Author Archives: wedhatted

Tuk 2018 – Days 17-19 Fire and Ice(fields)

Tuk 2018 – Days 17-19 Fire and Ice(fields)

It had rained overnight, but the sun was out now, there was a wind off the lake and we had no agenda for the day except to get to Whitehorse, so we had a chance to let everything dry before packing it up.

We are staying with our friends Robert and Carl for the next few days while exploring around Whitehorse, so we don’t have to worry about getting a site at a campground. It will be nice to have time to visit with them, it will also be nice to have a bed and shower for a few days.

We had a great sleep and went downtown to find someplace other than McDs  to access wifi as we are getting a bit tired of fast food. We found a great little place at the end of main street called Baked. I had a flatbread with pesto, blue cheese, pears, walnuts and arugula. Boy was it good! Linda had a scone. I think she may really like scones as she gets one every time we are at a bakery.

While I was making use of the wifi, Linda went exploring in the mall and found a cheese shop. They had a wonderful selection, it was had to make a choice. We ended up with 2-year old cave aged Gruyere which should keep really well for camping and L’edel de Cleron, a soft cheese wrapped in bark that should be awesome heated on the campfire.

We parked at the visitor’s centre then shopped our way up main street. We definitely helped to support the Whitehorse economy today. We dropped our bags at the car then waited for the waterfront trolley. We had planned to take it all the way to Shipyards park, almost the end of the line, but it only went 2 stops down from where we were. The trolley is purely a tourist attraction, as almost anyone can walk faster than it goes. But, it is only $1 and was an interesting experience. We walked back to main street after we got off and headed to the Yukon Quest office to look for T-shirts. I wouldn’t have said anything, but Linda had to tell them that I had been in the Quest years ago. That prompted the lady to look in the history book that was published a few years ago and pointed out where it clearly says I scratched. Sigh. That will always be something I remember as an adventure and a huge challenge, but also an abysmal failure.

Quite night at home with Robert and Carl binge watching Happy Valley.

The next morning we headed out to Haines Junction as it is one of my favorite vistas on the planet. We had lunch at the Village Bakery, a great place to stop if you are passing through. It is a little off the main road and easy to miss if you are not looking for it. Everything is scratch made, and on Friday evenings they have a Salmon Bake with live music. I had a salmon pot pie, Linda had a black bean stuffed pepper and we picked up a nice loaf of jalapeno cheese bread to take home.

Haines Junction is a small village on the edge of Kluane National Park and Reserve. Kluane Park covers about 22,000 square km, has vast icefields and 17 of the 20 highest peaks in the country, including Mount Logan, Canada’s highest peak. I would have liked to take a helicopter tour of the park, something on my bucket list for quite some time, but we didn’t have enough time as we had to be back in Whitehorse at Lumel Studios for 5pm

At Lumel, we spent an hour in the hot shop blowing glass. An hour isn’t much time, but they go through things quickly with you, and most of it is hands on with the exception of gathering the glass from the crucible. We started with a blown ornament that could have been a ball or we could flatten it out a bit, we chose flat. Once that was done, we made a paper weight, using big tweezers to pull the glass into interesting (we hope) designs. The finale was making a drinking glass, which had to be shaped and the bubble opened. By the time we were done, we were both sweating and ready for a beverage.

It was fortuitous that our next stop was Epic Pizza for Peggy Hanifan’s Whitewater Wednesday open mic night. I had not see Peggy in over a decade, so it was great chat for a bit and hear her play. We also got to have one last visit with our friend Kathy again as well, so even better.

We called it an early night and went back to Robert and Carl’s for a few more episodes of Happy Valley.

Our last day in Whitehorse was all about visiting with friends, as we have no idea when we might be back. We spent the morning and early afternoon with Robert, then headed to the Kopper King to meet up with Eric, a friend from Mexico who we have never seen in Canada before.

We had to pick up the glass we made at Lumel yesterday, so headed downtown. Wow, I was pretty happy with the results. When glass is hot, you cant see what the colours will look like when it cools, so it is always a bit of a surprise when they come out of the kiln or annealer the next day.  I hadn’t thought the paperweight would turn out very well, the mixing of the colours was kind of rough, and there seemed to be blobs of colour as well, not what I really wanted. None of that showed in what we picked up though, it is really quite nice. It will live on my desk at work. The ornament and the glass both came out quite nice as well, although the ornament kind of looks like something an Oilers fan would have. The drinking glass will now be my favorite glass at home, but we are not sure where the ornament will go.

Next we headed over to Sanchez Cantina to meet BJ for a dinner. Sanchez Cantina makes real Mexican food, and does it well. Supper was fabulous and the visit with Beej was great. It was tough to say good-bye, again because we do not know when we will be able to get back up to the Yukon.

We went back to our temporary home and got everything packed up so that we could have an early start the next morning. Then we “had to” finish watching the Happy Valley series. What an unhappy valley it is. We are hooked though, and will have to keep watching it when season 3 comes out in the fall.

Tuk 2018 – Days 13 to 16 River Quest and bonfires with friends.

Tuk 2018 – Days 13 to 16 River Quest and bonfires with friends.

