Canada Day on The Yukon!
~Friday, July 1, 2022~
Day 747 (Travel Day)
Day 11 of Alaska Trip
🇨🇦Happy Canada Day!! 🇨🇦Canadians celebrate the “birthday” of Canada every first day of July to commemorate England’s unification of three of its colonies into the Dominion of Canada….Canada, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick which occurred in 1867. Happy Birthday you guys and thanks for being such awesome hosts!! But here’s a question….since your July is in perpetual light, do you even bother with fireworks?
We’re making our way due north towards Dawson City for a 2-night stay at the Yukon River Campground. Within minutes of putting tires to pavement, we had glimmers of cell service with the bings of text messages, flashes of email notifications and intermittent doses of Frank Sinatra from our satellite radio. But it wasn’t meant to last being out in Timbuktu. As expected, the skies were smokier than yesterday, but at least it was high smoke that we couldn’t smell. Hopefully it won’t affect our visuals too much. Oh, and what do we have here? A sign that read, “Caution….watch for aircraft”, followed by another sign that had a picture for aircraft. I guess the Klondike Highway must also serve as a landing strip. Well, we had none of that excitement today, though it sure would have been interesting.
What was exciting, (well, not really) was The Klondike Highway. It is definitely the worst section of highway on our Alaska journey, thus far. Being vigilant at all times, Jeff had one frost heave after another, some barely visible until just as we came upon them (they’re not all marked unfortunately). I must have cringed at least 50 times today. It’s one thing to feel like you’re on a roller coaster with a car, but when towing it’s nerve racking with how much pressure it’s putting on the sway bars and suspension. Even with slowing down, you just brace yourself for what’s about to come.
We had 3 major construction stops on the Klondike with the longest wait being about 20 minutes until the pilot car showed up to lead the way to control everyone’s speed. And the road work was MAJOR. We’re not sure what warrants such a wide section of highway with the few cars we saw on it. Once we got out of the construction zone, we entered the dust zone. For about 20 minutes we endured dust so thick from the semi in front of us, that we could barely see 5 feet in front of us. With a hail Mary, we just prayed that whatever was in front, was not stopping. It was that bad.
As we neared Dawson City, we passed their tiny airport seeing a number of tourists waiting for flights. Once in town, we decided to forego our stop to fill up water, with our anxiety in trying to get across the river to nab a campsite. It was a good call. Plus, we thought we had enough water to get us through the next 2 days.
To get to the Yukon River Campground, we had to cross the very wide Yukon River via the George Black Ferry service (the ferry is actually part of the Klondike Highway). It’s been a while since we’ve had to do this with the trailer (Lake Champlain, I think).
This is a free service run by the Canadian government that operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, except when the Yukon River freezes. I can’t even imagine with the size and flow of this river (it’s even wider and faster than the Colorado River), that it would ever freeze. Starting in the coastal mountains of Canada, it travels 1,900 miles to the Bering Sea, slowing its pace down in the winter as it becomes one massive ice sheet, even allowing cars to cross. There are no bridges. With only a 10 minute wait, we were directed to the left with the other RV’s, getting a front row seat with Billie Jean in tow. Loading always makes me so nervous with everybody crammed so tightly together. With a rig our size, they can only manage 1 RV and about 8 cars at a time. And the river is high and speedy, moving about 11 mph instead of its normal 7 mph. Crossing takes about 10 minutes.
About halfway through the 90-site, first-come, first-serve campground, we started to lose hope that nothing was available until……on the river side, there was what appeared to be an empty site with a ranger tag on the post. The ranger tags are short stubby one’s that they leave once they’ve removed your larger “paid” ticket tag. If I ever see a stubby tag with a site that looks empty, it usually means someone simply forgot to remove the ranger tag upon their departure. Sure enough, the tag read yesterday’s date.
The site was ours! Wow, we scored again!! How does this keep happening to us?
The mosquitos didn’t seem too bad, but we still wanted to try out our new screen house. The picnic table at our site is huge, so we were surprised that the screen fit over it. It worked great. So nice to have virtually an open space free of those flying critters. Watching from inside our new outdoor space, it was so pretty watching our surrounding Cottonwood trees drop their light, fluffy cotton bundles onto our campsite. Watching it felt like a dream. And the skies did a little talking this afternoon with a light rain. We were hoping it would be enough to wash off the layers of dirt and dust on the trailer and truck. And since we wanted to be able to look out at least the front and back windows, we used river water to wash them. Trust me, anything was better than looking through what was there. Everything about Canada so far is amazing….the campgrounds, the scenery, the people, and free firewood. But finding good water seems to be a challenge the further north we go. There are 2 pump-like spigots on either side of our campsite. We tried getting water from both, but even after pumping 15 times all we got was a brownish trickle at best. No thanks! We’ll just cut back even further on our water usage and do whatever it takes to have our water hold out until Sunday’s departure.
These full-on daylight evening walks are really throwing us for a loop. Walking to the dock area at 10:00 at night, with tourists strolling about as if it was afternoon, was so strange. Aren’t most people in bed by 10:00? By the time I hit the hay, around 2:00 a.m. the light was dusk-like. It’s no joke that nearby residents enjoy their nearly 24 hours of sunlight. It’s not uncommon at this time of year to see locals having midnight barbecues, fishing the Yukon River or bicycling all hours of the night. Why not celebrate the 24/7 sunlight when you have to endure many weeks of complete darkness during those long drawn out winter months?