June 16 – June 25, 2017 – British Columbia, Yukon and Alaska (1)
When we get up on Friday it’s dry and only 41 degrees but the mountains are visible, very pleasant in this beautiful place. The moment we enter the road a herd of Bighorn Sheep make their entrance. Not only female and baby sheep but also a male with his impressive horns. They study us and finally jump into the valley below us. After leaving this magnificent Stone Mountain Provincial Park it starts to drizzle, strengthening into rain that shrouded the mountains and trees. Although we drive along the beautiful Muncho Lake, we cannot see anything around us. Luckily we spot a Moose along an airstrip.
He is very shy and avoids my camera but still I manage to capture him before he disappears in the woods. After driven on gravel for quite a time, making the RV even filthier than it is already, we arrive at Liard River Provincial Park. An obligatory stop along the Alaska Highway because of the Hot Springs. End of the morning there is still enough place at the campground so after finding a nice spot and drinking some coffee, we walk to the Hot Springs to take a bath.
It’s great to be in this warm water after the cold temperatures in the morning. We have a bath for an hour and chat with other guests, then we walk back to our RV. We smell like rotten eggs but it turns out to be effective against the many mosquitoes here. Camphosts are cutting down trees on the campground (tree falling in progress). When I ask them or I can take some branches I am told I also can grab the blocks. It’s not said to deaf ears and soon I feel like the squirrels running around with acorns, only I loaded my arms with wood blocks. After making lots of pictures of the wild Buffalo grazing in front of our campground, we make a fire. Walking back and forth with wood pays off because it is not only very dry wood and sets in fire very quickly, we also have so much wood that we can heat our fire for hours and hours and of course preparing our meat on it. Around 9 am, I’m taking a bath again in the springs while Dick is looking for pictures for our website. Saturday June-17 we leave early. As we heading far more north we have time errors because the sun shines much longer. It is not bad on this part of the Alaska Highway because early in the morning you can spot more wild life.
We are not disappointed because in addition to some grazing Buffalo’s there are also larger groups with little ones (in total we see 52 Buffalo’s), a Fox with a rabbit just caught, runs along the highway, a Porcupine walks around and Mule Deer jumps near our RV. Unfortunately the weather is not still good, rain, hail and also sun alternate. In Watson Lake we stay at the RV campground. Dick wants to publish and needs Wifi, while I do the laundry and after our work have been completed we walk in the sun to the Signpost Forest to see if our sign “De Reiskranen, Holland” is still there.
Despite the fact that I forgot to bring the right coördinates we directly find our sign, make some pictures and walk to the Visitor Center to look at the movie about the construction of the Alaska Highway, then we walk back to our RV. On Sunday June-18 the weather cannot be a bigger contrast, the sky is steel blue, the sun shines and its 60 degrees. Good weather to go on, we head to Whitehorse, a 272 mile drive. The road is not boring and although there are many trees, regularly snow-covered peaks are beside and in front of us. We enjoy this up and down winding part of the Alaska highway. At two o’clock we arrive in Whitehorse, the Visitor Center has Wifi, so Dick is going to publish the English version of our website and of course we check our mail and send messages.
We stay there quite a long time and arrive at Walmart the end of the afternoon. I don’t have to ask whether we are allowed to stay overnight because there are already 40 other RV’s and there is a picture that shows you where you can and cannot stay overnight. After searching some geocaches and doing some shopping we stay the rest of the evening in our RV. It is 80 degrees but with all our windows open it is agreeable. Early Monday warning lights are flashing inside our RV, we have a “propane failure”. What is going on and how to fix it, we do not know but it is annoying because our propane stops.
We will see if this remains so after getting food we drive to Twin Lakes. Here we stayed previous years because it is such a beautiful Lake. Despite the fact that there are some RV’s, our regular spot is still available. Next to the shore it gives us the ability to wash our RV with water from the Lake. It is really necessary to clean the RV because he is filthy nasty. Regularly we have a chat with other RV-ers entering the campground, so it takes up to 4 hours before we had cleaned the RV and make us a wood fire.
Unfortunately, the wind starts blowing hard and the temperature drops from 80 to 58 degrees. Despite the fact that we have a woodfire it’s chilly outside. Luckily, after one hour, the storm turns down and the lake changes again from a ferocious sea into calm water, now we can enjoy our fire, the shining sun and of course our delicious roasted meat. At 11 pm, it’s still daylight, our battery goes down and the lights of propane failure flash again. Despite the late hour, Dick starts our generator and we use the outside connection for our American propane cylinder. At 1 am, finally, we have battery power again and the outside connected propane cylinder delivers propane so we can go to bed. Dick thinks the device that regulates our propane is broken. After a short night’s sleep, we get up at 6 am, have breakfast and drive to Dawson.
The road suffered from the permafrost, everywhere are holes and hives and it feels like a washboard. The roadside is colorful, everywhere you see Fireweed. Unfortunately the campsite in Dawson is full but just outside there is place. As the campground wifi does not work we take our bikes and ride to the Visitor Center to send an email to our dealer in Holland and also to Dick and Kaye in Alaska. We hope to hear soon because a propane failure is very annoying. The rest of the afternoon we bike around in Dawson and have dinner at Sourdough Joe.
