Day 38-40 My Pot Of Gold

We arrived in Jasper National Park late in the afternoon.

First stop was down town to get some groceries and fill up with gas.  We found ourselves in a world of RVs… sadly realizing that we were no long queens of our own domain.  It was literally a sea of bright and shiny RVs  packing the street, lining every inch of the curb.  Renting campers must be a popular past time for Canadians as it was clear that most of these vehicles were brand new, very clean and most were label with a large orange maple leaf with the slogan “Adventure Canada!” or “CanaDream.”  I could have sworn that people were looking at my beat up and filthy Oso with distaste.

Can you find Oso in the picture below?



A little closer…..



From town we headed into the park and down the Icefield Parkway.

It was extremely gusty at the parking lot where I hoped to spend the night.  There were very few people around, and since there was only one other camper in the lot, I felt free to let the poodles off leash to explore the rocky outcrops near by.

There we were surprised by some cloud breaks

and a special rainbow treat.


3peak jasper






 Tomorrow we go for a river hike….

Day 35 Dancing in the Moonlight

Our day began by passing through more herds of bison.  Eureka decided this is the favorite part of the entire trip.  She’s even displaced TinTin by riding shotgun and scanning the horizon for beasties.

Leaving the burn area behind us, it was a relief to see the green of the pines again.  The road here follows the Liard River which is a tributary to the Mackenzie River.

We arrived in Port Providence, a quiet Dehcho First Nation village.  There was evidence of buffalo even along the sidewalks running up to the library.  The campground here is fenced by heavy wire and wood construction.


Two things to note about this video.  1.  The Flies, Wow were they bad!  The bison were tormented by them!  and 2.  The barking Poodles,  Wow were they bad!  The bison I was tormented by them!


From the car these bison may look nonthreatening and small,  but check this out!

Do you think this might be hint to their  their size……?


Yeah…. more poo….

I decided not to continue on to Yellowknife.  I started to feel the draw of Central and South America calling.  I decided to continue along the Deh Cho Highway Eastward and then south into Alberta, through Glacier National Park in Montana and back to Seattle.  The thought of more hundreds of acres of burned forest between Fort Providence and Yellowknife and driving through more groups of bison (with the dogs over the top excitement) was enough to convince me to head south.

After a quiet night in Fort Providence’s provincial campground we headed back down the Makenzie Highway and east.  We pulled onto a narrow dirt road for camping.  It ended at a small rocky field where we settled down for the night.

I had been told that The Northern Lights could be seen this time of the year so I’d been getting up around 2 and 3am to look at the sky.  Unfortunately, the nights had been over cast and obliterating any chance of seeing them.  This night was crystal clear and the stars were thick but everything was obscured by the Full Moon.  Walking out onto the slabs of rocks and large patches of gravel I noticed that the Poodles and I cast strong shadow.  What better than to be…..

Dancing in the Moonlight


and making Shadow art

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Of course you’ve already seen the Poodle Petroglyphs, Sand Art and Block Prints.  It was this evening that started the whole show.

Shadow Pupp(y)ets Art Show

You be the Critic……

Poodle Petroglyphs

(Deh Cho Route, Northwest Territories, Canada)


Kiss Me by TinTin


Grizzley by TinTIn


Giraffe by Eureka


Ballerina by Eureka


Humpless Camels by the Gang


Buffalo by Nickel


Howl by Nickel


Skinny Legs and All by Nickel



(Jasper National Park, Alberta, Canada)


Rocky Raccoon by TinTin


On the Savana by Eureka



Mini Me by Nickel


Baby Giraffe by Eureka and Binky


Plumb tuckered by TinTin


Little Fox by TinTin












Lion by Eureka



(The Dempster Highway, The Yukon, Canada)


Tippy Toes by Nickel













Naughty dog by Nickel


Queuing Up by the Gang












My Little Pony by Eureka



Alter Ego by Eureka




Who is your Favorite Artist?   TinTin?  Nickel?   Eurkea?

Which of their pieces do you like the best?


Day 29 Porcupine Poke Party

I struggled in my decision about where to go next.   I thought about going to Haines Alaska via the Alaskan Highway west, to head south to Atlin or simply start heading directly home.  I was getting a little tired of hanging out with so many people and the lure of the North West Territories was calling to me like a Siren.  So, eastward we went… we’ll see how far north we get in the NWT.

East across the Alaskan Highway back and forth into and out of British Columbia and the Yukon we traveled on this windy road.

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Graffiti at Rest Stop

New territory!  We’re no longer back tracking the portion of highway we took in the beginning of the trip.  The junction of the Alaska Highway and Watson Lake is far behind us and the terrain is changing from the rather boring flat coniferous forest to rugged mountains and gorgeous blue rivers.  The exquisite turquoise color of these rivers is due to copper oxide leached from the surrounding mountains.  The water was crystal clear.


