An Amazing Town

Yellowknife NWT is the perfect location for the northern lights, diamonds, ice road in winter, the seat of government of NWT, and old town. The whole area is built on rock or what is known as the Canadian Shield It was funny knowing that the road will not be completely smooth and the rolls are not frost heaves.  We did get to drive to the edge of the ice road made famous in the first season of Ice Road Truckers  we wanted to see where it would start in the winter. ykice4I do not think that’s a road I would want to travel although as kids we did drive on the ice on Lake Winnebago (ok I was young and crazy then).  I am also glad Roy decided not to gykice2o for a swim with this picture you have to wonder how many did go for a swim.  This is one time when stop means stop.  There was construction on the way out to the end of the road at 4 trucks every 20 minutes the road into Yellowknife after getting off the ice can cause wear and tear.  Here is an article about ice road trucking there is a 70% turn over in drivers

Yellowknife down town area is like any urban city that is the seat of government.  On a side note we were in Yellowknife on August 22nd which is the day that A&W Canada donates $2 of every teen burger to fight MS.  Can you guess where we had lunch that day in Yellowknife?  We do try to arrange the part of our trip that we will be in Canada during August, because of the day and they take donations all month.

One thing we did learn is the visitor center or so I say the old center is sinking into the water ykvisitso trying to find the new one we passed by the legislative building of the NWT We explored the downtown area and came across this park with this UN tank. ykun  We did find the visitors center ykvisit2and found out that there was also a farmer’s market while we were going to be in town so of course we went.

This trip we have tried to buy local produce at the markets this one had entertainment, ykfarm4booths was in the park by City Hall.  It did last for only two hours which was surprising.  I was able to get a photo of Roy yakking it up. ykfarm6

I enjoyed walking around the booths and seeing the interactions of the locals. DSCN9631 DSCN9629

It was interesting to see the variety of people in Yellowknife  First Nations, people who are embracing a simpler life, then a hodge-podge of older people who call Yellowknife home. There is also a strong Oriental presence in their tourism industry, and local workforce.  I don’t want to keep coming back to food but food this trip has been very good.  Especially if you can get a total of 3 meals out of a dinner.

Some background on where most of the restaurants are located they are in old town.  Remember I mentioned that Yellowknife is built on rock check out the link it gives a birds eye picture of old town.  I would have to say that the area is condensed so parking is at a premium we did luck out though.  Bullock’s Bistro ykbullock2 I have to say it is quirky there is writing all over the doors and the patio I don’t know when that started but I am now forever engraved on a piece of the door. (Thanks Roy).  The food here ykbullockis local seafood and good meat.  Roy had Arctic Char it was cooked perfectly and I went with a bison steak extremely tender and yes we had leftovers.  We also made it to a newer restaurant also on the suggestion of some locals we met when we stayed at Lady Evelyn Falls Territorial Park this one was a brewery the Woodyard yknwtbrew  from the website I thought would be too spicy I am glad Roy decided to try it anyways.  It had flavor not hot spice is the only thing you taste. I was able to get a craft root beer which tasted better then A&W it was bottled and brewed in Canada not at the local brewery.  The art outside the building was a cool photo-op yknwtbrew2

Roy had the bison short ribs I had a burger,  we also had smoked fish potato salad the fish was smoked local inconnu fish and fried capers just to name a few ingredients almost worth a trip back to Yellowknife just to get some more.

Old town is also home to the Aurora Lighthouses these are little houses with beacons on top of them and yknorthlightwill shine when the auroras are to be active.  This one is located outside a gift store in old town notice the painting next to the lighthouse.  Speakinykfloath2g of houses old town also hosts houseboat bay.  It is a true off the grid experience. I was reminded of either a beach town in California or a town seaside town in Maine in this case the town is in the bay at least. ykfloath3Paddle to your front door in summer skate to the front door in winter.  ykfloath4I don’t think any of the house were painted the same or were the same size.  Old town has so much personality packed into just a few blocks.  Check out the painting on this can ykart and the big bug I found yknwtbrew2.

