Departure day: caribou, hotsprings and bison

Left home at 9:15 after loading the food & last minute stuff and I made it to Liard Hot Springs at 7:35, 657 km.

Early on, I realized my headlights were not working. Checked the fuses & they seemed OK. I got worried & tried to figure out what I would do if I had to drive at night. I would have to drive at night if I wanted to make it to the hot springs as the sun now sets around 4:00 PM, I was going east, and it is an eight-hour drive from Whitehorse in the best conditions. I debated whether I should chance it, but good sense finally prevailed. When I got to Teslin where I gassed up, I decided to get the vehicle checked out in Watson Lake and if I had to stay there if need be instead of going to the Liard Hot Springs.

So I drove on, almost non-stop (except to pee) to Watson Lake. It was extremely windy until pas Watson Lake and the wind sometimes made the truck sway uncomfortably. There were flurries around Whitehorse and through the Cassiar Mountains, although, surprisingly, the road was completely dry east of the mountains. As I reached the Liard Plateau, I started seeing blue sky.

Caribou before Watson Lake

Caribou along the Alaska Highway before Watson Lake

About 20 km before Upper Liard, I saw quite a few (about 6 or seven) woodland caribou by the side of the road. I stopped to take the pictures, and a truck that was on my tail honked at me.

I saw three more caribou just a few kms before Upper Liard, a truck stopped to let them cross the road, but one headed back. I guess they must be suicidal caribou to hang out a few kilometers from a First Nation community. On the other hand, they are probably part of the Finlayson herd and the Kaska people have been doing their best to reestablish the herd over the last ten years or so. So they might have lost their fear of humans. For now anyway.

Caribou crossing Alaska Highway at Upper Liard

Caribou crossing Alaska Highway at Upper Liard

I got the truck lights checked out at Rudy’s in Watson Lake at 3:00PM. I thought I knew exactly what was wrong, and that we would have to go fix the connection to the camper clearance lights under the truck. Well, guess what? The mechanic checked the fuses and one was burnt. After the fuse was replaced, all the lights worked fine, although I might have to replace some of the rear clearance light bulbs.

Past Watson Lake, it soon got dark despite our long northern twilight and my speed went down to 80, then 70 (klicks that is). I did manage to take some pictures of bison before it got too dark. By 5:15 or so I was getting really tired and looked for a place to stop. Just before the Fireside lodge at 5:30, there was a turn-off. I stopped there, turned on the propane heater and tried to take a nap. Although I did not sleep, I did rest so that by 6:30, I was ready to go again.

Bison on Alaska Highway

Bison on Alaska Highway

At Fireside, there was a lit sign that alternated saying “Drive Carefully” and “Buffalo on the road for 90 km”. I tried taking a movie of it, but it did not turn out.

At the hot springs, first things first: grabbed my towel & bathing suit (bathing au naturel is frowned upon, silly Anglo puritanism) and headed for the pools. heavenly after a day’s drive.

Arctic char with garden fresh thyme (actually window box fresh, but whose countin’) and wine for supper, along with Maryel’s foccaccia to mop up the juice and half a bottle of Rosso del Veronese.

I gotta figure out a way of recording my thoughts while I’m on the road. I had a lot of great ideas while driving but I forgot most of them.

PS. Pictures coming later as I forgot the stupid wire to connect the camera to the ‘puter in the truck & I don’t feel like going out again. I am inputting this on Friday night in a hotel room in Fort Saint John, BC.

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8 Responses to “Departure day: caribou, hotsprings and bison”

  1. Doug Rutherford Says:

    For about 60 or 70 bucks, you can get a digital voice recorder. I love mine since I don’t seem to have as many good ideas as I did when younger and I forget them pretty soon too.

  2. Marilyn Smith Says:

    There are so many possibile ways of communicating with you that I’m not used to. Really happy to hear that you got to luxuriate in Liard. Mary-el and I made do with the hot tub, thats why we missed your first call. The wind is really crazy up here.

  3. Giuliano Says:

    Ciao Luigi, Marilyn
    Molte volte parlo con amici del viaggio che avete iniziato….Dovreste vedere le loro facce!!!!Sono orgoglioso di conoscere due persone come Voi.

  4. Bill Says:

    Hey Luigi,

    Sorry I didn’t reply earlier, but I left Montreal on Nov. 6th for Florida, then Nassau/Bahamas, then Provindenciales/Turks and Caicos Islands then back to the condo in Florida last Saturday and finally back home in Montreal last night. (BTW this was all for work, seriously). I gather my trip was a little more comfortable than yours but surely not even close to being as exciting and adventurous.

    This being said, congrats on deciding to go ahead with the biggest item on your ”BUCKET LIST”, and I could only wish to be there with you.

  5. Karl Caillouet Says:

    Keep it coming, Luigi … NASA has nothing on you! As far as modern day adventure, you’re the man!

  6. Marco and Tamara Says:

    Hi Luigi, just got a new pair of fans! 🙂 We find that really great what you are doing, we are looking forward for your future postings. Good luck!

  7. Kelly Kirby Says:

    Ya, voice recorder good idea. Please keep in mind about reaching for shit while you are driving and maybe pull over to record. Sounds like you are not having to rough it (yet). Safe Journey Luigi!

  8. Meandering Michael Says:

    Yup, the digital recorders work well. Alternatively, if you’re using an iPod for music on the way down, you can get an attachment that lets you record your thoughts.

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