The Trapline

January 1, 2013 by
LilKnit 317 in Woods

Walter and Andrew end up camping in a canvas tent with local Indians. Pulled in by a sled and two skidoos they were sitting on a well-used fur in front of a red glowing potbelly stove, having a beer!
Despite the heater being fueled by oil and candle wax in addition to freeze-dried timber it is still cold in the little tent. We are handed a beer after refusing the bottle of CC, whilst Rocco is heating up the frozen soup he just retrieved out of a tree. He swears it was lovely only just a week ago. Whenever the pot runs low he adds meat, vegetables and stock.

By 6pm it has been dark for a few hours and the five of us pass out curled up in our sleeping bags on the rug in the tent. Boy do our Mad Bomber hats come in handy here! The draft would sure be detrimental to our health if it wasn’t for our Bomber hats! 

At 6am all of us are up and ready for the day. ‘Boss’ the oldest among us has rekindled the fire to the point where the stove is glowing red hot. Surely the canvas must burn where the hot chimney leaves the canvas tent, but it doesn’t. We are handed a beer with breakfast, and politely accept.

Trapping in the Yukon

After ‘drinking’ breakfast the Indians invite Andrew and myself into the sled to go and check the traps. I place my half drunk bottle of beer with its neck against the red glowing stove, assuming it will be warm or broken when I return from the adventure.

The snowmobile pulls us through the outstanding snow speckled wilderness past the dozen or so traps the Indians have laid down. The ride is the fun bit, sliding through the white forest with the snowmobile dodging trees and shrubs. Wind blowing through our hair. Andrew is dying to have a go at the skidoo. He doesn’t get a chance, but does get the ride of his life when he gets thrown off the back of the skidoo after hitting a large bump. 

An hour later we are back in the tent. With anticipation I crawl inside to inspect my science experiment to find the tent guardians happily drinking more ‘breakfast’. Sure enough next to the still glowing stove I find my beer; frozen solid. I knew this tent was a cold place! The amazing thing is that the chimney doesn’t even burn my finger 10 inches up from where it leaves the stove and goes through the canvas.  Did I mention we are not even in the arctic yet? 

The men have done what they have come to do, it is time to return to the hotel. We pack up, secure our warm Mad Bomber hats on our heads and get into the sled, back to the Landcruiser and before we know it we are back at our faithful Dodge Dart, frozen solidly.

317COR Lil' Knit Bomber

Every
kid will look cute in these knitted Bomber hats! Get them ready for cold days at school, get them ready for ole Man Winter. One size fits most!

Off Road in the Yukon

December 6, 2012 by
Off Road in the Yukon
Walter and Andrew had turned the corner and had driven North on the Dempster Highway. After hundreds of desolate miles they arrived at the Eagle Plains Hotel. Everything on the back seat was frozen, and that included canned goods and cheese.
This is the only rest stop along the way, the Eagle Plains Hotel. We stepped into the establishment and I ordered fried chicken livers to warm me up and Andrew got a burger. Still sporting our Mad Bomber hatsinside, the other diners and drinkers; including truckies and Indians from the neighborhood, were staring at us with their sporty ballcaps on their warm heads.Soon we were having a beer and talking to the Indians. They weretrapping and hunting in the area and came in for a break from their tents and skidoos. We all got on well and the guys were very friendly till one hunter drank a little too much. At this point we had retreated to one of their hotel rooms where the beer was cheaper (they had their own drinks). This was to be a lesson for us young and innocent boys. The man wanted to fight me for no reason other than a show of strength. The others tried to stop him but as he stormed towards me with a fist out I grabbed it and using his own momentum flipped him over my shoulder. The other hunters apologized on his behalf and we were invited to sleep in one of their rooms for the night. I thought at least my Mad Bomber would’ve given me some protection in a fistfight.The following day the one traffic light situated on the one road in front of the Eagle Plains Hotel was on RED! Apparently despite the blue sky that meant the road ahead into the mountains was closed. Our newly acquired Indian friends invited us to come along on their hunt.

