Fort Smith Road Trip: Day 2 Around Fort Smith

As soon as you start doing evening activities my daily writing goes in to whack. Then trying to recall everything later because as a challenge as my mind goes fuzzy but I’ll do my best.

The morning started as it always does, with coffee. We however went and met a friend at the Pelican Inn for breakfast. This is apparent the place to get breakfast in Fort Smith, but I don’t know much about any other establishments.

The Pelican is your typical small town dinner spot. Food is mediocre, service is mediocre, but you can always count on a meal.

After breakfast, which ended at around 12 noon, so i guess it was more like brunch, we retreated back to the campground and lounged for the afternoon. Road trips are wonderful, relaxing and fulfilling but you have to know when to slow down and just hang out for a day. That was yesterday afternoon.

Fort Smith Shack

We meandered around the grounds, washed, for a change, did a small load of laundry, talked with Toni for a while and just relaxed at camp. One of us even had a nap but I won’t name names.

The evening was when we planned on exploring the area again. After eating a couple hotdogs we headed towards Salt River, where we were told we might be able to catch some pickerel but after several casts we retreated empty handed. There was one of place we could have tried fishing, at the Thebacha Campground where the Salt Rive and Slave River meet.

We carried on down the highway heading west. Last year we had visited the Salt Plains during the day, the sun was high the temperature hot. Our plan was to visit the plains again while it was cooler and during a sun set.

Arriving at the Salt Plain’s lookout we found our camp managers Toni and Peanuts also enjoying the view. They told us how they had just seen a giant bear retreat into the bushes down below and before than saw a giant bull moose run across the plains. As they left we geared up to head down the steep hill to the plains. It is about a 5 minute hike down, 10 minutes to come back up.

Out exploring the Salt Plains this evening as more smoke comes in. #nwtroadtrip #spectacularnwt

At the lookout there was plenty of wind but we still loaded up with bug spray and I had my bug jacket on. On the hike down things changed fast. The wind died almost instantly and with that came the millions of bugs. Our jeans went from faded blue to a sandy colour as sandflys coated us. Our bug spray didn’t seem to be of any effect on these creatures as more and more showed up as we walked. By the time we were out in the middle of an open area it was just too much to handle and if walking wasn’t bearable, taking photos was most definitely out of the question.

We retreated, rather quickly, back up the hill. Out of breath, dehydrated and discouraged we rejoiced as the feeling of wind touched our faces again. At the top of the hill we sat for sometime working on regaining our sanity.

We saw no animals of significants.

As we started our drive out of the Salt Plains we ventured down another road called Fox Hole Road, which whooping cranes were said to have been nesting.

The fascinating part about both these roads is the burn areas of forest fires past. The trees, while still standing, are starting to peel making them look as those they are naked.

As we drove, and drove, we soon realized that Fox Hole road apparently goes forever and is reasonably well maintained. After going through immense forest you come out to the a giant flat swamp area where the cranes were suppose to be. No cranes.

Although on our drive through the never ending forest we did encounter one black bear, one lynx, one great grey owl and a hawk or falcon. Well worth the drive.

As for photos, well I haven’t gotten to them yet.

Fort Smith Roadtrip: Day 1 Around Fort Smith

Uneventful night: Slept

Uneventful morning: Read for a while. Swatted 100,001 Mosquitos.

I lied breakfast wasn’t uneventful. We had omellets with spinach and mozzarella. It was quite delightful. Of course so was the coffee.

Our plan of the day was to do a loop through Wood Buffalo Park and come out at the Salt Plains. This did not happen.

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We started on down the road to Pine Lake. This road was, last week, closed and for good reason. As we drove through the forest you could clearly see where the forest fire had been. Trees along the road were burnt on one side and green on another. A very two-face real to them.

Down the road we did discover that the road all the way to Pine Lake was indeed open again, however we find out that our plan to make the trip a loop was diminished because the bush road was still closed.

Just like the night before when the heavy smoke come into our campsite in Kakisa, we didn’t realize how fragile the situation was. As we drive down the highway we kept passing smouldering spots were smoke still billowed from the ground. In other area forest crews were loading up water trucks or cutting down decrepit trees on the verge of toppling over.

Down the road we found Pine Lake. I completely unexpected oasis. The water was so blue you would have thought your self in Kelowna or Mexico. On the south end of the lake, passed what I believed to be several cabins, was a large stretch of sandy shore. A day use area, complete with shelter, fire pits, tables and playground was found at this end of the lake. 

