Days 10-12: Making new friends and finding new roadblocks
The good news is that we’ve had four days of mechanic-free driving—SUCCESS. The bad news is that we were completely stuck in Watson Lake for two days, and by no fault of the TQ.
On Saturday night, we pulled into the Laird Hot Springs around 8pm, only to find the campground completely full. Due to the flooding past Watson Lake, many travelers—like us—found themselves stuck until further notice that the road to the north was open. Two hundred feet of road north of Watson Lake literally got washed away in the abyss of the overflowing river, and crews were forced to rebuild the road quickly so that traffic through the Yukon’s main artery could resume. Normally, people would find a different route to bypass the flooding, but this is northern Canada, and the fact is: There is only one main road going north. Thus, any sort of vacancy in “civilizations” had long been occupied. After finding parking outside the campground in the rest stop across the highway, the boys ventured into the park to see about any solutions (namely getting us a spot in the campground). They returned with good news, and we headed in, choosing a prime spot in the Day Parking area—which had been opened up to overnight travelers given the recent situation with the rising river and closed roads going north.
We were getting mixed reviews from all the people we talked to about whether or not the road was expected to open anytime soon. Some said it would possibly open Sunday… other more pessimistic travelers said it wouldn’t open till Thursday. Lucky for us, we were right on schedule, and we settled into our spot, began cooking dinner, and ventured “next door” to find an olive-green VW bus topped with surfboards, and a handful of friendly travelers huddled around a campfire.
Dave and Neil (traveling in the VW bus) are good friends and both work for the same catering company (Dave also has his own business in Anchorage—click here to check him out) and were on their way up to Alaska when they heard about the road situation.
Sarah and her husband Andy currently live in Fort St. John, and were driving south (lucky for them) and stopped at the hot springs for the night. I’m sad this photo is blurry—it’s a screenshot taken from a video we shot.
Steve and his adorable black lab, Emma were also on their way up to Anchorage, stuck due to water as well.
These people became insta-friends. They were curious about our vehicle, the alternative fuel, and the solar power, and we were happy to explain how things work in the TQ. Dave—who is a chef by trade and travels with a tool box full of chef supplies and spices—seasoned and grilled our burgers for us over his fire. We soon found ourselves relaxing in our tie-dye Crazy Creek chairs around the fire with relative strangers, and yet chatting like we’d all known each other for years.
With the sky still light around midnight, our crew ventured to the hot springs, which happened to be a short 5 minute walk down the trail. Although it didn’t quite qualify as a shower in my book (we’re a few days overdue for that), it was certainly a refreshing break we’d been looking forward to. After retreating back to the fire for another hour or so, the group retired to bed around 2am—exhausted and happy to be in good company.
The following day, we headed into Watson Lake early, to find a whole crew of people just like us, wanting to travel north but unable to do so. Here I am, checking the updates they posted on the temporary “Information Center”:
One cool thing about Watson Lake is that there’s a Sign Post Forest filled with signs from anywhere an everywhere. It was started by a guy in World War II that put up a sign because he missed hometown. That inspired others to do the same, and by the late 90s, there were over 50,000 signs posted. Here were a few signs that resonated with me…
This one is just funny:
An appropriate sign for our trip:
Go Pack Go:
Sarah, this one is for you:
The intensity of the Sign Post Forest… this doesn’t even touch the tip of the iceberg.
Yesterday was more of the same in Watson Lake. We found Neil, Dave and Steve again and enjoyed more good times over drinks after dinner. Luckily early this morning around 2:30am, Sean was rearing to go and decided we should take our chances on the road. The semis had gone through about 7:30pm last night and we heard RVs wouldn’t be able to go through till at least noon the next day (today). Well, no one was guarding the road at 2:30am, and as such we made our way into the great unknown.
Here we are caravaning with Steve, Dave and Neil:
In Whitehorse till Friday morning—stay tuned!