Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Saturday July 18, 1998 - Alberta


Bleriot Ferry - hot and sunny.

I visited the museum at Dinosaur Park and then followed another walking trail, Fossil Hunters. In addition to being a campground, Dinosaur Park is also an active archaeological site. This year the camp staff have acquired a couple of special wheel chairs for navigating the walking trails, for the use of visitors who need it. But so far since they are brand new, they have not gotten much use for their intended purpose. Instead the staff use them for wheel chair races along the rocky trails.

Yohan is having a bad day, because of the heat I think. I drove to Drumheller and on the way saw a moose in a pond by the highway.


I doubled back to take a picture. Someone driving by saw me and the moose and did the same thing but they didn't have a camera.


The moose heard me talking to them and looked up. After thinking about it the moose decided to cross to the other side of the pond and head into the woods there. We drove on.

After passing through Drumheller I followed the signs to the Tyrell Museum, to see where it was, and then on along the Dinosaur Trail to the Bleriot Ferry. It is a tiny cable ferry crossing the Red River.

My little red truck on the Bleriot Ferry
On the other side is the Bleriot Ferry Recreation Area, where I staked out a campsite in the sun. I was thinking that the bugs would be much worse in the shade by the river so I didn't want to chance it. Then I returned to Drumheller to visit the museum.


The banks of the Red River are much more clearly "layered" than at Dinosaur Park.


At the museum it was very hot and very crowded so I thought I'd come back in the evening. Once again I drove back to Bleriot Ferry. Some RV got hung up while driving off the ferry so there was a half hour delay in its running. I made tea while I waited.

Had supper at my campsite then returned to the museum at 7 pm. Their dinosaur displays are quite spectacular, both skeletons and mock-ups. I stayed until closing and returned to camp again. I took Yohan for a walk through the campground and met two women who liked Yohan. They had a campsite in the shade by the river and said there were no bugs there. Oh well.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Friday July 17, 1998 - Alberta


Dinosaur Park - hot and sunny with cloudy periods.

It was very hot and buggy last night so I didn't sleep well. But I was ready to leave by 10 am, which I did. Jim and I walked to the edge of the river valley so I could take some photos of downtown Edmonton and I also photographed the whole family except Trouble the cat and Vickie, one of the exchange students.

Jim thought it was only 3 hours to Dinosaur Park but in fact it was over 6 hours. I hardly stopped at all and it was extremely hot and tiring, but we made it in time to get a campsite. The site was in the shade and very buggy.


I set up the tent for Yohan and went for a walk along one of the trails, the Badlands Trail. After supper I tried to walk another trail but the bugs were just too much. Mosquitoes here are small but very aggressive.

A Badlands hoodoo
Instead I took Yohan for a drive around the Public Loop Road through the Badlands. Stopped to take a picture of a deer with very large ears grazing just off the road.

My shadow (lower left) photographing a deer (top)
It is all very neat scenery but it seems like everything is in miniature. I tried to get down to the Red River to maybe go for a swim but the bank was very steep and the current quite strong. Instead I had a shower when I got back to the campsite because I was so hot and sweaty. The shower cost a dollar but it was nice. A woman in the shower house said she saw a rattlesnake by her camper. This is supposed to be unusual, they don't normally come near the campsites.


This is a very noisy and crowded campground; there are 128 sites and hardly any trees. Mostly cottonwoods. Some people brought along wading pools for their kids, there's a lot of kids. And they charge $6.00 for firewood.

A little bit of cactus in the grass
I guess this is what I can expect from here on out, expensive campgrounds with few trees or water. BC and the Yukon were so different!


Tomorrow I plan to doubleback to Drumheller, get a campsite near there and then visit the Museum. Also try to get around to see more of the Badlands.

Monday, July 16, 2018

Thursday July 16, 1998 - Edmonton

Sunny and hot.

I planned to leave Edmonton today. I packed the truck, injected Yohan and had a bath, but by the time I was ready to go it was almost 1 pm and I just lost momentum. So I am hanging around until tomorrow morning. Jim and Ali went for a barbecue at some francophone neighbours, and later Ali came and got me to come along. I think Jim was just a bit embarrassed to have his wife and ex-wife at the same time and place. I got to practice my very rusty French describing my trip to Inuvik.

I washed Yohan's blanket again. He was incontinent before our trip and I was giving him Ornade for that, but after his accident I stopped the Ornade so he's been dripping a lot and his blanket has gotten quite smelly. But the vet I saw yesterday said it was okay to give Yohan the Ornade so hopefully his blanket will not get so stinky.

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Wednesday July 15, 1998 - Edmonton

Warm and sunny.

Jim had a doctor's appointment today so I stayed home and baked oatcakes for the trip. I burned them a bit but they're okay. When Jim got back we went to a couple of veterinarian offices looking for food for Yohan. We found a cheap place, Beck's, and I got them to show me how to do subcutaneous fluid injections for Yohan. The vet here says that to be really certain Yohan has kidney failure I should do more than one blood and urine analysis over 48 hours. He may simply be dehydrated, but I'll continue to give him the special dogfood to be safe.

I talked to my friend Liz in Ottawa and she told me about her cat dying of kidney failure. She was pessimistic about Yohan's chances for survival, but I think he is much better than she is thinking.

Jim took my truck in for the oil change and I cooked some rice and beans. We also went to the Street Performers Festival downtown and watched a guy swallow a sword and another guy on a loose wire juggling fiery batons. We had perogies at the festival.

