On the Road Adventures

Friday, June 19, 2009

17 June - Not in Whitehorse

It’s so nice not to write “Whitehorse.” We had a very nice stay there, but it was time to be out on the open road again.

Dave started the morning off well. He was standing just inside the door of their motorhome, bringing in the awning, when it decided to relieve itself of its load of water. Cold rain water. All over him like the winning coach having a Gatorade moment. We missed it, but it must have been funny, because Pam laughs so much when she tells the story she can hardly talk.

It doesn’t take long to get out of civilization up here in the Yukon. There was a frosting of snow on the higher mountains just out of town, and for most of the next couple of hours we had the road all to ourselves. A hundred miles later we came to the next little town, Haines Junction. We were going to stop there, but zip, blink, and we were out of town again. The mountains were getting taller and more impressive as we rolled along. What didn’t get more impressive was the road. They use these signs with what looks like waves on them, usually in conjunction with little orange flags at the side of the road. This code means “frost heaves.” What gets heaved is the motor home or trailer that unwisely hits them at anything over 25 miles an hour. It’s a real roller coaster ride! If it was a rodeo event, we’d get extra points for spurring. Then there is the construction. Gravel washboard roads that fortunately were mostly wet from earlier rains, but still were dusty. I was driving through a long stretch of construction, and when we stopped Gerry told me I did very well. I was only doing 15 mph for most of it – it was easy to do it well. And that’s the way it went: dust and gravel, poor paving with frost heaves, more dust and gravel, then more frost heaves, hop-scotching across at least 60 miles. According to Milepost, this is a long term improvement project to turn this stretch of road from Haines Junction to the border into a smooth, modern road. It’s supposed to be done by 2010. When we all heard that, there was silence for a moment, and then a burst of laughter. Yeah, right!

One advantage of going slow was that there was plenty of time to take in the scenery. We saw Kluane Lake, an enormous body of water, and the east side of the St. Elias Mountains. We had seen the west face of the Hubble glacier on an Alaska cruise a few years ago, and now we’ve seen the eastern side of the same glacier. Granted, it was from quite a distance, but the view was still amazing. Of the wildlife sighted today: a moose, a black bear, a coyote who looked very well fed and sleek, and a porcupine. We saw some vintage Bentleys that had taken part in a road rally up the highway. What a way to travel! In an open, ancient car through all the dust and gravel. There were two guys wearing goggles (smart!) and we laughed at what their faces were going to look like tonight.

We stopped for the night at a wonderful government campground, Lake Creek, which has nice long, level sites, trees, a nearby river, and right now, lots of blue and pink wildflowers. It’s a great place to camp, and when we got here we were just about the only people in the park. I think it’s fuller now, but we’re at the end so it’s quiet and peaceful. I’m glad we didn’t let the first provincial park we stayed at keep us from giving others a try. All the rest, this one included, have been great places to stay, and cheap. This one was $12. Not bad for such a lovely location.

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