Camping in the Yukon

Soon Andrew and I are following their new Landcruiser and Tacoma truck. We stopped at a large steel locked shed owned by the county. Andrew parked our car nicely off to the side and jumped into their vehicles. Twenty minutes later we pulled off the road and parked on a cleared spot just off the highway. The men find their skidoo and sled, load up their supplies (alcohol) and we head off through pretty snow covered shrubbery for half an hour to a canvas tent near a healthy stand of trees. It is blistery cold at 2pm and the sun is shining in a blue sky, and our fingers are freezing off in the -20F. Thank goodness for our hats. Ourspare two hats are now worn by the two most alpha hunters in our hunting detail.

The pot belly stove is lit inside the canvas tent with engine oil a piece of candle and a few sticks of wood. Within 10 minutes it is glowing red. Sitting next to it on fur (with a beer) is actually very warm and cozy.  ‘Boss’ the oldest of the Indians is passed out with a bottle of CC in a blanket. Rocco, the biggest Indian, climbs into an adjacent tree to retrieve a pot of frozen soup to go on top of the pot belly. What are we in for!

 
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Turning the Corner

November 6, 2012 by
Heading for the Dempster Hwy
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Driving directly into the North wind Walter and Andrew are heading for a weekend in the Canadian Arctic. It is winter and bitterly cold and the days are very short. With clothing from the charity stores the gentlemen are poorly equipped for the chilly adventures ahead.

There is snow along the road and the old Dodge is really cold  inside now despite the heater on full blast. As the temperature drops outside the temperature on the backseat also falls below freezing. We know this because our orange juice in the back is frozen solid even after driving for hours with heater on full. The Dodge can get you there but don’t count on the amenities.

Andrew is piloting the jalopy like a jockey on an old horse. Holding off the whip we cruise along at a comfy 55 miles per hour. After a good 4-5 hours driving North along the Klondike Highway from Whitehorse we reach a junction. The Dawson City and Dempster Highway corner, known as The Corner. There is a gas station and truck stop and we stop for a hot meal. Since we only want to scoot up the Dempster to see how far North we can get we decide against going into Dawson City.

The Dempster Highway was named after a police inspector who at the turn of the century went looking for a lost party of Mounties who failed to deliver mail on dogsleds to Fort McPherson. Jack Dempster returned in record time with the remains of the frozen patrol.

Dempster Highway

As I am eating my fried liver lunch I can hear a couple complain to a truckie about the road to Eagle Plains along the Dempster highway. The truckie nods and shakes his head a lot as I overhear tales of woe. Andrew and I look at each other and check out the room rates. We book a room and decide to stay the night. Even though it is only 4pm it is getting very dark outside and as the wind howls outside we drink more weak (free) coffees and decide against venturing into Dawson City a good half our drive and $20+ worth of gas return.

It is pitch-dark at 8am when we leave the motel room from The Corner and head for Eagle Plains. We are half expecting Eagle Plains to be a town with affordable gas stations and so reluctantly fill up our tank with the expensive octane juice on the corner of the Dempster and Klondike highway before we start the journey North. It is getting cold now, -20F and in our headlights we see the snow falling. Fearless and with a tingle in our spine we head North. We think the fun is really starting now.

Eleven hours later mostly driving on snow with hidden potholes, dirt and gravel we arrive at Eagle Plains. The fuel tank is almost empty and we surely must be driving on fumes. There is nothing except for a hotel. It is still very cold and obviously it is dark again. All lit up the Eagle Plains Hotel appears along the road like a mirage in the desert. It looks warm, inviting and cozy. Unfortunately the hotel is more expensive than the el-cheapo accommodation we’ve been staying at. We decide to grab a bite to eat and have a long deep think as to what we are going to do now. It is way too cold to sleep outside now even with our warm Mad Bomber hats. And the gas here…. it is the most expensive we have seen so far.

 

Adjustable Snaplock at chin ensures a snug fit for most children! 

Adventures of a Mad Bomber – Change of Plan

August 14, 2012 by
Mad Bomber adventure map - change of plan!

Spot the camo Bomber! Alaska or the NW Territories?

