Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Teslin to Fort Nelson, British Columbia

The Woodlands Inn, Fort Nelson, BC

There's a high speed connection in the room, but I got in too late last night, and woke up too late to take advantage of it.

A long ride yesterday from Teslin to here, about 500 miles, I think, with many stops. It was through some wonderful country though, especially the north end of the Canadian Rockies, the Terminal Range and the Sentinel(?) Range – awesome.

Early on, the winds were very gusty, crossing the highway. But the road is so open and empty, I just let it push me from one side of the lane to the other, a playful wrestle.

Stopping to take photos, I forget that this is the Alaskan Highway, a major trucking route. It’s too scenic! Truckers steer wide as they pass this oblivious Californian. These guys are amazingly patient with us tourists.

Around Stone Mountain, there were frequent gravel patches, many on curves and without warning, make the riding touchy.

Dropping over to the east flank of the Rockies, the forests are dense and varied. It appears they haven’t been logged, at least not for a very long time. Simply beautiful.

10:00 p.m. sunset. I feel cheated!

Arrived in Fort Nelson. Little internal debate about taking a motel. Too late, too tired.

A couple joined me in the elevator. When they heard I had been to Prudhoe, they became quite excited. "We're thinking of going there!" They were eager to know whether to try it.

"Go for it. It's awesome!"

Hurried over to “Dan’s Pub” just before their kitchen closed at 11:00. A very popular sports bar. Ordered an Okanagan Spring Mild Dark beer, Caesar salad and a Reuben. The beast was happy.

THIS MORNING

Up at 8:30. clouds moving in from the west. Mosquitoes waiting patiently on the screen door.

Went up the road to "Mukluk Annie’s" for breakfast. Cozy, slightly dark interior cabin filled with tables, souvenirs, but only one couple dining. I was welcomed and told “it’s an all-you-can-eat breakfast.” The food was on a steam table; scrambled eggs, some dried-out country fries, sausage, bacon and rolls. They made pancakes to order. Blueberry.

I immediately sensed something unusual about the music in the background. Christian Country. And the menu greets you with “may God bless you.”

Not comforting to me.

A live recording, screaming fans, as a "Pearl Jam" sound-alike launches into a song of redemption. Would Jesus have approved of the cult of personality?

Breakfast was reminiscent of military cuisine, but fueled me for the day. A couple from South Dakota sat across the room and asked about the mushroom pickers. That led to a conversation in which they recommended I see The Badlands.

Paid $3 for a shower. Felt good.

Incredible caravans of campers heading north. “Fifth wheel”: why do they call them that? Those vehicles have 8 to 12 wheels (plus spares!)

In Swift River, I stopped to inquire is this the Swift River of novel fame. The owners of the local store didn’t know. "We're new to Swift River, only 15 years."

Came upon the Continental Divide Lodge once again. Over the past weeks, I had recalled stopping here, but couldn't "for the life of me" remember on which highway it had been. It seemed so long ago now. It had marked a kind of gateway to adventure I was passing through at the time.

Reached Watson Lake with high hopes of using the library's services again. A big disappointment to find they are closed Mondays. Moved on.

Along the Liard River (which is a wild, awesome river), came to some major road construction. I was told I could go to the front of the line, as we would be escorted through the zone. It was a challenging ride. Water trucks were keeping things wet (muddy) and where heavy equipment was moving back and forth, deep rocky ruts were left. At one point, I had to stop, after almost losing control and taking a dive. But after several miles, it was just me and the lead vehicle. "Where did everyone go?" The lead didn't seem to care, she just kept moving at a brisk pace.

Came to Muncho Lake, a remarkable jade green glacial lake. Just up the road, stopped to refuel. Talking to the locals: “Mosquitoes? We don’t usually get them. I’ve never seen it like this before.”

"So where is Liard Hot Springs? I seem to have missed it."

"It's back up the highway 34 miles - in the construction zone."

So that's where everyone was going! This was a big disappointment, as that was one place high on my list of places to visit. But I wasn't prepared to go back through that construction zone two more times.

Along this stretch of road, there was more wildlife: first a Stone Sheep, then more of them, then caribou. “I haven’t seen a moose yet.”

A few miles later, in the road through the flatlands, a moose cow and calf stand staring at me. "Man, are they big!"

In the news: Calgary is being hit by a "1-in-200-years flood"

1 comment:

Laura said...

Really enjoying this blog! Sean and I just drove the Alcan this summer, and I missed the damn turn to Laird Hot Springs too due to the construction!!! And just like you, we didn't want to go back... not to mention we were driving a 35' MCI-5C Bus, towing a Blazer, so we're not as agile as smaller vehicles! Worth the stop though, have only stopped once and hiked the 1/2 mile into the springs. I've driven the Alcan 7 times since 1997, and Sean 6 times since 1995. I'll probably comment on more things later as I read!

http://www.seanmmormelo.com/2005.htm

Our journal isn't as detailed as yours, but it's always interesting to check out other peoples experiences!

Laura Thayer
www.seanmormelo.com