Welcome back friends! It's time to catch you all up! Following our last blog we spent a week visiting with family in Dawson Creek B.C. Despite the fact that Mel's Aunt and Uncle have lived here for over 20 years and they had traveled to Ontario many times, she had never been present in their home, in their neck of the woods! And, it was a perfect stay to say the least!
We experienced everything from farm life to tourist attractions, complete with; quad rides, back road adventures, bear banger lessons, Evan's amazing chicken fry and BBQ treats, tractor rides, firewood cutting, baby cow and chicken feeding, as well as rifle shooting and rumoli playing. Aunt Coleen, Uncle Murray, Britney, Evan and Gavin were wonderful hosts and we enjoyed meeting their local friends. A ton of memories sure to last a lifetime were made. A lot of love and attention was received, and many stories were shared, as well as laughs. To our complete delight we totally rocked the Labour Day Weekend!! Our ears and hearts were full as we listened to amazing Blues and Rock guitar playing! Gavin is one heck of a musician! We also caught our first glimpse of the Aurora Borealis.
Our stay concluded and we headed north to begin our waterfall tour in the Northwest Territories and explore the capital city of Yellowknife. Our first stop was Buckinghorse River a provincial park in Northern B.C. We enjoyed fishing here, and caught 3 grayling that complemented our next nights trout catch at Beaver Lake nicely. Mel prepared them over an open fire at our rustic and free camping spot at Beaver Lake. While fishing at Beaver Lake, we met Bastein and Mary-Ann; a friendly couple from the Netherlands. We thoroughly enjoyed exchanging stories of life and travel, it was a truly delightful campfire evening.
The following day we reached the Northwest Territories. Mother nature greeted us with sunny skies, dirt highways on a beautiful mountain back drop, and a bison encounter we'll never forget! That evening we stayed at a community operated, free campsite at Hay Lake in Fort Liard. It wasn't difficult to tell that it was frequented by Bison, as we played a game of dodge the poop piles each time we stepped out the RV door. We enjoyed a hike around the lake, spotting wild life with our binoculars and watching the bison move up the adjacent ski hill in the late evening. Another dinner was cooked over the open fire and we settled to sleep to re-energize for our next days trek to Blackstone.
Blackstone Territorial Park was by far our most favorite of all the NWT parks. We would consider this spot an absolute must stay for any traveler! Clean restrooms with newly renovated, spacious and hot showers, a fantastic and knowledgeable camp host, as well as an onsite museum in the visitor center made for a comfortable and well rounded 2 night stay. The mountain range was mesmerizing to say the least. As the hours past in the day, the look and feel of the surroundings changed as well. We found ourselves chasing the photo opportunities and spending as much time on the rock lined shore enjoying the strength and warmth of the sun as possible. We also took advantage of catching up on laundry with our portable, hand driven Avalon Bay washing machine. We kept the fire thriving to provide hot water for washing, as well as create homemade delights like nutritious bone broth, chicken soup and fire grilled chicken paninis. A perfect weekend of catch up, Saturday snoozes and exploring.
Following Blackstone we decide to head to Fort Simpson to refuel, obtain propane and get some supplies. Travel must be well planned in the north as fuel and supply centers are few and far between. This leg of the journey found us and Murtle aboard a ferry over the Liard river. Another first for our boys and we assume Murtle as well! We enjoyed a night stay at the Fort Simpson Territorial Park where we were again pleasantly surprised by the clean and warm restroom facilities. The boys also got an up close look at the worlds largest Tee-Pee. They later enjoyed running barefoot on the sand beach while Doug dropped in a fishing line. Upon the conclusion of the exploration and preparation for the hike back to the campsite, Hudson decided he was DONE! In typical 3 year old fashion, he stood on the beach refusing to move in complete meltdown mode shouting “I AM DONE WITH YOU DADDY, I AM DONE WITH TEEGAN, I AM DONE WITH REGI, I AM DONE WITH MURTLE, I AM DONE WITH MOMMY!” Let’s just say that just as everyday life isn’t perfect, neither is RV life and some of the frustrations that come with it! Hudson is not the only traveler to have an intermittent episode of “DONENESS” L.O.L! Luckily to date we have all recovered from this state quickly. Usually with some much needed rest, as well as love and support from one another. The journey continued and the first stop on our waterfall tour was awaiting us!
Samba-Deh Falls Territorial Park. Here we were greeted by James the camp host, his wife and 3 children Kianna, Sam and William. The boys couldn’t wait to be set free from their car seats to join their 3 new friends on the playground. They had a blast enjoying the company of the children; teaching and learning new games. That evening, we hiked to Coral Falls. A spectacular set of falls, where it felt as though we jumped back in time. Evidence of geographical and evolutionary changes was all around us. Sea fossils were very easily found and very distinguished. The boys loved scouring the shores in search if the next best fossil find! There was a profound sense of appreciation and spiritual connection found here, and we all quite enjoyed the fact that we were able to stand on top of the waterfall; a very powerful and moving experience for all. The boys enjoyed some more play time with the children that evening, prior to the next mornings departure to Samba Deh falls. A short drive up the highway landed us at hiking trail to the low profile but, powerful and exhilarating rushing falls. The hike was gorgeous and a bit tricky as we navigated around the rim of the canyon amongst huge escarpments, overhangs and jumping the occasional earth crevasse. Getting a close look at the most powerful and rushing point of the falls was difficult due to the slippery shelves created by the mist. We enjoyed exploring atop these falls. And again fossil evidence was easy to find. Our hike back was interesting. Luckily, we all wore our long underwear on the 11th day of September as Mother Nature decided to change things up a little and give us a taste of heavy snow pellets. The boys were relieved to make it back to Murtle, and another day of personal growth, exploration and gratitude came to a close as we headed for our next destination.