We woke up quite refreshed, enjoyed another shower. What a luxury! We needed to pick up a couple of groceries and ice for the beer, then grabbed a quick bite to go at Cheechako’s Bake Shop on Front St. It was fast, tasty, and inexpensive.

We had considered taking the highway to Keno, an old silver mining town, as I had never been there and would like to see it. But surprisingly it was overcast and rainy, so we just stayed on the Klondike highway and continued south. We didn’t have time to take the little hike down to the 5-finger rapids on our way up, so we stopped around 1:30 at the Tatchun Creek Campground, which is only a few kms up the highway from the rapids viewpoint. We would hike down the tomorrow. Because we stopped early, most of the sites were open and we found a nice one by the creek. It was sunny when we set up camp, so we had an opportunity to dry out all our gear.

The next morning had a hot breakfast, struck camp and headed over to the 5-finger rapids viewpoint. While we were in Dawson City we had picked up a copy of the Yukon New, a Whitehorse newspaper. In it we had discovered that the Yukon River Quest had started on Jun 27th. The River Quest is the worlds longest annual canoe and kayak race and goes 715km on the Yukon River from Whitehorse to Dawson City. The race started out as a fund raiser for the Yukon Quest dog race, but quickly became an international event of its own. The teams all have a mandatory 7 hour stop in Carmacks, which is just a little bit upriver from the rapids, so we had hoped we might still be able to catch a few of the boats.

We took the stairs from the viewpoint then hiked down the trail to get a closer view of the rapids. If there were any boats left, they would most likely be going through the closest channel which would not be visible from up above. And even if we had missed them all, I still wanted some pics of the “fingers”.

We were in luck, the safety boat was still there so that meant that there must still be at least one more boat. We ended up seeing 4 teams go by, which was a nice unplanned experience.

We stopped in Whitehorse for some supplies, and again had trouble finding fuel canisters for the stove. I knew we would not be able to find the canisters in the arctic, but they used to be available through the Yukon, so this lack of availability was unexpected. If we do another long trip we will have to look at one of the multi-fuel stoves. For now, we picked up a propane camp stove that was on sale at Canadian Tire. We already have one at home, but we figure we can sell this one once we get back. And, we won’t have to worry about running out of fuel.

We grabbed gas and supplies we headed out to Marsh Lake Campground about 30 minutes south of Whitehorse, just off the Alaska Highway.  It is one of the largest Territorial campgrounds, but also one of the busiest. It would be our home for the next 3 nights. We were glad we were getting there early, particularly on a long weekend. If we wouldn’t find a site, we did have a couple of friends who had grabbed sites the day before. We ended up finding one that was mid-way between them both, so it worked out really well. Linda is still amazed at the government campgrounds in the Yukon. They are all $12 a night, and all have pit toilets that are kept clean and stocked, and all of them have free firewood. The firewood is often split, though you still need an axe to break it down a bit more. Down south $12 doesn’t even buy you a bag of firewood at a campsite, let alone pay for a site.

Once we got set up we head back towards Whitehorse, to the Carcross cut off. Our friend BJ MacLean was playing at the Cut Off Restaurant, so we were going to have dinner and listen to BJ and Kietha Clark. The music was great, as usual. It does our souls good to hear BJs music, and even more so live. We also had an opportunity to visit with some other old friends which was an added bonus.

After the show it was back to the campground for a bonfire, beverages, and catching up with old friends.

We had to run into town the next day to take care of some paperwork from down south and made use of McDs wifi. Then back to the campground for dinner and another bonfire. A few friends came out from town, and we had a great evening of music and laughter, sheltered from the rain by a massive tarp strung over the fire pit. A late-night snack of peaches, marshmallows and hotdog buns toasted over the fire in pie-irons rounded off the night. While heading back to the tent for the night, I saw the moon through the clouds and had to go sit on the bluff and watch it for a while.

The next morning, we woke up to discover that the cooler, which was plugged into the 12v socket in the car, had completely drained the battery. I was sure it turned off a while after the car was locked, but I was wrong. We had a booster pack with us. It usually has enough juice to jump 20+ vehicles, but we almost drained it getting the car going. But it did start, of which I was thankful, as Linda was giving me the I-told-you-so look.

Some of our friends had gone to the Marsh Lake community centre for Canada Day celebrations. There was a parade, music, and a free BBQ. We opted for a lazy day hanging around camp and watching a movie in bed.

There was another campfire in the evening, with some different friends popping out for a bit. More music and more bevies, but an early night for us tonight as we played a little to hard the night before.

Tuk 2018 – Day 12 – Back to Dawson City we go.


It was still raining hard and was cold when we got up early. We had planned to stay for 2 nights and do a day hike today, but not in the rain. So, for the first time this trip we had to pack in the rain. Tent and shelter went into the back of the car soaking wet. We hoped that we would find a site to set up early enough in the day for things to dry out before we had to go to bed. We didn’t even want to make breakfast. Dawson City was the closest cell service and we had to call about the phone, so we figured we would just have brekkie there.

