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Old 06-02-2010, 09:02 PM   #57
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Bob, those totem poles were there in 2002, so I figured they were going to stay up for a while.

Wednesday we drove north 50 miles to Dease Lake Campground. There were two trailers here with broken leaf springs and one broken down Ford with a blown seal on his turbo. Was there bad mojo here? The guy with the blown turbo and a leaf spring was getting both trailer and truck towed to Watson Lake, about 160 miles, for $1,400, to be paid by Good Sam road service. Later I learned the truck and trailer was towed to Whitehorse for another $2,000. The other trailer's leaf spring was fixed locally and he left in the morning. After talking to these guys it occurred to me that most of the men at RV campgrounds are about 100 years old and can’t hear very well because I have to talk loud for them to hear me.

We went to Telegraph Creek after lunch. 70 miles each way on a dirt road, some quite narrow and overlooking a couple of rivers. At about 55 miles we passed through an Indian fishing village and reached the very fast flowing Stikine River. For about 3 miles the road is far above the river and very narrow. Sometimes an 18 wheeler uses this road to bring supplies and you wouldn’t want to meet one on some parts with switchbacks, very narrow parts way above a river and grades as much as 20%. You could bring a trailer to Telegraph Creek, but you wouldn’t enjoy it and there’s no place to park it. About 60 of the 70 miles is pretty good gravel and dirt and fairly straight.

The views of the rivers and mountains are spectacular. There are really two towns of Telegraph Creek—one up high with newer houses, and the old town down near the river. Population is abolut 350. There are a few tourist places, a small restaurant where we had some very good strawberry/rhubarb pie and bought an artistic baseball cap with a Haida version of an eagle on it. The Haida are one of the coastal Indian tribes in southeast Alaska, BC and Yukon. The art of the Tlingkit (pronounced “Klinck-it”) is better known, but the Haida do similar designs but with more colors. People come to Telegraph Creek to go down the Stikine River by canoe or raft. It takes about 7 days to get to Wrangell, Alaska. It’s supposed to be an amazing trip with Class 1 and 2 rapids.

I asked a few people in Telegraph Creek whether they had seen a Basecamp there. I had to explain a what I was talking about, but no one had seen it. We did see an Airstream trailer on the Cassiar going south.

Relatively few mosquitos today and they weren’t very agressive. I have 4 bites so far and expect more over the next 7 weeks.

Tomorrow we go to Watson Lake, Yukon, where we will spend 2 nights. Note that it is not “The Yukon” but simply “Yukon”. I discovered that I cannot read a calender when the last days of the month are stuffed into the bottom of the last full week. As a result we have 2 more days than we thought and all that rushing to catch up was unnecessary. We could have gone to see the toaster museum!

Thursday: The road got worse after we left Dease Lake then got better, then got worse, and finally several miles from the Yukon border, became horrible. It had been graded for chip sealing some time ago and then wasn't sealed. It was about the worse washboard every experienced. We tried 5 mph, 12 mph, 25 mph, and some other speeds, but any speed was awful. It was about 7 or 8 miles of horror. The trailer survived (as did we). Stories abound about this construction project including one about a lawsuit by the province against the contractor and nothing geting done until it's settled. The drive on the Cassiar was on the whole beautiful and most of the road is in good shape.

No matter what road we are on in Canada, there are frequent rest stops with pit toilets and trash receptacles and sometimes picnic tables. Plus, there are many pull outs, some with trash containers also. Often they are every several miles. In Colorado there are very few and just about every one is on an interstate.

We arrived in Watson Lake in mid-afternoon and are staying at the Downtown RV Park with full hookups and wifi. Sunrise today here was 4:22 and sunset 10:44. It seems to stay fairly light to 11:30, but after that I don't know as I am out cold.