Lady Evelyn Falls Territorial Park. A quick overnight stop that was selected due to it’s online and paper brochure advertising WiFi and a laundromat; something no other campsite had offered to date and we sought after due to our lack of cell service and connection with loved ones, as well as a weeks worth of laundry on board. Unfortunately, the camp host was unwilling to provide us the password and had shut down the laundromat. We understood that parks had only one more operational week but, we were still slightly disappointed. Fortunately, the flip side of that was the view of the gorgeous, bridal like falls that provided a roar that could still be mutely heard at our campsite. Teegan enjoyed viewing the bat houses and education information that was present around the area. We had settled on the idea that the laundry could wait. Until the next morning when we rose bright and early to a damp, cold and crying Hudson and an accidentally wet bed! Looks like we were on the hunt for a laundromat after all! With out the help of google, we detoured to the settlement of Hay River with fingers crossed that our 80km detour would be worth it! An afternoon in the parking lot of an over priced and poorly operating coin laundry and we were back on track! To Twin Falls we go! But, first a stop at the Hay River Memorial Wall; a picture wall created to honor all of the communities fallen members. A unique and special site.
Side note; Please do not take our semi complaintive comments above poorly. Please don’t think for one second that we aren’t exceptionally grateful for every part of our journey. We just want to highlight some of the daily things that most of us take for granted in or normal everyday lives. This includes things like access to potable running water and a washing machine, hot showers, cell phone service and WiFi. All the things we have now accepted in our daily lives as “the extras”. We want you all to appreciate the authentic us, and all of our perfectly imperfect days. We want you to understand that even on this journey we experience daily stressors, although they may be different than all of yours. We are living our best life in real time, and real things, both good and bad, happy and sad, happen often.
Now that we’ve expressed that, let’s get back to the adventure!!
Twin Falls- Louise & Alexandra. We arrived at Twin Falls Territorial Park later that evening and prepared for our next days 6km round trip hike to the falls. The camp host Brenda was fantastic. We enjoyed a few chats during our stay and it was very obvious that she took great pride in caring for the park, as well as the guests. She was apologetic about the cool to luke-warm showers, and explained that the water is stored in containers outdoors. Due to the cold weather, the water heaters were just not keeping up. This was understandable, but not comfortable! LOL This territorial park had the best recreation area, and a great children's park! We would definitely recommend others to enjoy a stay there, but maybe a little earlier in the camping season.
Hiking day! First up was Louise Falls; a gorgeous square shaped falls that presented a different view with every step we took closer to the top. Upon reaching the hillside above Louise Falls, we discovered the most unique access to a falls yet! A gigantic spiral staircase, and a 7 year old boy forced to conquer his fear of heights with what he has now dubbed "The Staircase of Death" , and is likely now in his short book of least favorite hikes! Once we finished exploring every possible step at the rim of the falls, we continued our trip back to the trail (including now ascending the ‘Staircase of Death”), and approximately 1.5 more km's of interpretive trail that led to the largest Northwest Territory falls we've explored to date; Alexandra. A towering 90 meter masterpiece! The water atop these falls was magical. We were set upon a staircase like, rock shelving, housing a display of a few hundred randomly scattered Inukshuk's. We enjoyed laying on our stomachs, and bathing our hands in the cool water, while observing the waters transformation from calm pools to rushing sections of rapids. Everywhere we gazed provided a different interpretation of the water's moving art display. To keep the day interesting, Hudson announced a top the falls that he needed to have a poop. Doug quickly took on the task of creating a rock potty to accommodate our friend, as comfortably as possible. A thrilled Hudson jumped on. No results were produced, but many laughs were had! We learned a lot that day about the Dene tribe, their customs, hunting, food preparation, clothing making, their connection to the land, the fur trade and so much more! A perfect day of exploring the native roots of our country! A quick stop at the smallest road side falls, McNallie, and we were on route to Yellowknife!
An overnight stay in Fort Providence at the Territorial Park, set on the meeting point of the Liard and Mackenzie Rivers was a picturesque evening. Night fell upon us as we watched the sunset over an ever-changing sky. We couldn't get enough of it, and now it seemed that with every passing minute it was showing us a different spectrum of color on a continuously distorting back drop. For the first time ever, we watched the crescent moon set, and fall over the horizon. Once darkness completely set in that night, the Aurora's vibrant green rays enlightened us like we’ve never seen before. The weather was quite cold, and the showers were under construction, but the million dollar view was worth it! And, catching a glimpse of a bald eagle out the kitchen window, while eating breakfast the following morning wasn't so bad either!