Walter and Andrew were en-route to Northpole, Alaska but decided the Alcan highway was so good they would be in Northpole a month before Christmas at their current speed. The Northpole they were heading for was after all just a town outside of Fairbanks.

So it was time to have a good look at the map. Andrew looked and observed we couldn’t drive much past Fairbanks as there were no public roads open in the winter. But looking at the Canandian Arctic… There is a road going all the way up to Inuvik in the North West Territories. It is time for Walter to drink his 5th cup of weak complimentary coffee.

Look, we could use that one, or that one,...

Look, we could use that one, or that one,…

We illogically decide that we can drive 1250 kilometers North into the Canadian Arctic in a couple of days, have a few days to relax, come back, and voila we can still make it to Northpole for Christmas! Andrew glanced at the old Dodge parked outside and remembered the bald tires. Next stop tire-shop. The man at the tire-shop said we’d never make it up the Dempster highway in our car, shook his head continuously as he gave us 2 reasonable second-hand all-season tires for a charitable price of $20 which included mounting.

After a quick stop at McDonalds for provisions where they kindly fill up the thermos full of thick-shake to see us through the day and after buying cheese, salami and biscuits from the supermarket we make a visit to the local op-shop to get some more warm weather gear….. we fill up with the last affordable gas and head towards the Klondike Highway.

It is still bitter cold in the car. As the temperature drops we notice there is more draft and we continue stuffing clothing and newspapers in holes and cracks everywhere. We now wear our Mad Bomber in the car as the heater is no longer keeping up with the -10F and below. Long unfashionable underwear is keeping us cozy and warm under our many other layers. Andrew has proper hiking boots but I am wearing a cheap pair of running shoes. The skis are at the ready in the trunk next to the boots. Let it snow let it snow let it snow.
Watch out Canadian Arctic, we are heading your way.

To be continued! 

 

White Horse – Yukon

August 10, 2012 by

Map of Yukon
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When you are young you want adventure. But when you are young you just don’t have the money. And so Andrew and Walter are cruising in a $500 Dodge Dart to North-pole Alaska for Christmas. Little do they realize exactly how cold it is going to get. But first…

We leave Watson Lakewith a full tank of gas and a wry smile . We had survived the night after running out of gas just as we drove down a hill into town and coasted into a parking spot with a power extension cord hanging out the window ready to plug in the car. We feel blessed riding into the cool crisp air of a dark Yukon morning, despite being scolded by an angry shopkeeper for ‘stealing’ his power.

SS Klondike in Whitehorse
SS Klondike in Whitehorse
It is a long drive to Whitehorse, we are making good progress and are not deterred by the high gas price after having run out of gas yesterday. Andrew stops for his regular noise checks. This time he determines two of our tires are too worn out to drive on and need replacing. He is right, I see steel belt poking out of the rubber, a terrible sign especially when you are heading North in Winter. 

The scenery is wide with large open expanses and long sections of forest, large rivers, long bridges, quite awe inspiring. I nod off as Andrew continues to drive towards Whitehorse.

As we enter Whitehorse with bleary eyes in the dark again we drive past an old pedal steamer. This seems worth investigating but will have to wait until morning! First we need a bed. That’s easily found in a modest downtown hotel where we appreciatively crawl into the warm down blanket with memories of sleeping in the car still fresh in our minds.

After a MacDonald’s breakfast we head straight for the pedal-steamer. It is theSS Klondike and has been turned into a museum. It’s closed for the winter. This does not deter me. Andrew has been doing the driving and now it’s time for me to have some excitement. I work my way into the ship through the pedal mechanism and walk to the front door to open it for Andrew. It was not till the alarm went off that I realized that this was a very bad thing to do. Instead of checking out the museum I quickly close the door again and returned to the car. Within ten minutes the police arrive and also a few people from the historical society.  All is okay.

It is back to a warm cafe for us to take a good long hard look at our map and decide where we are heading. Oh, and what shall we do about our tires…

Adventures of a Mad Bomber – Trouble!

July 13, 2012 by

Map of the Yukon

Driving to Northpole Alaska in a really old car like the ’67 Dodge Dart Walter and Andrew were asking for trouble. Little were they prepared for the trouble they were getting into which was not related to the age of the car. It is cold and dark and Andrew and Walter just woke up and are now driving from Fort Nelson to Watson Lake.