Gene

Photos:
#1: Along the Telegraph Creek Road
#2: Wild roses along the road. Alberta is the Wild Rose Province, but these roses didn't know that.
#3: Stikine River Canyon
#4: The place for pie in Old Telegraph Creek
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Old 06-02-2010, 09:20 PM   #58
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More photos:

#1: Catholic church in Old Telegraph Creek.
#2: More old town and now you've seen most of it. The rest is on top of the hill.
#3: Black bear we saw on the way back to Dease Lake from Telegraph Creek. He (or she) was fairly small and shortly after we stopped, he (or she) ran away.
#4: A scene along the Cassiar Hwy today. This is prime moose habitat, but no moose.
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Old 06-03-2010, 12:47 AM   #59
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Debbie & I are in Whitehorse getting the 2004 F250 diesel checked out. It seems to be underpowered and idling rough and rough on the climbs. The Ford dealership said the wait would be 10 days to get it checked out. Forget that. Having someone else look at it tomorrow. Hopefully from here onward to Valdez, Anchorage and Kenai.
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Old 06-03-2010, 01:04 AM   #60
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Denny, I don't know what version of Ford had the turbo problem I mentioned in Post 57, but it was taken to the Ford dealer in Whitehorse today. Maybe Good Sam can get things fixed faster than a walk in like you. I hope you find a good diesel mechanic because a diesel shouldn't be giving you those kind of problems. Have the injectors been checked lately?

Whitehorse has some good restaurants. In 2006 we had an excellent meal at an Italian place downtown—I think it was Giorgio's Cuccina. The Beringia Museum was very interesting too.

We'll be going through Whitehorse in about a week and hope you will be well on your way by then.

Gene
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Old 06-03-2010, 05:54 AM   #61
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The road-condition tales are chilling. We have heard those before, then from others that the roads are fine and one would have no problem.

Maggie
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Old 06-03-2010, 06:33 AM   #62
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Gene,

Your pictures are great...keep them coming. I believe I've seen the same angle shot of the church in Telegraph Creek in maybe the Milepost, or somewhere. Looks like you've had some good weather, also. It's really good to have a report on the roads before having to do them on our own.

We are due to leave early next week, but will probably be at least two more weeks till we get on the Cassiar because we want to see the coast of California and some other things on the way up.

I have one question for you, (OK, maybe two) what prcautions have you taken to prevent rock/gravel damage to your trailer, and how satisfied are you with the results?

Travel safe.
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Old 06-03-2010, 08:02 AM   #63
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If you want to go to remote places, the roads aren't going to be great. On the other hand, there's little traffic. And the roads in NYC or many other major cities are worse, even though they are paved, they have giant potholes. The distances in the north country are very long, so you run into everything. Considering the cost of maintaining and building roads here, they do a pretty good job. Seven or eight miles of horrible washboard on a highway that's 450 miles long is no fun, but look at how little that is compared to the entire road. A year ago in Colorado there was a section of I-70 with large strips of pavement missing. The result was several miles of 1 or 2 inch deep grooves a few inches wide in the right lane where the left tire goes. Try driving on that and having it happen with no warning. Last year we traveled the W. Va. Turnpike and the pavement was terrible.

I haven't seen any gravel or rock damage so far. Mainly the shaking on some roads can be bad for driver, passenger and trailer. Things coming loose in our trailer happen anyway, so while I don't like it, I expect it. We could drive slower, but we'd never get anywhere. Bring lots of tools (I do that anyway) and keep an eye on things. Pack things well and open cabinets carefully because things may fall out on your head. A good road service contract seems worth the money and they run from $80 to $120 dollars for a year. And don't forget the roll of duct tape. Seeing 2 trailers in one place with broken leaf springs was strange, but we don't have leaf springs and who knows what they did to break one?

The best thing to do to avoid rock damage is to be alert. Watch the road carefully, hard to do when there is so much to look at, and slow down when necessary. Accept the damage as the price to pay to be here. I took no extraordinary precautions and haven't in the past. I expect a cracked windshield from time to time. This trip will approximate 10,000 miles and no matter where you go, in 10,000 miles something will happen. To me a reliable tow vehicle, the best tires you can get, preferably fairly new, and preventative maintenance are the way to go. Something has to hit rock guards—that's what they are for.

Different people will give you different stories about the roads. Some are talking about 20 or 30 years ago. Everyone has a different tolerance level. This is not supposed to be easy, but I don't think it's so bad.

The most damage will be to your wallet for gas.

Gene
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Old 06-03-2010, 10:21 PM   #64
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Yesterday, Wednesday, tired as we were, we went looking for fine dining in Watson Lake. After spending a lot of time on the internet trying to find fine dining, the only place I could find with a recommendation was BeeJay’s Tire Shop and Cafe. As you might expect, we were skeptical. I’d like to tell you we went there and the food was marvelous, but they were closed. It was about 9 pm after all. There used to be a pizza joint here, but it had disappeared. We ended up at the Belvedere Hotel, garishly painted bright yellow and with murals. I’d like to report the food was marvelous, but it was not.

