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July 18, 2016

The Alaska Highway–Dawson Creek to Watson Lake

After a month on the road, and visits with family and friends, we finally at Mile 0 of the Alaska Highway in Dawson Creek
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It was to be a short driving day over to Fort St John, which allowed  time to explore one of the ‘Community Forests’.  These are what SoCal would call a greenbelt and maintained by the homeowners association.
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Fort St John offers a nice Visitor Center, where we learned of another Community Forest located just off the campus of the Northern Lights University.  And this one offered a single track bike trail.   This trail totally kicked my butt!  It starts out as an easy single track, but quickly drops steep down into the canyon.  I had to walk my bike back out of the canyon.
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There is a Provincial Park at Charlie Lake, but it is not on the water.  The Rotary Park just outside of town is.  We chose to stay there in an electric only site with good WiFi for the same price as boondocking without electric or WiFi, although the sites do not offer much privacy it was perfect for the night.
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During the construction of the highway a supply barge capsized.  The park has a monument to those young men lost on that day.
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It’s a long jump to Fort Nelson through reforested miles.  There is good cell service along this route, but the lumber companies own the lands on either side of the road, hence there is not much ability to stop.  We topped up the gas tank at Pink Mountain, one of only a couple places with fuel.
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The night at Triple G Hideaway in Fort Nelson was fine.  It is a large campground with a few trees, a licensed restaurant and offing good WiFi. 
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But the pay showers are so tiny it is a bit of a challenge.  Compare the showers at Northern Lights to Tripple G.
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It is obvious that it caters to the tourist.
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At least Triple G has a great location across from the Visitor Center with its free WiFi, next to the museum and an easy walk to town. 
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This couple was camped just across from us.  They and their Hymer are from Italy.  They have already toured Europe and Russia.  And now plan to tour much of North America.
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Out of Fort Nelson is where the jaw-dropping beauty of the Canadian Rockies really shines.  There is no cell service (so I should have wished Kg a happy 13th birthday before this stretch) until Watson Lake in this rugged area and fuel is available at Toad River.
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We had two black bear cubs scamper across the road right in front of us!  Mama bear was nowhere to be seen. 

The Milepost recommends Tetsa River Services and Campground for their ‘fabulous cinnamon buns’. And although other bloggers recommend it, I have to admit I was not impressed with the one we shared.  It had a burnt, over cooked, taste and very little icing.  But the place was packed!  A stop that we would not do again.
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The Summit Lake Provincial Park is the highest section the Alaska Highway, however it was full.  The beautiful aqua green waters of Muncho Lake were most inviting.  There are two Provincial Parks, with 15 sites each, but both Strawberry Flats and McDonald Campgrounds were both full.  The Muncho Lake Resort (Good Sam recommended) is closed indefinitely, it's all boarded up and has blockades along the road to prevent entry.
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A few Stone Sheep and one lamb were along the side of the road near Muncho Lake.  Just past the lake a young caribou was wandering.  A nice sized bison was grazing just off the highway.  All the critters – except the fast moving bear cubs, seemed quite immune to our presence.
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On to Liard Hot Springs, which surprisingly did have space available and a large ‘overflow’ boondock area across the street.
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Liard Hot Springs is a nice diversion, however be prepared that it does not offer showers.  We knew we’d want to rinse offer after soaking in the mineral (sulfur) rich waters and conserved water accordingly.  Although there was a nice gathering in the afternoon, early the following morning we pretty much had the place to ourselves.
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Continuing toward Watson Lake, we saw our forth bear, this one stayed around just long enough to have its picture taken.  Shortly after a large heard of bison, perhaps 30 adults and 10 young ones were taking it easy in a field by the road.
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Next – The Yukon

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