We set up camp next to the river but also next to what turns out to be a bridge with an interesting history.IMG_3810-1 (dragged) IMG_3821-1 (dragged)


Little did I know it’s connection to Washington State (where I reside).  It was build in 1941 with steel salvaged from the famous (and infamous) Galloping Gerdie… the Tacoma Narrows bridge.  I’m happy to report that this bridge is sway free.

 Gerdie then



Liard today


We spent the evening exploring the river’s edge and looking for interesting rocks.  Poodles had fun chasing chipmunks.

It was the next morning that the fun began…

Someone please tell TinTin, Nickel and Eureka that






We woke up to a beautiful morning after a torrential down pour during the night.  The river had significantly risen and I was grateful that we were on a high solid bank.  It seems that a little creature had taken refuge under the camper and had a big surprise waiting for us.  I let the dogs out for a morning potting and soon heard them scurry around the camper.

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I assumed they were after a chippy.  I then heard a very peculiar whelp, growl and bark.  I’ve never seen my dogs fight but It sounded like maybe TinTin and Nickel had gotten into a scuffle.  I jumped out to see what was going on and saw the three dogs circling a small cluster of trees next to the camper and their noses were filled with quills.  I grabbed Eureka and Nickel by the scruffs of their necks and pulled them away (I didn’t have collars on them since we had just gotten up and I take them off at night).  TinTin was still lunging madly at the porcupine…. apparently she was just as intolerant of a porcupine fighting back as she is any dog.

I don’t know how I did it, but I got all three dogs away.  They were desperately pawing at their faces with both front paws and I knew that I needed to get the quills out before they pushed them further in.  I don’t know how many 100’s of miles I was from a town, but I knew that I couldn’t have three thrashing dogs in the truck while I tried to find a vet.  I got out my very well stocked first aid kit and began to dig for supplies.  I gave each dog a Tramadol to relax them and found a pair of forceps.  The three dogs were very very lucky that they had few quills and they were NOT in eyes, nostrils, tongues or throats.  I removed about 30-40 from each dog.  Needless to say I didn’t take any pictures but I found this one on-line to illustrate what it looked like.


As I searched for pictures, I came across some horrendous photos of dog-porcupine encounters.  I’m not even going to post the worst ones… they were just too disturbing.

porcupine1_sm Unknown

I’m happy to report that this dog survived this with no eye problems… pretty amazing.

After removing the quills I shaved their noses to make sure I got every last quill.  They were then put on antibiotics.



That was too much excitement for the morning.  I packed up and we hit the road, headed for the Northern Canadian Rockies.

FN Forest District

Day 23 To Dawson City and Chores

We found a nice hidden spot to ‘bushwhack’ our last night on the Dempster



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It was a quiet spot and we got the camp set up so late there wasn’t much to do but get to bed.  The next day we woke to the sun. I let the dogs out to go potty and it was so nice outside I decided to latch the door open to let in some fresh air. .  I always make a lot of noise and take a peek around before letting them out.   Eureka and Nickel did their business and quickly came back in with the expectation of breakfast.  As I prepared their meal, I heard TinTin on the steps.  Since she occasionally has a hard time maneuvering on them, I went help her.  Oddly, despite having her two front paws on the stipes she wasn’t trying to go up but, instead,  looking over her shoulder.  I followed the path of her gaze and saw a great big Grizzly walking toward her.  It wasn’t looking menacing and, , it looked pretty calm. It still wasn’t giving off any signs of stress; not that I really know what a bear looks like when it’s stressed but the literature describes it yawn, lick their lips, etc…much like a dog.    I told TinTin to hurry up and reached around the side of the camper to get the door unlatched so I could close the door.  TinTin started to come up the stairs but decided, instead, to jump back down and face the bear.  At that point it was about 3 yards away but lumbering slowly towards us.   TinTIn gave a big bark and the bear stopped.  As soon as Eureka and Nickel heard TinTin, they too started to bark and lunged forward toward the doorway.  I blocked them with my leg while I was still reaching around to get the door with one hand and trying to haul TinTin in with the other.  The bear stood up, turned to the side and reared forward and AWAY.   It galloped off into the woods.  I wish TinTin hadn’t been out there so, maybe I could’ve watched it from the safety of the camper.  I never felt that the bear was a threat and I think it was more curious than anything.  TinTin certainly thought she was hot stuff afterward … scaring away a big brown bear!

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So enough excitement for the day.  We needed to head south and I still wanted one more hike before we were back in Dawson City (the goal for the day).

