Saturday, July 18, 2009

27-2009 Cook and Whitehorse, Yukon


Cook, Mile post 1164, Yukon

Whitehorse, Yukon

Campground: Burwash landing Resort. Mile post 1093. 15 amp and water. $23.00c. Nice view of Lake.

Campground: Pioneer Rv Park, Whitehorse. Elect/water w/cable tv. $28.00c. 2nd time at this park.

Yippee! Even though I had to drive over the many miles of rough road again, this time it was a breeze. All of the construction vehicles are gone and the gravel road is as smooth as can be with minimal dust. Well for me anyway. As I look behind me I see a light plume of dust billowing behind the camper. If there had been more traffic on the highway I’m sure the dust would have been horrendous. Further, it was dry out so I didn’t get quite as much dust on the camper and no mud.

Heading out from Tok Alaska, I’m following the Alaskan Highway once again. There are many Mom and Pop stops along the way and after driving about 100 miles, I stopped at one called Cook’s. It’s owned by Jim and his wife who’ve had the place for 40 years. I love a place like this, as the owners are super friendly and will chat with you at a drop of the hat, or in my case a cup of coffee made in an old coffee pot on the stove. They call it cowboy coffee and it was good.

Now Cooks is at mile post 1164 (using the Mile Post Book as a reference). Jim had some pretty strong opinions regarding both Bushes and Sara Palin, feeling she’s been done wrong by the media. It’s the first time I’ve had an honest conversation with someone on politics without tempers flaring or ending up with bad feelings. The Cooks winter in AZ and currently like the Yuma area the best. We both agreed in the end that we hoped who ever was in office would just do the right thing.

We sat in the center of their store surrounded by groceries, lots of gem and mineral displays and stuff, all for sale including some unique pieces that Jim makes out of rail road spikes. It’s a warm and homey place and the conversations covered everything from travel, weather, health to yes, even politics. Though I told Jim I came this far just to get away from all the news and politics. But even up here, people have a passion for what’s going on in the world at large.

Before I left, Jim showed me around their garden and green house. Their generator humming in the background. There’s no power out this far. They haven’t been able to weed the main garden due to his health this year, but the green house is doing real well and the rhubarb is growing like weeds. His wife makes rhubarb bars and pies all the time. They have everything from tomatoes, pole beans, beets, strawberries and one ear of corn. He’s trying to see how corn would do up here with their short growing season.

His wife was telling me Jim has been a collector all his life. She was finally at the point of telling him recently that he needed to get rid of some of the “stuff“, when a road worker (they make really good money) came by and offered $20,000 for three antique items out front (I think one was a car) …. What she considered junk…. She’s taken a different outlook on his collection these days.

It’s interesting traveling along some of the same Alaskan hwy that I’ve been on before. The scenery to some would be monotonous, the constant views of black spruce, tundra ponds and lakes, the mountain ranges that go on forever, but to me it all changes with the light, clouds, traffic patterns along the rolling perma frost roads.

Like this morning, when I started to head out of Burwash Resort. A heavy downpour had let up, but it was still overcast. As I got back onto the Alaskan Highway, the scenery was all silver gray. Close to the highway the only color was the fireweed which at times was like a carpet of dark pink to almost a lavender color spikes. The rest of the scenery was the water soaked black Spruce, those tall thin evergreens with dark green foliage and black branches and trunks that appear almost ghost like across the landscape. Beyond the trees, slivers of lakes and rivers would appear, reflecting the gray sky above. The lake on my left hand side, Kluane Lake, was all silver gray with a spot of sunlight off to the north east side of the lake. The sun completely diffused by the misty clouds, making the spot of light on the lake a blur of shimmering yellow gold, rippling silver bands stretching out from that one spot of light. The lake reminds me of an inland sea it’s so large. Surrounding the overcast lake on the northern side, the mountain ranges were layers of dark silhouettes going from medium to dark grays and finally smoky black. A layer of low soft off white clouds formed “cloud mountains” in front of the real stone arches behind them. A pallet of monochrome grays.

Something that is impossible to capture on camera. The vastness and size alone are impossible to capture.

Completely different than when I had driven past here over three weeks earlier. A silent landscape that just goes on forever. The only thing changing are the shapes of the mountain ranges on each side. Yet I’m never bored looking at its immensity or simplicity. Mile after mile, occasionally pulling over, just to stretch my legs and listen to the silence or the occasional car passing by it’s engines noise fading the further it travels down the road. Then silence again. Getting back in the truck and driving down the highway, seeing the ripples in the pavement off in the distance, calculating how much I’ll need to slow down before resuming my normal pace again. Occasionally passing a closed way side business. Was that the second or the third closed business I’ve passed in the last 90 miles.

I hope that gives you a snap shot of what it’s like to drive along the Alaskan highway.

I’ve arrived once again in Whitehorse and will stay here for about a 6 days before heading to Skagway Alaska. People tell me it’s very touristy but like so many places I’ve gone too, I have to experience it for myself.

I like the idea of being in the Yukon. On the edge of a vast wilderness that stretches to the Artic. Life seems to be stripped down to the basics and no more. Even watching local Tv the perspective is totally Canadian. There are a couple of Native Indian Tv stations where the programming is done in a couple of the Indian native tongues, like the Inuit and Athabascan. My friend Bob would love being here to listen to all the French speaking Tv and radio stations and I like getting a different perspective on the what’s important to the people up here and their views of world events.

I’ve been catching up on some chores, including trying to decide how to store part of my awning that goes over the large slide out. The metal cover that goes over the awning during storage, literally fell off. I should have expected it, as I had wanted to get it fixed before leaving on this trip, but unfortunately was not able to get someone to work on it before I headed out on this wondrous journey. I’ve attached it to the roof for now (it’s about 18 ft long), but I’m not sure I’ve secured it good enough for the long journey back into the states where I should be able to get the whole thing fixed. I may end up storing it inside the camper… we’ll see.

I could share tons more, but hate to have these reports drag on endlessly, as you know, I could talk on for forevvvver.

I’m working on another report on lessons learned along this journey and will publish it shortly.
They have a small theatre in town and it’s showing the latest Harry Potter movies. Since I’ve read all the books and have seen all the other films, I think I’ll go check it out tomorrow.

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