Alaska, the Last Frontier - Summer 2012 travel blog

we've arrived!

Carcross Desert

Emerald Lake

arctic looking

bikers

Bove Island

Carcross

desert flowers

Emmett Lake

icy lake

Klondike Highway

Summit Lake

White Pass Lake

Movie Clips - Playback Requirements - Problems?

(MP4 - 581 K)

motorcycle in the desert


When we left the Whitehorse campground it was nearly empty. Those of us who could were heading south where the road was open, one lane at least. And the folks scheduled to take our place coming from the east were still stopped by road closures.

The drive south on the Klondike Highway was the sort of drive we love. Every few miles there was something to stop and see and the pull off areas were wide enough to accommodate both our rigs. It took us most of the day to drive about 110 miles with all the stops.

The aquamarine color of Emerald Lake was supernaturally beautiful. The sediment in the bottom of the lake composed of decomposed sea shells and clay caused the amazing hue.

Then we stopped at the Carcross Desert, the world’s smallest desert. It is composed of sandy lake bottom material left behind by a large glacial lake. Strong winds from a nearby lake make it difficult for many plants to take root here. Young thrill seekers were zipping back and forth on the sand dunes on ATV’s and motor cycles.

The nearby town of Carcross (previously named Caribou Crossing) was so small, we sat at a picnic table and as I read the walking tour brochure aloud, we could see it all from there. This was the spot where a golden spike was driven when the crews coming north and south constructing the White Pass & Yukon Railroad met. This area was sandy too, and hardy Yukonians were sunbathing in the 55º sunshine on the shore of Bennet Lake. Carcross souvenir shops are probably sustained by a steady stream of tour buses driving the Klondike Highway north from the port of Skagway. We encountered lots of cyclists taking on the mountainous terrain. Perhaps they were also on cruise ship shore excursions.

As we neared the highest point of the road at 3300 feet, the terrain there looked eerie and moonlike. The lakes were still half frozen and trees stumpy and twisted. Here we encountered the “Welcome to Alaska” sign. At long last! We left home 23 days ago and we’ve finally arrived.

Although there was no one at the border crossing but us, it took us a while to pass muster. We have tomatoes and they just might have some kind of worm in them from Canada. If a tomato worm got loose in this climate, he wouldn’t last long. After a long discussion with the agricultural agent about forbidden fruit, we got to keep our tomatoes if we promised to have them for dinner tonight.

We are camped in Skagway on the edge of an inlet overlooking the cruise ship port. A steady stream of cruisers, shopping bags in hand pass by and after they are all gone, this little town is ours. Tomorrow this tiny burg with 900 residents will have 6,000 new visitors in addition to us. It will be fun watching the ships come and go from our home away from home.

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