Today we slept really late and had a great breakfast at noon. It was served at Barb’s Trailer Kitchen. We feel well rested for the first time; there’s nothing like 10 hours of sleep after driving about 2,500 miles or more in 10 days.

Watson Lake is spread along the Alaska Hwy for a mile for so. It has about 1,600 people, 4 gas stations, a bunch of motels, hotels, RV parks, a bank, repair shops, but seems deprived of fine dining. The tourist attractions are the Signpost Forest and the Northern Lights Centre.

The Centre has a planetarium dome and features a 1 hour show. The first part is a movie about the Aurora Borealis. It is not done in planetarium style, but is projected in movie style. If you’ve never seen the aurora, it would be impressive, though I thought it blurry. Having seen the aurora, I thought it boring and dozed off a few times. The 2nd part was about how big the universe is and was done in planetarium style. This type of information is frequently shown on Discovery and PBS, so I got another nap. I was not the only one as the guy behind me said “I was watching the lights and then it got dark” as he yawned.

The signpost forest was started when a soldier who was here to help build the Alaska Hwy got homesick and put up a sign with his hometown and how many miles it was to there. The sign fell apart, but a replica done by the same man in 1992 is in the visitor center (“centre” here). This is the world’s largest collection of stolen road signs. It also features a lot of homemade signs and license plates. There are a lot of large German road signs and I have to wonder how they packed them on a plane. The visitor center has a short film on building the Alaska Hwy. It's entertaining to see all the signs—more than 60,000 of them—and see how people express themselves and well as show their larcenous intent.

A caravan of bus sized RV’s came here today. I was told there are about 25 of them and they came in 4 or 5 at a time. All are towing cars and small SUV’s. They are lined up across the space we’re in. It is quite of display and a fellow I was talking to estimated the value of all these RV's could easily buy this town. This campground is two large gravel parking areas, but has reasonably good wifi and full hookups.

It rained this morning, stopping midday. The temp stayed in the 50’s and it’s mostly cloudy now. Tomorrow we go to Dawson Peaks Resort where they have an RV campground, motel rooms and cabin plus a good restaurant. We stayed there in 2002 in a cabin. The word "resort" is used rather loosely up here, but this is a nice place. I bought a fleece jacket there that has held up well for 8 years. It is 6 miles east of Teslin. There’s a small museum at the gas station in Teslin with stuffed animals (not the plushy kind; large ones). It is well done and was free in ‘02. There’s also a Tlingkit museum that we toured in ‘02 and enjoyed. After Dawson Peaks, we go to Skagway.

You may notice that the name “Dawson” appears a lot here. Dawson Creek, BC, is where the Alaska Hwy begins. Dawson City is where the Klondike gold rush was and was capital of the Territory for many years. If I remember correctly, Dawson was a surveyor who came to NW Canada and surveyed.

Gene

Photos:

#1: Replica of original sign at the Signpost Forest
#2: Signpost Forest
#3: Old city limits sign from a town 35 away from home
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Old 06-03-2010, 10:42 PM   #65
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Totally enjoying your trip. Hope that someday we will be able to make one also. Thanks for your narative, and keep the journal and pictures coming.
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Old 06-03-2010, 11:01 PM   #66
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Muncho Lake gas price warning: I've heard this twice today, so it might be true. You here a lot of stories up here and some are true, some are not; it's sort of like the Forum.

At the north end of the Lake is a lodge. It's a nice place and we stayed there in '06. The gas price is $1.80 something/liter. They claim that's what they have to pay for it and make no profit. Muncho Lake is in NE BC.

Gene
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Old 06-04-2010, 05:34 PM   #67
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Friday: Another short day traveling 158 miles to Dawson Peaks, about 6 miles east of Teslin and on very long and narrow Teslin Lake. The place looks the same but the motel units have been rebuilt. Carolyn and Dave look the same too, but like us, 8 years older.

They have had this place 19 years and have made it a must stop for people who travel this highway. We are camped in a wooded site with water and electric. The restaurant is well known for good food. I don’t recommend many places, but this is a good one. I am close enough to the main building to get wifi and the upload is faster than at Watson Lake.