I wrote to a friend in Vancouver about my trip so far:

"The scenery in BC and the North was pretty awesome, I took a lot of photos but they just don't do it justice. 

"Travelling alone has its good points and its bad. Mostly I like it, but sometimes it's lonely. I meet a lot of people, some of them I see for several days and then when we part company I miss them. But that passes. I like driving, and I like camping in out of the way places (which is surprisingly hard to do). But it seems like I spend a lot of time tending campfires, cooking, packing and unpacking the truck, and so forth. One day I did laundery at a laundromat in Inuvik and it seemed like such a luxury to have a machine do the work for me. Makes you appreciate the conveniences of civilization that give you time to do something other than just the basics of staying alive.

"My schedule is shot to hell, not flexible. I'm already so out of whack with what I thought I would be doing that there's no point trying to catch up. This country is way to big and has way to much in it to expect to see even half of it in 4 months. 

"The most stressful thing has been this business with Yohan; I still wake up in the middle of the night and check to see if he is still breathing. 
"This is just so different from anything I've done in the past couple of decades. I don't exactly go looking for adventures, they just happen. I never know when or how, so every day is new. Twice I've been stuck in lineups that lasted 4-6 hours (once for a river ferry that wouldn't cross due to high winds, once due to forest fire) that ended up being great social occasions, so it was actually kind of fun, not tedious at all. 
"I really kind of miss the North now, if I hadn't told a bunch of people back east that I was coming, I think I would have just spent the entire trip in the North. I heard a song by Murray Mclaughlin, who is not a favourite of mine, but he had a line in this song about how you can find the heart of Canada in the south, but its soul is north of the timberline. And I believe that."

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Tuesday July 14, 1998 - Edmonton

Cool with cloudy periods.

Today we went to the West Edmonton Mall. It has four principal entertainment areas: the indoor ice rink, the submarine pool, the water park and Fantasyland (also called Galaxyland).


The ice rink is right in the middle of the mall and the Oilers practice there occasionally. There were a few skaters on the rink. The submarine pool has these submarines on tracks that tour the pool.


There's a full-size mock pirate ship, an area of remote control boats and a dolphin pool.


The dolphins were performing, doing backflips right out of the water some 15-20 feet into the air.

Fantasyland was a full-blown amusement park with rollercoasters and all the regular rides. We had lunch at a restaurant adjacent to a fully automated 10-pin bowling alley. It even keeps score for you. There was also a nightclub area with an indoor street of clubs and bars (Yuk Yuks, Hooters, Hard Rock Cafe, Planet Hollywood and a New Orleans place).

The waterpark has a wave pool with a beach at one end, water slides, hot tubs and so forth. Complete with real palm trees and a bungie jumping tower. For $110 you get two jumps, a video of you jumping and a T-shirt.

After all that we just had time to pick up some dry soups at Mountain Equipment before Jim picked up Ali at 4. I took them out for dinner at their favourite Cajun restaurant, DadeO's on Whyte Ave. I shared a sampler of different dishes with them and wine. We had ribs, red beans and rice, gumbo and jambalaya. The restaurant had a funky '50s decor with booths and individual juke boxes and bowling alley panels on the walls. Great restaurant, very good food!


Friday, July 13, 2018

Monday July 13, 1998 - Edmonton


Edmonton - cold and cloudy.

In the morning Jim drove Ali and the exchange students to work and then we hung out for the rest of the day. We both had shopping to do and I wanted to see if I could get my portable CD player working. I took the CD player to A&B Sound and the guy there said that the power jack was hitting the ground in the lighter socket and shorting out. He said I should either insert the jack very carefully or else replace the lighter socket. We went to Canadian Tire and I bought a new lighter socket.

Today I saw a storm high in the eastern sky. It was a big storm cloud trailing rain, and the lines of rain were all lit up by sunshine so it almost looked like fiber optics. Or like some giant jelly fish trailing through the sky. Quite spectacular.

In the evening we went for a drive around Edmonton to see the downtown and the river and some different neighbourhoods. Jim and Ali live in the southeast adjacent to a francophone neighbourhood and not far from the Strathcona neighbourhood and Whyte Avenue. It was a very cold night.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Sunday July 12, 1998 - Edmonton


Windy and cloudy, clearing later.

Yohan just sleeps, staggers and doesn't look well. He is pooping but only a little, he's still constipated.

I had a bath in Jim and Ali's huge bathtub, what a luxury! And I am doing lots of laundry. When I leave Edmonton, everything is going to be squeaky clean! The truck is clean now too, thanks to heavy rain and no muddy roads. Yay pavement! It is overdue for an oil change so I will have to do that while I'm here. Also some shopping and food prep for the next leg of the trip.

After sending out so many emails about Yohan I am now getting sympathy replies from friends. I sent an email to one friend and then almost immediately heard from my son that the friend's husband had just died suddenly. I felt kind of bad about having sent an oblivious email to her and sent her a message of condolence and apology for being so ignorant of her tragedy. But she responded almost immediately that she had appreciated my email and then gave me a description of how her husband had died. How shocking! And they were so happy together, it just doesn't seem fair.

I talked to Sam on the phone, it was good to be in touch. I have been carrying a cell phone "in case of emergency" but until a couple of days ago I had no cell phone reception pretty much since the beginning of June. And Sam did not have an email address so I had no way to contact him directly. Once I emailed a friend in Vancouver to ask him to phone Sam to pass on a message, but now has an email address so I will be able to stay in touch.

