23 Aug 2010
|Today was another travel day. We were still on the route that we had travelled before as far as Whitehorse, YT. The scenery looked a little different going in the opposite direction, but there were no surprises. There were a lot less frost heaves to worry about. The only problem was complacency – when you did come to a rough spot you weren’t expecting it. Fortunately the little Class B handles the bumps really well.
We stopped at the junction of the Alaskan Highway [YT 1] with the Haines Highway [YT 3]. There is a bakery & deli there with very good baked goods. We bought bread and filled our coffee cups. Next we stopped in Whitehorse for groceries and for gas. Since we had been there before we knew our way around, so it didn’t add too much time to our trip.
The Klondike Highway [YT 2] turnoff was only 7 miles outside of Whitehorse. This highway was new to us. Our first stop there was a turn-out at Emerald Lake. This lake has an unusual white bottom which reflects sunlight. When the sun shines on it, the lake surface is a bright emerald color. Unfortunately the sky was completely overcast by the time we arrived and only small portions of the lake looked emerald.
We made a quick stop at the Carcross Desert. This is the world’s smallest desert. It only gets 10 inches of rain a year. There is a large expanse of sand dunes. The winds are so strong that vegetation has a tough time taking hold. The unique thing to us was that spruce trees grow in the sand. The guide book said that scientists come from all over the world to study this special desert.
Soon after that we made a short side-trip to he town of Carcross. This is a quaint old town with most of its buildings dating back to the 1900s. It began as a stopping place for the gold stampeders on their way to the Klondike. It was a major stop on the White Pass & Yukon Route RR until 1982. We checked out the Visitors’ Center and drove around the old town, but we didn’t stop for long. As we were considering our options, three large tour busses came and parked and disgorged about 150 tourists in this tiny town. We decided that the town wasn’t big enough for both of us and we left.
About 15 miles later we crossed from the Yukon Territory into British Columbia. About 35 miles after that we crossed from British Columbia into Alaska again. We had to go through US Customs again – what a hassle. There was only one line and most of the caravan ended up in line there. It took forever to creep up to the window. Apparently the gal was super cautious about the dogs and their papers. Since we have 16 dogs in the caravan, this took a lot of time. She only asked us a few questions and we zipped through.
The customs facility was half way down a 12-mile 8% downgrade. On my own I could keep my speed down by taking the transmission out of overdrive and dropping down to second gear. However I soon came up upon a big rig going much slower. It happened to be one of our group and he was able to allert me of a place to pass him. Then I ran into a double unit dump truck going about 10 MPH. I was stuck behind him until the customs facility. He went through the truck lane which was empty and we got in the long line of cars and RVs. Even with the long wait, the truck driver was just coming out of the building as we were at the window. He was all ready to go but I managed to just squeeze in front of him and I had a smooth ride down into town.
To get to our campground we had to drive from one end of town to the other down the main street. Our campground abuts the harbor where there is a small boat marina and two cruise ship docks. As we drove in we had to dodge the tourists – they were walking everywhere and not concerned with traffic. We have a small site right next to the restrooms. People are constantly walking through our spot rather than take a few more steps to walk to the entry path.
It started to sprinkle as we came down the hill. As time progresses the precipitation seems to get heavier. Since we gained an hour crossing into Alaska, we arrived before 3:00 PM. We had time to get set up and relax a bit before the wagon-master’s briefing at 5:00 PM. By that time it was raining off and on. Chuck had put up a fly that was only big enough for about 30 chairs. The rest had to stand in the open. Chuck went over the times and places for the next three day’s events. He also talked briefly about our trip out on Friday.
As soon as he was through it was party time! Nicki and Jerry put on a celebration for their 30th wedding anniversary. They supplied bounteous quantities of sparkling cider and Champaign. Some of the other couples brought finger food. It got to be quite boisterous after a while. Some people left soon after the toasts and some stayed until the booze was gone. That was a happy group.
After all that finger food, we only needed a snack for supper. I tried to get on the Internet but they wanted $6.95 for the privilege. I didn’t think I was organized enough to make it worth the money.