A Travellerspoint blog

July 30, Aug 1 -Top of the World Highway, Chicken, AK

SS Keno, Absolute quiet overnight on Top of the World, Chicken, broken sewer line on TaJ, long drive to Fairbanks

rain 17 °C

July 30:

We checked out of our campground about 11am and parked TaJ and Sully on Second Street in downtown Dawson.


We did a walking tour of the back streets of the town for 90 minutes. We used our National Park passes for tickets to see the SS Keno, a sternwheeler, now a national historical site. Well preserved bit of history.



Around 2:00pm we took the ferry across the river and headed off over the Top of the World Highway. The sky vista is amazing up here:



There was no ferry wait and by 3:00pm we were exploring the Clinton Creek Road, a 50+ kilometer side road down towards the Yukon River. There had been a old asbestos mine down there and we thought we would try to find the town site. We drove about 12 kilometers down the narrow winding road until it became pretty obvious that we should turn back. The road wasn't particularly rough, but was narrow and getting narrower.

On our way down Clinton Creek Road we had come across a clearing suitable for an overnight stay, about 2 kilometers off the main road.

It was great to spend a night alone in the wildness of the Top of the World Highway. Dead silence most of the night, so quiet I had trouble sleeping. It didn't help that there is still 16+ hours of daylight and dusk and pre-dawn last another 4 hours. We have yet to see any stars during our time in the north...it simply isn't dark enough.


We had a lovely downpour of rain for about an hour, enough to wash much of the dust off TaJ.

August 1:

Our health insurance for the United States kicked in at Midnight on the 1st and we crossed the border into the US at 8:30am. The Top of the World Highway is one of the great drives on this planet. Sure the road is rough in places and there are absolutely no services on it, but the views are spectacular. 106 kilometers from Dawson to the border. If you come here, you must put this road on your itinerary, simply to see it.

The road on the US side is something else entirely. The first 10 miles from the border are paved, beautiful pavement. Then the fun begins. Winding and narrow the road goes up and down over hill and dale. Sometimes the drop off to the side is 1000 feet and the shoulder of the road is soft, so caution is the watchword.

We arrived in Chicken, Alaska. Do not be fooled by the R/V park on the main road, or the modern resort down by the river. There is only one legitimate town of Chicken. It has this bird as its symbol and three conjoined stores that make up the historic centre of Chicken. We gassed up, at $3.29 per US gallon, which, when you take into account the relatively lousy Canadian $ is $1.13 per litre.



The drive out to Tok was fairly tedious but lovely. 155 kilometers of mostly gravel road, but in decent summer condition. The road is very winding and narrow, but not much traffic for a mid-summer day for our drive out. The views, once again spectacular.


There is a 10 mile section along the Jack Wade Creek that is open to anyone to pan for gold. We saw several small groups working along the river bank, trying to find their fortune.


Other than this road building near Chicken, where they were putting Styrofoam pads on the perma-frost and then 10 feet of gravel for the road bed, the trip out was uneventful, or so we thought.


We came upon these two caribou on the highway. Great racks on these guys:


It was while we were in Tok that we discovered something was amiss with TaJ. The sewer line from the black water holding tank was gone. A look underneath and sure as shit, there was the opening to our tank, without any pipe to drain it. This changed our plans completely. We were going to find an Alaska State Park and dry camp another night, but this needed to get fixed.


After a bit of a look, the only place with an R/V dealer and repair shop, was Fairbanks, so on we went. In total our day was almost 600 kilometers and we arrived in Fairbanks in time to go to the R/V repair and get them to look at it and to try to book an appointment to fix it. They were fully booked until Saturday, yikes, 4 days down the road.

So, in the school of thought that says, when life gives you lemons, make lemonade, we rejigged our plans. We are now going to spend 4 nights here in lovely Fairbanks. We'll go to Chena Hot Springs one day, which was on our list anyway, and the Tanana Valley Agricultural Fair starts on Friday, so we will take that in as well. We also have the full 4 days to get both Sully and TaJ cleaned.

Saturday morning is our appointment for the fix on TaJ and we will be back on the road. It changes our downstream plans a bit as we only planned on spending 2 nights here, so we will rejig so we get to see as much as possible on this Alaska leg. We really want to see grizzly bears feeding on salmon in the rivers of the Kenai Peninsula so that moves closer to the top of the list, plus we want to spend two nights camping in the Denali. That about eats up all our time as we must be back in Canada before our health insurance runs out on August 11.

Later in the day this tour bus came in, full of German tourists. The bus holds 26 in sleeping compartments. They have been on the road for two weeks already and have been up then Dempster Highway in the Yukon and came across the Top of the World today as well. They seem like they are having a great time.