Gassed up and with Bombers secured we head North. The fuel gauge has stopped working, but the WD40 has settled down the speedo. More rags are stuffed into the dash to stop drafts. Our Mad Bomber gloves are too hot in the car, so we wear socks on our hands.

WatsonlakeWatson Lake Highlights

Andrew stops the car on numerous occasions, allowing precious warm air to leave the car. He is listening to more annoying sounds. Eventually he is convinced the wheel bearings are dry but is satisfied that no wheel will come off – today. Sigh… We stop for lunch and Andrew finds some grease at a gas station to stuff into the bearings and we add $10 of really expensive gas just to be polite, and to be safe. Andrew is happy again. From our calculations we cannot make Watson Lake with our fuel, but expect to stop at the first reasonably priced service station. Alas, we see no more gas-stations after lunch. The closed ones we pass have seriously high prices too! Eventually we slow down to 45 mph hoping to extend our range. It gets dark at 4pm and we fear getting stranded in bear territory. Still no gas stations and the fuel gauge still broken, we have no idea how far we can go, but estimate Watson Lake to be out of range…. 

The car runs out of gas just as the road descends into Watson Lake past a magnificent collection of stolen signs. It is pitch dark and 8pm. The town is deserted as we coast in quietly and pull into a car park in front of a shop without even needing to push the car. It just rolled into town, a miracle! We thank our lucky stars as we plug the car into the extension lead conveniently hanging out the shop window right there. In such cold weather it is imperative to plug in the oil and water heaters overnight so as not to freeze the car. 

 
We nibble at our supplies and get out the sleeping bags. Within an hour Andrew is sprawled out asleep on the front bench and I crash on the back seat. Geez it is cold in the car. No bears, so I get out on the road again.
 
In the morning I scrape the remains of my foam sleeping mat off the road and run over to the gas station not far away. The staff were amazed we’d run out of fuel there. They assumed we’d left the car running at night for warmth. I return to Andrew with a  jerrycan full of fuel and 2 hot cups of coffee.

Andrew is up, looking a little perturbed. He tells me he just dealt with an angry shop owner who advised him that plugging in the car with the oil and water heaters costs about $5 per night and we had stolen from him. Our story of having run out of gas was not plausible to him either. Andrew had offered $5 but the man was so upset he did not want money. We pour the gas in the tank, drive to the gas station and fill up. We get the thermos filed with hot coffee and buy some groceries. As Andrew drives out of Watson Lake I prepare sandwiches for  an in-flight breakfast.  It is still dark as we head out of town. That was a warm welcome to the Yukon!

Whitehorse here we come!

Adventures of a MadBomber – out of Gas!

May 16, 2012 by
Dodge_dashboard
Comfortable Dodge!

After leaving the Transient Hostel in Fort Nelson we are find ourselves on a road  covered in a thin layer of snow and ice.  Andrew gingerly drives the car into the misty morning, it is 10am, shortly after dawn! Gassed up and with Bombers secured we head for Watson Lake, 350 miles North. The fuel gauge has stopped working, but the WD40 has settled down the speedo. More rags are stuffed into the dash to stop drafts. Our Mad Bomber gloves are too hot in the car, so we wear socks on our hands. 

Andrew stops the car again on numerous occasions, allowing precious warm air to leave the car. He is listening to another annoying sound now and is eventually convinced the wheel bearings are dry but is satisfied no wheel will come off – today. Sigh… We stop for lunch and Andrew finds some grease at a gas station to stuff into the bearings and we add $10 of really expensive gas to be polite, and to be safe. He is happy again. From our calculations we cannot make Watson Lake with our fuel, but expect to stop at the first reasonably priced service station. Alas, we see no more gas-stations after lunch. The closed ones we pass have seriously high prices! We eventually slow down to 45 mph hoping to extend our range. It gets dark at 4pm and we fear getting stranded in bear territory. Still no gas stations and the fuel gauge still broken, we have no idea how far we can go, but estimate Watson Lake to be very optimistic.