I have to say that being able to see the Northern Lights for so many nights of the year brings magic to this town.


MIA – Not Really

I want to say I did not get stranded in Canada just got as we got closer to the States and when we crossed our phone and internet good worse. I am taking today and tomorrow to catch everyone up on the LIGHTS Yellowknife buffalos and sand flies. Oh I also have a story involving Buki

They Danced

My quest to see and photograph the northern lights happened Thursday August 22nd.  I am so glad I am able to share these pictures with you. I have to say the dance they put on were watched by Roy, me and a few others at the turn-out we chose to stop and watch, just check out the picture.lightsg lightspeeps The other thing I wanted to share is this is my 300th post.  I think I’ve grown in this journey, I also hope you’ve enjoyed the adventures with me.

Speaking of adventures this trip has been a great one.  I’ve learned you can not plan everything and when you stop looking it will happen.  We traveled the Ingraham Trail another end of the road for Roy. in the daylight to figure out where we should set up if we got the chance to see the dance.  We were 40Km or about 25 miles from town so no light pollution. The town of Yellowknife gives out maps for places to see the northern lights we stopped at one turn-out and realized there were too many people waiting for the lights to begin dancing so down the road we went. It was a tad chilly (39F) standing out taking pictures but well worth it. lights2 I also just took some time watching the way they ebbed and flowed pictures do not do them justice.  I also shared the moment with a young woman who also had never seen the lights and she was also in awe.

The moon was starting it’s third quarter phase so it did not dampen or dim the lights.  I played with some lighting effects where they say you should wash the foreground in light from a flashlight lightsoh well I unintentionally used the taillights of our jeep.  I hope you enjoy the building that was lit.  Here is one picture of the building not bathed in light.  lightswarmI do like this picture better because I can let everyone including me believe that it is a warming hut. (it could be used as one).  Here is another example of bathing in light,lightstrail2 I snapped the picture when the car was pulling out on purpose. This is one more where you can see a light trail lightstrail1I did try to do a selfie that did not turn out well, I was afraid of exposing for 30 seconds so here is the first effort at the selfie. lightsselfieThe lights were ever changing and it seemed some of the better lights happened on the way home.  I turned into a wimp and got to cold to stay real late.

I have to say this journey of 300 posts has been unbelievable.  The first year of the trip I wrote every night and posted no pictures.  This was the year that we did a busman holiday although I did get to experience the bears on Kodiak.  The second year was all about eagles, the third year was my 50th birthday and photo trip with Lisa Langell and I hope you enjoyed those pictures.  This year has been about reaching for the northern lights.  I am sharing a few more pictures from the first night of lights.  This picture has grown on me it was taken outside the trailer and backlit by a motion sensor light. lightshfb The 23rd we had rain the 24th we chose a different location and I’m still working on those.  I do have to say I am not used to staying up so late so I’ve been sleeping late into the afternoon.  So the Yellowknife blogs will be coming soon.  On a semi-sad note tomorrow the 26th is the time in our trip that we are now heading home.


