Our search took us down the South Klondike Highway toward Carcross. We pulled up to the Carcross Desert just in time for lunch.
The Carcross Desert
It was beautifully sunny and warm out. I relaxed on the warm sand while Halia got as dirty as she possibly could. Jade wanted to explore which warmed the cockles of my heart.
While we wandered off to do some exploring, Fawn took a few moments to celebrate some "alone time".
As we walked through the desert, Jade, Halia, and I reveled in the feeling of sand on our bare feet and admired the variety of little desert wildflowers. By the time we returned, Fawn had spread out a blanket of a nice picnic lunch.
After lunch we drove into Carcross. The boat launched in Carcross looked fine and, although the river level between Bennett Lake and Tagish Lake was low, it was navigable. In the end, though, we decided not to launch there. Although our outboard was purchased new last year, it was defective. The dealer replaced the powerhead but we didn't want to test the rebuilt outboard on a river with a bridge directly downstream. When you've got sails for backup it's easier to get out of trouble on a lake than a river.
We all piled back into the van and drove out to the six-mile river between Tagish Lake and Marsh Lake.
The Tagish Lake boat launch was swarming with boat trailers and boaters trying to launch their boats. It was the only useable boat launch around - at least for those with smaller boats. A sandbar just off the end of the launch made me think twice about launching our longer boat. We spent some time hanging around the Tagish campground and decided to continue around the Southern Lakes scenic route.
We explored the Marsh Lake marina (which I already knew wasn't useable because of the low water) just because it's a pretty spot and we knew the kids would enjoy throwing rocks into the water for Nanuq. From there, it was back into the van to investigate another boat launch further down Marsh Lake. Again, I knew the water was still too low to launch, but it's nice to see the launches and understand their advantages and disadvantages.
At the Marsh Lake launch there were a bunch of drunken boaters preparing to take their boats out of the water. They were stumbling around on the rocks and speaking too loudly and I felt a sense of satisfaction when one of them fell into the cold water and the rest got soaked by a sudden rain shower. They weren't having much fun anymore.
We left the boat launch for the short drive to the Marsh Lake campground. The place was packed! We towed the boat through the campground, eliciting more than a few stares. With no small amount of luck, we managed to snag campsite number one, right along the beach. The boat backed in easily.
By this point, we knew we weren't going to get the boat into the water for the weekend - but it wasn't a total bust. When we first looked into getting a MacGregor, it was because we couldn't go canoeing or hiking like we used to. With one toddler and another child on a special diet that makes being away from refrigeration next to impossible, I was lamenting our inability to get out and explore. Fawn suggested purchasing a camper trailer. I balked at the idea, not liking the idea of spending all of our time camping in campgrounds or tied to road systems. The sailboat was a better-than-compromise that would allow us to explore some hard-to-reach places, but still allow us to have all of the amenities of a camper trailer. And, I pointed out at the time, "If we can't get out sailing, we can always use the sailboat as a camper trailer!"
And that's exactly what we did.
Our camper trailer! Much more bear-resistant than your average camping trailer.
Some people spend half-a-million dollars on their "land yachts". But ours actually floats.
Hot water and a sink for doing the dishes. Does it get any more luxurious?
After settling in, we went off to explore Army Beach. To add to the adventure, we had a little creek to cross.
Jade wandered off to visit some kids who were building a city of sand castles...
... while I wandered off to look at the scenery through my beloved ship's binoculars. Halia took to drawing in the sand...
...and Jade joined in, demonstrating her artistic abilities (that's a five-legged octopus).
Nanuq, meanwhile, chased his ball through the mud alongside the creek.
Before long, it was time for bed. Jade was a little angel and crawled right into her berth. Halia, on the other hand, was overtired and refused to stay still for a single moment long enough to lie down. Tackling the squirming, screaming child in shifts, we eventually got her to fall asleep in the unfamiliar setting. I suspect that, had we been rocking on the water, it would have taken mere minutes to get her to sleep.
Morning rolled around, wet and overcast. We rolled out of our beds, had breakfast, and got dressed to explore the soggy wonderland. The first sight that greeted my eyes as I stuck my head out of the companionway was four glowing white swans swimming just off the beach. They were honking happily at the sun as it burned its way through the clouds.
Not surprisingly, the kids loved playing on the beach, picking up shells and throwing rocks and a tennis ball for the dog. Jade was fascinated by all of the swans and variety of other waterfowl - and the swishing sound that her rain suit made when she walked.
Getting ready for another throw.
We spent most of the morning out on the beach. Although the day started off cool and wet, it wasn't long before the clouds moved on and the sun beat down strong, drying everything off. It felt great.
"Throwing rocks for the dog to chase" is the kind of game that provides endless hours of entertainment for everyone.
The rocky area of the beach provided a new source of entertainment for the kids. Bugs! All sorts of great little bugs were hiding on and under the rocks! There'll be more on that in another entry.
After the morning's adventures, we returned to the boat for a delicious lunch in the sun and then stowed everything away for our next adventure of the day.
On to our next adventure.
We drove a few kilometers down the road to the blue bridge that crosses the Yukon River. Our loop was almost complete. Our mission at the blue bridge was three-fold: Explore the locks that will, one day, let us boat into the southern lakes from Schwatka Lake right in Whitehorse, give Halia the chance to have her afternoon nap, and explore for a geocache that I knew was somewhere in the area.
With a little bit of luck and intuition (because I hadn't brought my GPS with me), Jade and I found the cache! Here is Jade, proudly displaying the kooshie ring that we traded for from the "treasure box".
The "cache prize".
Meanwhile, Halia, who had quickly taken to her new accommodations, was sound asleep.
In the end, it was a great weekend of not-sailing, checking out and dreaming of all the places we'll go this summer when the lakes are ready for us.
It shouldn't be long now.