The car rans out of gas just as the road descends into Watson Lake. It is pitch dark and 8pm. The town is deserted as we coast in quietly and pull into a car park in front of a shop without even needing to push the car. It just rolled into town, a miracle! We thank our lucky stars as we plug the car into the extension lead hanging out the shop window right there as well. We nibble at our supplies and get out the sleeping bags. Within an hour Andrew is sprawled out asleep on the front bench and I crash on the back seat.


Adventures of a Mad Bomber – Camping

April 14, 2012 by

Boreal forest with 370ACORN

Andrew and Walter finally get on the road at 10am, frosty but it is wind-still. The worn all-season tires shine with tire paint which we applied to make the police think we have new tires – just in case they pull us over. Short of a few big trucks nobody is on the road, and in the fully gassed up car we head North.  At an optimistic 60 miles an hour with Andrew at the helm we have barely left when Andrew wants to listen to some car-noise again. As soon as he opens the car door I remember to put on my Mad Bomber Hat again. The car heater is not coping well with the 20 degrees F outside temperature.
Dodge_dashboard

The cold is starting to bother us, we realize it will get much worse. Andrew determines it is the speedometer cable making the unpleasant squeaking noise, the noise that I hadn’t noticed yet. It explains the jerky speedo, and Andrew gets out the WD40

 We decide to camp out for the night and take the turn off to  the W.A.C. Bennett Dam, about 50 miles off the Alcan.  It doesn’t take long to get there and we find a forlorn and empty looking visitor station. Everything is closed for winter. Snow on the ground, it is cold and miserable. Boots strapped on and Bomber hats with the flaps tied down over the ears we wonder off towards the dam wall. Yes, we determine it is a dam, a very big one too. The Peace River generates almost 13 billion kWh annually of power between two power stations. 

An early bed time for us. We both lie down on front and rear seats respectively, toes and head against cold metal doors. Not pleasant, certainly not warm. My two hats keeps my toes and ears warm, but I decide to sleep outside. 

 I roll my rubber insulating mat out next to the car and sleep comfortable till about 7am. My rubber mat was frozen solid to the road in the morning, and peeling it off slowly pretty much ruined the insulating rubber. Determined to find coffee quick we start the car and zoom off before dawn on the icy road just as the ranger drives up.

 ‘Been hunting boys?’ he asks us. No, we just wanted to check out the visitor station. ‘Closed for winter’, he says. ‘Where did you sleep?’. Next to the picnic table in the car park Sir. ‘Well, you’re bloody lucky you are alive, as bears are known to rip cars apart in this area’. Bears? I slept outside. ‘Outside? Men, you are lucky to be alive!’. We look at each other, say our goodbyes and get in the car. Let’s go to Fort Nelson!  

Without further ado we cross endless miles of boreal forests and arrive in a cold and forlorn Fort Nelson three hundred miles North. The silhouette of a bear greets us as we drive into town, an ominous sign. We get directions to the Transients’ Hostel for the night and are offered a free night in return for my Mad Bomber Hat! We decline the offer and pay. A warm dinner and a few beers later we find our very comfy bunks for the night and fully intend on waking up **early** to continue our cool way towards the North Pole. 

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Adventures of a Mad Bomber – Mile 0

April 6, 2012 by
Northpole for Christmas

Northpole for Christmas

Thinking they were fully equipped Andrew and Walter headed North towards the Alaskan Highway. Mile Zero at Dawson Creek is the official start of the highway . Since the ’67 Dodge Dart’s oil light was no longer on and the deluxe auto now had slightly better second hand all-season tires they both accomplices assumed the jalopy was also ready for an Alaskan winter. Walter even picked up a $50 pair of dilapidated downhill skis and boots to add to their equipment cache.

Feeling the draft coming through the dash Andrew decided to stuff newspapers in the many nooks and crannies of the car. Eventually we feel the heater begin to have an effect. We take off our MAD BOMBER hats and happily cruise through the dry and windy prairies. Late at night we hit Dawson Creek in the lovely snow. Time for a celebration but first we need accommodations. A friendly drunk points us to the men’s hostel originally designed in the 1940s to cater to workers on the Alcan. These days it is more a homeless shelter and we gratefully accept the humble tin-roof above our hats before crashing into unconsciousness in our assigned bunks.

