Friday, July 5, 2013

Yukon, Jack!

For a while there, we had hopes and dreams of making it to the city of Whitehorse, the capital of the Yukon Territories, before sundown of July 1st, Canada Day, in hopes of catching their fireworks celebration.  See last post as to why that was a fail.  Anyways, 4 days later and we finally arrived.  And what a great trip it's been getting here!  We picked up a hitchhiker, spent some time at a really cool hot springs, and saw loads of wildlife.  And the views!  But first lets talk about the hitchhiker.
We didn't get the new tires installed until the 3rd of July, having to order them on the 2nd and waiting for the 12hr delivery time.  Very grateful for this because the other shops we talked to quoted us anywhere from 7 to 14 days.  Thank you Integra Tires!  By the time the tires were on, it was getting a little late but we figured we should get down the road and spend the night at Fort Nelson, a 4 hour drive from where we were.  No real problem since the sun doesn't set until 10pm these days.
Upon arriving in Fort Nelson we immediately hit up the Visitor Center for their free wifi.  We arrived just as they were shutting down and the signal was too weak for us to pick it up outside the building.  Leaving the parking lot we noticed a hitchhiker and vowed to pick him up if he was still around in the morning and drove off to a quiet street to spend the night.  The next morning we went back to the visitor center for the wifi and guess who comes strolling in?  Our hitchhiker had tracked us down saying that he noticed our South Dakota license plates and figured we were heading to Alaska and figured he'd try to charm us into giving him a ride.  His name is Michael and he is a journalist for the Huffington Post.  Michael is currently a few months into a year long project in which he is hitchhiking around to various carnivals in order to interview carnies as well as work as one himself. We talked for about 30 minutes telling stories about ourselves, welcomed Michael aboard, and hit the road.
Our destination for the day was the Liard Hot Springs, a cool little place we read about that was less than 200 miles up the road.  Michael wanted to shoot for 500 miles but was willing to take what he could get from us.  Along the way we listened to Michael's various stories with awe and wonder.  He once interviewed Imelda Marcus and later went to a party and danced with her.  Not that I'm a fan of hers but wow.  He's also been to practically every country in existence for one reason or another.  During his stories, I'd point out the various wildlife along the road and slow down so he and Vanessa could take pictures.  A few times, the wildlife would be right in the middle of the road and I'd have to stop until they cleared out of the way.  I'm not complaining about it since it was one of the coolest experiences ever.

Caribou (cariboo?)

Cook's Sheep (look at the baby!)

Wood Bison
Being entertained by Michael as well as Mother Nature made the trip pass in no time and we found ourselves at the hot springs.  Michael wanted to continue on down the road and so we posed for a couple pictures and said our goodbyes.  The hot springs had an entry fee but a lady came over to us and handed us her pass, saying it was good for 24hrs and that we could have it since they were leaving.  FREEBIE!  That saves us $10.
This side is much too hot

This side is just right

The hot springs were wonderful but after a few hours I got jonesing for the road and asked Vanessa if she'd mind if we'd drive some more rather than spending the night here.  We packed up and drove out.  Michael was still right outside the park trying to get a ride and so I honked at him and he joined us once again.  Our new destination was Watson Lake, an easy 140 miles just across the border of Yukon.  Again, we reveled in swapping stories with Michael and counted wildlife along the way and shortly found ourselves at our destination.  We dropped Michael off at the visitor center, agreeing to meet up later that evening but never saw him again.  I assume that he hooked up with another ride and hit the road.  I'm going to miss that guy.

Look ma, we be in the Yukon now!

Michael, Vanessa, and myself posing outside the Signpost Forest
Safe travels to you Michael.  Perhaps we'll run into you in Anchorage.  I hope our next passenger is as cool as you.

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