Thursday, May 14, 2009

Just The Facts, Jack

Well, it was just another ordinary day through British Columbia so why try to make it more that it is, ya know what I mean?

Diesel was 82.9 per liter. The street sweepers were out in force picking up gravel so truckers didn’t pick it up and throw it through my front windshield. Yea! They really were. Freaked me out too! The road conditions (as related to the road itself) were excellent- frost heaves, pot holes, that kind of stuff almost non-existent. Occasional snow flurries never amounted to much of anything but the occasional intrepidation as we passed through some of the mountain passes where it was snowing the hardest. For the most part, the flurries stayed above us elevation wise and we were pretty much unscathed. Then there was the usual, everyday stuff- hundreds of caribou in many small herds crossing the road nearly everywhere, a few elk, bunches of buffalo, swans in the ponds and lakes, mule deer running here and there, beavers swimming around and building dams and stuff, Stone Sheep on the cliffs and on the banks of the road and in the middle of the road in front of you….you know, same ole, same ole….ho humm.

Pretty much gone by the time we hit the hot springs at Liard (which means poplar tree) are the TV signal and the cell phone connection- at least for a while til we are out of the mountains. It’s inconvenient but a small price to pay for connections to nature rather than towers of electronic marvel. The water in the rivers is running so clear you could see a freckle on a trout’s be-after. No fast food places anywhere but there are plenty of buffalo “chips” all along the side of the road if you feel the need!

A couple of comments about the trip at this point: From the decline following the Indian Head Mountain, slow the heck down. The grades are brake killers if you don’t, and besides you are really likely to zoom right on by countless wildlife encounters that can pop up around every corner. Testa River should signal you that the wildlife extravaganza is about to begin. Take note! Because this is wilderness territory plain and simple, it would be a good idea to set your trip meter on your odometer to zero at the zero mile marker when you pull out of Dawson Creek at the very start of the Alaskan Highway. We always say we are going to do that and then promptly forget. But this is so rural and remote at places that the mile markers are few and far between- in order to know exactly where you are and where you wish to be, you should know at exactly which mile you are as you follow along in your Mile Post Guide. Liard Hot Springs, for example, is not to be missed, but will not show up on your GPS- just like some other small communities that you might intend to take note of….You could be so caught up with looking at all the buffalo that you cruise on by....

I’m thinking a slide show of the sights of the day will get my point across that this part of BC is pretty darn amazing. I just wouldn’t want you to get the idea that the road will be superb all the way to Alaska. It won’t. And where the road goes to hell in a hand basket is in a place called, appropriately, Destruction Bay. For now we rejoice in the quality to which we have become accustomed. But be aware- it’s up there ahead. It has always been bad. It will be bad this time as well. And in all probability it will always be bad years into the future. Perma frost is the enemy of good roads, and it’s stronghold has yet to be penetrated. But that is for another day.

Today and this evening we soak in the warm mineral waters of the Liard Hot Springs and let the aches and pains of another day melt into the back of our reality. Muncho Lake is still frozen over or I would have a big fat Lake Trout (freckle and all) to put in my slide show for sure!!!

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