Posts Tagged With: yukon

Day 59 – Dawson City

Monday, June 19

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We arrived in Dawson City pretty early in the day. We drove to the center of the town and stopped at the Information Center.
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Dawson City was originally the capital of the Yukon Territory. At the time, it was one of the most populous towns in the Yukon as a result of the Klondike Gold Rush in 1896. The First Nation settlement’s population swelled to over 40,000.
The current town has a year round population of about 1,100. In the summer, there are twice as many residents and a lot more tourists. The town is a combination of Canadian National Heritage Center and private property.
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The development regulations are very restrictive. It makes for a colorful town with the flavor of a late 1800’s gold rush town. Most of the streets are dirt and the sidewalks are boardwalks.
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The Dawson City Information Center contains both the town tourist information center with the staff wearing period costumes and the National Parks office with its staff wearing the park service uniforms. It offers free wifi and restrooms in addition to helpful information.
Since it was Canada’s 150 year anniversary, admission to the National Parks is free. Since there isn’t an admission fee to visit Dawson City, the park system offered a free tour for one of the many sites that were a part of the Dawson City area. The most expensive tour was the one to Dredge #4, several miles outside of town.
A free tour of the Dawson City started at 3:30, so we signed up for that one and then left to find a place to camp.
We were able to get a campsite at the Gold Rush Campground located at the edge of the downtown. The campsites are small, but the location and condition were amazing. It is well maintained and operated. Plus, they had a laundry. We really needed one at this point. They do a great job of maintaining the campground and it is within walking distance of almost all of the sights.
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After settling in, we walked back to the downtown for our tour. The park service tour guide is a year round resident and really shared her love of the place.
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In addition to her, we were joined by a period actor that told the story of Dawson City during the Gold Rush. It made for a fascinating tour and a real love for the area. I can’t imagine being here in the winter, but I can picture us spending several weeks here.
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The town has a historic but funky, creative side.
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It has several really good restaurants. We tried out Klondike Kate’s.
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Great food with a focus on local cuisine. I ordered elk sausage with blueberries and Jon selected Cowboy Poutine. Both were great.
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It had been a pretty long day, so we headed back to our camper for a while. We planned on going to Diamond Tooth Gerdie’s later that night. It is a non-profit casino, saloon, and dance hall. All proceeds go to the Klondike Visitors Association, which helps pay for upkeep and restoration of the town. It costs $12 for an annual membership, so you can attend as many times as you want.
They have three shows a night, each of them different. The early show is a rather tame dance hall show. The 10:00 one is more of an adult vaudeville version. The midnight show is more of a burlesque show without the gold rush town influences.
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We attended the 10:00 show which was a lot of fun. We were able to get a table up front. Jon was pulled on stage by one of the six dancing girls. He and the other five guys were given skirts and a hair ribbon and taught to dance. Everyone had fun.
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We were ready for bed by the time the show was over.
Categories: Spring/Summer 2017 | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Day 58 – Whitehorse and the Klondike Highway

Sunday, June 18
Lessons learned:
In most parts of Canada, you can only buy beer, wine and spirits at a government operated shop or a private shop dedicated to selling alcohol. The availability of those shops is highly restricted and almost all are closed on Sundays, Mondays and holidays.
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Our plan for Sunday was to do a little grocery shopping and visiting a liquor shop before starting our journey up the Klondike Highway towards Dawson City.
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Our first stop was at the Wal-Mart. The parking lot was full of RVs and campers. Some of them appear to have been there for a long time.
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The Wal-Mart was as disappointing as the other ones we’ve been to in Canada. The shelves were half empty and the prices were much higher than expected, even considering the location. There weren’t very many customers either.
We went to the  President’s Choice Grocery Superstore. It looks like everyone goes shopping on Sunday. The store was packed and the fresh produce was seriously depleted. We bought what we could.
After another couple of stops, we started the next leg of our journey. We drove north on the Klondike Highway towards Dawson City.
The Klondike Highway from Whitehorse to Dawson City is a 321 mile paved highway with very limited services along the way.
Even though the road is paved, frost heaves often appear without warning. You are driving along and suddenly the highway drops for a short section, kind of like very large reverse speed bumps. Sometimes there are cones or flagging along the side of the road, but usually the only thing you see is the tire marks from cars slamming on their brakes. And then you’re in the middle of it.
We passed this accident which was probably due to a combination of speed, frost heaves and a slight turn. Everyone seemed to be ok, the vehicle was not.
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We stopped at the Watson Lake Territorial Campground to see what kind of amenities we could expect in Yukon Territorial Campgrounds. It was already quite full.
Northern Canada is subject to wildfires.
We picked up a guide to the forest fires along the Klondike Highway. The section of road from Whitehorse to Dawson is part of the Fire Belt.
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It is part of the natural cycle of forest growth and rebirth, but this far north, it takes a long time to recover.
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Most of the trees are dependent on periodic fires for the health of the forest. Fireweed is a treasured flower in the northern climes because it is one of the first plants to bloom after a fire.
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We planned on camping at the Pelly Crossing Territorial Campground. It seemed to be at a good halfway point along the highway.
When we got there, we didn’t find a Territorial Campground. We found a mostly derelict campground. There were no signs. Most of the campsites were overgrown and even the road through it hadn’t seen much traffic. It wasn’t a place we wanted to stay for the night, so we continued driving north.
Even though we were tired, we stopped to look at the amazing view at Five Finger Rapids.
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We found a promising territorial campground at Moose Creek.
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It looked like a really campground. It had signs and a place to pay for camping there. We found regularly maintained vault toilets, shelters with seasoned firewood, and a water pump.
Fortunately, there were several empty campsites to choose from. We found one that worked great for us.
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There were fire rings and picnic tables at each site.
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The rest of our drive along the Klondike Highway was uneventful.
Categories: Spring/Summer 2017 | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Day 56 – Yukon, Alaska Highway to Whitehorse

Friday, June 16

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We crossed into the Yukon Territory right before we came to the end of the Stewart-Cassiar Highway. It ends at the Alaska Highway.

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Considering the reputation of the Alaska Highway, it was amazing to find it just like most interstate highways.
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However, the weather was definitely not like anything we had seen before. Over a period of a few hours, we saw sun.
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Snow and blue skies.
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We saw several overland vehicles including an GXV one.
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We stopped in Teslin.
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To reach it, you cross over a significant bridge over the Nisutlin River and follow along the Teslin Lake.
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There is fuel, an RV friendly campground and a free dump in Teslin. We took advantage of the fuel and dump before continuing our journey towards Whitehorse.
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We decided to push on to Whitehorse. After reading over several reviews and guidebooks, it sounded like Hi Country RV Park was going to be the best option.
We were ahead of the biggest part of the tourist season, so we were hopeful about finding a campsite. As it turned out, there were lots of other people with the same idea. After spending some time with the front desk, we were given the option of a site that wasn’t really a site. It wasn’t a site. There wasn’t any way anyone except a tent could have fit in that space. By the time we got back to the front desk, a cancellation had been found. Fortunately, we were small enough to fit in that space.
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It was a great relief to have a campsite for the night. The downside of freestyle travel is that sometimes you don’t find a campsite where you want it or you wind up having very long days trying to find a campsite. Today we were lucky.
We planned to spend the next couple of days in Whitehorse.
Categories: Spring/Summer 2017 | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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