Spring was just beginning to show itself in the Yukon after we left Haines. We still weren’t feeling too hot, but were determined to move along as planned.
Million Dollar Falls Campground
Next stop was Million Dollar Falls Campground, just south of Haines Junction, YT. Another lovely Yukon Territory campground and a short driving day for us. It’s quite a scenic drive, complete with trumpeter swans on the lakes, but we weren’t too interested in many photo stops.
We did pull off at the Haines Highway Summit at the top of Chilkat Pass. Barren and another spot I’d call a lonely beauty. This was the route used by the Dalton Trail during the Klondike Gold Rush. Some really unforgiving territory for sure.
The campground got its name for the $13 million dollar price tag associated with the Haines Highway, built in 1943. (That’s 140 million in today’s dollars). Mile 103 where the campground is today was the site of one of the road construction camps.
Our campsite was nice and private with the sound of Takhanne Falls in the background.
We walked the quiet campground road with Jackson and he managed to find and eat some moose poop. Also checked out the rugged rocks at the falls. The woods looked like a colorized black and white photo with the gray sky and dead Spruce trees mixed in.
We spent two nights here with no services – cell or wi-fi. Not our smartest move considering how bad we felt. Time to move on and we’re still feeling puny, aaaand Jackson has an accident in the night.
We Mush On
Onward we go and we’re shooting for Beaver Creek in the Yukon for the next stop. We’re still pitiful and don’t make that since we had a slow start with the rug scrubbing required before leaving Million Dollar Falls. (Jackson is very sorry…) We see caution signs for an active forest fire, and in fact, a helicopter with a water bucket takes off right in front of us.
Pat slowed down for this one in case the bucket took a bad swing.
We also get a look at Kluane Lake – largest in the Yukon at 154 square miles.
Since Beaver Creek was just too far for us this day, we stopped at Discovery Yukon Lodgings. It really isn’t in a town, so they have a generator they run 24×7 to power the place. Interesting and a little noisy. We had our own airstrip at this spot.
The Holding Pattern
This attempt to keep on schedule despite the flu is folly we decide. We’re going to the next place with full services and stay until we die or feel better. Such a shame to pass all this great scenery and say ‘meh’. We cross back into Alaska and surrender to the rest we need for four days in Tok – rhymes with poke. Fast Eddie’s is within walking distance for mediocre food since the cupboards are almost bare, and they have laundry since everything is yucky sicky dirty.
We had the most interesting experience at the Tok Medical Clinic. I was worried about pneumonia and it seemed like a chest thing by now. The focus here seems to be for the Native American community and I am grilled by nurse #1 on my issue before they agree to see me. I fill out a clipboard full of paperwork, and then nurse #2 comes out to tell me they can’t see me until Monday unless it is an emergency. It is Friday at this point. Hushed talk ensues at the desk and nurse #2 does not seem happy at all. In the end a nice young doctor from Chicago examines me. He’s been there three weeks he says and essentially apologizes for their humble clinic while rubbing his forehead. The x-ray machine has to be 35 years old he tells me. (Which would be older than him!) Northern Exposure was based on such a premise. Anyhoo, turns out I am going to live and just need more rest. Still not sure if there was just some nurse power struggle going on there or if I was not the minority that was supposed to be there. I was a “traveler” after all in their words.
We are fit to travel again and stay one night in Delta Junction, the official “end” of the Alaskan Highway. Normally people start at the beginning of the Alcan in Canada and finish up here, but we are doing it backwards. We won’t actually do the “start” until the way back to the lower 48.
They have some fun stuff at the visitor center. Fortunately we haven’t encountered any big wildlife in the road, but we have seem plenty of BIG mosquitoes. I thought they were big in Florida until I went to North Dakota. Then we made it here, and Alaska wins the prize!
Here’s one of the buggers I killed just tonight! And my secret weapon – a bug zapper shaped like a tennis racket. I cannot tell you the pleasure I get from this thing. Zzzt! Zzzt!
The Breaking Streak Continues
Yes, more “developments” to report. When we arrived in Tok, I opened a top bin and wham – a ceramic flower vase came flying out and crashed on the counter. I was so happy it didn’t break. When I looked again I realize that it didn’t break because my phone broke the fall. Argh – broken phone screen. It still works, but is a little hinky, especially when I try and actually talk on the phone. I slap a piece of packing tape over the top and we put it on the list of “stuff to do” in civilization.
When we’re leaving Tok, the car external brake isn’t “talking” to the monitor in the RV. We had trouble with the connector cable and it seems to be the issue. We put it on the list to order a new one. Honestly.
We read about these before out trip and how they will jangle your teeth out. They do indeed jangle you, the dog and everything in the RV. Not quite what I pictured though. Apparently the permafrost beneath the road thaws, and that causes the frost heaves, or waves in the pavement. As you’re driving you can see the road literally rippling. Road crews work tirelessly this time of year to repair the frost heaves. That means asphalt haphazardly slapped on in the Yukon, whole sections replaced in Alaska, and miles of it reduced to gravel road as they rip it all out and start again. All you can do is slow down and hold on.
Here’s a spot in the Yukon that doesn’t look promising. The whole road is blocked with a big pile of dirt.
But good news. You just go around the pile off the side of the road. We can’t decide if a dry dusty road that chokes poor Bitsy is better or the wet, muddy stuff. The best, or should I say worst, potholes and heaves are marked with orange cones. Or lately they’ve resorted to paper plates on sticks. Use what you got I always say.
Our next driving day takes us past the Alaskan pipeline. We round the corner and there it is suspended over a bridge. Pretty impressive sight. Then we drive past a military base and four fighter planes land along side us as we pass by. You just never know what you’re going to see on driving days.
The Midnight Sun
We come from the Sunshine State and are big fans of the sun, but we wish it would go away, at least for a few hours. Right now sunset is at 12:40 am and sunrise is at 3:04 am. I’m having a hard time wrapping my mind around sunset on a different day. And even when the sun is “down”, it’s twilight. There is no true darkness, and it seriously messes up your sleep schedule.
We’ve tried a few things to darken the motorhome. I started with a towel over the shower door to block the skylight, then progressed to a blanket with pillows stuffed in the gap between the door and the ceiling. A few stops ago we took down the skylight cover and wrapped it in tinfoil. Light still peeked through the cracks so I sacrificed some of my black craft paper and taped it to the skylight. You need the light on to take a shower now, but at least we have our little hibernation chamber in the bedroom.
Next up – Fairbanks and vicinity. And a special appearance by St. Nick! See you on the way!