On our way back its cooler, the temperature dropped to 68 degrees. Wednesday June 21 our alarm clock wakes us up at 6 am. There is still no wifi on the campground so Dick calls our dealer in the Netherlands with his mobile phone. He did not read our email but it could be possible a device is broken. We will mail them where they can sent a new device. We are lucky that we may use Dick and Kaye’s mailbox. Let’s hope our part will arrive soon. After breakfast we do some laundry and then ride to Dawson to send our mail. We are not in a hurry. At this moment, there is a 9 hour time difference, so nobody works in the Netherlands. After sending our mail we cycle back to the campground, leave our laptop and cycle back again to Dawson. The distance is only 2,2 mile, so it’s not a problem.
As we approach town, the sky gets dark and it starts raining. We get shelter at the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and that’s good, once we put our bikes on the porch it starts to rain, hail and a thunderstorm comes in. It’s severe weather and we are pleased that we hide here. Within minutes pools of water grow into lakes and there is an inch of hail on the ground. It last an hour but we stay dry and warm in the office and chat with the police officer and his female colleague. Then the thunderstorm is over and we grab our bikes, cycle to the city center and look at the shops. In the Gold shop I buy myself golden earrings and then we ride back to the campground, clean up, take a coat (the temperature dropped to 58 degrees) and cycle to Diamond Tooth Gerties Gambling Hall to enjoy the show that brings you back to the years of the Gold rush.
It’s already busy when we arrive but we find a nice spot in the front and until the show begins we socialize with other guests. There are three shows, the dancers are good and Gertie, the singer, is great. Many people leave after the first or second show, sad because the last show is awesome. People from Dawson come in and they have a loud way to show their appreciation. Undoubtedly this happened also in the time of the Goldrush. Around half past 12 am the show ends, the sun is still shining. On this longest day of the year, there is no darkness. It’s strange to ride in the midnight sun. Just the fact that there are no cars driving or parked makes that you know it’s after midnight. At half past one we are back at the campground.
The next morning we find out that we haven’t had enough sleep but we want to be in time at the Dredge, a giant machine, used to find gold in the Klondike. Ofcourse we are too early and have to wait for an hour before the tour starts. The group is very large and the Guide uninspiring so we are pleased to leave and drive back to the campground, now we have a camp place in Dawson. After a coffee, it’s time to walk to the Cabin of Robert Service. This famous writer arrived in Dawson after the Gold Rush and got inspiration to write about it after the stories he heard. For those who do not know Robert Service , here is a part of “The Spell of the Yukon”:
One after another poem is read to us. We hear and love it. 6 Years ago we bought a book of Robert Service, so we can read all the poems, but sitting outside, in the background the Cabin of Robert Service and listening to the poems, leave a deep impression. In the warm sunshine, it’s now 86 degrees, we walk back to the Yukon. Before our guided walk through Dawson starts there is some time to enjoy a milkshake. Of course, you can see the old buildings on your own but the time of the Gold rush comes to life if you are also told the stories of the Goldrush. And guides from Parks Canada (often dressed in clothes from that time) are very good. They really take us back to 1896 and later and we find out how life took place in this town. 2 Hours later we are back in our century. After a drink in the warm sun, we dress up and walk to Diamond Tooth Gerties Gambling Hall. The food is good here and again we enjoy three fantastic shows with singing and dancing. The next morning we wake up at 8 am and after having breakfast we drive to the ferry.
Unfortunately there is a long line so we have to wait for more than an hour before we can board the ferry and continue our travels at the other side of the Yukon over the Top of the World. The road takes us over the rim so we have great views. The sun is shining but dark clouds are coming and at the border it starts to rain. We don’t know or the rain speeds up the access procedure or the fact that we have no weapons and only some alcohol but after three minutes our passports are stamped and we may enter Alaska.
At three o’clock pm we arrive in Chicken and the Sun breaks through. The road is clearly improved compared to three years ago and only a small stretch of road is really bad and gives the feeling that from head to toe you are shaken, no screw in the RV will stay in place.
Every time we came to Chicken, I’d like to pan gold and now this is my chance. We buy a pan and a permit and not much later we are trying to find gold. With the help of experienced gold miners that give instructions how to move the pan to get rid of the stones and retain the black sand and what to look for, we find tiny, tiny gold chips and Dick even finds a “picker” in his gold pan, a small piece of gold. We have a lot of fun, gold prospecting is addictive despite the fact that we only find a very, very small amount of gold. After 4 hours our claim ends and we have to stop panning. It is already 9 pm. Unfortunately the next morning it rains and it does not look getting better today.
A pity because today we wanted to search for gold again. That will wait until another time. In rainy wetter we drive, on mostly dirt roads, to Tok. Once there, our RV is again incredibly nasty. We need to rinse the dirt off, so Dick take a water hose and start cleaning. In the meantime I’ll use the laundromat to wash our clothes. Because in the afternoon it starts raining again we will not walk through Tok and spend the rest of the afternoon with reading and administration.