Another One Complete

road that is.  After getting back to the junction of NWT 5 and NWT 6, we turned to follow 6 to the end.  Fort Resolution is the oldest Chipewyan and Metis settlement in the NWT.  Like many of the towns it was established by the Hudson’s Bay CO as the earliest fur trading post on Great Slave Lake. ftres8 The town today is amix of young and old with deep roots in their history. That is the vibe I got when we filled up at the local one place has everything including the post office. ftres7 So I go in and pay for the gas and the woman at the register wanted my shirt, she would trade me I couldn’t do it.  I did run out to the car and grab some money to get a t-shirt that shows I’ve been to Fort Res.  We even had a total stranger come up to the car and introduce herself and welcome us to Canada and the town.  I keep coming back to the experience of the people they are so down to earth here in the NWT.  We drove around town and took a few pictures here is one of the Elders home, ftres6it seemed to be in great condition.  Here are a few more buildings including the Council Offices and Meeting Place ftres4ftres3After exploring a few more roads in the town, we headed to our campground Little Buffalo River Crossing Territorial Park which was right on the water of the Little Buffalo River bufcampsig.  The freaky part of this campsite was watching Roy back straight back between two blue posts. bufcamp1 People who know me that on a good day I have issues with depth perception, so Roy most really trust me.  bufcamp2He goes just make sure I don’t hit anything.  I was holding my breath and hoping I did not have to tell him which way to move.  He made it and did not even need my direction I think that was good on both parts.  You can see from the pictures I didn’t do to bad. Here is the view behind our trailer. bufcamp3This year we have not had to many waterside campgrounds it has been mainly woodsy makes sense considering where we are.  The drive to Lady Evelyn Falls Territorial Park was when we had the lynx passing in front of the car.  As I am catching up on our travels I am sitting in Yellowknife out of the rain waiting and hoping in these 8 days I will get a chance to capture the northern lights on camera.  I’ve seen them and would like to share them with you.

The First Time

Get your mind out of the gutter.  Made you smile I did.  I know I’m jumping ahead but I thought you might want to enjoy this with me in almost real time as it happened over the 16th and 17th of August. We were driving from Fort Resolution area and talking about what animals we have not seen on this trip moose came up and no we still have not seen one.  We talked about we thought might have been a lynx that crossed way up in front of us early in the trip.  So driving further down the road  dodging a few rain drops and coming up to our turn off for Enterprise and Lady Evelyn Falls we were close enough to be positive that it was a lynx this time.  They really do exist to quote my favorite candy commercial. Once it felt our presence it started to bounce across the road when it was safely across it just glimpsed at us to say HI!  It is on the dash cam.

Upon checking into the park we set up and the sky had begun to clear up.  I was getting my hopes up because I was able to check the aurora forecast from NOAA  Roy and I counted back the hours from UTC time and figured when the best chance to see them would be.  That time frame was between 1:45 am to 2:30 am we decided to not set up the camera as I did not want to have to worry about exposure my first time.  So our time frame set we stayed up late, turned off the lights in the trailer, got adjusted to the dark, put on some layers, and head outside.  Our campsite is surrounded by trees even though it was a clear night I was concerned that it might not happen.  Roy thought he caught some green dancing in the north near the horizon between the trees but nothing over head.  Back inside we go shed some layers and wait.  I went out about 2:15 let my eyes adjust before I went out put on some layers (34 degrees) waited nothing.  I came back in and decided we will try in Yellowknife.  Roy goes out one last time at 2:30 am to check next thing I hear in a whispered voice is get your clothes on quick (28 degrees).  I did! Never before had I been told to get dressed so quickly.  Outside and directly over head we see a bright sorta neon green ribbon that lasted about 30 seconds.  I was in awe, enamored, over joyed and just tickled pink or should I say green.  I will tell you I’m still all of those things

I would like to say it did not last long but it was sooooooooooooooooooooooo AMAZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZING for a first time.  I am hoping I can share some photos in the near future of the dancing northern lights with you.


This part of the trip we spent some time exploring Wood Buffalo National Park woodsign1woodsign1a it is the largest National Park of Canada. This is the link to the Parks site The road that travels through the park I will say the first part ends before Fort Smith and the second part goes out of Fort Smith in to  Alberta, woodsign2so it makes Fort Smith a perfect spot to day trip out of.  I am also wrapping all of the animal sightings and features we discovered in this one blog.

