On Friday, June 8, we left Fort Nelson and continued north on the Alaska Highway and ended our drive 140 miles later at Muncho Lake. A short distance but it might have been another planet, it was so different. Today we really started to drive through the beautiful Canadian Rockies and saw some more fast running rivers that are forming some fascinating terrain with their multiple river beds that are strewn with large boulders and with islands of Spruce trees growing in the middle. It seems like the rivers keep the highway department busy keeping the river from washing out the road beds.
Lots of wild life was seen today. A mother moose and her very small baby gained lots of attention. We marveled at how the mother protected the baby from rolling down a hill side by walking on the downhill side and nudging the baby along beside her. And the Stone sheep were plentiful, we saw several groupings of them. And our eagle eyed wild life spotter, Steve, even saw some caribou. Also seen were some Sandhill cranes.
We camped Friday night at Muncho Lake, in a Provincial Park. Dry camping for $16.00 Canadian. We have a lovely site, on the banks of the lake. The lake sits in a bowl with mountains all around it and it is the most beautiful turquoise green. It is 6.5 miles long. Our campground is at the southern end. We have no hook ups . For $16 Canadian you get a fire ring, picnic table and a site with a million dollar view.
Speaking of fire rings, we had a campfire tonight, This is the first night that was conducive to a camp fire but a bright sunny evening takes away a little bit of the aura of a campfire. S'mores and great conversation made up for it. We broke up at about 10:00PM and I took some pictures to show how light out it is right now. It is pretty amazing.
Unfortunately we had a couple of problems that were discovered as we were setting up. First Rick sort of drove into a low gate post that heavy duty steel and dislocated the bumper on the passenger side and the bedroom slide wouldn't slide! So he reattached the bumper and started to troubleshoot the slide. In order to trouble shoot the slide you have to take the mattress off the bed, then take the platform off that the mattress sits on, remove all the stuff under that platform and then the bottom that all that stuff sits on! Whew! Of course that all has to go into the living area since there isn't enough room for it all in the bedroom. After all that Rick discovered that one of the teeth that makes up the gear stuff was broken. Since we didn't have a replacement at hand all of the stuff had to go back in reverse order. So we have to sleep with the slide in and have to crawl over the bed to get to the closet and Rick has to crawl over the mattress to get into bed. Crazy!
Saturday morning we get up and get to ready to roll again. But, oops, the front legs won't go up! Can't hitch up without moving the legs up or down (and sometimes both ways). So Rick fiddles around and finally has to hand crank them up and down. What a job. We get hitched up and head out of the Strawberry Flats, destination if Liard Hot Springs, (pronounced Lee ard) for a night of relaxation in the hot springs.
First we stop at the north end of the lake for some great pictures and then at a gravel pull out to walk to a natural salt lick where animals gather to lick salt. Evidently they like (or need) salt! At the first stop we smelled an odor, sort of like brakes. One of group brakes a lot (looking for wild life I suppose) so we assumed it was his vehicle but at the second one Rick takes a look around our rig and he finds that the 2 tires on the passenger side of the rig are rubbing together! NOT GOOD! It was caused by a broken spring.
At the time we felt that this was truly a disaster. Our travel partners were truly wonderful, we all put our heads together and decided that Norm, Paula and I would drive back a few miles to a ledge we had passed and phone Good Sam. Our roadside assistance provider. Only problem was that their phones were out. Evidently when a road crew was repairing a small road wash out they cut the phone cable so a large area was without phone service. Also no cell phone signal, which wasn't a surprise since we were in the mountains. So back to where the rig was parked. While we were gone the 2 other couples had gone for the walk to the salt lick but evidently salt wasn't on the breakfast menu of any local wild life.
Rick decided to unhitch the RV (more cranking) and drive to Liard Hot Springs and see if they had phone service. At the lodge there was service and phone booths so Rick got on the phone with Good Sam. But Good Sam wasn't very good! Rick was on hold, on a pay phone for nearly 2 hours! Thank goodness it was an 800 number. Rick finally called a tow truck operator who had his flyer posted on the pay phone and found out the fellow would come to us from Fort Nelson, 176 miles away, and if Rick could give him some measurements, he would bring a new spring and install it right where we were disabled. Rick called Good Sam back and told them what he had worked out and suggested that since Good Sam didn't have to pay for a tow, which would probably cost them about $1500.00 that they should pay the mechanic his mileage. They thought that sounded like a good deal but only wanted to pay it for one direction. Rick told them what he thought of that and that if they didn't agree he would have it towed! They finally agreed to see it his way!
So we drove back to the rig, took some measurements, drove back to the lodge and called the mechanic and he told us he would see us in the morning! So we drove back to the rig to spend the night beside the highway on a gravel pullout. Oh, well, we wanted to do some boondocking while we were on this trip, here's our chance!
Read part 2 for the rest of the story!