Dawson Creek was a nice break. We waved good-bye to the family and headed up the highway. We went through the country that Bill knew from his youth, flying, fishing and going from one mis-adventure to another, usually fueled by beer. One memorable spot was the airstrip at Sikanni Chief, used by the famous pilot of that era Jimmy “Midnight” Anderson. The stories about him fill a few books. Long before I met Bill or had been in a small plane, I had heard the tale of Anderson’s flight transporting live caribou to the Alberta Game Farm in his Super Cub.
Both the Alaska Milepost guide and my mapsme app showed the airstrip, so driven by the need for lunch and a chance to stretch, we went off the road looking it. We couldn’t find it, and, as usual, ended up in someone’s driveway. The farm owner explained that he had heard there was an airstrip up the hill, had walked up to look for it and found an old trashed cabin and a lot of trees on what had once been a runway. We drove up the hill, walked in and found the cabin where Bill used to share drinks with the old guys that lived there and the spot where he used to keep and work on planes. All abandoned for years.
Somewhere past Fort Nelson we found a campground with a small bakery and gift store. We ate cinnamon buns as appetizers and cinnamon buns for dessert and slept that deep sleep brought on by way too much sugar. The owners also offered a breakfast, which was delightfully greasy, so, well fortified, we drove on through forest fire smoke to the Yukon.
We wondered about taking the back way to Dawson City, Highway 4, but we heard it had been closed because of fires. We stopped briefly at Watson Lake to say hi to Derek Drinnan at Black Sheep Aviation. He assured us that he had flown over the fires, that the fires were not close to the Highway, and that Highway 4 was open and safe to travel.
Derek had mentioned construction. One section was muddier than anything we had encountered in South America. To top things off, the road crew were packing up for the day as we drove through and abandoned us to our fate. We eventually went into 4-wheel drive and powered through to a campsite that was deserted. A government campsite, on a lake, in August and totally empty. Just us and the loons. The truck was coated in mud.
In the morning we drove for over an hour before we saw another vehicle.
Since leaving Dawson Creek, we haven’t had Wi-fi. I don’t receive personal emails on my cell. We have occasional cell phone service, that allows us to e-mail and text. We haven’t had 110 power for a few days, and no way of charging the computers. We are no longer running away from work; we couldn’t work if we wanted to.
The Bedrock Motel in Mayo promised hot showers and wi-fi. The ads were misleading. The Bedrock Motel campsite was a sodden mess, the driveway was a lake, the interior was dismal, the showers had been destroyed and we didn’t stay.
Instead we found a quiet municipal campsite on the Stewart River. Pit toilets, no Wi-fi, but the cell phones worked. No showers.