The next days drive was a long one, and we arrived in Yellowknife a little later than originally planned. We spent the first 2 nights of our visit in Yellowknife at the Fred Henne Territorial Park. It was a cold stay, on what would be an incredible beach in the heat of summer, with a great lake view and amazing children's play area. Showers again that night were too cold to shower in, and the noise of the nearby airport were two draw backs to this campsite. On the other hand, it was in close proximity to the City Center, and Hudson's love of planes was entertained and amplified during the stay. Overall, the powered campsite suited what was required for us to stay comfortable during the chilly nights.
We loved the rich heritage this traditional, yet modern city had to offer. We spent an afternoon at the Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Center. Teegan especially loved the polar bear and Arctic exhibits. Hudson loved playing in the cabin and listening to the various animal sounds using the telephones. Doug and I thoroughly enjoyed a two hour conference on Establishing Lasting Peace; a free to the public and engaging talk, offering new perspectives and opportunities for growth. Everyone we met in the city was very friendly and eager to share their stories. This was especially true on our tour of the Legislative Assembly. Our tour guide was incredible! (I wish we remembered her name). We were pleased with the number of free and family friendly places there were to enjoy with the boys. So much learning for all. Doug and I felt like kids again, totally open and absorbing as much as we possibly could! We decided to treat ourselves to an overnight stay in a hotel. Our first and only nights stay outside of Murtle's four walls since our journey began. To our surprise, many of the cities hotel rooms were booked, and quite pricey. A call confirmed availability at the Chateau Nova; a newly constructed hotel that offered kitchenettes an ensuite laundry. We were sold! We spent the evening catching up on laundry, and meal prepping while the boys enjoyed the king size bed and cable TV. We had some issues connecting to the WiFi, which was later remedied by a visit from the Executive Director of the hotel chain, Mary. Mary was a pleasure to meet, and a fellow Ontarian. She stayed in our room, on the phone with the IT tech to ensure we'd get up and running. Very impressive and top notch service if you ask us! Thanks again Mary!!
We rounded out our stay in Yellowknife with a helicopter tour over the city. This was a big bucket list check mark for Hudson, and the very first flight for both boys! Matt of ACOSTA HELIFLIGHTS was another super friendly and knowledgeable Yellowknife'r, that despite only living in the city a few years himself, knew a lot about the surrounding area, including some interesting mining stories and an explanation of the Aurora Village. Hudson was thrilled to say the least! And, despite Teegan's initial apprehensions, he was an amazing co-pilot! Enjoying a birds eye view of the vast bodies of water that surround the bedrock and tundra of Yellowknife was the perfect way to end our stay in the Capitol city!
Next was the journey back to British Columbia to connect to the Alaska Hwy and head to the Yukon! This however would not be without a few hiccups, that included a quicker than anticipated trip back for a 6 night stay in Dawson Creek. Let's tell you about that!
We traveled back to Fort Providence upon the conclusion of our city stay. Once again we were impressed by the gorgeous night sky! A gigantic moon poured over us! So bright that we could easily see craters on the surface with the binoculars, so close it felt like we could touch it! The Aurora's came to life in stunning shades of green and violet dancing merrily before us! We were so amazed that we couldn't stand the thought of the kids missing it. We pulled them out of bed, far past their bedtimes, so they could enjoy the show! The next morning was a chilly one. We awoke to a colder than normal cabin, and discovered that our propane furnace had died! A bright and early start to 2 long day drives and a long night switching alternate heating sources and refueling our generator (not very convenient, but required as the night was quite cold), we all remained comfortable. As we traveled through the steep inclines and descents of the Alaska Hwy in Northern B.C. it was obvious that Murtle was going to also need brakes and rotors. One more stop at Beaver Lake, and a few more trout caught concluded this leg of the journey, and we were on the hunt for an RV repair shop. Boes RV a locally owned and operated RV sales and service shop was highly recommended by our Uncle Murray, and we have to say we know exactly why! Gerry and Terry were fantastic to deal with, and Arlene was great at locating the parts promptly. Boes had the burner and board replaced on our furnace the next day!! Recommended by Boes, we then headed to Kubes Transmission. They are a locally owned and operated auto repair shop that was able to handle the size of our motorhome. They promptly diagnosed the situation, and had parts ordered Friday that would arrive on Monday for installation.
By Tuesday we were set to hit the road again but, opted for one more day to visit with our incredible family that has been our best neighbor here in the north! For this, we are forever grateful! A very special thank you to our cousin Britney, and her beautiful son Zayden and Evan for helping us fill our days with joy! To our Aunt and Uncle that have opened their home to us with out hesitation, we thank you too!! To Gavin for filling our evening hours with your company and blues riffs, getting to know you has been a pleasure! You're an incredible young man! We love you all so much!!
Thank you to all of our continued supporters, we need and appreciate all of you!!
Mel, Doug, Teeg & Huds xoxo