Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Road Trip to Yellowknife, Day 6: Yellowknife to Louise Falls, NWT

Text and photos (c) Robert Barry Francos, 2010
Photos can be enlarged by clicking on them.

Day 6 had come, and we were well past the point of return, and yet that is what we set out to do. It was Saturday, July 24, and it was time to turn around and leave Yellowknife (YK) and start the long journey home. Our plan was that we were either going to take different routes, or if that were not possible, stop and see different things where we could.

After our usual breakfast and especially coffee (gotta fuel up, after all), we packed up the gear, and at around 10 AM, set off in a non-rush home. We were still having fun.

One last interesting fact about YK: Margot Kidder was born here, and there is a street in Old Town named Lois Lane; it was not for her, but rather someone named Lois Little. Because of Kidder's fame, however, some claim that it is named after her character.

We exited the Fred Henne Territorial Park campgrounds, which is near the airport, and stopped the car long enough to take pictures of the Bristol Freighter Monument, right at the intersection of Old Airport Road and Highway 3 (our route), just beyond the turn off out of Fred Henne. The Bristol Freighter is an airplane with some history to this town, and is made to look like it is rising above the trees. Below is the official YK sign and logo. It all looks impressive except for the dirt parking lot just below the plane.

The ride down Highway 3 is filled with rocks, as I've stated earlier, as this is the beginning of the Canadian Shield. Along the way, many of these boulder groupings were personalized, with wagons, graffiti (e.g., Dene Tha 2010, which translates to "people common to the territory"), and in one case, an entire family represented in stone figures.

The sun was shining and it was a beautifully warm day. We stopped to take pictures of some of the wildflowers along the road just out of town, as the sun made them glow.

The weather was variable, though, and as we drove south, it became cloudy, and near the Staff River, north of Edzo, it started to pour. Fortunately, while it was a hard rain, it did not last very long, and let up as we approached the bridge at Edzo.

At the bridge over the River I mean over the Great Slave Lake at Marion Lake, we exited the car, and took pictures of the double-hump steel bridge, and the town of Edzo, which we had just passed. At the bottom, we could see the pier from which we had taken pictures of the town and bridge on our way north a few days earlier.

Once again, as we drove down the highway which butts against the Mackenzie Bison Sanctuary, we saw a herd of bison / buffalo at the 185 K marker. They were standing among the trees. We snapped some pics, which were hard to get due to the foliage, and then started on our way once again.

This bull was checking us out.

Not much further down the road, at marker 167 K, we had to stop, as the bison were standing in the road. We didn't mind, and took more photos. I mean, how often does this happen (unless you live there)? This was the biggest herd we had seen so far, as there must have been close to 50 of them. They are beautiful animals, and they make great burgers... no, I'm serious. I would happily eat a bison burger before beef/cow. It's less fatty and has a better taste.

The bison scratches an itch (bugs were thick and fierce) by rubbing against the bark of a tree.

Gives a whole new meaning to "on the road again"...

The bison left some DNA along the highway.
It was getting time for lunch, as we approached Ft. Providence, the last town before the ferry. Of course, we explored the town (by car) first. There were many churches of various denominations scattered throughout the small area. This was the Our Lady of Providence Roman Catholic Mission. We actually went inside the church, which was empty at that moment, and could see the mix of Catholicism and Dene Nation imagry.

The church was alongside the Mackenzie River, and I took this lucky shot, not realizing the bird was in it until I looked at it after we arrived home.

The Deh Cho (Big River) Health and Social Serivces building is colorful, but more from repairs than intent. Social Services are important in the Northwest Territory, but underfunded, as it is just about every else in North America, especially with a conservative government.
This is the local Dene gathering hall. We were respectful and did not enter.

Here is the New Life Pentacostal Church (affiliated with PAOC, or the Pentacostal Assemblies of Canada) . . .
. . . and another church associated with Our Lady of Providence. Gotta love those early Jesuits.

Just inside the town is the Sunshoe Inn. It is a restaurant (that looks more like a cafeteria) with pictures on the wall of local people and events from over the years, and to the left is a gift shop. The shop was closed, but I took some pictures through the door window.
There was a definite sense of humor about the place, as shown by the tree just outside, and the cigarette dump next to the door.
Sign on the door.

Year-round Christmas lights visible from our table.
Gift shop.

Sign on wall just inside of restaurant hallway.
The aforementioned ashtray outside the restaurant.

The view of the Mackenzie River from the front of the Snowshoe Inn.
Shortly after leaving Ft. Providence, we were once again at the ferry. The Merv Hardie was waiting and we fortunately made it on the boat.
Again roaming the ferry for the 10-minute journey across the river, I noticed the men's room, which I did not use.
We headed south along the river, where the stantons were placed for the future bridge, and there were construction crews working away, even though it was Saturday (thanks in part to a short working season due to the weather).
This door has a sign that says, "Keep water tight door closed at all times."
This is the only safety boat on the ferry, so obviously the only one who gets to escape a scuttle is the captain.

Once on the other side, construction continued to rear its dragon head. We switched from Higway 3 to Highway 1, which would take us all the way to Alberta.
We stopped at the Louise Falls campground at the Twin Falls Gorge Territorial Park. While we were at the falls before, we only took a passing view knowing we were coming back this way. This time we stayed the night, and took our time looking at the charming and oddly cake-shaped falls.
The light and muddy water gave a chocolate look to the Louise Falls.
While we only saw the falls from the upper level when we were here last, this time we took the long and winding - and narrow - circular staircase down towards the water. There was an unassuming boardwalk that led to the stairs.

Once down the stairs, there were still the stairs to go. Going down was tiring, but coming up after, more so. However, I figured if I could climb all three Teotihuacan pyraminds near Mexico City, this was doable.

John took some snaps unaware while I took one of him.

After supper we all talked for a while, and then headed off to bed, me in my red sleeping bag, and John in his brown (Ian has his own tent). My overnight bag and jacket were used as a wall, giving as much privacy as we would get. However, our snores were not hindered by this separation, at all.
By time we stopped to camp, we had traveled 477 K / 296 miles, the most we achived in one day, for a total of 2721 K / 1691 miles since we left Sasaktoon. Even with all the moving during the day, we had managed to see many sites and were psyched about the next morning's travel.

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