We crossed into Canada the next morning. The friendly officer at customs extended our visas to the middle of October and we were super grateful as it saved us all the hassle of re-applying as well as R1500! As soon as we crossed the border, all the mountains seemed to disappear and we drove on flat grasslands for most of the next 250km until we reached Calgary. We found one strange looking rock known as an erratic that apparently got to this spot on the grasslands by a glacier that transported it from the Rockies….
We met up with a friend in Calgary and for the first time since we left Jennifer in Maryland, we stayed in a house with walls, a bed and most importantly a bathroom right next to the room. This wonderful holiday from our holiday didn’t come a moment too soon as I was experiencing a bit of a low point…I coined it camping sickness as you pretty much feel a little sick of camping. When it’s cold and wet for more days than not, the symptoms of this dreadful overlander disease seem to start appearing…Anyway, Susan gave us a great room to stay in, a soft bed with Egyptian cotton linen, a shower you do not have to press for hot water, some great food and good South African company. The first night we were treated for dinner at a restaurant close to where they stay where we ate the most redmeat we had in a long time. She took us on a sightseeing through Calgary and saw the newly constructed Peacebridge, the +15 walkway (which could take anyone from one side of the city to the other without having to walk through the snow in wintertime) and the Calgary tower. We had a great dinner at home the next night and I was slightly sad to leave the comforts of a house. Thanks again Susan, we really had a great time staying there and getting to know you better!
Next up was Banff and Jasper National Parks. These parks are ranked amongst the most beautiful areas in the world and we were excited to see the Rocky Mountains in all their glory. Unfortunately the weather had other ideas and we could see but a few hills covered with snow. The area had some beautiful views of icy rivers and forests which we could only imagine with a backdrop of 3000m mountains in the background. We did see some wildlife we hadn’t seen before and amongst them two beautiful black bears…finally close up and personal. Lake Louise was luckily not frozen and we could at least get some idea of this beautiful lake up in the Rocky Mountains.
At the moment we are in a little town called Lake Watson, which somewhere between nowhere and Alaska. We have driven what feels like thousands of kilometers across Canada in beautiful landscapes which basically consist of forest, mountains and bears. Where at first we thought we would not see any bears, we now see an average of 10 a day! On the way up we have passed the true town of Dawson’s Creek, but I couldn’t find Joey anywhere! We also spent a day at the Liard River Hot Springs where you can actually swim in the natural spring which ranges from burning to comfortable hot depending on where in the pools you choose to sit. It’s pretty weird to sit in a crystal clear pool of warm water with sides of soil and plants and rocks at the bottom. It was great, felt like a bath except for the fact that we couldn’t use any soap and everything smelled like sulpher. We went back for a second bathing that evening at and then slept like babies that night. Since we started driving this long road, the days have just gotten longer and longer the more north we have gone. At this stage, the sun sets at 23h10 and rises at 4h00, although you can pretty much get out of the tent at any time during those 5 dark hours and still see everything in front of you. From here we will drive on the Robert Campbell Highway toward Dawson City.
People we like to mention…Mark and Mr. Zinser (didn’t write your name..) from Iowa, you’re the first guys we’ve met that brought video games to a campsite…thanks for the beer, we had a nice time! Rachel, Kenny, Colin, Flounder and Daisy, thanks again for all the dinners…you guys are great, we can’t wait for Alaska. Pradyut and Aditie, thanks for the invite in San Francisco…we’ll definitely take advantage of another home cooked meal. Andrew and Sharlene, thanks for dinner, Godspeed on your travels! The Aussie, Tim Rossiter…thanks for stopping in Tetons, great to have met you! Gary, Diane, Jeanne and Bob, we hope to run into you again in Alaska but if not, can’t wait to see you in Oregon. That was some great beer you gave us Jeanne, thanks a bunch! Safe travels! Chad from Grand Prairie, we enjoyed your energy!
The Robert Campbell highway turned out not to be as impassible as the lady in Watson Lake had made it out to be after the storm that rendered all the road going into Alaska closed indefinitely. Interestingly we heard that the travelers that found themselves a little closer to the border had gone into such a frenzy that they cleared the entire Walmart in preparation for a long wait. After about four days, we reached the turnoff to a little mining town called Faro and found that it really was “the best kept secret in the Yukon”. The John Connolly RV park was so cheap and had nice hot showers and a laundromat. That night they also had a free BBQ at the visitor centre which included hot dogs, potato salad and cake and icecream for dessert! We even got to take part in a drawing and Marius won me a “African style” bracelet and necklace! We had finally been at the right at the right place…what a blessing!
The price of petrol was getting almost ridiculous at $1.65/liter. We really wanted to drive the Dempster Highway up to the little town of Inuvit but at the rate the Cruiser was gobbling up the gas, we decided that between the two roads that cross the Arctic circle, we rather wanted to drive the Dalton Highway all the way up to Deadhorse. We drove the Dempster up until we got to the Tombstone mountain range and were a little sad that we couldn’t continue as the scenery was just beautiful! Anyway, we turned around and headed toward our last town in Canada, Dawson City.
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