Saturday, May 9, 2009

Hot Springs Eternal

We left Liard Hot Springs early today, hoping to see some more wildlife before traffic picked up along the highway.

We weren't disappointed.

Just a few miles out of Liard we came across the first of several small buffalo herds. We watched two young males butting heads in what appeared to be a pecking-order contest. Then we spotted a young calf resting on the grass, bathed in the morning sun.

Upon spotting me with my camera, he hurried over to his mother's side.

I suddenly realized I haven't sent my mother her Mother's Day card.

We saw a headless buffalo along side the road near here, and later another. I thought of poachers and hunters looking only for the kill. Later I learned that the province has a "head permit" that costs $150 and allows residents to harvest the head from road-killed buffalo.

I'm not sure why that made me feel better about what I had seen, but it did.

Driving on we stopped alongside the Liard River, now breaking up after a winter frozen in ice five feet thick.

Georgina spotted a movement in the grass on the shaded side of the road and I jumped out to catch this shot of a red fox carrying its morning meal.

Gas along the highway tends to get progressively higher in areas with fewer people, but at the Contact Creek Lodge we found the best prices in a couple of days, 97.9 per liter.

The two hour drive to Watson Lake led us to a familiar site in this small town.

In 1942, a construction worker for the Alaska Highway put a sign from his hometown on a tree in downtown Watson Lake. Since that time a few more have been added, giving the are the name "Signpost forest".

Please click on the next image to see how many signs are there today. And there's still room for more. I didn't see one from New York City. Anyone....anyone?

The best gas price in Watson Lake was $1.029.

Another caribou, yawn...

Not many deciduous trees have leaves yet, but where they mingle with evergreens, a beautiful mosaic emerges.

We were getting hungry about now so we stopped at the Rancheria Restaurant for lunch. Georgina had a Pirogie, an eastern European dumpling filled with potatos and covered with onions and bacon. Their food prices were reasonable, but their regular gas was $1.199, well over $4.00 a US gallon.
The food was great and we had a nice visit with the owner. Almost anywhere along the highway, you can meet very interesting people and learn how they came to be there. The inside of the restaurant was not unlike many in Alaska of long ago when I was much younger.

Scenery between Rancheria Lodge and Whitehorse, 200 miles away, was a repeat of much of what we'd already seen. The sky was clouding over a bit and gave a dull effect to the color scheme.
We almost made it to Whitehorse, but decided to stay at the Caribou RV Park, just fifteen minutes from downtown. It was a very good choice for several reason.
First, as we found out later, it was the only park open at this time...the rest would follow in about a week.
Second, the park is very nice, in a wooded area, has nice showers and restrooms, a payphone and high-speed wireless internet that actually works.
Third, a series of wooded trails lead from and back to the park.
Also, a very wonderful Swiss-owned restaurant offers tasty foods that my wife, more of an adventurer than I, really appreciated.
She has a smaller appetite than I and ordered the "small person" plate of Schnitzel and Spaetzel.
She also ordered a bottle of Beck, a German beer.
I could swear I saw the cook do a double-take when he saw the child's plate accompanied by a beer.

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