Sunday, July 28, 2013

Day 14 of the Great Adventure: Whitehorse to Tok

Alright folks, we're back.  The past couple weekends have taken us exploring all over this beautiful land.  But it's Sunday night and in an effort to stave off bedtime and the inevitability of Monday morning, I bring you an entry from our journey.  Today we would finish the Canadian leg of the trip and enter into Alaska.  Very exciting for us, though we loved Canada so it was just a tiny bit sad.

We're going to 'Alaka' so we had plenty to smile about (or make horrid faces in the kid's case).   If you're still following along on your maps (Google Maps is the best, true that. Double true!) you'll notice that Whitehorse to Tok is not exactly a straight line, as has been the case this whole trip.  We would make it south-ish to Haines Junction, then turn north for the eventual border crossing.  In any case, we were in for some great views and memories.
 These two pictures are a good summation of what we looked at between Whitehorse and Haines Junction:  tree-lined highway and snow-capped mountains.
 Haines Junction is aptly named.  This is where, if you take the Alaska Marine Highway ferry from Bellingham, WA to Haines, AK you will necessarily drive to in order to either go to Whitehorse and the rest of Canada or to get back to Alaska (since you go from WA to AK but have to drive through Canada to get to the 'mainland' of AK).  It is a very small town but has some nice little eateries.  We stopped at the Village Bakery for restrooms and food.  I got some sort of baked cheesy pastry with a Bison sausage in it.  I should have grabbed a few more. mm mm.
 Tempting as it was to continue straight, we turned right.
 The views
 The ride, going strong
 Coming up on the largest lake in the Yukon, Kluane Lake (kloo-AHN-ee).
 There she is, full of trout, pike, and grayling says the Milepost

 The lake was beautiful and really really big.  It took quite a while to drive around it.  But we needed a potty stop and I had been waiting the entire trip to stop at the next "town".  I had heard of the legend of this place and how the roads beyond it deteriorate into an unpaved mess of holes and dips.  This is where things would get rough and tumble and I would earn my stripes as an expeditionary explorer extraordinaire (you get the picture). Destruction Bay, YT, population 55.
 The famed Talbot Arm Motel offering full services from fuel, restrooms, food, lodging, restaurant, and the ability to call for emergency services.  We stopped and emptied our tanks but resisted the urge to fill up the 4Runner.  We had more than enough gas to make it to Tok and I figured even expensive Alaska gas had to be cheaper than the nearly $6/gallon rate we faced here.  So we picked up some chips for the kids (as had become a daily ritual) and moved on.
 The Destruction Bay Lodge, aka, the other building in town.  So, real talk, the road really did cease to be paved immediately after town.  However, that only lasted for a few miles and we had decent pavement for most of the rest of the way through the Yukon.  The horror stories I had been told were from folks who traveled this stretch after the previous couple winters which were some of the worst on record.  This past winter was relatively mild so the roads didn't suffer quite to badly.

 A couple shots of the White River.  I made a point to stop and take these pictures because I had 'found' this river and another like it on google maps while planning the trip and promised myself I would stop and take in the grandeur of them.  Well, the first one was a lot prettier but everyone was asleep so I didn't want to stop and wake them.  Speaking of everyone was asleep.  I got bored and started to throw caution to the wind.  The speed limit out here was around 90 km/h or like 50 MPH.  NO WAY.  Wide open roads and zero police presence?  Well, I had been a good law-abiding representative of the USA for several days already so I decided to open it up.  I was going between 65-75 for a bit (the higher speeds were a lack of attention to my speedometer more than a rebellious spirit) and the roads were actually pretty rough so the car was bouncing all over and the boys slept right through it.  Of course, Randi was asleep too and didn't have the luxury of a cushy Recaro car seat so her neck was a little sore after she woke up from having her head flopping all around for 15-20 minutes.  Whoops.
 Look at that!  Wait! What?  Why is there a stop light in the middle of nowhere??  We're so close to the border we can feel it.  Why do we have this red light?  Is this a prank?  Are we on Canadian Punk'd right now?
These were just a few of the questions and thoughts Randi and I shared as we happened upon this mobile sentinel of Canadian road works authority.  Turns out it was legit and after a 20 minute wait the pilot car arrived.  The pavement ended soon after and we putted along at about 25 MPH for a good 10 miles or so.
 This seemed pretty hardcore so I put it in 4-wheel drive just to be extra sure.
 The construction zone had passed and we were on the final stretch of the Yukon portion of the Alaska Highway.  The border was just around the far bend.
 The border!  We were excited to be here, so we stopped and took a couple hundred pictures.  

We're still happily married, don't worry : )
Yukon Robby, Yukon Charlie, I dub thee, Alaska Robby and Alaska Charlie
I fear for the ants of Alaska
Remember those chips from Destruction Bay?  Charlie does!  Old Dutch ketchup flavor, this guy will eat anything.
 Our first views of Alaska after the border crossing.  Yep, 55 MPH.  That's pretty much the entire state until you get to the developed areas.  That's a lot of miles to be traveling that slow.
 But... you get to notice things like this!  We had been in Alaska for all of 20 minutes when these idiots were stopped in the middle of the road in front of us.  Good thing, that way we knew to look out and become the next set of idiots stopped in the middle of the road.  MOOSE!  I can't wait to shoot one of those (tee hee).
We finally arrived in Tok and found our accommodations.  The Burnt Paw cabins were cute, quaint, and affordable.  They were comfy, fully modern (minus A/C) with fridges and cable and all that. 

I know a couple of munchkins who were happy to be out of the car.  Especially since Charlie had decided to defile his surroundings moments prior to arrival.

Gotta rehydrate after all that fluid loss.
Robby had the best time 'finding' rocks and playing in the little water feature they had.  He also played in the sprinkler out in front of the office.  The people that run the place were so nice and great with the kids just being kids.  Robby and I explored a little and walked to the store to get diet cokes and chips for the next day.
After a while I ventured to Fast Eddie's which is the main restaurant in town.  It also bears no relation to the chain of pool halls that are somewhat common in Texas.  I figured Randi's first meal in Alaska should be Halibut, so that's what she got.  I'm told it was delicious.  I don't eat fish because they're gross.
We have one more day of travel.  I hope to bring it to you very soon.  After you have finished reading about our travels, feel free to leave a comment and ask questions or for more pictures.  I'd love to do a Q&A type entry about it all.  Thanks for reading.

1 comment:

Mrs. Pedersen said...

The scenery is so beautiful!