This lake was practically demanding that we swim in it. If not the lake the heat was certainly encouraging us. On came the trunks and into the warm water we went. Wading around in the water was hugely gratifying after copious amounts of bug spray and sweat coated our skin. Have I mentioned the bugs yet? 

Pine Lake Wood Buffalo Park

Back out of the water and up the road into Fort Smith again, we made our first visit of the trip to the Rusty Raven. The best place to get coffee in Smith. An ice coffee with caramel was in order and drank with a satisfying desire. 

After some visiting with a friend we tried out hand at fishing right off the boat launch on the Slave River. No luck. It was dinner time.

I love cooking and doing it was camping is no exception what so ever. Steak and potatoes were in order and thanks to Toni and Peanuts (Campground mangers), we ended up with a BBQ to use. Right at our site I might add. Now that is service.

As the sun set – I know. Hard to believe in the NWT, but Fort Smith has big trees – we strolled through town taking photos off the different sights. I have often found that what lacks in tourism guides are real down to earth photos of a community. This is what I was trying to strive for. However the bugs started to come out as the wind died out and my ambition slowly evaporated. 

Fort Smith Water Tower

And just like that I find myself writing this for you. Tomorrow is another new day.

Also I bought a new pillow. Hoping for a better sleep tonight.

Fort Smith Road Trip: Kakisa to Fort Smith

Day two of our trip to Fort Smith and I’m already in the habit of writing once a day. I’m pretty proud of this. 

I would first like to mention that the photo I took in yesterdays post of the forest fire was actually north of Fort Providence about 80kms, not near Kakisa, but I’ll get into Kakisa in a second. Just wanted to make that clear as to not confuse the forest fires in the NWT.

The first night out of Yellowknife might as well always be “rough” but this time it wasn’t that I was uncomfortable. This time it so happened that my mind was trying to hard to hear noises that weren’t there. You know the feeling after you grow so use to the “city” noises that being in the woods is a little out of place. Well my mind wouldn’t like me sleep, constantly trying to listen for something. 

Finally sleep came around 2am thankfully and I drifted away for the night. Or so I thought. 4am came like a blink of an eye. I stirred awake cold. The temperature had dropped significantly and thinking it would be scorching hot all the time on this trip I didn’t bring much for blankets. On came the hoodie. Not before I stammered out of the tent in nothing but my boxers to find a near by tree. Upon doing this I discovered that Lady Evenlyn Campground was submerged in smoke. Thicker than I was normally use to. Of course not thinking clearly, being half asleep and quite exposed to the swarms of bugs that looked at my flesh like a thanksgiving turkey I flung myself back into my tent.

After I settled in again I, for the first time, noticed my eyes were getting sore. Again, being tired, I didn’t think much of this and pulled up my hood and whipped the sleeping bag back over my head and drifted off until morning.

Morning was peaceful. One of the most relaxing mornings I have had in a long time. No where to go, no where to be, no routine to keep. The smoke from the night before had mostly disappeared and there didn’t seem to be much concern of a forest fire at the time. If anything I got to capture some morning smoke lingering in between the trees surrounding our campsite. As the morning grew on I got to read some editions of the Bread Magazine, while drinking coffee and eating banana bread. 

Morning Light

Tree Clearing

Nothing about this morning was moving very quickly, until the park manager stopped by our site. His words “they’re closing down the campground. Yep. Forest fire too close they say.”

It didn’t seem like an emergency to us. We couldn’t see anything and the park manager didn’t seem to worry a bit. So we meandered around our site packing up and set out on our way to Fort Smith.

Other than a 30 minute stop at McNally Falls our drive was uneventful to Fort Smith and almost seemed like it took a long time. 

McNally Falls though was somewhat unexpected. Having drive this highway at least 15 times in my life never have I stopped there. I was blown away by the beauty of the fall and surprised by the proximity to the highway. They are literally a stones throw from the road. With paths on either side of the gorge it is an amazing very from any vantage point and quick to get into. I highly recommend the pit stop. 

Mcnally Falls NWT

The Queen Elizabeth Campground in Fort Smith is quickly becoming one of my favourites in the north. It is generally quiet. The sites are nice. And the camp managers are a hoot. Toni and Peanuts (Henry) are a lovely couple who love to talk about the area and make sure our stay is top notch. 

That was the day in a nut shell. I’ll leave my Berro’s Pizza review and how having a shower after being caked with bug spray thoughts for another time.

Fort Smith Road Trip: To Kakisa

Every single time I take off down the road I say to myself “I’m going to journal this trip. Write every night about what I did that day.” My best intentions are in those words but then it just doesn’t happen. Some could say I’m living in the moment and taking in what I’m seeing. I try to believe this anyways.

marcus-truck

Alas I’m on the road to Fort Smith from Yellowknife. Traveling down for some organization work and to see the sights, again.

