How do I describe our stay in Watson Lake? For starters, our arrival there was the usual. The kids ran off on their bikes, Mom sets up in the camper, but Kavan and I went for a drive "downtown. Mind you, Watson Lake boasts a population of 1,563. Watson Lake is also home to the famous "Sign-Post Forest," interestingly started by a U.S. Soldier, Carl Lindley, from Danville, IL, during construction of the ALCAN. He posted a sign noting the distance from Watson Lake to Danville and thus began the practice of posting various signs, particularly license plates, all through a forest of sorts made of wooden posts that host the more than 65,000 signs. Noted above is the sign that we posted (NC: CH LEE) on our way to Alaska back in 2002. Marissa is frowning because I had offered a loonie to the first child who could locate my old license plate when we visited again on Sunday afternoon. At any rate, Kavan and I stopped by the visitor's center for a few minutes. The host there was beyond informative. I inquired about fishing and she drew me maps to at least four different places and even offered to allow to dig for worms in the compost pile in her back yard. She also invited me and the kids to pick raspberries from her garden as well, more on that in a bit. Meanwhile, back at the camper all is well. We opt to eat "downtown." I do not recommend Tags Restaurant and will not waste time explaining why. Our return to the camper was met by a celebration of sorts as today is actually the Yukon holiday known as "Discovery Day," noted for when gold was first discovered in the Yukon. There seemed to be several locals staying at our campground and at first, we thought they were actually shooting firearms into the air. Thankfully, the thunderous booms were merely fireworks mixed with old Hank Jr. hits as well.
Sunday morning, 0700 hours, Albert Creek. The lady at the info center had directed me to this spot. Minus a handful of cars that passed in nearly an hour the spot was quiet and serene. No fish however, just a beaver that let me know--by slapping his tail--that he was not happy with my presence. Heading back toward the camper I stop at Ratina Lake, stocked with Rainbow trout. A pair of loons, one of which is noted in the picture above, seemed to welcome me, unlike my beaver friend, as I began my quest to land a fish in the Yukon. In short, no fish but sheer pleasure in the serenity of the moments spent there. The best however, was yet to come.
0920, back at the camper, shower, dress, everyone ready. We arrive at the Evangelical Free Church, a mission church in downtown, at 0955. The church is a true log church which had been moved from another location many years before. It reminded me of the one-room schoolhouse on Little House on the Prairie, except with real chairs with arms. We were warmly welcomed and chuckled as there seemed to be no more than four chairs to a row/pew. I've often mused about the family that went to my church growing up. I don't recall how many kids they had, five or six maybe, but we referred to them as the "fill-a-pew family." I now muse that we are the fill-a-pew family. In this case however, we filled a pew and a half. The service was meaningful and enjoyable. Before the sermon the lady seated behind us and with the other half of the family invited the kids to join her in the basement for children's church. I was impressed that a church with no more than 20 or so people would even be prepared to provide ministry to children. At the conclusion of the service the pastor invited everyone to stay for coffee and something to eat. We were especially hooked when he announced that someone had brought Tim Horton's donuts. Tim Horton's is to Canada what Dunkin Donuts is to the U.S. Into the small basement we crammed with nearly everyone. We joined the lady that taught our kids and her husband. In usual fashion it was hard for me to shut up long enough to eat, but the fellowship there among these wonderful Christian people was especially sweet. Near the conclusion of lunch, the lady and husband, John and Naomi Hall, invited us to their home for the afternoon. The Hall's are retired educator's and continue to serve as missionaries both in the Yukon as well as Latin America. The Scripture tells us that sometimes by entertaining strangers we have been with angels. I'm not sure that it works the other way but it felt like the angels were entertaining us. John and Naomi opened their hearts and home to us in a way that made me want to stay much longer than a day. John took Tara, Shayna, and myself out fishing on Watson Lake, where their beautiful home resides. Note picture above. We didn't catch anything then either but the sheer joy of being out on the water in the clean air, well, you just have to experience that for yourself. Meanwhile back at the house, Lori, Marissa, and Kavan, were entertained by Naomi. Our stay with the Hall's was special to be sure (Note the picture with John and Naomi above in front of their beautiful home), and we hope to see them again soon. Thanks again John and Naomi, and blessings to you in your ministry.
Back at the camper, the party crowd has gone leaving their wood to be scavenged so that we enjoy a campfire, our first along the trip by the way particularly as British Columbia had a burn ban in effect. Mommy and I sit by the fire reflecting on the day and the reality that we are barely a 1,000 miles from our soon to be new home.
Monday morning, 0630, the alarm rings. Snooze button. 0638, again. Snooze button. 0646, again. Rain drops on roof. Alarm turned off. Offspring enter bed at 0715. For some reason, I feel free today not to engage in my bustling routine. We only have three days of driving left. Haines Junction will be there just the same whether at 7:00 or 4:00 in the afternoon. Besides, the lady at the welcome center had invited us to pick raspberries. We finally leave the campground at 0930, and though Mom is not at all excited about the venture she offers no rebuttle or even warning not to get dirty. Rain drops are falling. The temperature is barely above 50 degrees. But in the backyard, near the walking trail bordering the lake, is a raspberry patch with berries beckoning to be picked. I seem to be more concerned with the rain than the kids as they begin to plunder the hordes of ripe and oh so sweet berries. I have a bowl for all of us to place our harvest in. However, it seems that I'm the one doing the harvesting and the kids are doing the sampling seeming to ensure that each berry is suitable for human consumption. What a joy. Picking raspberries in the rain. Eating as many as we pick. Mom waits for us in the Burb, as if she knows to be waiting for each child to help dry them off and get dry clothes. But no one seems to complain. We chuckle at the absurdity of what we have just done the taste of sweet raspberries in our mouths, as I try to pick the seeds out of my teeth with my tongue. Life is a Highway plays as we pull out of the driveway. And once again, we are blessed beyond measure.
Tonight we're in Haines Junction, which is still in the Yukon, but we are barely 200 miles from the promised land of Alaska. Tomorrow some pictures of the beautiful mountain range seemingly just beyond the parking lot of our campsite. Blessings to all and goodnight.
The Lee Family
Phrase of the day: "Oh my word, that is a big booger!" (Mommy responding to the shrieks from the back of the Burb as she turned to witness Kavan attempting to share his own Yukon gold digging expedition with his sisters.)