Day 21: Watson Lake and Whitehorse, Yukon
Today marks three weeks on the road! Amazing.
I slept like a rock last night. Relieved to be back on the road, I think. Even the sounds of the passing traffic was pleasing to me at the moment. I woke up and it was chilly in the bus. I was all snuggled in bed under my TWO comforters and feeling great. I laid there for about 20 minutes until Pepper decided I'd slept in enough!
Back on the road it was a short hop into Watson Lake. On the agenda was more diesel (of course), the visitors center, and the Sign Post Forest.
The visitors centers along the Alaska Highway are full of really useful information, but are also the best source of current road conditions. The staff are super knowledgeable about the roads and various routes. I told her I was traveling in a big motorhome and that I was planning to take the Campbell Highway. That's the northern route up to Dawson. I liked the idea of this route because I'll be coming back on the Alaska Highway to Watson Lake. Why drive the same road twice if I don't have to?
Well, she talked me out of that plan. I guess the Campbell Highway has been hit with heavy rains and is really washed out and muddy. I don't need to get stuck or spend two long days on bad gravel. But I can still get to Dawson through Whitehorse. And that road is in good shape. Perfect. That was my new plan.
After the visitor center I walked next door to the Sign Post Forest. This National Historic Place was started by one of the US Service members in 1942 when they were building the original ALCAN highway. Since then, the signs have grown in number to over 10,000. Some are old street signs, some are old license plates, some are wood plaques commemorating family trips along the highway. I wish I’d had a metal Out West Bus plaque to add to the forest. Oh well.
Moving on I headed back to the Alaska Highway and toward my new destination of Whitehorse. I suppose this is a good time to talk about the highway itself. So in most places, the Alaska Highway is paved. It’s also just two lanes (one in each direction) in most places. But the pavement isn’t the smooth blacktop pavement we’re used to. It’s rough compacted gravel pavement. It’s hell on tires, which is why so many people go through so many tires on the Alaska Highway (myself included). The highway meanders through beautiful semi-arid to arid mountainous regions; passes more lakes than I could count; and includes tons of wildlife.
Today’s section of the highway was about the same as yesterdays. But there was a lot less wildlife. I think I only saw one black bear. It could have been the difference in the time of day. It could have just been a difference in the terrain. But again, the drive meanders through amazing valleys and over mountain passes that were just incredible. Again, I’m not sure all the photos in the world could do this place justice.
I arrived in Whitehorse around 4pm and headed for the visitors center to figure out my plan for getting to Dawson tomorrow. As usual they were full of great advice and agreed with the ladies from the previous visitors center, that I was better taking the route through Whitehorse. After chatting with them for a bit I headed out for a walk along the river to the paddleboat SS Kondike. It is a historic steam powered paddlewheeler that ran freight along the Yukon River from 1937-1950. It’s amazing to think of this huge steamship moving cargo up and down the river.
After that I decided I’d better find a place to park for the night. None of the campgrounds in town would take a 35’ RV so I started calling RV Parks. Luckily the park closest to town had a spot left, but it was just a dry spot, meaning there are no water, sewer, or electric hook ups. That’s fine. I don’t need them tonight. And I have free access to their dump station and fill water in the morning. And it was only $15US. Perfect.
After finding a place to park, I decided to do a load of laundy. When I walked into the laundry room at the campground it was a flurry of activity. There must have been 10 women all fighting over washers and dryers. I’d never seen anything like it. Quick Google search and I found a laundromatte downtown in Whitehorse. Perfect. I can start my laundry and walk around town a bit.
With my laundry done it was time for dinner. My Facebook friends know that I have been CRAVING some spicy Colorado Green Chili like nobody’s business. Well, second best to that was Sanchez Cantina. Authentic Mexican food that was to die for. And FANTASTIC margaritas. Done and done.
A short drive back to the campground and it’s now 9:30! Time to put away my laundry and tuck in for the night. Tomorrow I head to Dawson City, which will actually put me back on track for my timing. YAY!