

After all of the washboard yesterday, I wasn’t looking forward to the inevitable washboard today. The roads did take us through some pretty areas. There were lots of wildflowers blooming along the road.

We passed through a section of high desert with Joshua Trees.

The road also winds through a Juniper – Piñon pine forest.

We stopped at canyon where there is an old, abandoned mine. Jon took a hike while I took photos of the area and wildflowers.


We were buzzed by a low flying jet. 

The road then drops down into the Saline Valley which means a lot of more washboard. The Fuso began having problems going up the hills. We stopped and Jon discovered that the strap holding the truck’s batteries had come loose. A strap would do the trick for now.

One of the problems with washboard is that all the vibration causes everything tries to work its way apart.

We reached turn off for the Warm Springs. The palm trees are visible from a long way out. We stopped at the Bat Pole for photos of the Fuso with her new look.

When we got to the Warm Spings, it was evident that Marc, Adam and Dean had not made it to the Warm Springs. We set up camp and relaxed.

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Overland Expo West – Our Classes & Programs

May 12 to 14, 2017

Our classes

Jon points out the refrigerator electronics

We taught our Basic American Camper, Tricks & Tips on Friday and Saturday at 11.

Friday worked well. We made it to the Demo Tent in plenty of time.

On Saturday, the traffic to come to Expo was so backed up that we resorted to driving contrary to the flow of traffic to get there in time.

Jon discusses carrying spares

 

Jon talking about propane and maceraters

Our Presentation 
On Sunday afternoon, we gave our presentation “So This Happened: A heavy-vehicle recovery story”. It was on getting stuck in the Black Rock Desert Playa last year. If you want to know more, check out our blog posts from July 2016.

Our presentation was at 1:00 on Sunday afternoon. Most Sunday afternoon classes are lightly attended and ours was no different.

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