Aug 2

It rained, almost all day, so we took this as a sign that we should just take it easy. We read, cleaned up some of our stuff and planned out the next couple of days in Fairbanks. Very relaxing. When on a road trip as long as this, a day of nothing is a luxury.

Posted by Rooseboom-Scott 08:01 Archived in USA Tagged top_of_the_world fairbanks tok caribou Comments (0)

July 29, 30 - Dawson

Dredge_#4, Cemeteries, City_walk, Convoys

sunny 22 °C

July 29

We were up early and ready to leave Whitehorse behind. We wanted an early start to the day because the r/v park only has two dump stations and the day before there was getting to be a pretty good line up to use them. After getting the glamorous part of camping out of the way (very full grey and black water tanks) we stopped at Starbucks for a road coffee.

Today is the 525 kilometer drive to Dawson City. We've driven this road before and it is pretty tedious, with just a few good stops for scenery along the way. We played a cd of Robert Service's "The Cremation of Sam McGee" as we approached Lake Labarge and we quote from the Klondike bard: "and there, on the marge, of Lake Labarge, I cremated Sam McGee".


We switched back and forth driving on the first half of the trip, where the road is fairly decent and reasonably good time can be made. We gassed up in Carmacks ($1.19 a litre) and headed on. We stopped at the Fox Lake fire memorial and took a walk in the woods to the lookout.
Huge fire that burned for a whole year and finally had to be dug out of the ground in the spring to get it completely out. Lots of mushrooms growing here:

We also stopped at the Montague Road House Historic Site. This was an inn on the road to Dawson:



We stopped at Five Finger Rapids and had lunch at the lookout. Later we stopped for a break at Moose Lodge, and Jenny posed, using her scared face, with this giant mosquito:


After the halfway point the road is at best described as rough, with gravel patches, potholes, and, worst of all, dips. The dips bounce the trailer against the hitch pretty violently, so we were slowed to 35 kph in a few places. Not much traffic on the road this year so we felt fine taking our time. This photo gives an idea of the amount of dust in the rough sections:


We arrived in Dawson almost 9 hours after leaving Whitehorse. We'd booked an R/V park at the south of town and settled in for the night. A thunder shower washed down the trailer for us and the temperature dropped to 8 C overnight, just chilly enough for us to put our heater on in the morning.

We have now seen 18 r-pods on our journey. Across from us is a 2012 173 model, from Quebec...a nice young couple hiking their way around the north.

July 30:

Our day started with a French Toast and bacon breakfast. There are a lot of convoys of Motor homes that come through here in the summer, and monopolize the small ferry across the Yukon River. Today was no exception, and when we got to down town Dawson there were 13 Class A Motorhomes lined up for the ferry. Each ferry run can take only one motor home and 5 or 6 cars, so the ferry line up was at least 3 hours for the very short crossing of the river. The Top of the World Highway is the draw as it allows a loop tour of the Yukon and Alaska without having to backtrack to Whitehorse.

They are on an escorted tour, with guides at the front and and a tail rider at the back of the group to keep stragglers in check. Oh my, we could not travel like that. In their defence, most of the couples on these tours were very much senior, way beyond our years. This 24 unit convoy had formed in Idaho and were on a 60 day round trip that would end when they reached Edmonton in another month. Their motor homes were in the $500,000 and up price range, and most towed a vehicle behind.

DSCF3750 (2000x1125)

DSCF3750 (2000x1125)

There was also a motorized barge, being loaded with equipment and supplies for one of the many operating placer mines in the area:


We learned later in the day there is another 24 unit convoy in Dawson. When we lived in Dawson Creek back in 2005 these massive motor homes piloted by very old people were called "coffin dodgers". It is a bit like a seniors care home on wheels.

We walked up to the Robert Service house on Eighth Street. The poet lived here from 1899 to 1912 and wrote his best work while working for the Bank of Commerce, Here I am sitting on the front porch


Here is the bank where he worked...it still stands today:


On the way we saw this this fixer upper and thought we should buy it and move here...a bit of work involved:


There is a whole complex of buildings, build on permafrost, that have been left to nature, just to show the effects of trying to build houses on unstable ground:



We also wanted to see the local cemeteries, and, after a bit of a search we found them. Some very interesting graves here. The NWMP cemetery is the best kept:




We drove to the top of the dome for a bird's eye view of the area. The dome is the site of an annual party to celebrate the almost continual sunlight on June 21 each year.

