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Dispatch # 4, Thursday, May 5: Johnson Crossing, YT to Laird Hot Springs, British Columbia: What Would Marie and Donnie Osmond Do?

We ate breakfast at the Yukon Motel. After, as Pete paid the bill, I went to give the horses more hay and water. As I was pulling out the hay bin, a portly fellow exited a huge honker RV. He was holding the lead of a Snauzer.

He said hello, then asked if I was traveling with the circus—this, I guess in reference to the fact Siggi and Raudi (because of their size and thick manes) resemble ponies. I said no, and explained that we were heading to the Lower 48, and from there we would ride north. He then, without my even asking, said that he was going to Fairbanks.

“You have a long way to go,” I observed.

“Yes, and once we get there, the wife and I will immediately head back south.”

“Why’s that?”

“We have to be back in Vegas by June 21 because the wife got us tickets to a Marie and Donnie Osmond concert.”

“You’ll miss the solstice. That’s the best time of the year to be in Fairbanks,” I said.

“That so?”

Pete joined us, and I told him what the man had just told me.

I’d like to spend some time there,” the man said.

“Well,” I said, “You could get a round trip ticket to Vegas. That way, you could enjoy both places.”

Pete, seeing the look of indecisiveness on the man’s face added, “Well, you have a choice. So ask yourself: What would Donnie and Marie do?”

We stopped at Liard with the intention of taking a quick soak in the hot springs. We spent considerable time talking with a horse transporter, who was taking four horses north. Our conversation reminded me that likes attract. If we were traveling by bicycle, we’d strike up a discussion with others of our supposed kind. Why is this?

Anyhow, this fellow told us a story about how a horse of his once chased a cougar out of his camping area, and said that after, he put the horse on his Christmas list. I later said to Pete that this was a phrase that for sure was going to stick with us. At least it was my hope that our horses would do right by us if any wild animals wandered into our campsite.

My fears about finding a place to camp were again unfounded. Once again, we began our search at 4 p.m. The counter clerk at the Liard River Lodge told us there was a fellow down the road who boarded transport horses. Moments later, we knocked on the door of an old, seemingly deserted cabin. A man appeared at the door and said that yes, he put up horses. Wide-eyed, wrinkled, missing some teeth, he appeared to be the quintessential Yukon homesteader.

We paid him $20.00, and released Raudi and Siggi into a large fenced-in area with some grass that we supplemented with hay. The two raced around, jumping over piles of logs, and checking out the environs, some of which included an old shed and a second, smaller fenced-in area.

The place was close to the highway, but between it and the road was a berm that was littered with piles of bison shit. The bison were farther up-road—we saw them hanging out by the roadside, in groups of one, two, and three, and then we saw an entire herd. It had appeared as though the area between the spruce forest and the road had been clear cut just for them.