Caravan Days 5 and 6

One thing we’ve noticed on our trip so far is the lack of nighttime…it might actually get dark eventually but we’ve never been up late enough or early enough to actually confirm that. Alaska as you probably know is known as the Land of the Midnight Sun…and while I don’t think we’re going to be actually far enough north overnight to verify that…when we go up to Anaktuvik Pass north of the Arctic Circle we are far enough north but won’t be there over night…anyway, sunset today in Teslin is sometime after 2300 and sunrise is before 0300. When we go to bed at 2300 most evenings…it’s not dark at all, in fact it’s barely sunset and evening twilight lasts at least 2 hours due to the shallow angle at which the sun sets. We woke up the other day and moved to our recliners well before 0300 and even then the sky was lightening up and sunrise was clearly on the way. This extra sunset makes us more likely to stay up doing things later than we normally would in latitudes where it actually gets dark…Neil just wandered out to see if he could find the eagle again…it’s 2030 now and still looks like late afternoon, not mid-evening. We kinda like it though.

We continued our trek westward…leaving Big Nugget RV about 0730 again for the 150 mile drive to Teslin YT. Today’s road conditions were pretty good…you could go the speed limit pretty much the whole way which was 100 kph (kilometers per hour, 100 = 62 mph)…after some experimentation Neil discovered that 90-92 kph was s nice speed for BAT and the rig with the resonant frequency of the suspension, the way the roads are built and all. At that speed the road vibration tends to dampen out and the whole rig just seems happier at that speed.

We didn’t have too many planned stops today…we wanted to stop by and see the Rancheria Falls which entailed a 1/3 mile hike from the parking lot. Unfortunately when we got there there was a big crowd of RVs in the somewhat limited parking area so it took us a couple of minutes to figure out where to park…luckily another 5th wheel pulled out so we just went ahead and then backed in where he was parked with a little assistance backing up from Bill…and it was starting to rain a bit. We decided to not let that stop us…and discovered when we got out of BAT that it was cold (46 degrees) so we opened up the house and got both our ScottEVests and our rain gear, changed into our hiking boots and set off. After the short hike which was mostly on a boardwalk and graded path we arrived at the falls area and discovered 2 very nice falls to photograph.

We got some nice shots from viewpoints along the way.

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While hiking down the path and at the falls we got a few nice shots as well.

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On our way today we passed over Porcupine Creek…which for those of you who have watched the TV show Gold Rush…was the first of many places that Todd has failed at being a gold miner. Todd is the strange guy from Washington state with the really weird looking long gray/black beard and the old dad that loves his 400 excavator. Anyways…he’s pretty much failed at mining for gold in both the Yukon, Klondike and South America and for the first couple of years he failed pretty miserably at Porcupine Creek. Connie’s favorite gold miner…Parker Schnabel…mined nearby at the Big Nugget mine that his 90something year old grandfather has been mining for many years. We didn’t know exactly where to look for either mining site…and the roads aren’t big rig friendly anyway…so we settled for just passing over the creek. 

By this time it was starting to rain pretty steadily so we beat feet back to BAT, fired up and hit the road…amazingly enough the completely full parking lot had diminished to just us and one guy riding his bike by the time we got back…the rest of the people got their photo, spent 30 seconds looking at the falls and moved on I guess. With the bad weather we pretty much didn’t stop again until we got to Teslin…where we stopped to get a photo of the Nisutlin Bay Bridge…which is the longest water crossing on the AlCan at 1917 feet long. You can just barely see our RV park at the far end of the bridge on the right side right by Teslin Lake.

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Luckily it stopped raining when we got there and we quickly parked in our assigned site 18, brought on power and unhitched as we needed BAT to go into the museum…the site wasn’t very level so we had to unhitch anyway. Didn’t bother with water or sewer connection…we filled our fresh tank with 50 gallons when we left Northern Lights the other day and have been using that for the past 3 days…we’ll dump and refill tomorrow when we arrive in Whitehorse as we’ll be there 3 days.

During the daily status update meeting for the caravan…Neil noticed this immature bald eagle in a nearby tree and grabbed a few shots…our first eagle of the trip and he is literally in a tree in the middle of the campground.

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Neil did a quick couple of maintenance items…our hitch squeaked the past couple of days so he pumped some grease into it. he also silicone sprayed the our leveling jack shafts and added 2.5 gallons of DEF (diesel exhaust fluid) to BAT’s tank. DEF is a urea based chemical that gets sprayed into the exhaust manifold to reduce emissions to make the California tree hugging crowd happy. Other than having to buy and pour it in…DEF isn’t much of a bother…with the single exception that BAT won’t run without it…no DEF means no run. Normally we fill up at Pilot or Flying J truck stops in the states but the stations up here don’t have DEF on draft as it were…so we just carry 5 gallons with us which lasts about 4,000 miles and whenever we use one of the 2.5 gallon jugs we just buy another one to replace it. We’ll be in Whitehorse over the weekend and it’s a big enough city to have things like Walmart and Canadian Tire (which is sort of like Walmart for Boys…lots of tools and other guy stuff).

