Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Finally Finished Alaska Highway – to Watson Lake, Yukon Territory

Map of 40 miles of once missed Alaska Highway

What?  I thought you have been in Alaska now for 2 months…what do you mean “Finally Finished the Alaska Highway”?   Well, back two months ago when we went to Skagway, we cut corners…going from Jakes Corner (where the “B” is on map) over to to Carcross and then on to Skagway.  Upon our return, we went from Carcross up to Whitehorse.  So technically, we missed about 40 miles of the Alaska Highway…but today, on our trip from Whitehorse to Watson Lake, we finished those 40 miles, as represented by the red travel line in the map.

Marsh Lake, Yukon Territory     Mountains east of Marsh Lake, Yukon Territory

Essentially we missed Marsh Lake, and a few scenic mountains. The road was in good condition…in fact, there was only a small area of construction which was not very bumpy.  We decided to stay at Baby Nugget RV Park just west of Watson Lake, and we lucked out by getting the closest site nearest the office…which means we have access from our site to their Internet.  Last time we were a couple of sites away, and my post did not include pictures due to the slowness of the connection.  Today the connection is good, and we have had no problems with the Internet.

Teslin River near Johnsons Crossing, Yukon Territory

Teslin Lake, Yukon Territory     Teslin Lake, Yukon Territory

The rest of our journey to the RV Park was covering “old ground”, such as crossing the Teslin River near Johnsons Crossing (top above), and driving along Teslin Lake (left and right above)…the good thing is that the construction along the lake was finished, except that they were working on the bridge near the town of Teslin, so it was one lane, 10 mph when you did go over it.  That only caused us a 5 minute delay.

Yukon Territory between Watson Lake and Teslin

Yukon Territory between Watson Lake and Teslin      Yukon Territory between Watson Lake and Teslin

There are a few things about this trip which have changed my perception about certain things…most likely I will cover these in a blog once the trip is done.  For instance, as a kid I looked upon the Yukon in the eyes of “Sergeant Preston of the Yukon”…with the Yukon being a harsh, hard land with amazing mountainous beauty.  Today it hit me just how lush and green the land is, how pure the waters are, and clean the air smells.  Harsh?  Yes, during the winter it is very harsh.  Mountains?  Yes, the mountains are wonderful.  But what was missing in the old TV show of Sergeant Preston of the Yukon was the Yukon…it was filmed in Colorado!  What a wonderful place the Yukon is…and yet we only saw a very small portion of the Yukon while traveling the Alaska Highway, along with the side trips to Skagway and to Haines.  Even if we went up to Dawson City…that is still adding a small amount of the vast area that the Yukon covers.  Like Alaska, where you only see a small portion of the state, even though you have traveled all the major highways and some of the minor highways…it is so large that you can spend a lifetime and still not see it all.   Tomorrow we start along the Cassiar Highway, down into British Columbia, on our way to see some bears in Hyder.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

A Beary Good Day – Haines to Whitehorse

Mama Bear and Baby Bear on Klehini River

We got off around 8:20 this morning, 40 minutes ahead of schedule.  Waved goodbye to Joyce, owner of Oceanside RV Park which we give full thumbs up to.  Joyce “MAKES” the park, she set the tone, is a very hard worker, good socializer, and you can tell that she loves her RV Park. 

Baby Bear on Klehini River

Realizing that I had forgot to brush my teeth, take my high blood pressure pills, get the car information for the boarder crossing (yep, stopped again, but more on that later), we stop at the turn out for the eagle preserve and I take care of business.  Off we go, and soon the Chilkat River crosses to our right, and its largest tributary, the Klehini River, is alongside the road to our left..we are now at the northern most part of the Eagle Sanctuary.  The Klehini is the second largest gathering of eagles along an Alaska River in the winter months, and it is much more rocky than the Chilkat this time of year…it is truly a Glacier River.  As we drive along I glance out onto the rocky riverbed…and I see a bear.  I tell Marcia, who gets the camera ready, and I pull over.  As I take the camera and get a shot (top picture) I say, “See them, there are two of them…”  She replies, “No, there are three of them!”  Sure enough, there are three bears…a mama and two cubs.  The third cub is running a bit behind, and in the first picture you can see mama looking back…I have seen that look before, that cub is IN TROUBLE!

Mama Bear and two Baby Bears on Klehini River       Mama Bear and two Baby Bears on Klehini River

Finally it catches up, and they run off into the woods on the other side of the river.  Well, this is going to be a very beary day!   About 10 minutes later, we are at the border…and the bubble is burst again.

Canadian Border, near Haines Alaska

Above is a Google Maps picture of the Canadian Border.  We pull up, right where the white truck is above.  The kindest border guard comes out, she has a nice friendly smile, and gives me a friendly greeting, which I kindly return as I hand her our passports.  She asks about liquor, money and guns, and says she will be right back…goes to the back and gets our license plate, and vanishes inside.  After 5 minutes Marcia says, “I think she is calling the Canadian Mounted Police, and they are going to come and surround us!”   After another 5 minutes I wonder if Marcia might be right.  Before the next full five minutes go by, she comes out.
“Have you had troubles getting across the border before?”
“Yes,” I answer…”the first time was coming through in Idaho where they searched us.  Skagway wasn’t too bad, but in Beaver Creek the guy said that someone has the exact same name, but different birth date than mine.
“Not only is it the same name, but the birth date is only different by the month…the day and year are the same," she said.  "I am sorry, but you will face this each and every time you cross the border from now on.  I hope you understand, but we are just doing our job…” 
“I understand,” I said, “I did not know that the birth dates were that close…the guy in Beaver Creek just said it was a different birth date.”
“Well, I probably told you too much myself…but I felt you should know.”
After that the three of us talked about how the guards live right there along the border in Government housing.  She told us how she has been to Australia and to England…that she would like a family some day, but for now she is satisfied doing what she is doing, which allows travel each year.  We must have talked for another 10 minutes after she brought back our passports…and we would have talked longer but another motorhome finally showed up behind us.  For nearly 30 minutes we were the only vehicle crossing the border.  And now we know why it is so hard for us to pass through into Canada each time come to a Canadian border.

Hostel near Dezadeash Lake

For the most part the rest of the trip was just fine.  Hit some heavy ground fog/clouds for a few miles, came across some wild Indians (actually it was a hostel), saw a few more Trumpeter Geese (no pictures though), and had a few more construction patches which were a piece of cake compared the real rough ones earlier on the trip…and we were in Whitehorse.  Went to the Vet to get some food for Skruffy, went into Walmart to get more insulin and needles for Skruffy, and over to the Canadian Superstore to stock up on food for the next 7-10 days before we will be near a “real” grocery store again.

Dezadeash Lake      East of Haines Junction, back on Alaska Highway

Tonight we are back at the Pioneer RV Park, where for $160 Canadian I filled up our fuel tank ($140 before discount for staying in the park), and full hookups at the park.  We stayed here on our way to Alaska, and the lady who operates the park remembered me.  Tomorrow we head towards Watson Lake, but turn south on highway 37, the Cassiar Highway towards Hyder.  Most likely we will stay at the Baby Nugget RV Park like we did on the way…which had terrible Internet.  Not sure how much Internet we will have going down the Cassiar Highway…it does not look good.  If you don’t hear from us for a few days, that is why.

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