Day 163 Leaving Baja

An Unexpected Journey

Jan 17


The next day, Sunday, I drove back to the ferry dock and found the mystery second ferry company which was located at the back of the terminal surrounded by dozens of semi trucks. The woman spoke very fast Spanish with a very strong accent and I had a hard time understanding her and she didn’t speak any English. I was able to get across that I wanted a ticket for Sunday to Topolobamba. She said the same thing the last ticket agent did about weighing in before buying my ticket and pointed me toward the scales.scale I took care of that, went back to the ticket counter and bought my ticket. She told me the times I had to report for lining up, when they load and when they sail. I was still confused… some how things weren’t adding up so wrote it down to show her. I said, “Ok, the ferry leaves at 11pm Sunday so I have to be in line at 9pm. She said, “Yes.”  Me, “So I have to be back here tomorrow at 6pm.”  She looked surprised, “No, you can’t leave now you have to stay, you leave tonight.” Oh dear. I’d bought a ticket for that night not the following week and I couldn’t leave the compound. It was only 10am.  She said, “no problem,” and pointed to the large building and explained that I could buy food and use the bathroom.

At first we felt like we were in prison



But the poodles and I made ourselves at home. There was space enough to put the slider out a little and we hung out for the day. I was extremely grateful that I had packed everything up and paid the campground before leaving. I had to just chalk this up to, “ it was meant to be” and “maybe understanding a little more Spanish will get me a log farther.”  Sometimes we’re not in control of our own agendas.

The day passed slowly and trucks loaded and left.  I was certain that my load time was at 6pm but I wasn’t sure how I’d know where to go… would I get in the wrong line and get on the wrong ferry? I had to keep worry out of my mind and repeated my mantra of “ what’s the worst thing that can happen? Start to load on the wrong boat? They’ll stop you. Miss your sailing? You buy another ticket. So we sat until dark. The only other non-semi in the lot was a small tour bus that parked next to me. I went over to him and asked him if he was going to Topolobambo and he said yes. Excellent! I had someone to follow.  OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA So at 6:15 when his lights went on and he started to move I was right behind him. It seemed that we parked in a very random spot next to the mouth of the ferry. He kept his lights and engine running, I turned mine off and waited. Trucks came and went some pulling past me and dropping off their containers others turning around and re-parking next to or behind me. It was a dark chaotic blur of lights, diesel fumes and black rushing shadows. Finally about 8pm the bus in front of me pulled forward and onto the ferry. I pulled ahead into his spot and waited. Small Truck cabs ( i call them worker cabs) were rushing back and forth linking up to the containers and loading them onto the ferry. The freight was then followed by its accompanying semi cab. Someone came to my window and asked me to move aside, he needed to get his truck past me (expressed mostly by hand gesticulations but also in spanish) He had to shout over the cacophony of engines and I used that as an excuse for his to repeat things.  I maneuvered the camper up and around the cab beside me. The man in another cab motioned with his hands to help guide me. The worker cabs were busy rushing back and forth and semis were zipping around me…. Lights blinding. The man came back and motioned for me to go back to my original spot.  I remembered how to ask, “Isn’t it better to say here?” and just as he said no, one of the worker cabs started moving directly at me headlights on high beam and blinding. I was sitting in front of the container he wanted to move. I was trying desperately to move forward enough move in reverse but the worker cab meant business, they had a schedule to keep, and he was inches away  from the front of the truck as I made the final turn out of the way. The truck driver who’d been helping me yelled out, “Buena Mujer!!” What a woman! help

It was finally our time to get packed in. The attendant had me entered the ferry front-first, unlike all the trucks who backed in, and then mounted a lift that took us to the second level of the ferry.


Directing me onto the ferry


Truck ahead moving onto the lift that will take us to the second level


The Hydraulics of the Lift. Click here to see what it was like. NOTE HOW CALM TINTIN IS… what a girl!

We were finally directed into our spot, chained down and I took a long deep breath. We were done and I took a sleeping pill ready to let the rocking of the ship put me to sleep. . It was 10pm before the ferry left dock but I was already drifting away. The poodles and I had had a long day and we will have a long day of driving tomorrow.


