Alaska Highway Road Trip, Muncho Lake & Liard Hot Springs

I consider myself very fortunate to live where I do. Canada is a vast and beautiful nation, and British Columbia one of its most varied and awe-inspiring provinces. This Labour Day weekend my husband and I drove our family north, far past the limits of our sadly American atlas (which cuts British Columbia off somewhere past Fort St. John, less than 100km north of home) to mile 463 of the Alaska Highway for a weekend camping adventure.

family photo at Muncho Lake | Angela Fehr http://angelafehr.com

Our ultimate destination: Liard Hot Springs. I had been there once before, on my eighteenth birthday, which was nineteen years ago. Did I mention that my birthday is in February? Though it was -30C that day (-22F) my parents, siblings and I bathed comfortably in the natural hotsprings, framed by frost-rimed trees. I had never visited the hot springs in summer, and Wade had never been north of Fort Nelson.

The eight-hour drive became much more scenic after leaving the oil & gas fields of Fort St. John and Fort Nelson. The trees thickened, the mountains emerged and the highway wound, nearly empty of traffic. Just the way we like it; tons of scenery and no one to share it with!

into the north | Angela Fehr http://angelafehr.com

I promised myself I wouldn’t take photos through the windshield. Promises like that can’t help but be broken when the scenery is so spectacular around every bend.

northern BC rainbows | Angela Fehr http://angelafehr.com

We were prepared for rain, but saw little – our camping was chilly; tenting in the north requires lots of layers as even at the end of August, frost is a definite possibility. We were fortunate and it didn’t freeze at night. We pitched our tent on the shores of Muncho Lake, and I went out several times a day to photograph the jade-green waters and moody skies.

Muncho Lake | Angela Fehr http://angelafehr.com Muncho Lake | Angela Fehr http://angelafehr.com sky over Muncho Lake | Angela Fehr http://angelafehr.com Muncho Lake | Angela Fehr http://angelafehr.com

The lake makes no claims to warmth; the estimated summer temperature is 10C (50F) but we just had to take a dip anyhow. Brrrr! It was gaspingly cold!

swimming at Muncho Lake | Angela Fehr http://angelafehr.com

From cold to hot; we achieved our main objective when we arrived at Liard Hotsprings. This beautiful spot is a true gem on the Alaska Highway and it was wonderful to see it in summer. The hot springs have been maintained as naturally as possible. One side of the springs holds the change rooms, stairs and benches for entering the water, and the other three sides are natural, banked by rock and clay, ferns and green plants and trees. The bottom of the springs is pebbled with black & grey and the springs flow into a lower pool of cooler water, and then out a narrow, twisting channel until the water justs trickles away.

Liard hot springs | Angela Fehr http://angelafehr.com

The pool was enjoyed by about twenty other people – we overheard conversations with both locals and tourists, and many who, like us, live a few hours’ drive away and were visiting for the weekend.

boardwalk at Liard Hot Springs | Angela Fehr http://angelafehr.com

Though the day was brisk and cool, we were heated through and stayed warm through even after changing and drying off in the unheated change rooms and walking a quarter mile along the boardwalk back to the truck.

I can’t tell you how much we enjoyed our weekend! I took so many photos with future paintings in mind. I spend way too much time thinking, “How would I paint that?” and I can’t wait to start trying to answer that question and painting some of my impressions of beautiful northern British Columbia.

cloud break at Muncho Lake | Angela Fehr http://angelafehr.com

bison at Muncho Lake | Angela Fehr http://angelafehr.com

bisonstone sheep at Muncho Lake | Angela Fehr http://angelafehr.com

We saw stone sheep, bison and caribou along the edge of the highway. 

 

Doll Tracker – Like Man Tracker only without the Mosquitoes

So these two gorgeous girls are totally excited about the dolls that they ordered on Monday! They’ve already named them (I guess they don’t follow their parents’ tradition of not picking names until the new arrival actually arrives!) and they are drawing portraits of their new dolls. Sassy talked about ordering “Taryn“, but when it came time to order, did an about-face and picked “Leonie,” which both girls pronounced “Lonie” until I corrected them with the French pronunciation. Scooter ordered “Saila” and is naming her “Pancakes” cause she thinks it sounds cute!

“Pancakes” by Scooter, age 7. The clothes they chose for the dolls are ones they already have, made by my sister.

Sassy (age 8 ) showed me how, by covering the corners of “Ginger’s” mouth in the drawing, her whole facial expression changes. Clever girl. I’m also wondering if the mermaid in the picture is topless or wearing a bikini. Hard to tell. Once when I was about nine, we were playing “school” with friends and I was so embarrassed when the boys found in one of my notebooks a picture of a girl that I’d started, but it was just at the outline – I hadn’t gotten to the drawing clothes stage yet, so she was essentially “naked.” How mortifying!

Maplelea was kind enough to send us a tracking number so I think we’ll be daily checking on the dolls’ progress from Mississauga, Ontario to Dawson Creek, BC. Who needs a Santa tracker when you have Canada Post?

Charlie Brown has Left the Building.

Two weeks until Christmas and I figured today it was time to start my Christmas shopping. Unfortunately, Wade was working, so I decided that I would bring the kids and we would at least cross off gifts for non-immediate family members.

