Steve and Connie's Alaska Roadtrip 2015 travel blog

SS Klondike, based in Whitehorse

Five Finger rapids, from above

Closer view of Five Finger rapids

One of the Twin Lakes on the Klondike Highway

We drove to Dawson City, center of the Klondike Gold Rush, today. The terrain was mostly on plateaus, so not a lot of winding roads, but we encountered a lot of dirt or gravel roads. Still no worse than Big Bend TX. As I mentioned earlier, Whitehorse is all about transportation in this area. During the gold rush, the first big transportation improvement was the steamship. They were flat bottom keelless boats that hauled a lot of supplies and ore between ports. One of the biggest problems for them was the Whitehorse rapids, the worst of which was the Five-Finger rapids. I am trying to post a picture of one of the actual steamships and also pix of the rapids. The rapids were not too rough when we took these photos, in part because dynamite took care of some of them in the early 1900s after they claimed too many ships and lives. We watched a canoe navigate them handily today. But the steamships, without keels, were hard to steer through them when they were active.

Every day we were in Whitehorse, we spent some time watching a couple of bald eagles. They were perched at the top of a very tall tree, and they rarely seemed to move. Every day, some poor smaller bird seemed to draw the short straw and had to try to scare the eagles away. There was constant loud chirping and circling, before the smaller bird inevitably gave up and another bird took over. There must be some life lesson there, but I probably don't want to know what it is.

We saw our first moose today, but it was pretty far away.

Now, what to say about Dawson? First, the sun shines almost 21 hours/ day and it is HOT! The people who live and work here are half out of their minds because they are not accustomed to this heat. No one here has AC. We went to a restaurant, and to a casino to see a show. Melted through both. Between the heat and the lack of sleep, I am getting cranky. Dawson was a virtual ghost town in the 1950's, and the town has tried to save itself. Think GunSmoke meets Disney. Many of the original buildings are still here in one form or another. They look like the old wooden buildings on GunSmoke reruns. Newer buildings have been built to look like the original buildings. There are NO paved streets. There are wooden sidewalks in some areas, and it is plain that those walks are there because of the horrible mud in the streets when it rains. There is a huge hippie population. Where they go and what they do in winter, I do not know. We will explore more tomorrow, and hope to unravel some mysteries.

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