They also grow the Buffalo quite large here are two big daddy buffalo



I have to say I really believe size matters in the Northwest Territories and Alberta.  We haven’t begun to come close to exploring the whole park but did drive out to the Salt Plains Viewpoint and you can see forever. A photo does not do it justice but I tried  woodsalt3then you can see from where the viewing platform is how expansive the plains are woodsalt1.  We were lucky enough to actually see a black bear woodbear run across the plains dodging in and out of the clusters of trees using the viewers on the platform. We did not do the walk down the path but were able to watch a few hikers attempt woodsalt2.  We told them how close they were to a bear though, it did not phase them. winterroad1 Also along the 11 km (6.8 miles) dirt road is the turn off for the other end of a 4×4 trail it is only 54 km (33.5 miles) Roy discovered yesterday the 13th. I have to say he hasn’t lost all his marbles this trip.

Now back to the buffalo.  The first day we are greeted to some courtship in a sand hole woodcouple that the buffalo actually stayed for us not camera shy here. Although I think she might be saying not now.  I would have to say there were about 10 to 14 in this herd just standing or laying around. The life not a care in the world.  It is quite a sight to see how skittish these large animals are because they do not see a bunch of human traffic.  This first group of buffalo was where we encountered bigdad12Big Daddy number 1. Yes I do think his butt is big in this picture. woodbu1 More of that first group. There were not many large groups of buffalo we did see a few large single males.  staredownI think Roy was having an intense mind meld with this guy, or they were trying to compare beard lentghs. I wasn’t going to ask.  I did take a closer picture bigdad22and discovered that this was another big boy just hanging by himself. For the record Roy has the better beard but Big Daddy 2 has the better head of hair even if it looks like a mohawk. We also saw a group of three buffalos on the way out of the park woodemmmoo it was Eenie Meenie Miney … Mo buffalo.  Here you see what happens when I accidently get the door mirror in the picture. He is charging the mirror my story and sticking to itwoodcharge

The park is also the world’s largest dark sky preserve every year they have a festival in the park usually the last weekend in August.  I do still have my eye to the sky in the hopes I will see them this year.

We drove into the second part of the park we stopped at the Salt River Day Use Area and saw a golden eagle perched on a log looking for dinner no luck at capturing this massive bird on film.  We’ve seen two in the wild and have yet to catch them on film. That is another one for the bucket list, along with the whooping crane. The park has areas that the whooping cranes nest and raise their young. woodwhoop I was able to work on more of my landscape layouts by catching the reflection of the cliffs in the river I took the shot from the bridge. woodreflect

There is one campground in the park that can handle RVs it is called Pine Lake and is also the area where the dark skies event is held.  I had fun exploring this whole area of wilderness with the small towns along the way.


Fort Smith – Small Town with History

in the form of an amazing museummus ‘The Northern Life Museum’ . It’s in a two story building and some outdoor grounds. I went in the downstairs door which was the wrong entrance oh well I didn’t have to climb the stairs. Once on the main floor I was drawn to this large white bird, and Canus was its name. I had never seen a whooping crane stuffed, in captivity or the wild it is an extremely rare bird, almost extinct . This bird helped bring back the species as of 2017 there are an estimated 505 in the wild. Canus got his name because Canada and the United States worked together to breed this crane and do research to help increase the population. He sired 187 chicks and lived to be 40 years old. He was found in Wood Buffalo National Park with a broken wing. The wing had to be amputated I have to say that was a good thing for the species in retrospect. muscanusI am glad I was able to catch the buffalo in the wild but they also had to rather large stuffed ones on display. musbufOn a side note I was not able to see or hear a whooping crane in the wild.

Another aspect to the museum was to see the involvement of the Roman Catholic missionaries (the Oblate Fathers and Grey Nuns) influenced the development of the early settlement of Fort Smith. The mission was a one stop shop for the native people because they started providing education, religious instruction and health care. In fact the nuns were involved with the area until 1979 when a clinic opened. musnunThe hospital treated many with tuberculosis which was prevalent in the native people. This location on the Slave River was perfect for a settlement as it lies in an area where several rapids occur and canoes had to be portaged. Only natural that a trading post would spring up and continue to grow with the help of The Hudson’s Bay Co. mustrapThere is even a replica of a trapper’s cabin.