Jim and Ali were due back home tonight, but they had not returned any of Luke's calls and messages since I got here. Around 8 pm they arrived home from Fort MacMurray and were very surprised to see me. They hadn't had supper and neither had I so we went out to a restaurant. Ali had chili and Jim and I split a Greek/Mediterranean platter and had a local beer (Big Rock?).

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Saturday July 11, 1998 - Edmonton

Cloudy, rainy, cool.

It was still raining in the morning and I had to setup a tarp to make breakfast. Yohan just lay in the rain looking pathetic until I could put him in the truck cab out of the rain. I left the campground around 10 am. Thanks to the rain the truck is now looking much cleaner than it has in a while.

My plan is to stay at my ex-husband's place in Edmonton. I had been emailing him to arrange this, and today I phoned but only got his voicemail. Sometime in the afternoon it stopped raining and I arrived in Edmonton around 3.30 pm. I tried phoning again, this time his son Luke answered the phone. Jim is out of town for the weekend, and Luke was not expecting me. I decided to go there anyway. Luke was just leaving the house himself but I managed to convince him to allow me to stay. There were three French exchange students, Annabelle, Vickie and Noidza, also staying there. I walked and fed Yohan and chatted with the students. Yohan had an unpleasant encounter with the cat Trouble so I shut him in Jim's office. Luke returned with some friends.

Yohan was restless and uncomfortable, he had seemed to be improving but now he wasn't. We slept in the truck that night.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Friday July 10, 1998 - Alberta

Alaska Highway Mile 0, Dawson Creek
Young's Point AB - cloudy, sunny, windy

I was up early and on the road by 8 am. Lots of road construction today. I stopped for gas in Fort Nelson and would have liked to taken the turnoff for the Liard Highway. But I have no clean clothes and am looking forward to my stop in Edmonton to do laundry. Yohan could use the rest break too. Besides I am already two weeks behind my schedule and I don't know if it's a good idea to get even further off schedule.

I stopped in Taylor just past Fort St. John where there was a refinery with a huge plume of flame. At the Visitor Centre there the woman at the desk kind of took the ball and ran with it when I told her I was driving across the country. She loaded me up with lots of brochures about the Yellowhead Highway, Dawson Creek, Newfoundland and a local campground on the Peace River. She advised me to stop in Hinton on the way to Edmonton, to stay at the local campground and to visit the Alaska Cafe and an art gallery in an old grain elevator in Dawson Creek. She said there was a Swiss couple at the Peace River campground building a raft to go down the Peace River on. She asked me about the Dempster since she said visitors often enquired about that.

Dawson Creek grain elevator
The sky was beginning to look threatening and I didn't really want to stop now so I continued on. I did stop in Dawson Creek to photograph the Alaska Highway Mile Zero signpost in the middle of an intersection. Yohan decided to stop to poop while crossing a road and the light was just turning red. He had quite the audience of stopped cars for that.

Pretty much from the start of the day I was out of the mountains and driving through rolling forested land. Then I started seeing cows in pastures, a first on this trip. By Dawson Creek I was seeing brilliant yellow fields of canola. In Dawson Creek the grain elevators were labelled "Alberta Grain Pool" even though Dawson Creek is on the BC side of the border with Alberta. The first oil wells appeared after crossing the border into Alberta. Now I was travelling through serious ranch country: grain, cattle, oil wells. The price of gas dropped dramatically, in Grande Prairie I paid 50 cents per litre of gas

I stopped to eat in a park in Grande Prairie and changed into jeans, it was starting to get cool. Around 10 pm I left Grande Prairie. The campgrounds have changed, they are mostly in town with no trees or privacy. There are lots of fast food places and strip malls and all very flat.

I decided not to go to Hinton because that would have added another 250 km to the distance to Edmonton and there were storm clouds in that direction.

I pulled in to Young's Point provincial park west of Valleyview just after midnight. It was now clouded over and quite dark, I needed my camp lamp to setup the truck for sleeping. Shortly after going to bed it began to rain, but I had ensured that everything was stowed in a dry place so I went to sleep.

Monday, July 9, 2018

Thursday July 9, 1998 - Alaska Highway


Stoney Mountain BC - sunny, cloudy, windy.

I got up as early as I could to go into Whitehorse to do a bit of shopping for the next leg of my trip, south and east along the Alaska Highway and in to Alberta. I needed propane, gas, camera film and some groceries and was ready to leave town by 10.30 am. I rigged up a tent using a clothes drying rack and some towels to protect Yohan from the sun while travelling.

On the highway through the Yukon there was a lot of smoke from forest fires particularly around Watson Lake. I stopped there to buy gas and kept going to the BC border. The scenery became progressively more spectacular driving in BC, especially around the Muncho Lake and Stoney Mountain provincial parks. I would have liked to stop around Fort Liard but the campground there (Liard Hot Springs) was full. The campgrounds in the parks were either full or uninviting but I saw several good prospects for stopping off the road. I continued until quite late, around 11 pm and stopped in a dry creek bed south of Stoney Mountain. It was still not completely dark but I did have to use my camping lamp for the first time since leaving Prince Rupert four weeks ago.

In Muncho Lake Park I saw mountain goats and a porcupine on the roadside. The porcupine had its quills fully extended and looked very calm, I guess it was completely confident in its protective suit. I saw some animals that looked too big to be deer and turned out to be caribou looking very scruffy with patchy fur. Saw a moose just disappearing into the forest and a young bear by the road. Lots of wildlife and mountains today.

