Monday, August 9, 2010

Saturday: Whitehorse

Saturday morning we again packed up only this time we hit the road. It was the first time our car has seen a trip of more than 30 continuous miles so I was just a little nervous.

We followed the South Klondike highway up the mountain seeing some of the views from yesterday. At Fraser, we presented our passports to the Canandian border guard and noted that it was lightly raining. The guard asked where we were going, whether we had a ferry reservation back to Juneau and where we were staying in Whitehorse...staying? We're just going to Whitehorse for lunch!

From there we thoroughly enjoyed the scenic drive through White pass and on to the Yukon. The inland fjords were impressive and I loved seeing the different exposed rock.

At Carcross I pulled off so we could see the railroad, river boat and tiny library. We also made a quick stop at the Carcross desert where we learned that glacial flour on the shores of Lake Bennett are carried quite a distance in the wind creating some impressive sand dunes.
After Carcross we spotted Spirit lake with it's incredible coloring - seafoam and dark blue.

Pretty soon we neared Whitehorse. I missed the turn off to the city center but we quickly came upon the mammoth museum and I pulled into their parking lot. Mr. X rolled his eyes until he realized I was looking for a potty stop and was not going to drag him through the museum. We did enjoy seeing the prehistoric cat and four foot tall beaver and then quickly returned to the highway.

We entered Whitehorse on the Robert Service parkway and made our way through town looking for a pizza restaurant for lunch. Unfortunately, we didn't have a map so we really didn't know where we were or where we were going; we stopped in at Walmart. After browsing for some nice looking local person, we asked a checker for a restaurant recomendation...she did her best at pretending to know something, and then admitted she'd only been in Whitehorse two weeks. She told us to get a visitor's guide, which we found while getting gas at the Shell station.

Low and behold - Whitehorse has a Pizza Hut! We celebrated by getting the pizza buffet. After Mr. X had eaten an entire pizza and I emptied their salad bar (just where did they get those tomatoes? They were incredible), we wandered around downtown. Eventually we found the public library, and we went in to check them out. The Whitehorse library has a fabulous "North" section with fiction, non-fiction, science, photography books. They also have a fireplace in the main section with comfy chairs around it. Yureka!

Next we wandered down to the Klondike river boat. This boat was in operation in the '30s and only required 4 feet of water to get through. Parks Canada has restored the boat and offers tours right on the Yukon river bank. Mr. X enjoyed taking dozens of pictures of this old workhorse. We also went for a walk along the river silently reflecting the length and significance of this small water way.

We had plans to stay a few more hours in town, but we were pretty wiped out so we decided to grab a sandwich and be on our way. But first we stopped at the Yukon visitor's center where Mr. X picked up visitors guides for every hamlet known to man. ...I think the Dempster Highway is next.

We were back on the road at 5 pm (Alaska time). By now the weather had deteriorated some so the views weren't perfect but still impressive. Before entering the pass area we stopped at Log Cabin to stretch our legs and read the interpretive signs. The bugs were bad here so we were soon back in the car.

As we wound our way up the mountain, we entered the clouds. Soon, I couldn't see more than 25 feet in front of us. Since I was not familiar with the road - not knowing whether it goes up, down, left, right - I pulled off to let others pass us, hoping I could follow them through the fog. They flew by, leaving us in their dust, and I was reduced to driving 25 mph.

Finally we dropped out of the mist and arrived at the border crossing. We were interrogated about what we purchased, whose car we were driving, and what else did we buy. What else. What else. What else. {Sigh}

We returned to the Dyea campground for the night. It poured and poured - the first time all week - but Mr. X...he sure knows how to pitch a tent. We were dry in the morning.

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