Friday, July 9, 2010

Alaska RV Tour –Whitehorse, Yukon Territory

We arrived in Whitehorse on Tuesday, July 6th and left the morning of Friday, July 9th. We stayed at the Pioneer RV Park, which is a very large RV park with lots of facilities located just a few miles outside of town.

We actually did not care much for the RV park, or at least for the lower area which is like a parking lot and quite dusty (or muddy when wet). But Pioneer does have hookups, discounted fuel ($4.15/gallon) wireless internet, good laundry facilities, and they also have… wait for this… a dog wash! Yep, a dog wash just like you would find at a grooming shop. So Barely and Sydney got a much-needed bath while we were in Whitehorse!

Pioneer RV Park has an upper area in the trees that we went and checked out. At the end of the RV tour, we will probably come back through Whitehorse on our own and stay at Pioneer again, but this time on the ridge in the trees – it’s nice up there!

Wednesday was a big day. That morning, we rode in Spike’s van to visit the Whitehorse Rapids Fish Hatchery and Miles Canyon. The Fish Hatchery was very interesting but the Salmon are not running yet and so we were not able to see them in action. Nonetheless, it was a good tour and we learned more about the Salmon lifecycle and how the hatcheries tag and track fish.

Then off we went to Miles Canyon, a steep and narrow canyon with 50-foot high basaltic walls through which the Yukon River flows. During the Gold Rush, hundreds of boats loaded with supplies were lost trying to go through this canyon before the Northwest Mounted Police arrived to regulate traffic. Eventually a wooden rail system around the canyon eliminated the need to take boats through Miles Canyon and the hydroelectric dam constructed to provide power to Whitehorse has gentled the canyon waters.

The Robert Lowe Bridge was built in 1922 and is a foot-traffic suspension bridge that spans Miles Canyon. It is named for Robert Lowe who came to the Yukon in 1899 and became a long serving local and territorial politician. Lynda did walk across this bridge but she was a little uncomfortable with the swaying movement. I loved it, of course.

The kids, Sophie, Roxie, Weston, and Zach, had fun sliding down a hill by the bridge. I tried it also but my shoes were “too grippy” according to Sophie, and so I could not get much speed built up.

We returned to the RV park for lunch and I decided to skip the afternoon tours to the SS Klondike and the Beringia Center. Lynda did go, however, and has already made some postings about those tours. She very much enjoyed them and I was kind of sorry I skipped out once I heard how good they were. Oh well, I needed a rest!

We almost missed Val Frye's birthday celebration shortly before dinner on Wednesday. By now, the FM two-way radios had become our group's primary means of communication all the time, not just while we're driving.  We had accidentally turned our volume all the way down and missed Carlos' announcement to gather by their RV for cake and singing. Anyway, we heard the singing and were able to make it out there just in time.

Wednesday evening our group gathered for a grilled steak dinner in the event hall at Pioneer RV Park. Our guest of honor that night was Michelle Phillips, accompanied by her partner Ed and their son Keegan. As I wrote in a prior posting, Michelle is the #1 rated woman musher in Canada and most recently won the GinGin 200. She has also raced in the Yukon Quest several times and ran the Iditarod earlier this year. Spike is one of her corporate sponsors and he is very enthusiastic about her abilities and mushing in general.

The food was very good and it was extremely interesting to hear Michelle speak about becoming a musher and what it is like to run long races such as the Yukon Quest and the Iditarod. It’s hard to believe people (and dogs) actually complete these races in sub-zero temperatures under the most austere conditions! It costs a lot of money to buy the necessary equipment, train and feed the dogs, and to enter the races. As did many in our group, we made a donation to Michelle to help fund her racing efforts. This is something she does because she loves the sport, and we appreciate and admire her fortitude. Good luck, Michelle!

By the way, it was while we were in Whitehorse that we noticed the days were getting really long. It was daylight by 5:30 AM and did not get dark until almost 11 PM. These daylight hours will expand even more as we continue going north.

Thursday was a free day with nothing specific planned by Spike until that evening. So we cleaned the RV, did some laundry, washed the dogs, and I borrowed Linda and John Bland’s jeep for a beer run into town. This is when we fully realized how high-priced beer is in the Yukon. For example, we paid around $24 for a 12 pack of Kokanee beer, which is similar to Coors. Oh well, what the heck - we stocked up anyway!

We wrapped up our visit to Whitehorse on Thursday evening, when Spike took us to see the Frantic Follies which is a turn of the century vaudeville revue which depicts the entertainment seen by the pioneers of the Great Klondike Gold Rush of 1898. There were readings from the works of Robert Service (The Bard of the Yukon), Cancan dancing, singing, and more. As promised by Spike, this show was BIG fun. In particular, they did a fabulous rendition of Robert Service’s The Cremation of Sam McGee  which had us laughing to tears!

Click here for photos of our Whitehorse visit.

On Friday morning, July 9th, we left Whitehorse and headed to Dawson City - Land of the Midnight Sun. Stay tuned!

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