In the afternoon we went to see Dredge #4, the biggest dredge to ever work the Klondike area. It is 12 kilometers out of town along Bonanza Creek. From 1940 until it was sunk in a dam burst in 1959 the dredge worked it's way 12 kilometers along Bonanza Creek, by creating it's own moving lake. The dredge dug in front about 10 feet at a time, extracted the gold from the ground it dredged and then dumped the tailings behind it, always moving forward along the creek bed. Fascinating.


In a previous visit we did the Diamond Tooth Gertie's visit for the can-can dancers and the casino and decided not to re-visit them this time around.

Gas prices here in Dawson City are quite high. We paid $1.35 per litre here, which is about $5.18 per US gallon. We hear gas prices in Alaska are running about $3,20 a gallon. Down in British Columbia gas is about $1.19 per litre, or just over $4.00 per gallon.

July Summary:

We are now 2 full months into this trip. We have travelled 13,750 kilometers in total. We have been in 8 Canadian Provinces, and 2 Territories. Our average gas consumption for the entire trip is 16.2 liters per 100 kilometers, or about 14.5 miles per gallon. The Honda Pilot is performing well as a tow vehicle, and handles the 3,200 pound load of the R-pod quite easily. In the past 30 days we have been in two great national parks, Grasslands and Wood Buffalo. We have dry camped less than originally planned, and have used r/v parks more than government campgrounds. We plan to change that beginning tonight with a dry camp on the Top of the World Highway.

The road ahead:

August is a big month for us. 11 days in Alaska, and then down the Cassiar Highway to Prince Rupert. We will stop in Steward BC and Hyder, AK on the way south. We'll spend three days on Haida Gwaii, and then head south though the British Columbia interior to the Okanagan Valley. We expect the end the month with a one night stop in Osoyoos, British Columbia before pushing on to the second half of this trip...3 months in the United States.

Posted by Rooseboom-Scott 08:45 Archived in Canada Tagged dawson gold_mining historical_cemetery dredge_#4 Comments (1)

July 27, 28 - Whitehorse, Yukon

Klondike_Rib_and_Salmon_House, Miles_Canyon,

rain 14 °C

July 27

With my gouty foot on the mend we were able to walk around Whitehorse without me looking like a gimpy old man. Whitehorse is a lovely city of about 28,000, more than half of the entire population of the Yukon. It is a full service town with all the amenities you could imagine.

This building struck our fancy while walking around:


There are some great historical features to the town, mostly relating to the gold rush history of the area. There is a great paddle wheeler that you can tour...we did that last time we were here, so we took a pass on it this time. There is also Miles Canyon, where the gold stampeders of 1897-99 had to pass a great test by running the canyon and the rapids below. Over 100,000 people passed through this gorge on their way to the gold fields of Dawson City, some 600 kilometers to the north of here.

This Canyon is still dangerous today, as there are no guardrails. The fall is steep and the water is deep and fast moving. Careless people have lost their lives here in recent history, judging by the memorials on the bank by the bridge.




Jenny needed a haircut and we found an available appointment for Noon, which fit our plans exactly. Once she was done with the haircut, we headed for our favourite eating place in Whitehorse, the Klondike Rib and Salmon House. This iconic restaurant is open for just the summer months each year, but the food is fantastic, and local. Jenny had an elk, cariboo, moose meat burger, and I had halibut and chips. Lunch, including a beer each, and tip, was just over $55.



Later in the afternoon we took in a local farmer's market, and then took a bit of time off at the R/V park. There is another R-pod just down from us and we had quite the chat with our neighbour, who has had significant troubles with his R-pod, mostly with the electric converter and batteries. He hopes his problems have now been solved, but has had 4 batteries and 4 converters in less than 2 years. Yikes, we hope our trailer does not begin to experience similar issues. So far, ours has been pretty good.

In the evening we visited with Ken Gray, and his partner Amber. Ken is my nephew from the Okanagan Valley in British Columbia and now lives and works up here in the north. Every summer from 1980 through 1998 we would visit with Ken's parents and Ken, as a youngster, was a font of knowledge about everything outdoors He was always showing me life in the lake by their house and his knowledge of these things was encyclopedic. He also taught me about cutting and making walking sticks, and I have one on this trip that I cut and stripped back almost 30 years ago. It was great to catch up with Ken and Amber.

On our trip back to our campground we passed the local Walmart. Amazingly, there were 42 recreational vehicles in their parking lot.


