Saturday July 28th.
Simba woke me up at 5:20 and we followed our normal am routine – except he did not want his breakfast. The traffic started around 6:00 am, with intermittent RV heading out. I surmised that this campground was perhaps a family get away week-end destination given that it was filled to capacity. But by the time I left at 9:00 am Saturday it was almost empty. Than I thought more rationally and since there is no city, town, village, community of notable size within a 200 miles driving distance that was unlikely. And given, most of the time, I thought this highway I was on was a dedicated RV only traffic highway, it was people on the move.
After a bit of a walk and my normal 1 hour breaking camp routine we were on our way to Whitehorse, Yukon Territory. The road continued with no centerline or shoulders thus remaining a lot of fun to drive. It felt like I was rocking and rolling around the curves and the ups and down of a roller coaster. Early on in the drive I came upon a large area devastated by wildfires in 2010 and 2012 and another in Tisgar Lake area in 2001. It felt quite eerie to see mile upon mile of tree skeletons with an occasion lone fir surviving in this ghostly wilderness.
Soon I heading north on the Alaska Highway 1, back to lines and shoulder. I was in Yukon Territory and with each mile the scenery appeared to get more rugged – the mountain peaks sharper and higher, the sky bluer, the forest denser and predominantly pine and fir tree, and many shimmering lakes along the route, and of course rimmed with wildflowers.
I remained amazed when I would see a “services in 2K” sign and then almost miss the dot of an old gas pump and small store. I kept wondering where the very few people who lived in this sparsely populated area get their groceries – real food not just convenience store muffin, cookies, candy and chips. Another thing than I began to notice was the absence in most section of utility poles and lines. I got my coffee and ice in Nugget City, at the first rather attractive restaurant, store and bakery I had seen in a few hundred miles. It came shortly after hitting Alaska 1 in Yukon Territory. The road was certainly more civilized but definitely not quite as enjoyable. I can’t say that I missed all of the graveled sections and initially I found myself on a very flat and strait highway. Despite this being one of the main routes through northern Canada to Alaska, the traffic was quite minimal.
The first mishap of the day occurred around 12:30 in Ranchiera. i was motoring happily along and a larger semi truck was whizzing by me in the other direction. I hear a loud crack and a stone had been jettisoned into my windshield, leaving a two inch circular shattered “spiderweb “ right in the middle of the windshield. I was so mad that my almost new Lady Spitfire Jeep Compass has this big blemish on her face. What was even more maddening was that this was major highway and well marked and maintained and I had been driving a couple thousand miles on rougher tar and gravel roads with no dings..
Soon i was at the Ranchiera Falls Recreation site and had planned to take the dogs for the walk down to the falls. I was still stewing about the windshield and wanted to skip it (that certainly wouldn’t get the windshield fixed or solve anything). It was a lovely gravel and boardwalk trail through a boreal forest to a picturesque falls. Fixed lunch in the parking lot and ate in the car as didn’t want to share my wrap with the bees and mosquitoes. Actually I discovered that the bees haven’t been bothering us nearly as much as I anticipated as they are hungrily devouring all of the dead bugs on the front of my car.
Not to far along the road after the falls I finally had to head those warning signs I had been seeing all along the way to watch out for wildlife. I had anticipated I might see an elk, caribou or deer. However, what did happen was a bear ran across the road not far in front of me and I had to slam on the brakes, thus shifting everything forward in the car. Now I was very glad that it wasn’t the bear that hit the windshield. The windshield is easily repairable and hopefully the bear is thriving. The better part of the day was spent “WOWING” and occasionally stopping to feast on some beautiful lakes and mountain scenes as well as after committing them to memory though I would also take a photo for back-up memory!
Filling up my very thirsty Lady Spitfire is always an adventure in theses remote parts – from the burly guy who hung my credit card on a line behind the desk so I could fill up to a sign I am sure we would rarely see anymore in the states: fill up, move car, come in and pay! And not to forget some ancient pumps and the above ground tanks.
Getting nearer to Whitehorse, I decided to head on down route 8 to Carcross – I am not sure what prompted me to do so but I think I visited it years ago and found it quite interesting. The drive was pretty but not drop dead gorgeous and Carcross was quite quaint but doubt it is the town I was thinking of. It didn’t seem familiar at all. I however was not disappointed in that it was a very old, rather run down little town but also a bit of a tourist mecca.
I then headed back up to the to the Hidden Valley B & B in Whitehorse at which I had a reservation. Upon first glance I was a bit taken aback and was wondering what kind of place i had reserved. The long approach driveway was bounded by what appeared to be a couple of run down buildings, some rusting out machinery, a house that looked in disrepair, wood piles, a brightly painted barn, a few horse…but once I reached the house and was led into the main house area and gardens it was beautiful. The gardens and outdoor seating areas were exquisitely decked our with flowers and planter boxes with a great variety of graceful flowers. The house itself was lovely.
My biggest challenge was having reserved the Blue Room, with twin beds – on the second floor (this I did not know or think about when making the reservation). Since Simba can’t climb stairs I had to not only carry him up the grated front steps but up to the second floor – plus all our stuff. I took my eyes off Simba for a few minutes while i was fixing his insulin shot and I hear this thud! Simba had wandered out of the room and tumbled down the stairs. I was so afraid that he was injured as he was holding his front led at a funny angle but it seems he is no worse for the wear. So hopefully after three strikes there would be no more startling events. Once we were all settled with our stuff in the room, we went down and sat out on one of the patios overlooking the mountains and the beautiful flowers. The dogs were so welcomed there as the owner has dogs and Kili was able to wander freely. I sat out later than I had anticipated but with it not getting dark until around 11:00 pm it was easy to loose track of time. Now was the hour for a glorious shower. I think I belong to a different age because I was perfectly OK with waiting the week while camping for my Saturday night bath. I climbed into my first real bed in a week and could see the sun setting 11:00 ish through my window. What a peaceful moment.