What a mistake. I’ve made an executive decision that until the kids are buying gifts with their own money, I will shop for them.
They couldn’t decide what to get their cousins.
They argued over who got to pick what and for whom.
They had no concept of budget (which meant Wecco decided that he absolutely MUST buy Ninjago Lego figurines for his cousins and no WAY was I paying $12.99 for a Lego figurine just because he comes with a trading card).
They pushed in line. Not strangers, no. Just each other. At one point I asked Scooter, “Scooter, would you shove that little old lady in front of us?” She looked at me like I was crazy. “Then why would you shove your brother?” I think she was thinking, Well duh, Mom. It’s BECAUSE he’s my brother!

By the time we got home, I was thoroughly discouraged. Wade came home from work early and we went out to pick a tree from the forest. We joined my parents in their truck and though we left the house cranky (Wade overwhelmed by the chores he wasn’t doing), the snow began to flurry down, giant wet flakes, and we had a wonderful time.

We were debating the merits of spruce versus pine on the way out. Spruce is prettier, but pine sheds fewer needles. Wecco piped up, “I want a pine…CONE!” and we all cracked up. Here Sassy climbed a tree to get him his cone.

We really should have given him a turn with the saw. It’s harder than the dads make it look!

Wade also likes to choose the tree. Then no one is allowed to criticize it! I think he picked a big one, considering I suggested we choose one under five feet. He’s a big kid at heart.

Someone else is a big kid at heart. Mom suggested that they do “elf faces.” Clearly Scooter thinks that the Olsen twins are elves, while Sassy figures they’re vision impaired. And I think Mom’s elf has been in the holiday eggnog!

I love the beauty of the snow! Scooter is a little pale snow princess until you get her outdoors and then she’s just a rose bud, isn’t she?

As we drove toward my parents, I was thinking, “Why can’t we be more fun?” The day had just seemed to go wrong until then, and despite my desires to simplify, Christmas seemed burdensome. It’s pretty clear what traditions are worth keeping when they lighten your whole day, warm your heart and you even get a decent family photo out of the deal!

 

Insert Fehr/Fair Joke Here.

It’s Fall Fair weekend! And it’s not raining. The kids and I spent Wednesday getting entries ready for the baking and crafts exhibits, and so on Friday after the parade, we stampeded down to the fairgrounds to see if we’d won anything.

Scooter was delighted to win first place for her blueberry muffins.

While Sassy’s fudge didn’t place, she did take home several ribbons, including a first for her drawing, and several seconds, for her wild berry collection, wildflower bouquet and embroidery.

Wecco had entered a Lego creation, and after trying to convince me to enter a Lego car made by a friend, and then spending the next two days asking when he was going to get his Lego back, I think I deserved the first place ribbon!

I had entered a few things and was pleased to take home some prize money including a rosette for my bread. My family has always prided ourselves on our bread and bun baking skills, so I would have been ashamed not to! I didn’t enter any watercolour paintings, since I consider that to be my profession, but I entered some mixed media canvases and papercrafts in the arts & crafts categories and never got better than second place. That made me laugh a little, both at myself for expecting to triumph and at the unpredictable preferences of judges.

The kids were thrilled to take home some prize money, and we talked a little about how it seemed like the stuff we worked the hardest on were the items that won prizes – and how even when they didn’t, if we’d done our best we could still be proud of ourselves and our work.

After the exhibits were duly seen, we walked over to the Midway and each child chose a ride to enjoy. Scooter was brave enough to ride the YoYo by herself:

And Sassy chose the tamer Bumblebee:

Wecco got a glimpse of Convoy Race and was determined that he would ride one of the motorbikes. I pointed out that it didn’t look like it went very fast at all (even for a five-year-old) but he insisted, so we bought the right amount of tickets. Turns out he’s too tall for it by about two inches. Oh, he was destroyed. Wouldn’t ride on anything else, and finally he chose to play the fish pond where he won a small stuffed duck.

Scooter was very quiet on the way home, and went straight to her bed instead of joining us for a popsicle. When I went to talk to her, she was upset because she didn’t get a stuffie too. Usually, I get frustrated with this kind of ungrateful attitude. Here we’d spent the morning watching a parade and collecting candy, then lunch with family in town, then winning prizes at the fair and riding rides! I question my example when the kids are so quick to complain after enjoying fun and treats. I wonder if we’re spoiling them. And I usually, exasperated, say something like, “Look at everything else you did today! Why can’t you be thankful for all of that?!” To which they always answer, “Yeah, but…”

But sitting with Scooter, I thought about how she’s just like me. And so instead of a lecture, she and I talked about how frustrating it is that one negative thought can crowd out all the good ones, and why is that? And how this is why God tells us in His Word that we need to train our minds to think on the good. It is so encouraging when I feel the Holy Spirit guiding me as a mom, and I need to remember that even when I don’t feel “inspired” in how I handle different issues, He is at work in my children’s lives. I know that this conversation with Scooter was one that had an impact – sharing my own frustration and struggle with the same issue helped her to know I’m on her side, and that made it easier for her to listen to my guidance. And then we had a popsicle.