Yohan mostly slept. Every once in a while he'd get restless to stop and get out of the truck but never at the same time as I wanted to stop. Marina had been concerned about his constipation and had suggested an enema if I was going to stay in Whitehorse. But since I wasn't, she gave me rubber gloves and told me how to insert vaseline in his rectum several times a day. I don't know if that helped or not.

Sunday, July 8, 2018

Wednesday July 8, 1998 - Whitehorse

Wolf Creek campground - sunny.

I took Yohan into the Copper Road vet clinic first thing in the morning, and met Marina Alpeza, who owns the clinic. She is going to do two X-rays of Yohan to look at his rear end and his chest.

I returned to the clinic around 1 pm and Marina told me that they had done one X-ray of his rear end and did not see any broken bones. She would do the second X-ray in the afternoon and I should return around 5 pm for the results.

Aside from time at the clinic I mostly wandered around town looking at things. I also chatted with the folks at the Holodeck, who assured me that my dog was in good hands with Marina.

When I came back at 5 pm I had to wait for an hour and a half, the clinic was very busy with many emergencies. I was hungry, tired and anxious. By the time Marina came to see me at 6.30 pm I was in tears from frustration. She showed me Yohan's X-rays. His diaphragm was OK, his liver was swollen, and he was seriously constipated. His poop was backed up to his ribcage! She didn't know why his liver was swollen, it might just be the stress of his injuries. But when I asked she said that she saw no reason why I couldn't continue travelling with Yohan, that he would slowly recover from his injuries.

The clinic did up the bill for a grand total of $420. That included antibiotics, cortisone, a laxative, high fibre dogfood and copies of the results of his blood tests. They had sedated Yohan for the X-rays so when they handed him over he was too dopey to walk, I had to carry him out to the truck.

I went straight back to the campground. I can't remember what I ate, I was just so exhausted. But relieved that things appeared to be much better than I could have hoped for. I thought at the very least I would have to return to Vancouver, and that I was going to lose Yohan. But now it looks like he's going to be okay and I can continue on to my next stop in Edmonton.

Saturday, July 7, 2018

Tuesday July 7, 1998 - Whitehorse


Wolf Creek Camp - cold and clear.

I went into the vet's office at 9 am this morning. They told me I would have to wait to talk to the vet because they were busy cleaning up Yohan. During the night he had pooped and peed in his cage and was a terrible mess, there was even poop in his ears. The vet came out finally and said this was a good thing, it showed that his digestive tract was still functional.

He said that I should come back around 11.30 am and take Yohan out for a couple of hours and see what I thought of his condition. I left to do some errands, in particular I checked my bank account to see if I needed to move some money around to pay Yohan's vet bills.

They gave me Yohan with the IV catheter still attached to his leg. He seemed wobbly and dispirited but looking better than the night before. They gave me a can of dogfood and said to give him a quarter can every hour.

Yukon River sternwheeler, dry-docked
I took Yohan for a walk in a park by the river where he pooped and peed again. Then we went back to Wolf Creek campground where I moved to a better site. He seemed hungrier now, he gobbled the small amounts of dogfood I gave him.

When we went back to the clinic they wanted me to keep Yohan overnight. The vet wanted me to feed Yohan special dogfood for kidney failure and they did up a bill for me which I am fairly sure is incorrect but I'll get that straightened out tomorrow. If all goes well they will do the X-rays tomorrow. In particular the vet wants to see if Yohan has a herniated diaphragm. I tried to give Yohan the special dogfood but he didn't like it. I don't blame him, it doesn't look good or smell good.

Tomorrow I will have to decide whether I am continuing this trip or not. I may be returning to Vancouver much earlier than planned.

Friday, July 6, 2018

Monday July 6, 1998 - Whitehorse


In the morning I just washed up and packed to drive into town, I didn't eat. I found the Copper Road Veterinary Clinic. The vet on duty was just temporary, and he was not encouraging. He said that in addition to whatever injuries he had from being run over he was also sick. The eye discharge that he had never really gotten rid of since Inuvik was indicative of a systemic infection and he was way too thin. he doubted that Yohan could handle the anesthetic that would be needed for doing an X-ray. He recommended that I save myself a lot of grief and expense and just have Yohan put down.

That just wasn't an option. I didn't drive all this way just to be told to put him down. So I thanked him and asked where the other vet clinic was, since I'd been told there were two clinics in Whitehorse. The vet backtracked. He said if I didn't want to put him down then the second option was to put him on an IV for hydration, do some bloodwork, and maybe give him a wopping dose of antibiotic for the infection. I agreed to that and left Yohan there. I went to the Taku Hotel for breakfast and then to the Holodeck Internet Cafe to check email. I also dropped off some camera film for developing.

Whitehorse tourist
After running a few errands I returned to Copper Road to find out what Yohan's status was. The vet said he thought he'd guessed pretty well, that Yohan probably has chronic kidney failure and so he's terminal. He may or may not pull through this crisis. But I opted for continuing treatment. They would keep him on the IV, give him some antibiotic and if he recovers enough for an X-ray, they'd do it. The vet guessed a broken pelvis and also a broken tail. He said the pelvis would heal itself but his tail would have to be amputated.

It was pretty emotional. The vet was clearly making a case for pulling the plug due to 'quality of life'. Yohan did look awful and he knew where he was and didn't like it. He never liked being in a vet's office. But the good news was that the woman who owned the clinic would be back the next day, and as the temporary vet put it, she had a way with old dogs, she could pull them back from the brink of death. So I left Yohan there for the night and then went to the Wolf Creek campground to stake out a campsite.

