Monday July 31st: Bison, Bears, and (no) Breakdowns

Monday July 31st: Bison, Bears, and (no) Breakdowns

Happy 84th Birthday today Hugo! (Aug 1)

Today we drove from Fort Nelson to Watson Lake, a distrance of 326 miles. Partly overcast as we left the city, we could see some dark clouds on the horizon, lingering over the pass we had to climb.

We drove from Fort Nelson to Watson Lake.

The group was only a few minutes outside of Fort Nelson when David and Ann spotted photographer Monicque Jacobs, who took pictures at Dalex Auto Service’s event on Sunday evening. That’s when Ann shouted, “Oh crap!”

“What’s the matter,” David asked.

“I was supposed to let Monicque know when we were leaving the city…..,” … oops!

Monicque, this is David & Ann’s apology to you! Fortunately, Monicque is a professional and was ready for the group to exit.


A slight drizzle started, then turned to full rain as they climbed up the nearby pass. The speed dropped and road tightened into a snaking mountian road, climbing until they were surrounded by mist.

2017-07-31-mystWhen they summited, they took a break. Those that had Pacific Northwest Four Wheel Drive Association hoodie-sweatshirts lined up for a photo in the rain.

PNW4WDA Hoodie wearers. It was a cold day on the summit.

Marcelo, Daro, and Luis


For the next hour or so the rain fell as the group motored along lakes, down ravines, and through countless forests. Unlike Sunday, traffic was much lighter, so Ann and David took advantage of that by taking photos and video from the rear, the front, and while passing the convoy.

Beautiful spot along the Alaska Highway
Team Gruson: Luis, Dario, Andreas, Marcelo
Kevin, Tom, Emily, and Bill
Jim and Fernando

The convoy’s planned lunch stop for the day was world-famous Laird Hotsprings. Fortunately, the rain subsided by the time they arrived. While most of the crew explored the hot springs, Hugo, Fernando and David stayed with the vehicles to keep an eye on them. Some men from Alberta, possibly Amish, were looking at the jeeps with interest, so they chatted for a while.


Next, a young couple with a van sporting Utah plates returned from the hot springs. As they backed their van and cargo trailer out of it’s parking spot, David opened a conversation with them. The couple, Kevin and Jen, explained that they were from Salt Lake City and were touring North and South America with their van and a trailer with a sauna in the back. The simple reason for the sauna was, well, why not? Hearing that, David asked the Vidals to join them and provide some advice. When finished, David had them sign Patterson (which he forgot to photograph) and gave them a couple of t-shirts.

After a quick lunch, Ann and David got ahead of the crew to take pics of the convoy as it. Someone had mentioned there were Bison with calves on the road 12 miles north of the hot springs. By the time we got there, the only thing on the road were motorcyclers who’d stopped ON THE ROAD in the driving lane, next to the Bison. Meanwhile, Ann and David parked far from the herd, then walked back up the opposite side of the road to take photos, giving the bison space. Next, David climbed the hill along the road to get a pic of the bison as the jeeps rounded a corner. Just as he heard Bill’s voice on the radio, the cylers mounted and left. So, now the convoy crew had the bison and road to themselves. There was even great light!


As Murphy’s Law would have it, as soon as David spotted Bill in the distance, some tourist in a 40ft tall double decker (might be and exaggeration, but it was tall) trailer came to a stop on the side of the road, right in David’s line of sight. He had the staging, the light, and the shot … but that was gone in an instant.

There were several more herds of bison that the group passed, all lazily hanging out in the grass on the sides of the road. From the hoof prints on the side of the road, it’s clear the bison used the road as much as humans.

The remainder of the drive to Watson Lake was uneventful, except for crossing into the Yukon AND seeing one bear, then another. David thought he had a photo of the bear somewhere, but he couldn’t find it in time for this post.

Ann & David

It was a great day of cruising with the group and enjoying each other’s company. All around, it’s a great bunch of folks.


Tomorrow, the Vidals and Eilers will take off early to special luncheon at a resort south of Whitehorse. Then, everyone will congregate for Hugo’s 84th birthday party, which is being thrown by Stephen Reynolds, a local Whitehorse citizen. It should be quite the bash!


One thought on “Monday July 31st: Bison, Bears, and (no) Breakdowns

  1. Great meeting you all, and glad to see the next leg of the journey went well! As for the phone call…no worries at all, you all have enough to organize every day 🙂 I got to enjoy my morning coffee with a view and got a great photo of you all in a row….shame about the semi on your tail….i’ll have to crop him out! Enjoy Watson to Whitehorse!

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