One thing I did not know about the war is the part that this area played in helping the US in winning World War II. musewarThe AlCan was built in BC and the Yukon so Alaska could have protection in the chance that the Japanese would attack. This area had a connection to water and mines and oil wells muswar3  in Norman Wells so the Canol Project was embarked upon. The museum guide also mention the project was vital in providing material for the Manhattan Project, in fact there is still trace amounts of radioactive material near Fitzgerald which is where the boats were loaded. It is interesting how well our countries worked together. If you ever have a chance this museum is well worth it.

After exploring the inside I decided to step back in history with the replica of a traditional village, the explaination plaques went into great detail down to how the dogs were cared  for plus how the fish was turned into food by drying them on a fish stage. For all my geocaching buddies I found a dry cache plus a cold cache none of which I could log. In the villages the dry cache was used to store foods off the ground that could be ruined by winter or vermin.musdry  Just a few steps up a ladder and you have a pantry even though it was outdoors. The cold cache was what I would call a fruit cellar dug into the ground. I walked down the stairs and it was at least ten degrees coolermuscold. The building that wasn’t open was the smokehouse mussmokethere was enough wood to last a while for demonstration purposes. The center piece of the village is the tipi it had a very inviting air to it so I ducked my head inside. mustee Having the history all in one place made this stop a must do.  ftsmithcpThe campground we stayed at was named for Queen Elizabeth the Second after her visit to the Northwest Territories and the have a dedication stone right in the campground ftsmithcpl. ftsmithcpl2This whole area is filled with history and charm.  If that hasn’t gotten you in the mood to visit Fort Smith even has it’s own golf course ftsmithgolfRoy had to at least try to drive to the end of what roads we still could,  This was accomplished by visiting the town of Fitzgerald pop 8,_Alberta at the end of NWT 5 fitzendI have really enjoyed my time in these small towns you can walk in anywhere and feel like you belong.

Hey Hey Hey Mike Mike Mike

It’s not hump day it’s Hay River.  Yes length of stay here was increased due to changing plans and road conditions.  This is ok though because we had an opportunity to experience a fish market, the Great Slave Lake beach, spent time at the visitor center and visited the museum.  Roy and I did drive to the town of Enterprise to see a Jamboree and then of course up and down roads looking for animals.

Hay River called the hub of the North,_Northwest_Territories is the terminus for the Railroad from here on up it travels on barges to reach the surrounding communities on the lake. So it does have a port, and an airport. hayairporthayboat I would say that it is a well rounded hard working town. We had just missed the train and some of the barges leaving that carried diesel fuel for the northern communities in the summer the barges transport enough fuel to keep all of the towns warm. This year might be a challenge as one of the railroad trestles had burned this summer and had just reopened.  The fact that the town lays on water they also have haycga Coast Guard Station and Rescue boats.hayflag

Everyone in town was so friendly and helpful that I could imagine me living here (ok if I was 20 years younger).  The visitor center told us the best place in town to have the local whitefish that come out of the lake is at Back Eddy, I can tell you they have real good ribs.  We got there and ready to order and was told no fish the fisherman was out of town.  The restaurant is on the second floor of a building with an elevator so Roy decided he would ride down in it.  I don’t think it had been used in awhile because the waitresses had to find the keys then figure out how to use it and see if it worked.  (BTW it was a little bigger then a closet).  It worked when they opened the door I told Roy he could ride down in the elevator I walked.  The funny part was we could hear them laughing all the way down.  So I still wasn’t going for a ride.

Another suggestion from the center was the fisherman market, Roy had it on the agenda. hayfarm1I did thanked them for the suggestion and let them think it was their idea. We did go back when it was going on Saturday.  I even got some homemade fudge exactly like my mom used to make reminded me of her and the holidays.  The market had a few food vendors selling breakfast which we ate before we came silly us.  hayfarm2A few crafters of yarn and soaps, a couple of veggie sellers, and the fudge lady who also made some homemade pies.  Roy and I enjoyed the lemon meringue pie. It is a meeting place for the whole community.