Whitehorse log hi-rise
After securing the campsite I returned to town and went to Whitehorse's brand new and very first Internet Cafe and Computer Game Parlour, the Holodeck, to see if I could get on the internet. No.

The Holodeck is run by a young man and his Mom, both dog lovers who sympathize with my situation. Most of the people here are teenage gamers, but there is the odd traveller like myself checking email. It's a darkened room with computers arranged in a circle of booths, each one with a headset and a joystick. Their Internet connection is tenuous, but I can live with it. It also has a tiny lobby area with a couch and a TV running endless Star Trek movies and TV episodes. So if no computer booth is available you can watch Star Trek to your heart's content.

While I waited for internet access I chatted with the owners about hotmail, ISPs, dogs and places to eat. They recommended the Taku Hotel which is where I had breakfast earlier in the day. They said it had good basic restaurant food at reasonable prices.

In the evening I returned to my campsite and did a major cleanup of the inside of the truck, repacking everything. I screwed down the bedframe sections so they wouldn't slide around on rough roads. I also rearranged the cab of the truck so that Yohan would be sitting in the front not in the space behind the bench seat.


I'm not sure what I'll do now, I am reluctant to go home but maybe I should.

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Sunday July 5, 1998 - Lake Laberge

Lineup for Fox Lake fire convoy
Lake Laberge - windy, sunny and hot

It was cool, cloudy and smoky at the Yukon river campground and I couldn't sleep. I was up at 5 am and feeling like Yohan was doomed and I couldn't bear to be alone without him. but he got up and walked around, peed and ate some which cheered me up; maybe he'll make it after all. Ray came by and helped me get Yohan into the truck and I left around 7.30 am without saying goodbye to anyone.

At the Dawson Visitor Centre they said that there was a fire on the Dempster which is where all the smoke was coming from, and that the road to Whitehorse (the Klondike highway) was open. Once I passed the junction with the Dempster the smoke cleared.

Bear by the side of the road
I had put Yohan on the front bench seat instead of behind where he usually sat. Sometime after we passed Pelly Crossing he was struggling to change position so I reached over to help him. In doing so I swerved the truck into the steep-sided ditch on the side of the highway. There was no shoulder on the side of the highway, just a 4-5 foot embankmenty down to the ditch, overgrown with 2-3 foot high bushes. I thought for sure the truck would flip over and Yohan would be killed but amazingly I just ended up driving along the ditch because I never took my foot of the gas pedal. Which I did now.

I came to a stop and looked around. The ditch was about one car-width wide and the embankment was too steep to drive back up onto the road. Also it was deep enough that anyone driving past on the road would never see me. I decided that my only hope was to keep driving along the ditch in hopes of finding a spot where the embankment wasn't too steep for me to drive back up onto the road. I drove slowly along the ditch, hoping there wouldn't be any boulders in the way, which I wouldn't be able to see anyway because of all the bushes. I tried a couple of times to get up the bank but bottomed out each time. Finally I found a spot where I could drive back up onto the road.

As soon as I was out of the ditch I stopped and put the flashers on. I got out of the truck. I was shaking from nerves and Yohan looked bug-eyed scared. I'm sure he thought I was trying to kill him! I checked under the truck to see if I had done any damage but I couldn't see anything obvious. So when I was a little calmer I continued driving until I got to Five Finger Rapids. there was a big mess in the back of the truck from my episode in the ditch, mainly a blackened cast iron frypan that slid around all over my clothes. I checked the oil and the transmission fluid levels and the tires. Everything seemed OK and there hadn't been any suspicious engine noises so I carried on.

Around 4 pm I reached the lineup for the convoy through the forest fire at Fox Lake. It was very long. Apparently they had let a few cars through earlier in the day but things had gotten worse and they were debating whether to let anyone through today at all. I could see thick smoke and trees burning on a ridge west of the highway. Waterbombers circled. They carried containers of water that they dumped on the fire, but it just looked as if they were dumping thimblefuls on a conflagration. The RCMP said that the smoke on the road was too thick and they didn't know when the next convoy could go.

Some people turned around and left the lineup. I looked at the map. There were two other routes to Whitehorse, one involved backtracking to Dawson and heading to Alaska and the other also involved backtracking but not as far. The word was that there were fires on that road too, no one knew if you could get through or not. In any case it meant 2 or 3 days of driving even if the road was clear. Fox Lake is just north of Whitehorse; if I could get through Fox Lake I would be in Whitehorse in an hour or so. It did not seem worthwhile to try another route.

Fiddlers entertain the lineup
So I waited, we all waited. There was a travelling group of child fiddlers in the lineup, they moved slowly up and down the lineup playing their fiddles. They were from Whitehorse, returning from a tour of Yukon towns. I talked to a nurse from Haines Junction and told her about Yohan. She gave me a plastic glove and showed me how to squirt water into Yohan's mouth by snipping a small hole in one finger, filling the glove with water and then twisting it closed and squeezing it. It took two of us, one to hold the glove and the other to hold Yohan's mouth open. He didn't want to drink.