Once that was done Bill and Linda joined us for a trip over to the Tlingit Cultural Heritage Center…the Tlingit are the native people of this region. They do lots of totem carvings…here are the ones out in front of the center…they represent the wolf, eagle, frog, beaver, and raven clans of the Tlingit people.

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Inside we sampled Bannock with wild berry preserves. Bannock is essentially a biscuit dough deep fat fried in lard. Mighty tasty albeit a little tough and chewy. We also toured the center and drooled over all the carvings of masks and delicately beaded mittens, mukluks and other native people gear.

Once that was done we headed home for dinner…Neil cooked Jambalaya and we had Bill and Linda over…Linda and Neil have been alternating cooking duties on the days we don’t eat out since cooking for 4 is no harder than cooking for 2 and that way each of us only has to cook on alternate days.

Saturday we slept in as we only had 105 miles to go to our next stop in Whitehorse YT where we’ll stay until Tuesday AM. We also needed to stop back by the Tlingit Cultural Center to get our Yukon Passports stamped and they didn’t open until 0900. So…after coffee and some cottage cheese and strawberries for breakfast we headed off. About 45 miles up the road we stopped by another famous cinnamon bun place…but we’re sort of cinnamon bunned out so we just got a blueberry scone and split instead. We had a nice easy drive with just a few easy stops for pictures on the way before arriving at the Pioneer RV Park just south of Whitehorse where we’re parked in site 42…parking here is pretty tight with alternate sites having the rigs reversed because of the way the utility pedestals are installed. We unhitched and got setup for our 2 day stay then had some lunch.  A few photos from the trip.

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After lunch we headed off for our first scheduled activity in Whitehorse…a guided 3 mile hike along the Yukon River through Miles Canyon and Canyon Village. It’s about a 3 mile drive from the park and on the way we stopped for our first view of the Yukon River…this is the second longest river in North America after the Mississippi at 1,920 miles in length. Starting in glacier fed Lake Atlin a bit southeast of here…the Yukon drains most of northern YT and the southern half of the Northwest Territories as it transits north before flowing into Alaska…where it changes direction to roughly southwest until emptying into the Bering Sea in western Alaska. Several interesting facts about the Yukon are that despite being almost 2000 miles long it has exactly 4 vehicle carrying bridges over it…one near Marsh Lake on the AlCan, one in Whitehorse YT, one in Carmacks on the Klondike Highway and one north of Fairbanks on the Dalton Highway up to Deadhorse AK. There is a ferry at Dawson City YT that is replaced by an ice bridge in winter and 2 pedestrian only bridges in Whitehorse…one of which you can see in the first shot of the river below. There is one hydroelectric dam near downtown Whitehorse. Other than those 8 human constructions the river is completely unimpeded. Here’s a shot taken at the overlook looking over Miles Canyon, one of the two pedestrian only bridges is visible. By the time we get back we’ll have crossed 3 of the 4 vehicle capable bridges on the river as well as the ferry up at Dawson City…and if we decide to head over to the other side of Whitehorse we’ll have crossed all 4 of the bridges.

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The Miles Canyon and Canyon City served a vital role during the Klondike Gold Rush in the late 1800s. There were originally two sets of rapids near here on the river…one at Miles Canyon which is the narrow gorge below the pedestrian village above and the second one near downtown Whitehorse about 8 miles downstream…the shot above is looking upstream and Whitehorse is to the left and behind the overlook we were standing on. People heading to Dawson City to strike it rich in the gold fields came downstream on the Yukon then their boats could not make the passage through these two sets of rapids. The local commander of the Northwest Territory Mounted Police…which became the Royal Canadian Mounted Police or the Mounties later on…decreed that because of the danger in the rapids you had to hire a professional boatman to guide your craft through. Alternatively you could offload at Canyon City which is on the left bank of the river in the photo above just around the bend you can see so it’s behind the trees on the bluff in the center. From there…there was a horse drawn tram that carried your cargo and boat around both sets of rapids. Once south of Whitehorse you put the boat back in the water, loaded it up, and continued on downstream to Dawson City.

Here are a couple more shots of the Yukon.

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In the evening we went over to the Frantic Follies…which is a vaudeville type show held at the hotel in town. A pretty funny show with some audience participation and a group of pretty talented performers. Here are a few shots Neil got during the show. The first shot is the one with audience participation…this guy was a member of the audience that got dragged up on stage.

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This was advertised as being the Elizabethtown PA Sympathy Orchestra playing Pachabel’s Canon in D…being played on crosscut saws…and it was actually recognizable as being the correct tune.

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Explaining Cabin Fever…which happens a lot in Yukon during the winter.

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When the show was over we came home…still daylight despite being almost 2300 at night. Tomorrow we’re off for some more Fun Stuff™ in Whitehorse after Mass in the morning.

Cyas.

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About Gunther

The full time RV travels and experiences of Gunther the Bear and Kara the Dog…along with their human staff neil and Connie.
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