Foxy tucked in tight for the night (taken the next morning)


Day 14 Jak Territorial Campground

The Dempster is forever being smoothed out and sanded




Day 14  to JÀK

Our second Ferry crossing over the Mackenzie River and into Fort McPherson where gas costs $1.87 per Liter.





Back into civilization….????  About 8 miles from town I was very excited to see a sign saying that the dirt road was going to turn to pavement.  I was elated until…

I discovered the condition of the Paved road.   Now I understand the reason for maintaining the dirt roads in the arctic. Because of the permafrost, the roads are under constant repair…. I mean constant.   The dirt is re-graveled, repressed, re-grated re-re’d constantly. The paved road, poor thing, has repairs over repairs but the undulating heaves and bumps just don’t go away. It was like the worst carnival ride you could imagine. I’m surprised the camper wasn’t shaken, tossed and thrown into a million pieces. Everything in the camper was tossed around as if it had been in an earthquake… well, I suppose it was.



We could easily make Inuvik by the end of the day but I decided to make the day short and stay just outside the town.  So we stopped at Jak Territorial Campground for the night (we ended up staying here for the next 6 nights).  We’re going to relax for a change.

Nice little hike with views of the area




It seemed like a large campground for the area. We’ve stayed in every campground along the Dempster highway and none of them had more than 10-15 spots.   This one had 30…. Plus ELECTRICITY AND SHOWERS!!! YIPPPEEEE       My usual choise for a campsite is in a remote corner so I can let the dogs off leash without disturbing anyone. In this campground all the sites were on top of each other with very little flora for privacy. I was very disappointed, until, I realized that we were the only people staying there.   We had the entire place to ourselves during the night but during the day it was a hubbub of family picnics.  It was wonderful to see large groups of many generations cooking at the BBQ’s and hanging out on the nice days.



There was a small tower so of course we had to climb it.

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View of our back yard:


Is that a Bear?


No it’s a Binky


















Day 13 NWT part 2

The view of the Richardson Mountains from a high pass was too vast to take in. Much like looking over a portion of the grand canyon. It was a bit surreal.




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While we were parked at the pass, the mother and son who I’d met at Rock River Campground pulled up.  They had been through the tundra looking for antlers with no success and were now turning around to head home.  I had actually HOPE to see them because I wanted to give the boy the antler if he hadn’t found one.  I offered it to him saying that he couldn’t go home without one.  He was very excited but in a Boy kinda a way he asked me, “But did you find one with a skull attached?”  I laughed and said, “No,  this would have to do.”


The constantly changing terrain on the Dempster never disappoints. We quickly found ourselves out of tundra and back into the boreal forests…. We’d moved into the low plains of the Mackenzie River Delta and Peel River Plateau.  Here we will do our second river crossing by ferry. IMG_3084 IMG_3085 IMG_3088 Of course this far north there are no large bridges.   Water passages are done on ferry in the summer and directly onto the frozen river in the winter. The ferries for the two rivers I would cross to reach Inuvik ran 8:30am to 12:30am without any particular schedule… simply, when you arrived it took you across. At first it seemed like an over extremely liberal schedule until I realized that the sun doesn’t even set mid summer and people are up and about until the wee hours of the night .


I decided to say at another Territorial Campground. My first in the North West Territories. I almost thought the ranger made a mistake when he told me it was $29.00 per night (I paid 12.00 in BC and Yukon) I was in for a surprise at the cost of Everything north of the Arctic circle!!

I found a nice camping spot (which wasn’t hard since we were the only people there) and headed back to the ranger station to pay.   Of course Nickel had to take my wallet and Eureka had to have her Binky.  I left TinTin in the Truck because she was limping a little from the days workout.

Eureka brings her Binky….. or is Binky bringing Eureka?

Eureka vs Binky


On the way back a raven followed us.  It was quite bold but it was definitely having a conversation with Nickel.  Nickel usually doesn’t pay much attention to birds but this one was saying something.  It followed (or lead at some periods) us all the way back to our campsite.  At that point it simply continued on.  Nickel was perplexed.


Finally night dusk Happened




11 pm



 June has the longest days of the year… some days the sun never sets

In August the days are getting shorter