Canada, eh? The Final Leg!

Readers, we last saw you at the Sign Post Forest in Watson Lake…

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Yoda enjoys the view. Backseat driver he is.

More scenic views awaited us, as we traveled farther west along the Alaska Highway.

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We stopped for a nice shot of the Robert Campbell Bridge in Whitehorse, YT, below.  Two older Indian brothers and one of their wives were also stopped, enjoying a picnic in the gazebo there.  We started up a conversation, and learned that the couple was from Canada, on a yearly vacation, and that they loved to travel, having been all over the world.  We chatted about the various places they had been, and discovered that the man was the former Dean of Agriculture at Moi University in Eldoret, Kenya – amazing!  I spent a bit of time in the very same Eldoret during college, at Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital, as part of my pharmacy education.  What are the chances that I would run into someone connected to the very place I had been, in the of-season in the Yukon Territory?  It’s a small world.  Going our separate ways, we wished them safe travels.

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That evening, we spent the night at the Robert Service Campground in Whitehorse.  The campground accommodations were unique: a small cafe lay inside the office, and an outdoor living room, complete with wood-burning fireplace, offered a place for lounging and reading books by day, and for night owls to congregate after dark (thereby avoiding disturbing the rest of us).

Our camping spot was on the banks of the Yukon River, separated from it by only the multi-use Millenium Trail.  Needless to say, we enjoyed biking along the trail, through town and along the river.  A short way down the trail was a bridge to a secluded island, looped in mountain biking trails.   Between the easy access to the trail and the presence of a coffee bar, this was one of my favorite spots to camp.

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Big Agnes on the banks of the Yukon.

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Eric walks the bridge to the “secret” island.

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The Yukon River near sunset.

The next day (our last in Canada!) consisted of the travel north to Dawson City, home of the Klondike Gold Rush.  We arrived in Dawson City late in the day and stopped at the visitors’ center for a campground recommendation.  We were sent across the Yukon River by ferry to our destination: the aptly-named Yukon River Campground.

One of the many government campgrounds in Canada, it had optimal tent sites, in a scenic area (along the river), spotlessly clean pit toilets and as much firewood as you could burn for $8 a day.  No running water, but our experience has been that every town near one of these campgrounds has somewhere we can shower for a nominal fee, usually at a community center.  This campground is only accessible to drivers in warmer months, since the ferry does not run in the winter (when the river is frozen).

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A path leads from our tent site down to the beachy riverfront.

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The riverfront, behind our campsite. Peregrine falcons nest on the far cliffs in warmer weather.

After unpacking and setting up camp, we hit the hay – it had been another long day of driving.

The next morning, we walked to the ferry and took it into town.  We visited the Jack London Museum in Dawson City, constructed with logs from his original cabin.  He came to the area during the Klondike Gold Rush, but gave up gold digging and began writing somewhere along the way.

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The recreation of the famous author’s cabin and elevated, bear-proof food cache.

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The historically-accurate recreation of the cabin interior.

We walked up and down the town, marveling at the beautiful old buildings.  We stopped at a nice little place for a snack, and headed back to the dock to catch the ferry.

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Eric watches as the ferry, bearing a single semi tractor-trailer, approaches.

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All aboard!

After packing up the campground, we were off again, along the scenic route into Alaska, via the Top of the World Highway.  This remote stretch of road is home to some breathtakingly spectacular views, and some astoundingly rough gravel roads.  Like so many other attractions, it is open only in warm months.  Before deciding on this route, we had to confirm that the border crossing to the U.S. via this route was still open; it, too, is seasonal.
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A few hours later, Eric noticed the car turned over to 200,000 miles (only 38,900 miles short of a trip to the moon!).  This occurred about half a mile from the U.S. border.
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Shortly after, we were glad to be in America again…

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…home of domestic cell phone coverage! And, yay, we FINALLY made it!

Just a few hours of driving remained, taking us through the remote towns of Tok and Chicken.

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Mount Drum

We stopped in Wasilla for a quick visit with Sarah and Wally, my first-cousin, once-removed and her husband.  It was about 9 p.m. local time when we arrived, but we were determined to make it to our final destination that night, so after a good visit, we left for Anchorage.  Late that night, we arrived to a warm welcome from Edie (another cousin – Sarah’s sister) and her hubby, Larry.  We were so excited to finally see each other and catch up, that we didn’t make it to bed until around 3 a.m.

Eric and I enjoyed the gorgeous drive through Canada, and felt that late August was the perfect time for it, since tourism drops off so precipitously when kids are back in school.  What a journey we had!  Thanks so much for joining us along the way!

-H

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