This day we had a really short drive into Whitehorse, Yukon so we took it pretty easy in the morning. We really liked the Marsh Lake Yukon Government Campground, although there were quite a few mosquitoes there. Fortunately, we were able to get by with some natural mosquito repellent, and the campfire helped. We have several levels of repellent, from natural to frighteningly chemical.
Road Name (s): Yukon Highway 1
Road Type: 2-lane
Road Conditions: Excellent as this was mostly in “suburban” Whitehorse
Miles Today: 31
Miles driven from Canadian border: 1624
Driving Time: :50
Whitehorse is the largest town in these parts. It is both the capital of the Yukon and home to over two thirds of Yukon’s 35k human residents. In the Yukon Territory there are significantly more moose than there are people!
It is a great place to refuel and restock. On the way in, we stopped at Integra Tire, which provides free sani-dump service with a fill-up. We got gas, dumped, got a water fill, a propane fill and a free bag of ice. All in one place, very convenient. But they are a very busy operation so it took quite a while.
Then we headed to Walmart, where we were clearly not the first to think about overnighting. It was pretty jam packed with RV’s. I honestly have never seen so many in one parking lot.
But we found a good spot and settled in. It is a great location right in town and once again, they had WiFi and it was working pretty well when we arrived in the middle of the afternoon. This Walmart actually has a sign outside indicating where RVs are allowed to park overnight – amazing.
Next stop was the Visitor Center, a beautifully decorated building with lots of great information. There are quite a few museums and other activities in town, and this is the place to get the details on all of them. They also have really good WiFi.
This museum displays a variety of artifacts that provide insight into the history of the Yukon: from First Nations regalia including an astounding coat made of feathers from 250 ducks, a Wild World Gallery (more wildlife), planes and trains and trucks, other objects from significant events of the region, stories of colorful characters and visionaries from the past, and a North West Mounted Police Patrol Cabin – this was their territorial headquarters.
One of the things I love about traveling to remote areas are the surprising things you can find there. And for us one of those was Casa Sanchez, the only Mexican restaurant in the Yukon. We had actually read about it, and just had to try it.
The owner is from the state of Veracruz in Mexico, has spent the last 39 summers here, and goes home in the winter. It was a very good Mexican meal, though understandably pretty pricy, as the ingredients must be difficult to come by in these parts.
The next morning Hector took our car in to the Subaru dealer next door. A couple of weeks ago, we began to hear a rattle under the car, at first it was occasional then it became permanent. As it turned out, the mechanic immediately knew what it was when Hector told him about it. There was a rock caught in the front brakes and the rotor was bumping it, apparently a common occurrence due to the gravel roads. And the best part, it only cost $45 to have them remove it.
We planned three museum visits that day. First we went to the Beringia Museum, with displays on the Ice Age in northern and central Yukon, which was ice-free because of its location in a “rain shadow”.
The museum includes displays of these mostly extinct animals, including a full size cast of a woolly mammoth. We also saw a demo of an ancient tool used to hunt, the Atlatl, and Hector tried his hand at hunting with it.
There are lots of displays of early trucks, and buses and the early days of the highway, early days of airplanes and, of course the early railroad days of the White Pass & Yukon Route bringing miners over the mountains to the goldfields. And my favorite, the dogs of the Yukon and their influence on transportation.
Our last visit was to the S.S. Klondike Hstoric Site. The S.S. Klondike is a stern-wheeler that was restored in 2005 and is now an interpretive center. Built in 1929, she was the largest vessel on the Yukon, able to carry over 300 tons of cargo.
As you walk through the Klondike you can see all of the boxes and containers of “supplies” on board: mail, foodstuffs, and silver lead ore. She also carried passengers on her 460-mile route between Whitehorse and Dawson City.
Unfortunately, structural damage was recently uncovered and the forward area of the upper deck and the wheelhouse are closed to the public. There is a nice film about these fascinating riverboats in a tent outside of the vessel.
Our favorite of all, drumroll please – the MacBride Museum of Yukon History! But I plan to take a break from museums for a little while.
Tip of the day: Several gas stations have sani-dumps and offer free dump and water fills if you fill-up with fuel. They usually have a required minimum of gas, but we have noticed that it is pretty reasonable.
The Walmart had cleared out and there were a lot less rigs there, so we snuck an extra night there.
Knowing there would be no big grocery stores until Tok, we restocked on supplies at the Superstore, our favorite grocery. Then, yesterday morning, as we were getting ready to leave, we spotted the Wynns once again. They had a large rock hit their windshield and were having it temporarily repaired. Oh boy.
And we were headed for the worst section of highway yet. Stay tuned.