Alaska 2014

NOTE:  When Sharon adds comments, they will be in {curly brackets}.  Comments added AFTER coming back to San Jose are in [square brackets].

 

Report 24. Day 24. Wed, May 28. Whitehorse, YT to 30 Miles Short of Beaver Creek, YT

OK, we're up and loaded at 7:40 am, and we head out, dumping the trash on the way.

The model of fifth wheel that parked next to us is seen in this photo. Sharon's sister's husband, Wendell "Red" Wood will get a kick out of this.

He tells us that another driver, coming from where we are headed, informed him that rough road starts twenty miles from here (or goes twenty miles right away) and then from Kluane to the border.

Yesterday we inquired what grocery stores were in town. We were told that they have Walmart, superstore, and others. I didn't know if they meant a Walmart Supercenter and just threw an extra comma in after 'Walmart' or there was an actual store called 'Superstore."

And today, we stop in at a Superstore, the actual name of the chain. It is a wonderful store, and we spend an hour in it loading up on groceries, a couple of seasick patches and more.

Our rig has been 'clunking' sometimes when we go from a stopped position, up a hill and around a corner. {We call first the place that put the new hitch on and then the company that made the hitch and they are helpful to tell us about this situation and how to fix it.}There is an adjustment bolt and locking nut on the front of the hitch in the pickup, and using the new 1 1/8 inch wrench we bought at Napa Auto Parts, I tighten it up per the instructions. This turned into a bit of a comedy. First I went to a Walmart, but they didn't sell single wrenches. They referred me to a Canadian Tire, right next door. After getting two associates involved, we finally figured out that they DO sell individual wrenches, but they are out of the 1 1/8. Dohp! So we finally go back to the Napa, and they fix us up. We wanted to leave at 9, but spending an extra two hours at the beginning of the day to give you assurance that the mechanics of the hitch are correct is easily worth it. And so it turns out, that we are right....... on....... Time.

Sharon laughs and says ok, two hours to find a wrench and 30 seconds to use it to fix the problem.

Heading on "up the road", we pass through the heart of Whitehorse, and Sharon gets a shot of a famous fixture here in Whitehorse - a weathervane made out of an actual airplane.

We crank out the miles in the morning, and begin to see gorgeous snow-capped mountains. Sharon calls for a rest room stop, and somebody has constructed a chicken-liek bird, "perched" above the door of one of the bathrooms.

 

We stop for lunch, and as Sharon opens the refrigerator door, we find that the pickle jar has turned over from the rough roads, and because the lid wasn't totally tight, pickle juice dripped onto lots of stuff. Sharon cleans that up as I commiserate, then she fixes our lunch, and after enjoying that lunch, we set out again. Lesson learned: tighten up on the jars in the ridge. Anything can turn over. {Luckily the mess was confined to the refrigerator and not out into the trailer.}

Now the mountains begin to be fully covered with snow. We change drivers so I can have a nap, and then change back in Haines Junction.

Signs advertising tourism flights over the beautiful mountains have begun to popup, and soon we see one, having just taken off from an airstrip ahead of us.

In midafternoon we come to a Dall Sheep center, with viewing scopes set up outside the building on a deck. Sharon has already spotted them with her binoculars and an incredibly steady hand. She points them out to me, and I get some far-away shots.

 

A familiar call comes from a shorebird, and we soon spot a nice Semi-palmated Plover, making a commotion near the standing water at the shallows of a small lake.

Hitting the road again, a few minutes later, we pass a closed Cottomwood RV Park, and I immediately recognize this as the RV park we stayed at in 1998, where I think we identified a Pacific Loon in the lake. Soon after, we pass through Destruction Bay, and the road descends into hell. But it's a special kind of hell where the road is deceptively smooth, because just as you adjust to the smoothness and increase speed, BAM, you hit a sudden rough patch and shake up your bones. {Through this section, and probably other places, every year they have to deal with the destruction of the road from the permafrost and the freezing and thawing that buckles the road. So this rebuilding takes place continuoously and makes it hard to drive. The bumps are BUMPS anad shake us up.}

Beautiful scenery. Smooth-as-glass water in the lake.

The world's biggest gold pan makes its presence known after some time, {Every small town here will have some interesting feature so that you will stop to take pictures, i.e. "World's biggest fishing rod, world's biggest gold pan, Chain saw carving capitol of the world" etc. Fun to read about and sometimes we DO stop and take pictures.}and then we start to see high peaks. Mt. Logan is one of them, and this is the highest mountain range in Canda - that is to say, the tallest.

Sharon keeps shooting sidal shots of me {not suicidal, or homicidal,} with mountains in the background.

We come upon a sign that says basically the road will be awful from here to the Alaska border, and we get the full experience of that.

As we continue on, about 5 pm, we enjoy the extra hours of daylight caused by being so far north. So called "drunken" trees start making their appearance. These are trees that are in very thin topsoil, which has been affected by permafrost upheaval so that they are leaning over at odd angles. They're crazy.

We realize that we are both on the looking for grizzlies, hoping, hoping...

Finally we come to our RV park 30 miles short of Beaver Creek. We talk with the owner and her son Jonathan. Jonathan is all red hair and was born in Ireland. His mom is English but grew up in Ireland and married an Irishman. It's 5:53, the odometer is 10,422 and it's 60 degrees. I ask Jonathan if they ever have bears come through the park, and he says yes, Two came through two nights ago, but they average about one a week.

There are old junked army vehicles from World War II sitting around, rusting and looking cool. We go back to the office so Sharon can see all the stuffed animals, and they are many. Of particular note is a big buffalo head.

Here are some shots around the camp.

We talk with one couple on their way to Alaska. They have gone every year for 9 years, this will be their tenth. They show us the wife's 90 pound halibut they caught out of Valdez, and I begin to enjoy the daydream of catching a big fish like that.

As we are walking back to our rig, I talk with a young man on his way back to his rig. He says he's in the army, which means of course the Canadian army. I asked if he'd seen any bears, and he says no, not this year. But he has ran into bears while jogging, and that has caused some surprises.

"What IS that thang?" I must be saying.

That's it. May you find peace. No wait, that'd be hoping your DIDN'T win the lottery. Never mind.

Good night, All.
Bob and Sharon


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