June 16, 2011
Today we took a mini-side trip to the Northwest Territories. Not too many people can say they have been here, and it was only 115 miles north of the Alaska Highway. Only the last 30 were hell.
That is, with the exception of this one-lane, wooden plank bridge at the beginning of the turn off from the Alaska Highway that I thought was right out of an RVer’s Inferno. Driving a regular car over it would have been harrowing enough, but adding a 40-foot RV was a bit nerve wracking. But the big trucks do it, right?
The rest of the stretch in British Columbia really was nice. Paved, two lanes, only a couple pot holes from this spring, and they were clearly marked. Traffic was light, and animals were taking advantage of it.
We saw a 7 black bears by the side of the road, 2 sows with 2 cubs each, and a solo. This sow and cubs were standing in the middle of the road when we arrived. The cub on the right had the right idea --- get outta here, fast!
Mom and Cub Number Two soon followed into the brush. We also saw a wild buffalo by the side of the road. Surprising because this area is forest – I have never thought of buffalo grazing through the aspens and pines!
(Note from the trip back the next morning: our total animal count along the same stretch of road was zero. Not even a squirrel!)
Then we got to the Northwest Territories. Our destination was the first town over the border, Fort Liard, 30 miles into the NWT. The paving of the road stopped at the border. The road immediately went from very good to a wavy washboard covered with dirty gravel that caused passing cars to throw up huge clouds of dust. It got into everything. We had our ceiling vents open which turned out not to be the smartest idea – the amount of dust getting into the coach made it look like we had indoor fog, and it actually caused the smoke detector to go off!
Fort Liard is a town of 500 some folks. There is a gas station, a couple small stores, a fire station, and a First Nation (the Canadian term for Native Americans) craft store that sells overpriced beaded moccasins and earrings, and boxes decorated with dyed porcupine quills.
This is the main road through town:
We are boondocking in a city park that is right on a very nice lake, at the perfect cost – free. Gnats are a constant annoyance here, but Odonata (dragonflies and damselflies) are plentiful. Here are some examples:
Tomorrow we will retrace our steps and get back on the Alaska Highway, and go a little further into our trip “North to Alaska.”