I was wearing my Great Northern Arts Festival T-shirt that I bought in Inuvik and it turned out that the woman who founded that festival was in the lineup. She didn't live in Inuvik anymore but said that seeing me wearing the T-shirt made her proud of what she had done. I also met a guy who was transporting an airplane and a tank full of fish. The airplane had foldup wings and sat on a trailer along with a big plastic tank of fish. Apparently if you stock an otherwise unoccupied lake that does not have native game fish in it, it's yours. So he had a lake picked out and was going to fly in with his tankful of fish to claim his lake. He has lived in the Yukon for 20 years, working construction in the summer and spending his winters in Costa Rica.

After waiting about 4 hours we got the word that they were going to start the convoy through the fire. We had to drive single file and maintain a constant speed close enough to the next vehicle to be able to see it through the thick smoke. Of course you had to keep all your windows closed tight. The smoke was like a very heavy fog and there were blackened tree skeletons and grey ash on the ground. There was no underbrush. Occasionally there were unburnt patches and also plumes of smoke and fire shooting up from the ground. It was like a scene from hell.

A squirrel that had been run over by the vehicle in front of me was still squirming on the road while its mate streaked back to the ashen forest. I couldn't stop. It was just misery everywhere.

I don't know how long it took to drive through, it was just too shocking to see what a forest fire looks like from inside. In any case it was too late to get to the veterinary clinic in Whitehorse so I stopped at the next campground on Lake Laberge, just north of Whitehorse. I would have to take Yohan in next morning. I fed Yohan and cleaned up and went to bed without supper, I was too nerved up to eat.

A helluva day!

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Saturday July 4, 1998 - Dawson

Yohan isn't moving. He drank some water yesterday but won't take it today. I did manage to get him to eat a little rice and milk at breakfast. I thought maybe I would walk into town and buy some canned dogfood for him. The camp operator came by to collect the fee and she said that there was indeed a veterinarian in town and gave me his name. She and her boyfriend operate the campground in the summer and then spend the winter at their cabin the bush mushing dogs. There are so many dogs in town, every night you hear barking and howling from across the river.

Ray and Laurena are at the site across the road from mine, I asked them to keep an eye on Yohan while I walked into town. It would be faster that way if there were lineups for the ferry. At the Visitor Centre I asked about the vet. He has a pager but no phone number, so they paged him and I left a message for when he called back. I bought the dogfood and checked again at the Visitor Centre for a message from the vet but there was nothing so I returned to camp. I stopped to talk to Ray and Laurena briefly and then returned to my site, where there was a man looking at Yohan, who had moved himself from the tent where I left him over to the truck. It was the vet! I was impressed that he arrived at my campsite before I did!

When he saw me he said, "This must be the patient."

The vet, John, examined Yohan and took lots of notes. He listed all the bad things that might be wrong with Yohan, but without labwork or X-rays he couldn't tell for sure. The nearest X-ray machine was in Whitehorse, over 500 km away. But he said that it was amazing that Yohan survived the shock and that gave him hope for Yohan's survival. he recommended that I get him to Whitehorse as soon as possible for X-rays, and to keep him hydrated. Also, he said I should go to the Copper Road Veterinary clinic in Whitehorse; he said there were two clinics and Copper Road was run by a woman who was very good. He said Yohan's best hope was her.

He was very kind but he left me feeling quite depressed about outcomes. I had supper with Penny and James and prepared to leave first thing in the morning. In the news they said there was a forest fire at Fox Lake which is on the way to Whitehorse. In the evening we could smell smoke which I thought was from the Fox Lake fire, I hoped that wasn't going to be a problem. I wanted to get to Whitehorse in time to get Yohan into the vet clinic before it closed for the day, and I hoped that if I left early in the morning I could make it.

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Friday July 3, 1998 - Dawson

Downtown Dawson
Yukon River - sunny

I am enjoying just doing nothing, "another day in paradise". But my plan is to leave for Edmonton tomorrow morning. I regret leaving the north, the long days, the wilderness. Laurene said that they may call Alaska "the last frontier" but there's hardly any wilderness left there. There's an awful lot of RV drivers who just want to talk about road conditions, like their whole trip is about the road conditions. And there's a woman in site 20 who sells paperbacks and tapes to bored RV'ers.

I took the ferry across the river and drove into town to do some shopping for my trip tomorrow. Ice and a few other things. Then I got in line for the return ferry trip across the river, hoping to spend the rest of the day just hanging out at the campground. It was a long lineup because a lot of people want to go to Alaska for July 4th, mostly Germans and very big RVs. A lot of us were just standing around chatting while waiting for our turn on the ferry crossing, Yohan crawled under a van to get out of the sun. Then the ferry arrived and started boarding, the lineup of vehicles started moving forward.

Suddenly I heard Yohan yelping, he was scrambling out from under the van that had just run over him. The woman driving had not seen him there, she was very upset when she realized what had happened. I didn't know what to do so I tried to get him back to the truck, he was obviously in a lot of pain and limping badly, he could walk but I had to lift him into the truck. I didn't know whether I should stay in the line to get onto the ferry or get out of the line and see if there was a veterinarian clinic in town. The man in the truck behind me had a local phonebook, he looked for a veterinarian listing but there was none. So I decided to stay in the line and get back to the campground, it took another 30 minutes to get there (I'd already been in the lineup for 90 minutes).

Yohan could walk a bit, his eyes were bugging out of his head and his tongue and gums were really white. Penny, who is a nurse, took a look at him and said he was in shock. I had a tent that so far I had never needed but I dug it out of the back of the truck and spent a half hour trying to figure out how to set it up. I thought it was the only way to get Yohan out of the sun.

My plans are now changed. I will stay on here in hopes that Yohan improves, but I don't think moving him is a good idea. I bought beer while I was in town, I'm glad I did because now I really need one.