Today is a day of organizing: our laundry, working on the blog, and planning our next phase. We have now decided to head to Dawson City as our next destination. We'll spend 2 full days there before heading on to the Top of the World Highway and heading into the US through Chicken, Alaska. We'll visit Chena Hot Springs, then head south through Fairbanks, passing through Denali National Park, and then the Kenai Peninsula, south of Anchorage. We plan to spend a few nights on the Kenai and then start our run back towards Canada. We should spend 11 days in Alaska

Posted by Rooseboom-Scott 10:37 Archived in Canada Tagged whitehorse Comments (1)

July 22 to July 26 - Alaska Highway Adventures

Tetsa River Services, Cinnamon Buns, Liard Hot Springs, Watson Lake, Gout (Ouch)

sunny 20 °C

We left Dawson Creek before 7:00am. There is an airshow, and a rodeo in Fort St. John this weekend and we wanted to avoid the traffic that will come with that, so an early start was called for.


Our expectations of a slow moving highway were quickly erased. We pretty well had the highway to ourselves...some truck traffic and oil patch workers heading towards their 7 day a week jobs, but no lumbering motor homes in our way.

We stopped at the Kiskatinaw River Bridge, 24 kilometers froma beautiful curved structure, the only remaining original bridge from the construction of the Highway. The bridge is 531 feet long and very lovely to look at.


Our run into Fort St. John was uneventful, and we found ourselves at the only Starbucks in the city before 8:00am. Our coffee needs satisfied we headed north, stopping at Kilometer 100 for a photo of the 30 foot tall wooden lumberjack marking Clark Sawmill to the west.


We continued on with very little traffic to contend with. Mostly we were passed by pick-up trucks, and the occasional semi truck as we headed north, past kilometer 200. We gassed up at Pink Mountain, at kilometer 226. Gas here was $1.30 per liter. We plan to gas up roughly every 200 kilometers or so on this journey. We blew through the 300 and 400 kilometer markers and were in Fort Nelson, at kilometer 454 by just past Noon.

We paused for lunch and headed north, with another full tank of gas. This time gas was $1.14 a liter. Our goal for the day was now the somewhat funky sounding Tetsa River Services and Campground, home of the (reportedly) best cinnamon buns on the planet. There is a small camp ground with 15 amp service, showers, etc. We called it a day travel wise at 3:00pm, after travelling 575 kilometers in total for the day.


This is the washroom at Tetsa River:


The road is excellent, very little traffic and we made much better time than the last time we travelled this road northbound, in 2005. Road conditions were excellent for the most part, with some minor construction. Jenny drove two hours in total and attempted to back TaJ into our camp ground spot for the first time. While it was a game effort, she was ultimately unsuccessful.

We saw no wildlife today, but expectations are high for tomorrow as mountain sheep, bison and moose abound in the next phase of our trip.

July 23-24

Tetsa River Services was a pretty cool place to stop, but it rained all night long. The owner told me this was common in her area. She said they got over 50 mm (2 inches) of rain overnight. It was nice to sleep with the patter of rain on the roof. We tested the cinnamon buns at Tetsa River Services and can recommend them to you. Probably in the top 5 I have had in my life.

The road to Liard is wet and winding. It rained almost until we reached the gates of the park:


Today is our birthday and we plan to spend I, and tomorrow, at Liard River Hot Springs. Our campsite is nice and it is about a 1.5 k walk to the hot springs, along a lovely boardwalk. In all we did the walk out and back 4 times during our stay, so we logged about 12 kilometers of exercise.




Only one fly in the ointment is my left foot. I am now developing gout. Ouch! I did some damage to it climbing hills in the Northwest Territories, and combined with a less than stellar diet the past two weeks I am now paying the price. I can barely walk by the time we leave Liard, headed for Watson Lake.

Our stay at Liard was lovely, this is truly a worthwhile stop. On our last walk out to the hot springs, we came upon a momma moose and her calf. No camera with us, so no pic.

July 25

On the road into Watson Lake we came across a bear and her two cubs as well as another fine specimen of Bison:



We boot on into Watson Lake and stay at the Downtown R/V Park. A desolate gravel parking lot greets us on arrival, but the services are good. Price is pretty steep as well; $42.50, with the Good Sam discount. The laundry, washrooms, etc, were impeccable. Here is a view of our site:


I did manage to get into the local health clinic and get a prescription to deal with my gout. It will take a few days for this to clear up, but so will my diet. I am now vowing to cut my alcohol consumption to one drink per day and to clean up my food intake as well. One bout of gout is plenty.

We did go up to the milepost village in Watson Lake. It just keeps getting bigger and bigger:



The night was uneventful with the exception of a bar close by the R/V park having a singer, until 2:00am. Country and Western love songs and she done him wrong songs!

July 26:

No pictures for today. It was simply a decently long drive to Whitehorse (450 kilometers) We are now in the Whitehorse Library, getting up to date with the blog and e-mails. We are now 1445 kilometers from Dawson Creek, and will stay here for 2 full days before departing towards Alaska.

