Day 20: Back on the Road!

I spent the night in the parking lot of the repair shop last night. A little weird, but also really convenient! I woke up and went to Tim Horton’s to get coffee and I also bought donuts for the repair shop crew. I’ve found that buttering up guys going out of their way to help always pays off in the end.

After that I cleaned up the bus a bit and now I’m just waiting for the part to arrive and then it should be a quick swap out of the starter and I’ll be back on the road. I’m hoping to make it to Watson Lake today which would get me a jump to getting back on schedule.

It’s about 55 degrees and raining like cats and dogs today. The bus is filling up with mud every time I take Pepper out to go to the bathroom or get some exercise. I love having her with me, but when its muddy out, it definitely complicates things.

Around 1:20 Brian came out and said he was ready to swap out the starter. I pulled the bus into the garage and not 30 minutes later he said he was ready for me to give it a start.

She starts smooth like butter. The bus sounds more like a Cadillac starting than a big diesel motor now! New starter, new wheels, and I’m ready to get back on the road! It’s about 2pm and I figure I can drive about 6 hours to Liard Hot Springs and then see how I’m feeling.

The drive is astoundingly beautiful. I’m not sure video, photos, or words could ever describe how amazing the drive was today. And animals. So many animals I lost count. I saw over 15 black bears, at least 40 buffalo, deer, two moose, porqupine, and a fox! It was amazing. I saw so many black bears I eventually didn’t even bother pulling over to take photos! Same with the buffalo. Except the herd. That was amazing. Between Pepper’s growls, I could actually hear them breathing. It was intense. And so close to the bus. I pulled ahead of them and parked and just waited for them to walk past me, on their own, in their own space. It was awesome.

I arrived at Liard Hot Springs around 7 and paid the $5 entry. Unfortunately they didn’t have any campsites left for tonight or I probably would have stayed there. The hot springs are about 100 yards from the parking area on a raised wooden boardwalk trail. I grabbed my suit and a towel and bounded off for the hot springs.

When I got there I found a rustic stream and a couple of nice changing rooms. Perfect. I threw on my suit and jumped in the river. Ahhhhhhhhhhhh. That warm water felt amazing. Especially since it had been so cold all day. This hot spring was HOT. And the further upstream you moved, the hotter it was. Then when you got too warm you just moved downstream. It was great! And a lot hotter than the springs at Jasper (but also a lot more rustic).

After the soaking and pruning my fingers I walked back to the bus to make some dinner and figure out a plan for the evening. After a big glass of water and a turkey sandwich I decided I’d press on and see what options there were for camping ahead. Getting to Watson lake would be awesome. Then I’d only be one day behind my original schedule.

After crossing into the Yukon about 100km outside of Watson Lake I decided to start looking for highway pull outs or places I could safely park for the night. About 75km outside of Watson I crossed a river and then just after that there was a big gravel lot with two other big RVs parked on opposite ends of this gravel lot about the size of a football field. I pulled in and parked between the two. Perfect place to settle in for the night! And one of the cool things about the Yukon and Alaska, its completely legal to park overnight or camp in the turnouts and other areas as long as the full rig is off the road. It was nearing 11pm so after walking Pepper it was time to turn in for the night.

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