Of course We couldn’t leave without one more day of hiking.




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TinTin scaring herself

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Nickel being a goof=ball









Fall colors are getting more intense


My only chore for the day was to stop at tombstone campground and see if they found my sunglasses.  Can yo believe someone did?  It does seem ironic though, that after so many days trying to see wildlife with my myopic vision, now that we’re headed back to civilization I can see.

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Quick stop at Two Moose Lake to see migratory water fowl.  Saw two Tundra SwansIMG_3489




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To Dawson City

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Dirt Road…. I’ll miss you!

I picked up hitch hiker who was headed for Dawson City.  She is a young artist who spent the last 4 months at the Tombstone Campground doing some type of teaching.  She made the trip (via hitch hiking) once every 2 weeks in order to do laundry and to get groceries.  Apparently Tombstone has had more rain this year than usual and her tent has been very damp throughout the summer.  I know the feeling of a damp tent and it isn’t pleasant.  On the other hands she’s seen a great deal of wildlife and she’s done a lot of hiking.  She said it would help her art.  It was nice to have some company for a short bit.  We only have about 20 miles to get to DC.

Rain begins to come down again and I get a better understanding why there are wooden ‘side walks’ in town.  It reminds me of pictures from the old west.31c


The library (where I can use the internet for an hour) has an elaborate ‘anti-mud’ system going….


Those black squares are boot jacks and brushes

Lo and behold!   A Royal Mounty!!


actually he’s just an actor for one of the tours in town


Chore Number ONE!…. Wash Foxy…..





OH that felt good!!!

 Days at an end and although I hadn’t planned to stay the night I decided it was a good opportunity to get some other chores done.  It’s a nicer environment than Whitehorse and I can do my laundry and some shopping.  we take a ferry to other side of river to a provincial campground.  Sadly the one hundred campsites are packed with people.  We’re now on the Alaskan Highway that brings people to more touristed areas.  Even this time of year it seems a very popular destination.  After a quick walk along the river we call it a day… I miss the Dempster already….


Days 21 and 22 Tundra….My Darling, I’m back!

Oh the Joy, the decadence, the gluttonous feeding of the ego to have the world to oneself…..



Mine Mine Mine



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Very old caribou antler



Looking down the ridge that we’re following


This area is called Eastern Beringia and From the Richardson mountains to the east, south to the coastal mountains, west to the Bering Sea and North to the Arctic Ocean (or more specifically the Beaufort Sea).


We followed the ridge from the bottom right corner up to the left and then over and beyond the furthest bump in the distance.  These ridges are part of the continental divide (dividing the Beaufort Sea watershed from the Bering Sea watershed).  These mountains are the most northerly extent in of the North American Rocky Mountains.  To be honest I’m still a little confused about the geography of this region.  The mountain shapes and the rocky outcrops and moraine were formed by both glaciation and the upheaval caused when the continental divide was formed.  I was always under the impression that moraine was caused by glaciers but some of what I read says that these moraines were actually caused by the grinding by think ice sheets rather than glaciers.  In any case, you can see the mounds of rocks in the video above.


Here you can easily see the up-lift

From, “The Dempster Highway Travelogue”:

 The Richardson Mountains are composed of dark shale and sandstone deposited

in a deep basin about 450 million years ago. The mountains form a narrow

line between north-trending faults. East-directed tectonic forces caused the

sedimentary rocks to buckle and uplift between these faults; a mountain range

formed during the last 50 million years. They are unique because, during the

last ice age, the climate here was too dry for glacial formation. The tip of the

Laurentide Ice Sheet was stopped by this mountain range, marking the eastern

edge of the unglaciated area.


At the end of this video we are looking back toward the campsite where we began two days of hikes.  You can see the white spec of the camper.


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Moss trying to trick me!  I’m seeing antlers in everything now!  I’m obsessed….


Antler Moss

Maybe this is a prehistoric mammoth skull!


I think this is weather worn quartz. It was a chunk about two feet in diameter. There were smaller smooth pieces near by.


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The scratchy sound you hear in the background are ground squirrels.  The girls had a very good time looking for them but never came close to finding one.  The bears also like to hunt for ground squirrels.  Here’s are area where one has been digging after them


Some plant life



Cloud Berries


They’re edible but I thought they tasted a bit bland and they were kind of creamy… which I didn’t like

I don’t know if the NWT locals do this but the Alaskans make ‘Eskimo Ice Cream’ out of berries. It’s made of Crisco, berries, sugar, and a “texturizer”, either boiled white fish or mashed potatoes.

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 You can see the crazy weather changing by the second.  But the Poodles don’t care… neither do I.