We are currently overnighting at Lady Evelyn Fall just outside of Kakisa, NWT. We are at one of four sites being used tonight.

Our journey started after work and the drive past Bechoko was uneventful. We saw a couple herds of bison and some cranes but we unadapted to the environment still so did not stop for long to take pictures. In other words the bugs drove us back into the truck.

As we approached Fort Providence we got closer and closer to a forest fire burning a couple kilometres off the highway. We wandered around taking photos of it, cruising up back roads and trudging through brush. 

NWT forest Fire

A bug jacket was unravelled by myself and worn for the duration of the expedition through the bush and while setting up camp.

Kyle Bug Jacket

1Now we are nestled into our site with the sound of the rushing river going crashing over the falls behind us. This sound will definitely rock me peacefully into sleep as the smell of campfire lingers on through the night.

Food. Curated., Liza de Guia and Storytelling

Time for one of those random posts coming directly from my heart filled with inspiration and energy.

Food. Curated. is a video series shoot and produced by one lovely lady in New York by the name of Liza de Guia. I first came across some of her video a while back when I was researching other bakeries for ideas and tips on how to bake better. I came across the video below and I fell in love. I feel in love with the baker, her bakery and her philosophy of baking. The story was told so incredibly well I went on a search for more and more.

Fast forward to a couple of days ago I came  across an article on Liza through her Facebook page Food. Curated. The thing about Liza is she is rarely in the videos and is rarely mentioned on her website so there was no way of me knowing much more about her and why she would make all these video until this article.

The article recounted a bit of Liza history and how she came to making these video and I was fascinated. This led me to find a Tedx talk she gave about why she did it all. And this is where I truly feel in love.

For starters she did something I have always, always advocated for and developed her own platform. Her blog, and brand. She didn’t need the help of a network to tell her stories. She then went on to talk about how she produced the video and why, talking about being real, making a connect and trust. It was absolutely exhilarating for me to hear. I really can not explain the feeling. Everything she talked I related to 100% and could take exactly what she was saying and apply it to how I went about producing Yellowknife Street Stories. It was incredible.

Then she said something else. She paused for a second and looked at the crowd and said “there is no one person in this room that wouldn’t fascinate me” and I near cried. I kid you not, everyday and more so when I was actually writing my book and I would recite a quote to myself “everyone is fascinating, everyone has a story.” It plays tribute to the natural feeling of looking around at all the people, regardless of who they might be or how they look, and want to walk up to them and start asking them questions about themselves for no other reason than wanting to learn a little bit about them and to share there story.

One other thing the article on Liza mentioned was a her dream to move from Food. Curated. to Life. Curated. where she and a team tell the stories of everyone. To her I say “I am in!”

Building Gardens

My house has always had a raised garden plot but this being my first spring in the house I wanted to make some changes for a number of reasons.

  1. So I could get my jeep between the house and the shop to the other part of the backyard. It’s a big lot.
  2. And to create a space that is sheltered from the wind and any animals. I don’t actually know of any animals that would come around but I imagine something would.

A couple of weeks ago I moved the plot forward along my house about 4 ft. Just enough to get the jeep by.

Last weekend I filled the box up with soil again, because I emptied it to move and I wanted to start fresh.

Today I started and mostly finished the construction of a enclosed garden space. Essentially I built a roof for the garden box.

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Processed with VSCOcam with m5 presetThe first thing I did was build the frame out of some 2×4′s and 1/4′s I had around the yard. I don’t like angles, I don’t work with them enough, but I managed.

Processed with VSCOcam with m4 presetA lot of the project was scraps from the Yellowknife Dump and my plan was to use these screen door windows as part of the hatch system.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetAt the dump the prior weekend I was also able to collect a couple rolls of clear plastic tarp. Oddly it was the exact width I needed. I stretch and stapled it all along the rear of the garden – closest to the house – and the ends. I also found two framed plastic window coverings that would be used as hatches as well.

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Processed with VSCOcam with m5 presetWith the use of some simple hinges I was able to create four hatches that open and close with ease allowing me to work and water without to much hassle.

Processed with VSCOcam with g3 presetAs the weather is really improving now I went ahead and planted a variety of plants to grow. Keeping in mind I’ve never maintained a garden myself before.

  • Basil
  • Rosemary
  • Peppers
  • Onions
  • Green Onions
  • Spinach
  • Romane Lettuce
  • Swiss Chard
  • Carrots

I’ll be checking on this everyday and enough things are not getting too hot or too much water.