Gene

Photos:
#1 Along the Alaska Highway. It's a wide 2 lane road with good shoulders. Cassiar Mountains in the background.
#2 This is an older place along the Highway, Continental Divide RV park, motel, restaurant, gas and bakery. Places like these are closing down as newer ones open and take the business.
#3 The thoroughly unappealing motel at Continental Divide.
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Old 06-04-2010, 05:52 PM   #68
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More photos:

#1 Dawson Peaks restaurant, office, store.
#2 Our campsite
#3 A look down toward the lake. Dawson Peaks are across the lake, still snowcapped. Maybe later I'll take a walk down there and get a photo.
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Old 06-05-2010, 09:33 PM   #69
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Saturday. We had an excellent dinner and a good breakfast at Dawson Peaks. While the food is usually best in the Trailer Kitchen, it’s good to eat out from time to time when we find a quality place.

We left for Skagway and the trip was uneventful. The trip down the South Klondike Hwy from Carcross, Yukon, through a little bit of BC, and over White Pass to Skagway becomes ever more beautiful. I’m running out of superlatives. Although only at several thousand feet, we were above tree line as we approached White Pass. In Colorado tree line is usually around 12,000’. We went by the Tormented Valley where jumbled rocks, stunted trees, no more than 5’ tall, and many small lakes dominated. As we passed the Canadian border station at Fraser, BC, we read they get 24’ of snow each winter, 7 or 8 miles from the Pass summit. It’s 14 miles to the US border station. No one wants to work at the summit. The road down to Skagway is steep, narrow and winding. It’s a good brake test and our rig did fine. While I was attached hoses at the campground, someone came over to ask if my brakes had cooled yet. The grade is around 11% and I guess it freaked him out.

Skagway became a boom town during the Klondike gold rush. Tens of thousands of hopeful prospectors came by ship and landed at Skagway. It was a lawless town for a short time. They would then walk to Dyea, several miles away, and start the trek up very steep Chilcoot Pass. The Canadian Northwest Mounted Police decreed they had to bring a year’s worth of supplies, about a ton, to Dawson City. That meant taking a heavy load up the Pass, going back, bringing more, over and over, to the Pass. Then they had to hike to Bennett Lake, build a boat, and start over the rivers to Dawson, many hundreds of miles north. The ones that made it found all the good claims were taken. Some took White Pass, not as high, but it became a bog and thousands of pack animals died. By 1900 the White Pass & Yukon Railway was built, but most of the the rush was over.

Realizing the future was in tourism, Skagway’s citizenry started promoting the town as a tourist destination. They moved buildings to Broadway to make it look like people would expect, a frontier boom town.

Today cruise ships come to Skagway, mostly during the middle of the week, unloading thousands of tourists to shop and shop some more. Skagway continues to remove visitors' money, though legally this time. We are here just before the beginning of the season, so it's relatively quiet. The Park Service has some interpretive displays down by the dock. Besides shopping, the railroad trips up to White Pass and beyond (if you want) are the big attraction. There are no discounts and complaints about the prices are common. $110 for the 3.5 hour round trip to White Pass; $115 the day of the trip. We go tomorrow and the views are supposed to be great. Apparently the way to go is to sit on the left side going up to see the most.

We went downtown to buy tickets, look around, buy some food and find a fellow Airstreamer (deuxrite) who spends the summer here. We found him working in the one of the shoppes and will get together when he’s not working. We passed a sick looking Airstream in someone's yard (leaning a little and needing axles) driving into town and we understand there are several other local ones. There’s one at the other end of this campground too. We are at Garden City CG with full hookups and wifi. The cable TV isn’t working, but there’s one channel here. We have heard the owner will switch programs in the middle if he feels like it.

Gene

Photos:

#1 Dawson Peaks across Teslin Lake from Dawson Peaks Resort. The Lake is about 80 miles long by 2.
#2 & 3 Along the South Klondike Highway
#4 Looking down Broadway in Skagway toward the docks.
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Old 06-05-2010, 10:15 PM   #70
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Gene,

Glad to see that things are progressing well for you guys. Thanks for letting us travel vicariously. The left side of the White Pass Train is the best.....try to sit a one end of the car so that you can go out on the platform between the cars for pictures. I suppose you are taking the train over, and a bus back.....it is a nice trip.

Don't waste your time at the brewery in Skagway.....beer is horrible! The restaurant close to the train boarding station is good.....the King Crab legs are fantastic, but very pricey.

Tell Ms. Barb that we said "Hello." Just under two weeks before we blast off for our Northeastern 30-day adventure.

Ron
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