Andrew dreams of cars breaking down, Walter dreams of using his newly acquired downhill skis. All too early in the morning the other men woke us up wanting to know what we were planning with that wreck of a car. Everyone needs a car in working order for $100. We even get offers for our Mad Bomber hats! We made our way to a cafe for our first ‘Yukon Breakfast’, donning our warm hats as the morning air was absolutely freezing.

 

As it happens Walter’s cousin Mike was born in Dawson Creek and so he keeps his eyes peeled for any evidence of the Weinberg family . The waitress serving the Yukon Breakfast likes our hats and proudly shows us her White Leather Bomber and Walter immediately took the opportunity to ask if she was related to cousin Mike. 
 
Spot Walter's Cousin

Spot Walter's Cousin

Andrew keeps searching for car parts. Although Walter doesn’t hear the odd sounds the car makes Andrew certainly does. Andrew is worried something is wrong. 1500 Miles of rumbling along the Alaskan Highway in Winter will no doubt expose any weakness. 
 
Feeling good we purchase Alaskan highway postcards on our way out to Fort Nelson, enroute to Whitehorse, almost 1000 miles away across the frozen expanse. Walter still can’t hear the odd noise that Andrew hears in the engine. Andrew stops every 100 miles to check under the hood. His BOMBER comes in handy!

Adventures of a Mad Bomber – the Farm

April 1, 2012 by

Walter and Andrew are happy as Larry. With their Mad Bomber hats they are still toasty and warm. Heading for the Northpole they are bound to feel the cold eventually:

Map to N-Pole with Team Bomber

Andrew and Walter arrive at Andrew’s mother”s in Alberta well after midnight, it is cold and snowing. Not a time to surprise mum. Both of us study in Australiaso our unannounced visit sure is a surprise. We pull down the flaps of our MAD BOMBER hats and stretch out on the front and rear benches of the old cold steel Dodge. I am fortunate to have a spare BOMBER wrapped on my feet to keep the tootsies warm. And so we spend a cold night in the car only to be woken up by the loyal RCMP at dawn.
Andrew’s mum had spotted a suspicious vehicle in front of her house with fogged up windows. The situation was rectified, tears of joy and a hearty breakfast and gifts placed under the tree. Over the next few days Andrew fixed half his mother’s appliances as he is handy in that way and in return she provided us with warm clothing for our Arctic expedition from the charity stores that she volunteers at. We head North with full bellies and long underwear.
 
Random Dart picture in street

 Next stop is a few hundred miles closer to Northpole at Andrew’s brother’s dairy farm. At the last minute we decide to log onto the Mad Bomber webstore and order brother John two Team Bombers as they were on sale. He’s a dairy farmer and it sure gets cold running a farm in Central Alberta. We beat the mail and arrived to surprise him but he puts us to work straight away on the farm. As I help milk the cows Andrew is in town fixing the car. He finds us a pair of all-weather tires that still had some tread on them which someone had tossed out at the tire-repair place in Edmonton. He also finds us a new  $10 ‘sender unit‘ for the oil light, the part that tells the light to come on in case of low oil pressure. The oil light goes off just as Andrew had predicted.Our jalopy is starting to feel good now. As a final omen of good luck Andrew finds his old watch in the mud outside the shed. He had lost it on the farm two years ago and today he walked past and heard its faithful alarm beeping in the frozen mud!  Must be as reliable as a BOMBER. 

Just as the Team Bombers arrive for John we say our goodbyes and head North towards Dawson Creek, Mile Zero of the Alaskan Highway. Stopping for supplies at the Edmonton Mall we admire the surfing beach, submarine and fantasy hotel. Andrew spots a Mad Bomber on special in a sports store and buys it as a backup hat ‘for emergency’. I bet he was jealous of my spare hat when I had warm fury feet sleeping in the car at his mother’s house.Our BOMBERS are tightly secured to our noggins and we leave in our drafty Dodge.

To be continued! 


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