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 154 Stalking the Wild Cat’s Claw

Wild Edibles[odDec 8


Click on this picture to read more about this very interesting plant.

On the beach near our campspot I ran into a strange vine. I first noticed the pods because one grabbed me around the ankle. It was a very imprssive beast with some very sharp claws.

Had I known at the time I could eat both the seeds and ochre like pod I would have been able to cook them up with the trigger fish. I thought it looked pretty tasty but I’m not one to eat unidentified vegetation without someone else try it first.  At the time I was more interested in collecting the odd pod heads for my sister. She has her own eccentricities and while I eat the plants I find along side the sidewalk she makes them into sculpture.

Apparently the seeds that spring out of the pod (above) are nutty and sweet and the fruit (below) can be steamed or fried like orca.  This plant has a long and valued history with the native people who used the fruit and seeds for food and the fibers of the plant for weaving.


I’ve been interested in what you can eat off the ground since I was a toddler when the ‘5 second rule’ became established protocol. That behavior was supported when as a pre-teen when I discovered the recipes from Euell Gibbons, Stalking the Wild Asparagus  

I admit it. I’ve always been a geek.

In highschool I made acorn muffins, cattail stew (the plant not the animial) and yellow birch tea and as an adult I’ve finally graduated from stalking organisms from the plant to the animal kingdom.  Today I caught and ate my first fish. Ok, so I didn’t actually catch it, Nickel did… and well ok she didn’t actually catch it. Basically I haven’t graduated from  scavenging to the hunting yet.


There was a storm out in the Gulf last night and the high tide came in fast and furious. The next day when the poodles and I hit the beach for our morning constitutional, we found quite a number of marine animals washed up on shore. You’ll be happy to know it wasn’t the pacific grebe or gull that we collected for supper but a freshly beached fish. I guess we’ve come up in the world! There were a number of species to choose from, there were several porcupine fish, a cornonet fish and a trigger fish. The triggerfish was still alive so I threw it back into the water. Sadly despite it’s weak attempts to swim away, the tide kept bringing it back in. One final time and Nickel decided that throwing away good food was just not acceptable and went in to retrieve it.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA I realize the poor thing was doomed and I decided that I might as well see whether all those filleted triggerfish I’d found on the beach in Loreto would lived up to their apparent reputation so I bagged it. I hate totell you, but it wasn’t quite dead and I didn’t’ know what to do about it. I decided the most merciful thing was to kill it outright so I hit it in the head with a rock.



Fine Scale Triggerfish, Balistes polylepis

Of course I didn’t have internet access to guide me along in this new culinary endeavor, but having seen enough  triggerfish on the beaches in Loreto, I at least knew they were edible and had an idea about where to begin. filleted

dinnerI’ve never fillet a fish before but I’ve watched enough So-You-Want-To-Humiliate-Yourself-Trying -o-Cook Reality TV shows that I felt confident in giving it a try. Now that I’ve watched this YouTube clip, I realize where I first went wrong and I shouldn’t have removed the skin before cutting the meat off the bones, but at least I had the basic area of the fish properly dissected out. diner4I didn’t actually end up with two fillets, more like trigger tartar, but I did ended up with enough fish for dinner although most of the prime meat went into the boiling pot for the poodles. I’m always satisfied when everything can be used so I boiled the entire fish for the dogs . dinner2I suppose I felt a strangesense of responsibility in making sure this fish’s death was meaningful and worthwhile.


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAt least that’s what TinTin was telling me.

…………………………………………………………Tomorrow we go snorkeling

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….

Blog Photography 101~ today’s assignment



Connect the dots



Connect to people

Connect to your feelings

Connect to your beliefs

Connect to your past

To meet up

To join together

 At first it seemed that this word didn’t carry much weight.  It’s flippantly used to describe the most mundane events in our lives.  Sure we try to connect to our feelings, to our pasts and to our inner child but mostly we just connect the dots and connect to the internet.

I experienced connection on significant levels over the past year:  I’ve re-connected with a childhood best friend and neglected family members, and managed to strengthened some friendships that were suffering.

When something connects there is more than just a casual touch; there’s a linking, a fusing, a joining and there’s a commitment on both sides.

I think it’s fantastic that I’ve discovered the unswerving meaning of ‘to connect’ and I don’t even need a toy in my mouth.

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.

IMG_3805-1 (dragged)

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.

IMG_3834-1 (dragged)

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….