Monday, July 2, 2018

Thursday July 2, 1998 - Dawson

View from Top of the World Highway
Yukon River - sunny and hot.

In the morning I baked some bannock over the fire, one plain loaf and one vegetable loaf. That took until noon. Since Gert and Helga had left the campground and they had a nicer site than I did, I then moved over to their now-empty site. After setting up I left to drive the Top of the World Highway. I did not want to go to Alaska so my intention was to just drive to the border and back.

A little ways down the road was some construction and Nona stopped me. She didn't recognize me at first but when I said her name then she did. She called Charlotte over to talk while I waited. They said they were at the same campground as I was but they would be working tonight.


I continued driving, with a couple of side trips up some rough tracks just to see whatever there was to see. Just before I reached the Alaska border I saw Ray and Laurena. Were they ever surprised to see me! They were coming from Alaska and headed to Dawson City. I told them about my trip up the Dempster and staying in Inuvik, and they told me about their trip through Alaska. Ray is still wheezing but he had medication for it.

Ray, Laurena and Sparky on the Top of the World Highway

I turned around then and headed back to Dawson. This is a chip seal road running along a high ridge so you're looking down into valleys on either side and can see mountain peaks off into the distance. this is why they call it the Top of the World, you're looking across at the peaks not up. The views are better heading east than west (in my opinion), but still not as great as the Dempster. I think it is more impressive to be looking up at the mountains not across.

The road crew were on supper break so I did not see Nona and Charlotte on the way back. When I got back to the campground I went looking for Charlotte. Last night I was in site 72 and she was in 84. I actually saw her dog Elsinor and her trailer in the morning but I did not recognize them at the time. When I got to Charlotte's site she had company for supper so I stayed a short while and then went to Ray and Laurena's site for gin and tonics. After that I went back to my site for supper then took a walk along the beach to Penny and James' site. They also had moved, they were now in site 48 right by the river.

On the way along the beach I saw a funny looking dog in the woods. I stopped to look at it and it looked at me and Yohan and then turned to go back into the woods. I then realized it wasn't a dog at all, it was a fox. It was all black with a white-tipped tail and looked like it had a kind of mask on its face like a raccoon. When I told James about it some other campers there said that there was indeed a fox hanging around the campground and it had stolen a potato from their campsite. Then James, Penny and I walked down the beach with the dogs to see the sternwheeler wreck.

Yohan and the sternwheeler wreck
James said it was actually several wrecks piled up together. When they first built the road to Dawson they didn't need the big sternwheelers anymore so they shoved them up into the forest beyond the town. Those sternwheelers burned 4 cord of firewood an hour to go upstream on the Yukon, so there was a pretty busy commerce in cordwood all along the river. The wrecks furthest away from the shore are in better shape because they don't get bashed by the river ice.

I got back to my campsite at midnight and I could still see sunlight on the Midnight Dome overlooking the town. I wanted to move my truck but I forgot that I left a thermos and water bottle in the shade behind the rear wheel. I ran over and broke them. That was 2 litres of drinking water! Oh well.

Sunday, July 1, 2018

Wednesday July 1, 1998 - Dawson


Yukon River - clearing, sunny and warm.

I camped overnight by the highway and a creek. There's a large culvert under the highway for the creek, I watched some swallow-like birds swooping over the creek and through the culvert under the road, chasing the numerous mosquitoes. I heard a clucking sound a saw a ptarmigan out on the tundra.


I stopped near Tombstone Moutnain and drove up a microwave tower road with a fabulous view of the head of the North Klondike River and Tombstone Mountain. A little later I stopped at the Tombstone campground (where I had stopped in a picnic shelter on the trip north to Inuvik) and talked to the women at the Nature Centre there. The big purple flowers I have been seeing everywhere are called Willow Herb / Dwarf Fireweed / River Beauty. They often grow on rocky banks of rivers here, hence the name River Beauty, but they are related to the Fireweed, only not as tall. The birds I saw yesterday in the Richardson Mountains were Longtailed Jaegers, and their populations cycle with the ptarmigan (11-12 years). They hit a low in 1995 and are on the rise again now.

I also talked to a woman from Anchorage who is cycling up the Dempster with 3 friends. One drives and the other 2 cycle and they take turns. She said they left Dawson City yesterday morning and plan to cycle 50-80 miles a day. Sounds like a great trip!


I took a little side track down to the North Klondike River. This part of the Dempster follows the North Klondike into the Klondike River proper, which isn't far now. I can see blue sky to the north and grey sky to the south. No sun, too bad.

Yohan won't eat his food. I used to put cheese whiz on it to entice him but I have run out and am using peanut butter which I guess he doesn't like as much.

When I reached the end of the Dempster I stopped at the Klondike Lodge which is at the junction of the Dempster and Klondike highways. I bought ice for my cooler and ran into Jack and Jackie from Chuk Camp in Inuvik.


When I got to Dawson City I also met Gert and Helga and Penny and James at the Visitor Centre. Penny and James and I took our dogs for a walk along the dike. They diked the whole town after a big flood in 1979. The town is right at the junction of the Klondike and Yukon Rivers. James said that an Indian resident told him that they moved the whole town and all of its buildings three times in order to mine for gold underneath it.


