This is the 13th in a continuing series about our trip through Canada to Alaska
Good news! If you’re looking forward to driving across vast expanses where you can still find opportunities for adventure, the Yukon is the place. And obviously if you plan to drive to Alaska, you will see the Yukon.
While previous travelers say the road has improved over the past 10 years, it’s nowhere near as easy to drive as even rural state highways in the U.S. Is that good or bad? I’m in agreement with those who want the Yukon to be unrefined forever, a territory where the frontier spirit lives on.
Where we were Sunday was remote. There was a cabin down a dirt road every 20 or 30 miles. Few settlements, gas stations or restaurants on today’s route and other than the Five Fingers rock formation on the Yukon River, very few photo op stops.
This was our caravan’s longest travel day of the 58-day tour in miles: 339 miles from Whitehorse to Dawson City. The road we followed is the Klondike Highway, a.k.a. Hwy. 2, but I at this time of year it could also be called “The Fireweed Road.”
Fireweed, the magenta and pink official flower of the Yukon, grows profusely along the miles of two-lane highway, intermixed with white, yellow and blue wildflowers.
Historically, this road was built in the Tintina Trench, a natural geological canyon caused by shifts in fault lines. When the route was first being considered, running it in the trench was the easy choice.
It was another slow day for wildlife. Several members of the group including us saw only perky little Arctic Ground Squirrels scurrying across the pavement in our 8-hour drive.
The most important observation I can pass along to future Alaska-bound trekkers is stay alert for bumps. A few are marked with signs but most aren’t. After an hour or two of blacktop observation, dips, potholes and gravel are easier to see, but I doubt that anyone won’t get jolted unexpectedly a few times along the way. It didn’t seem like we had any bad bumps; yet, our radio/TV /DVD player combo remote fell and was shattered under the weight of a recliner that obviously jumped. It could have been while we were on the 15.6 miles of gravel we encounter halfway on the trail. [Road]
Enough about the trip. Time for a vocabulary lesson:
You must get used to “loonies” is and “toonies.” In Canada there are not dollar bills, but rather, copper-colored $1 coins called “loonies” because there is a loon on the back. A small loonie inside a larger silver ring is a “toonie” because it is two coins equal to $2.
If you go into a restroom in a store, do you rest? Probably not. Or if you ask for the public bathroom, are you planning to take a bath? Probably not. Up here they are called “washrooms,” which makes sense, since calling it by what you really plan to do isn’t polite.
RVers see signs along the road saying RV parks have “full service.” Translation: Full-Hookups.
We arrived at our Dawson City RV resort in the rain this afternoon, happy to be able to squeeze into a parking spot. As mentioned before, every campground up here is full every night or close to it. For us, the caravan staff has made the arrangements; for the independent traveler, it seems like a good idea to make advanced reservations or just hope for the best. There are alternatives, including dry camping in provincial parks and off-road pull-outs, but we haven’t experienced them.
And finally, did Einstein visit the Yukon?
“… escape from everyday life, with its painful crudity and hopeless dreariness from the fetters from one’s own shifting desires. A finely tempered nature longs to escape from his noisy, cramped surroundings into the silence of the high mountains, where the eye ranges freely through the still pure air and fondly traces out the restful contours apparently built for eternity.”
1918 speech by Albert Einstein
[Contributed by Brent Puniwai]
From the “Never-Bored RVers,” We’ll see you on down the road.