Posted by Rooseboom-Scott 17:45 Archived in Canada Tagged bears bison tetsa_river cinnamon_buns liard_hot_springs watson_lake Comments (2)

July 17 - 21 Grande Prairie AB, Dawson Creek BC

Prepping for the Alaska Highway, visiting old friends in Dawson Creek, meeting new friends in Grande Prairie.

sunny 22 °C

July 17 - 18.

We parked TaJ on the driveway of the aunt and uncle of our good travel buddy, Karmen Reid after a short drive from Fairview.


Leo and Martha Dawson live on an acreage just outside of Grand Prairie. We needed a day or two in a city with shopping to get a few things before we continue on the road. Leo and Martha were great hosts and had us in for supper on the night of our arrival.


If you recall from previous posts we have had trouble with our electric hitch jack, and the last failure seemed permanent. The local R/V dealer that carries that brand told us their warranty essentially covered replacement...they would have to ship the defective jack back to the manufacturer in the US, wait two weeks for them to send a replacement, etc. Not going to work for us. So we bought a manual jack for $48 and replaced it ourselves. The defective jack is now cargo in the storage area of our R-pod until we get back to Nova Scotia in December and can get it fixed/replaced at Jerry's R/V, our local dealer.


After getting the new jack, we stopped at the local Superstore to pick up a few supplies. The only reason we are telling you this is that there is a massive road dip on the road right outside the parking lot. It is almost invisible until the front wheels of our tow vehicle go into it, and right away you know this is not good, and no time to slow down either. We almost bucked TaJ off the hitch. Wham! We actually pulled over and checked things out in the trailer...stuff got bounced all over the place, but no damage. So, if towing in Grande Prairie, watch out for the dip in front of the Superstore.

We had the need to shop for a bit of stuff and Grande Prairie is at city of about 70,000 and has a full line-up of stores. We bought shoes for both of us, and a new Coleman camp stove to replace our 13 year old one, which had seen better days. Ground coffee from Starbucks, and a trip to the liquor store, etc. took up much of our day.

We also took a look at our anode from the water heater. You can see the comparison to a new one. We put the old one back, but that is the wear after 45 days on the road. We'll be checking again in a few weeks to see if we need to replace.


July 18 - 21

We headed over to Dawson Creek, where we lived back in 2005-06. On the way over we stopped in Beaverlodge for a photo op with the big beaver:


While we had TaJ still hitched up we did the obligatory picture with the Mile 0 Marker in downtown Dawson Creek.


Downtown also has some lovely murals of the old days:


We booked into the Mile-0 Campground for three nights ($36 a night, water and 30amp electric) Decent sites, close to town. Very busy campground this time of year, filling and emptying daily.

It is the 75th anniversary of the highway, which was built in just 7 months by 10,000 US soldiers and a vast number of civilians. This vehicle is one of the few authentic vehicles from that era.


We had supper with old friends Al & Mary Mottishaw, on both Wednesday at their place, and Thursday evening at the Alcan Smokehouse. It was great to touch base with people we knew back when we lived and worked here.

We also checked in with the Peace Energy Co-op, where Jenny worked for a year. At the time they were working on getting a 34 turbine wind farm on Bear Mountain, just to the west of town. We took a bit of time to wander up there on Friday.



The rest of our time here was spent taking care of stuff. One of our tires seemed to be consistently 2-3 pound pressure under the others. Turned out there was a very slim finishing nail in it. Got that fixed for $35 and another worry off our minds for the road ahead.

It is a lovely Friday afternoon and we are in the library, doing our blog entry and getting some other stuff up to date. We had a quick visit to the local art gallery, which is in a retired grain elevator, next to the Alaska Highway start point in the roundabout at the center of town.


The last two icons are the second Mile 0 sign in the roundabout at the center of town and the statue of the surveyor, pointing the route for the Alaska Highway:



While there we came upon this beauty of a motorhome, driven by Hans and Liesbeth, from Noordwijk in the Netherlands. Lovely people, lovely motor home! Perhaps we will see them when we visit Holland next year. Happy Trails.


Tomorrow we begin our journey up the Alaska Highway. We have 28 days so our journey will not be fast, but will still be long. We expect about 7,500 kilometers until we come out from the Cassiar Highway at Prince Rupert.

Posted by Rooseboom-Scott 14:18 Tagged grande_prairie dawson_creek alaska_highway Comments (0)

(Entries 36 - 40 of 61) « Page .. 3 4 5 6 7 [8] 9 10 11 12 13 .. »