Finally, animals blocking the roadway! All we saw when we were planning the Alaska trip were pictures of all kinds of wildlife in the road. Imagine our disappointment when we had to search long and hard for any wildlife sightings in Alaska. We gave up on that for the most part, but Canada came to our rescue. The blog post title gives it away, but yes, we saw Bison in the roadway and had to come to a complete stop. Yippee!
We last left you in Switzerland, or at least as close as we get for now. Our drive involved the jangle button on low, with minor bumps back into Yukon. I have recently read that they don’t like the use of THE to precede the name. But anyhow, when we reach the Alcan, the jangle factor goes up to medium and Jackson is back on his feet. Poor dog just doesn’t get his rest on bumpy travel days. After bumping along, we decide to stop at a full-service campground for a change, mainly for electricity and AC to combat the temps in the 80s. Summer finally caught up with us in earnest.
Teslin, YT was a good overnight stop, complete with a bridge. I do have a fascination with them and we only saw this one briefly on the way to AK. It also gave us some space for walking.
We’re off the next day and it’s my turn to drive. Been waaaaay too long and Pat deserves a break. It turns out to be pretty easy and a straight shot back to Watson Lake where we stayed on the way in. This stop also requires AC since they were setting records with temps over 90 degrees. 93 to be exact and so very dry.
This time, the place had all kinds of decorations for the tourists. We were just too early on the way in. Lots of Yukon flags adorned the street lights and there were country flags from all over. I chose the American/Canadian one for my photo op. Due to the extreme heat for this neck of the woods, we decided to hole up and stay one more night since temperatures were supposed to finally break. It gave us a chance to attend Mass, do laundry, binge read (Pat), and make 22 cards (Judy). Jackson slept.
Bison, bison, bison!
We’re on our way to the hot springs in British Columbia when we finally get our wildlife-in-the-road moment.
These jumbos did block our path, so we had to come to a complete stop. I could at least take some better pictures. A few walked by my window and gave us the evil eye. The mommas and babies are the roadway blockers at this time of the year since the bulls are in the higher country. There are huge overhead signs to alert drivers since the Bison get hit frequently. That is surely guaranteed car damage.
And how about this imposing specimen? Definitely keeping our distance and zooming in for the shot. We noticed all the trees on the side of the road have their bark missing about midway up from all the bison rubbing.
Liard River Hot Springs
This is quite the popular spot and the campground was definitely hopping. Fortunately we got there in time to snag a good shady spot, and it cooled down significantly. I wasn’t really interested in a hot soak at 90+ degrees. We’re back in the 60s or lower and that is just about right.
Here’s a shot of the hot springs and people happily soaking away. You take a long boardwalk over the marshy spots to get here. We managed to soak in the minerals and warm water on two nights and it’s great for sore muscles. We now understand the whole hot tub phenomenon, and have added that to our list of must-haves for our stationary spot, wherever that turns out to be.
The source of the hot water percolating out of the rocks. According to the park info, this is the second largest thermal spring complex in Canada and the flow keeps part of the marsh from freezing in the winter. It’s even home to a rare species found only in this spot in the entire world.
This little guy is one of the reasons we had to stick to the boardwalk to get to the hot springs.
Not endangered, but interesting nonetheless. White berries, red berries and the one I liked best. Looked like a little red dangle earring.
And the flowers. Zoom in on that delicate white one for the full effect. Also bees buzzing around ragweed-type flowers, and the purple ones that look like flea bane from my yard growing up. Mom always like the weeds just as much as the “real” flowers and guess I do, too.
What a fun little visitor’s center! Genius really. They can move it around wherever they want and it’s filled with trail maps and brochures all about the surrounding area.
This spot is home to quite a few orchid species due to the warm springs. We couldn’t go to the hanging gardens to see them though, due to a “problem bear”. They had signs at the entrance noting the experiment the park is conducting with “noise aversion”. This consists of the ranger shooting these loud firework-type rounds from a pistol. A rare sight – a Canadian with a gun on his belt. On the second evening the bear actually came around. They shot these rounds several times. We think the bear is now getting used to the sound since it didn’t seem to frighten him away. When the ranger with the real rifle showed up, we called an end to our soak. No way I wanted to see any of that action.
Mineral Salt Lick
One side trip at the springs consisted of another drive with Bitsy down a gravel road. We’re in search of the mineral salt lick we read about and the mountain goats and sheep that frequent it.
No goats at the lick, but we did see this one on the road.
A few wrong turns led us down a gravel road to this view of the Trout River. We consult our map and try again.
After a short hike, we are rewarded with the Trout River valley and the cliffs. Stark white and a site where stone sheep, caribou, a mountain goats frequently visit to get their mineral fix. They need calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, sulphur, and sodium for their hoofs, teeth and fur. These cliffs have it all.
The hike back from the salt lick.
I am happy to report that the hot springs requires bathing suits and other than that is not overrun with rules. Of course there is this sign. Bad combination – dogs and alcohol! We left both in the motorhome.
A few things of note when in Canada. No trash cans, but plenty of litter bins. We’ve picked right up on that and are happy to use the bins when we find them, which is everywhere. These are usually bear-proof and we’ve managed to master no less than five different versions of latches. Some are pretty tricky though and keep out more than the bears.
And don’t be looking for mile markers. You’re in metric country and those would be distance markers. I use my knowledge of track & field and distance running races to convert in my head. 5k? That’d be 3.1 miles. 10k? 6.2 miles. This is like another language for me and I find myself doing an elaborate mathematical exercise. We only have 120 kilometers to go? Well that’d be twelve 10k races. Not sure that is easier, but it’s what I do. And 400 meters? Once around the track to that next turn.
Finally you have to get over having America in the name, because we’re not in America. North America, yes, but not the US of A. Thus Canada does not have Native Americans. Their indigenous population is call First Nations. We’re getting the hang of it slowly but surely.
Next up – Why buying baggies in Canada is hard, AND our trip to the True North.