After the market we drove around the corner to visit the Hay River Heritage Center.  haymus3This is where I heard from a book of course the whooping crane call.  This is so I can recognize it in the wild.  The grounds featured an ice cream shop did not stop in as it was 60 too cold for ice cream.  haymus2A few old boats, plus an old fire truck.


The tanker cars in the background are not part of the museum but they do carry some of the diesel up to the north as I mentioned earlier.  In the Territories and I think through most of Canada there is much emphasis put on preserving the culture of the Indigenous People.

The part of this adventure I am enjoying is one place you go leads to another place to explore.  So we visited the public beach on our way to the jamboree in Enterprise.  Great Slave Lake has sandy beaches here in Hay River haybeach seeing the vastness of the lake is awe inspiring. I was told that the beaches on the other side of the lake near Yellowknife are rocky I’m looking forward to comparing the two.  hayjam2So we decide to head to a jamboree sounds interesting I have noticed people still love to get together for any reason to enjoy music food and good times. hayjam You also never know what you will see decorating a driveway when you go exploring. haymin    Please can someone show Roy where the Ketchup is he found the Muster sign.muster

The Falls

Not my falls although I could write a blog or two about those.  No the waterfalls that are around Hay River NWT. It is actually a route that you can travel in the Northwest Territories. . When we did this route on Friday I was also dodging rain drops.  I got a few pictures using the landscape lens.  It was also really cold but that is what coats are for :). dehpark When I was walking up from the parking lot and could hear the rushing water but could not see it, wfparkI was amazed when the sound matched the force of the water. alexandrafalls1 I met two locals ok from Yellowknife and told them I’m here to photograph the northern lights.  Back to the Falls.  alexandrafalls2The locals did tell me that the water was a little low but should increase due to all the rain. These falls are on the Hay River and was a short side trip from Hay River.  The water drops 109 feet over the cliff to create the roar.  Alexandra Falls does have a twin on this river it is called Louise Falls, and it is a three tiered falls.  There was a short trail (1.9 mile) I could have walked to but I opted to have Roy drive me.  Less then a mile down the road is the turnoff for the falls.  This falls only drops 50 feet.  I get to the over look and was a little disappointed because there was supposed to be a spiral staircase that you could go down to get a closer look.  louisefallsI did get a look from the first over look before it started to rain again. Unfortunately you do not get the full few from the top look out.

So I grabbed my camera and headed back to the car. Up the road is another waterfall that is just a day use park McNallie Creek mcnalliefalls

This is an interesting side trip to a falls, at the visitor center in Hay River the woman told me that locals would jump off the edge of the falls when she was growing up.  The other thing is that these falls just go into the big hole she called it a sink hole. My funny thought was after seeing Louise and Alexandra Falls was you need to grow up.

It was here I met a couple who had just come from Louise Falls and I said so did I and was disappointed I could find the steps.  I was up to a spiral staircase.  So they explained how to find it, after a quick thought I decided lets go for it. (Roy loves to drive).  Back at Louise Falls after driving through some rain then into some blue skies I’m thinking great there is a chance.  Ok, I have depth perception issues so once I get to the steps down I see it’s a very tight spiral staircase and the trees are extremely close on the way down.  In the back of my mind I’m thinking this older couple did it I can too.  Then logic took over the last time I did something because someone else did I came home on crutches from a sky trip. (I was 12 but still).  So I decide to go back to the look out and even though I am practicing with the landscape lens I still love to use my 150mm – 600mm to zoom in on things.  I head back to the car again to grab it.  Mother Nature had other plans because right before I got back to the car it starts to rain.  I got wet but made sure the cameras stayed dry.  So I’m so thankful logic took over or I still might be sitting on a step on that spiral staircase.  I will have an opportunity to check out Lady Evelyn Falls as we are spending time there on the way to Yellowknife.