Saturday, July 3, 2010
Day 9 June 30, 2010 Fort Nelson BC to Whitehorse, capitol of the Yukon!
All I can say is WOW on all accounts! The drive got prettier, crazier, more mountainous, more remote, and more wild the further we went. Surrounded by wilderness on all sides, we drove through the most awesome terrain we've seen yet...and the best I've ever seen. My grandmother told me I would see lots of great wildlife on this trip. She and my grandfather had done it 25 years ago with my uncle Anthony and aunt Annette. I just wanted to see a moose... just one... and I would be happy! We made our first stop on a mountain top under minor emergency circumstances. Sarah got a slight bout of food poisoning from the Super 8 continental breakfast in the morning. She thinks it was the apple juice that was bad since she only had a sip and knew something was wrong right away. We stopped at a rest stop overlooking a huge valley in between the mountain range we were on and one a few miles away. It was breath-taking, and a wee bit chilly too! She felt instantly better and we continued.
Our next stop was in a remote piece of country at a log cabin gas station where we learned a second lesson of supply and demand in these remotest of lands.... they have supply.... they demand high price! After paying an arm, two legs and a first born son for a half tank of gas we went inside to square up with the proprietor. He was a real mountain man. Jovial, big, and he had a bunch of dead shit mounted on his walls inside. It was like a museum in there. He told us he got every one of them himself, and that he hunts for food all the time. He's lived this way most of his life. His manly-hunter coolness made up for his lack of economic sympathy and he did have a credit card machine, so he wasn't fooling anyone!!! I bet he winters in Las Vegas! ha ha.
We pressed on, stopping frequently to take pictures and comment at the incredible, picturesque Rocky wilderness. It was intense. Our next stop was for food at another log cabin 100 miles or so down the road. We were not disappointed at this place. As soon as we walked in I smelled fresh bread baking in the oven. The happy little mountain woman working behind the counter was serving soup, sandwiches and smiles to some hungry motorcyclists and bouncing back and forth from the kitchen to the register to help people with gas or other items. It was like meeting your entrepreneurial aunt for the first time. She would crack jokes and make you feel right at home. Everything was "on your honor" and the grilled ham and cheese sandwiches we ordered came out on the biggest slices of home made bread you ever saw. We were stuffed for the rest of the day! I grabbed a peanut butter cookie and put myself into food heaven. We thought it couldn't get any better than this...
Then we saw a car pulled over on the side of the road. Sarah said, "Moooose!" so I swung it over and walked back to the overlook where a female was drinking out of the pond below. She was so beautiful, and it was so quiet outside with barely a vehicle passing. I was thrilled. It wasn't two minutes later when we saw another one right next to us on the road. We slowed down and it passed 5 feet in front of us to the other side of the highway. I was fumbling to get my camera out and snap some pictures. It was almost like the moose knew to stop and pose for me! I was so happy to finally see one, especially so close.
Later in the drive we saw a few herds of Wood Buffalo right on the highway and a small grizzly that was so hungry he didn't even look up when I was calling to him. Sarah didn't think this was too wise of me, but it wasn't phasing the bear at all. He was 10 feet away munching whatever he could find in the fields. They are just waking up from hibernation so they are a bit skinny and hungry as hell right now. He'll be a big fat boy by the end of the season, especially after he gets some salmon in him!
We crossed into the Yukon and it was one glacier lake after another on both sides of the road. There were little pockets of camps where you could see people tented in the woods, also some signs for native lands. This is wild country up here, and very beautiful. We ended up finally making it to the capitol, Whitehorse, an important mining town and the heart of this wild province that carries the moniker "Larger than Life" on all of its license plates and signs. It was an exciting, but exhausting drive.