The dogs are looking a bit disheveled by now.  So do I, that’s why you never see pictures of me.  ha ha ha


Eureka’s Lyle Lovett impression



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Let’s play find the poodle again…..




Nickel says More More


But off we go to find our last night’s stay on the Dempster Highway……

Day 17 and 18 Farmers market, Greenhouse fun, Making Friends

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IMG_3226Had a little scare with Nickel today.   She started gulping air and licking her lips.  She was frantic to get out of the truck and eat grass.  She was obsessed about it.  I looked in her mouth and saw nothing and she wasn’t pawing at her face so I didn’t think she had anything stuck in her mouth.  This went on all morning and the intensity increased to the point where I was afraid she was Bloating.  The only place I could think of going for information was the Visitor’s Center.   A wonderful young  woman named Jennifer was in charge and offered to called Whitehorse for me so I could talk to a vet.

Inuvik doesn’t have a vet.  As a matter of fact, they don’t have any extensive local medical support.  They have a hospital but anything more than a wisdom tooth is flown to Edmonton, the ophthalmologist and dentist make a monthly visit.

I had missed the only flight to Whitehorse for the day (of course it was Friday) so the only option would be to drive. Considering  that it’s 760 miles traveling at a snails pace of about 30 miles an hours, I was a bit concerned about leaving.  I had to wait for the vet to call me back and in the mean time Jennifer told me that it wasn’t uncommon for dogs to inhale the small fox tail that were going to seed at the moment.  She said that the local remedy was to feed the dog Caribou fat and hair.  Humm… I don’t have access to caribou parts!   When I finally spoke to the vet, he said not to  work about heading directly to Whitehorse and that it probably was fox tails.  He suggested giving Nickel bread loaded with peanut butter.  Sometimes this will pull the foxtail out.   Isn’t that interesting?  Caribou fat and peanut butter.  He said if Nickel wasn’t better by the end of the day she’d probably need to be put under anesthesia to remove the offending fox.

Long story short… It worked like a charm.  By late afternoon Nickel was back to normal.  Simple as THAT.


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SInce I was finally relaxed enough to think about exploring I headed over to the Farmer’s Market.  There weren’t many people there but I picked up a few items.  2013_09_10-Arctic-Market1_Samantha-Stokell2013_09_10-Arctic-Market5_Samantha-Stokell I stopped and talked to a guy who had some bags of herbs, lettuce and jars of pesto.  I asked him how he could grow locally with such a short season and he said that there was a community Greenhouse and that I should go see it.  I bought some pesto to send to my brothers.  I then met a husband and wife, Donald and Myra,  who were selling various carvings.  I bought a wooden spoon and a T-shirt.  The T-shirt was from the recent music festival and Donald started telling me about that.  He said that there was a fundraiser in the Greenhouse, to raise money for a new roof, that evening and I should go.  So  that was the plan!

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I had to drive to the event so I left early and took the poodles for a walk around town.  We came across the youth recreational facility.   As soon as one of the kids saw the poodles the word was out!   None of them had ever seen a poodle before.


After getting the kids (furry ones) back in the truck I headed over to the Greenhouse.

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They had it decorated for the event but of course the best decorations were the plants themselves.  Due to the amount of light during the summer the plants grew quite big but sometimes the fruits were underdeveloped.  IMG_3260




I liked how the artist made the Igloo church into a pumpkin

IMG_3253 I got to see a few of the Farmer’s market people again.  I was excited that I could bring home pesto from the Arctic Circle so I thought it would be fun to do an exchange.   I brought some of the huge beautiful cloves of garlic, that my friend Joanne had given me from her garden.   I gave it to the Pesto Guy. He was very pleased, saying it was impossible to grow such large heads in Inuvik.  Here at the fundraiser they had some more goodies for sale so I bought some coffee made in Whitehorse that was Free Trade and packaged for the Greenhouse event.  So now I have coffee from the Arctic Circle too… who would have guessed?   Maybe I’ll have to bring it to central america and trade it for some home grown coffee there.












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But the best part was yet to come.

A number of local people were there to play music.  One young man in particular stood out.  He’s teaching himself classical guitar.  He was astounding.

IMG_3271 and very humble IMG_3263

He said that he only knows 5 pieces so we heard those.

Myra and Don, the couple I met earlier were also there and Don was one of the musicians.  Here he played a ukulele but he also plays the guitar, fiddle and banjo.


Don is in the middle with the white shirt


The end of the evening was closed with some great lively music that was completely impromptu with people who’d never played together.  My jaws were sore from smiling.

Some of the other talent

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Sequim Garlic and Inuvik Garlic Unite

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  GOOD LUCK with the NEW ROOF!