For Canada Day there was a big town barbecue in a park on the waterfront so we lined up for a salmon dinner. but just as we finally reached the barbecues they ran out of salmon. We got our money back and had salad and buns for free. Later I met someone at the Visitor Centre who told me about Tent City. Across the Yukon River is the provincial campground, and next to it is Tent City where you can camp for free. A lot of young people who work in Dawson City over the summer stay there. To get to the campground (and Tent City) you cross the river in a little ferry; this is also the way to the Top of the World highway to the Alaska border.

The Yukon River ferry at Dawson

I crossed the river with Penny and James and decided to stay at the provincial campground since all the people I knew from Inuvik were staying there. I found a campsite and then went to visit Gert and Helga who were leaving for Alaska the next day. I took a walk along the river on a gravel beach to see the paddlewheeler wreck just upriver from the campground.

Saturday, June 30, 2018

Tuesday June 30, 1998 - Dempster Highway


Peel River ferry - sunny and warm

Now I am waiting for the Peel River ferry, the river is a lot calmer than it was the last time. They are grading the approach to the ferry.

This morning I had a cup of coffee with the Gwich'in elder, Robert Alexie Sr, who operates the Nitainlii Camp. He told me stories about the unusually early spring breakup and caribou return.
He said that the guy who ferried us across the Peel River last week was new, only one week on the job, and his boss was pretty mad at him when he heard that he'd gone ahead and ferried us across. It was very dangerous.

Robert offered me a certificate for the Order of Arctic Adventurers, Arctic Circle Chapter. I said I already had one from the Inuvik Visitor Centre and he grinned at me.

"Wouldn't you rather have one signed by a Gwich'in elder?"


I agreed that that would be superior so he signed one and gave it to me. He asked what day I crossed the Arctic Circle and put that date on my certificate.

I went into Fort McPherson to see the Tent and Awning Factory and the Grave of the Lost Patrol. I can see where this would be a very muddy town in the spring!

At the factory they just got new embroidery thread so the prices on their embroidered bags has been raised and they don't have any unembroidered stock. Oh well. I saw Liz and Clem's names in the factory guest book, I guess they were in yesterday.

I also went to the cemetery where the Lost Patrol are buried.


In 1910 a party of four RCMP constables set out on the winter solstice from Fort McPherson headed to Dawson, an 800 km trip. Setting out in the dead of winter was a mistake, so was dismissing their Dene guide when they left the Richardson Mountains, and not going back when they first realized they were lost was the last mistake. Their bodies were found the following spring just 40 km out of Fort McPherson, and their diaries told a terrible tale. Three died of starvation and the fourth shot himself. They had eaten their dogs.

Fort McPherson cemetery
The town is fairly typical, dusty with boardwalk sidewalks and large square houses. In the cemetery all of the graves have white picket fences, I've seen that a lot in Haida Gwaii, northern BC and the territories.

Yukon border


The border between the Yukon and the NWT is very bleak. There are no trees and it is very windy. I can hear birdsong but cannot see any birds, they must be in the low bushes. Creeks are tiny but frequent. Muskeg.


I stopped because I saw a hovering bird—hawk-sized, with a white head and a very long narrow tail. I don't know what it is and it flew away when I let Yohan out of the truck. I stopped in the middle of the road, didn't bother to pull over. This could be the end of the world, no radio, no nothing.

Rock Creek

Stopped on Eagle Plains by a creek with the Richardson Mountains on the east. There is less wind here and good sized trees in the creek ravine. Willows too. There were three fish in the creek catching insects in a pond on the downstream side of the culvert under the road. They might be Grayling: 10-12" long, brown-gray very ordinary looking fish.

Ogilvie-Peel Viewpoint

Arctic Circle
Arctic Circle outhouses, held down by cables
I stopped briefly at the Arctic Circle and then passed through the town of Eagle Plains around 2 pm.

The great metropolis of Eagle Plains, pretty much all of it
The girl at the gas station remembered me, she said, "You got through just in time" referring to the last time, because they closed the road the next morning.

Old forest fire
Since then I've been driving through forest, half of it burned. Now I am at the edge of the Ogilvie Mountains after driving a treeless ridge with a great view. I saw none of this on the way up. All I remember about the Ogilvie-Peel Viewpoint on the way up is the driving rain and the outhouses. I never saw the mountains.

Yohan and the Ogilvie Mountains
Well, onward we go. It's 5.15 pm and I don't think I'll make Dawson tonight. There's lots more traffic now: semis, RVs, cars and trucks mostly headed north; a few trucks headed south.


Black spruce, fireweed and foxtail grass along the roadside
North of North Fork Pass

There are washouts and mudslides all the way from the Ogilvie-Peel Viewpoint to here, a little north of the North Fork Pass. Mostly on Engineer Creek.

I think this is where the mudslide I encountered last week was

Debris in the river
There are lots of uprooted trees on the gravel bars in the river, caved-in riverbanks from being undercut by high water and a large section of the road that was originally built right in an old creek bed that is now completely washed out. It is just rough rock now, they haven't finished repairing it.


There are road repair machines and trucks all along this section and a a few men working. The first one I met told me what to expect for the next 20 km or so. He said there was a rock elephant on the mountain skyline a little ways down the road but I couldn't see it.

I saw a black bear by the road and a moose way off in the distance (with my binoculars). At first it just looked like a rock until I looked more closely with the binocs. It was just munching away. It looked up when I started the truck to drive away but didn't appear concerned.

My campsite for the night, Middle-of-Nowhere, Yukon Territory
I stopped around 9 pm in a little pull-out next to the road with a great view of the mountains, a creek, and only a few mosquitoes.