It is only 90ish km from Tombstone to the end of the Dempster. I have never been so happy to get to the end of a road before. We headed west into Dawson and enjoyed the drive on pavement, it noticeably changed our moods. We had hoped to stop at the Alchemy Café again, but they didn’t open for another hour and I would way to hangry by then, so we went to the Triple J hotel. Linda called Eagle Plains from the restaurant to ask about the phone. Yes, it was there. Yay! Can they ship it? No, there is no postal or courier service there. She would have to send it with a customer who was heading for Dawson, and would call us if she could find one. Great! But, that would mean we have to stay in Dawson for the night as she also told us the weather on the Dempster was “horrendous” and if she found someone it would take them a long time to get there. So we booked a room at the hotel, there wasn’t one available that early in the day, but should be by noon. About 10 minutes later, Eagle Plains called to say that Elvis is bringing my phone to Dawson.  We let the front desk know that someone would be dropping off a phone for us then went to the museum to pass the time while we waited for a room.

The museum has some very good displays showing the history of Dawson, the gold rush and placer mining. I was able to show Linda the route of the Percy DeWolfe memorial mail dogsled race that I did many moons ago. The 320km race honours Percy DeWolfe who, from 1910 – 1949, delivered the mail between Eagle Alaska and Dawson City by boat, dog team and horse. The museum also has a room of of displayed artifacts behind glass on shelves, so though there is little in the way of descriptions for them, they are very neat to see. Definitely $9 well spent. Fun fact: The museum also serves as the courthouse every couple of months.

We got back to the hotel at noon and the room was indeed ready. We both needed a hot shower and were looking forward to a warm soft bed for the night. The hotel even had a free washer and dryer for us to use. So, we took the opportunity to de-stink ourselves and our clothes. Linda also made a new friend in the stairwell.img_1583

The car was in desperate need of a bath, having a nicely textured coating of Dempster mud on it. So we found a wand wash on the out skirts of town.

On the way back to town we headed up the Dome Road. We didn’t get the chance to do this last week as it was raining the day we were going to hike up, so I was glad we had another opportunity. From the top of the dome you can see most of Dawson City, and can look down the Yukon River valley.  It really is a great view.

We also took a stroll around, looking at many of the historic buildings and displays that are spread across the town. The SS Keno, a sister of the SS Klondike in Whitehorse, sits on the waterfront and is operated by parks Canada. In fact the whole town is a National Heritage Site, and has very strict roles on development. The benches along one of the streets were built to look like old shipping crates, very cool.

Klondike Kates used to be the go to place for brunch when I worked in Dawson years ago but we discovered last week that they no longer do brunch, only supper. We had heard that the food was still amazing, so decided to go there for supper.. It was raining when we got there, and it was a 20-minute wait for a table. There are benches outside for people who are waiting, but they are not covered. So everyone who was waiting huddled under the awning on one of the heritage display building across the street. The restaurant would yell over who was up next.

The wait was worth it though. Linda had the daily special of tourtiere, a good choice in a restaurant that has real Quebec curd on its poutine. It smelled amazing and tasted even better. I had the sausage plate, which had a Bison/blueberry sausage and an Elk/cranberry sausage. We were both very happy with the food and would recommend this place to anyone. They strive for locally sourced and scratch made food.

We had intended to go to the Westminster Hotel bar last week but got way-laid somewhere along the way. We had the time tonight, so headed over for a beverage. The Westminster is a Dawson City icon, referred to as “The Pit” likely because of its condition, though I stand to be corrected on that, and the “Pink Palace” in reference to its exterior colour. The floor is so uneven that even sober people look like drunken sailors as they walk across it. The décor is rather interesting, with a few risqué paintings on the walls. It certainly gives you a bit of the colour of Dawson City.

dawson (1 of 1)Diamond Tooth Gertie’s Casino is right across the street from the Triple J hotel where we were staying. So, just for something different we popped in to play the tables a bit. This time however, we ended up coming out with more than we went in. Always a good day at the casino when you can do that. Sorry Klondike Visitors Association, we took back most of what we donated last week.

We knew enough to quit while we were ahead, called it an early night and enjoyed the warm soft bed. We both slept like logs.

PS: I thought I should include a pic of a Tuk-U shirt. In my mind everyone would know what I was talking about, but Linda was surprised when she saw it.dawson (5 of 1)

Tuk 2018 – Day 11 – Tombstone Park


We slept late, it is so hard to tell what time it is here with the constant light. Packed up and hit the road. We were the last ones out of the campsite. A km or 2 up the road there were 2 cyclist also heading south, they were riding 1 on each side of the road. As we got closer we thought that the one on the left would move over and ride behind his friend. Nope, they stayed on opposite sides and we had to drive between them. I don’t think we have mentioned before the fact that in most places the Dempster has 2-3 tire tracks that are sort of hard packed. In this spot there were 3, the cyclists were using the 2 outside ones, which left a space about a car width between them, and we had to drive on loose gravel while passing them. For the rest of the day we hoped that they were safe as we had barely had enough room to pass and after we crested the hill, we passed motor-homes heading south.

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One of our forest friends at Rock River

At 10:30 we crossed the arctic circle, bringing that portion of our adventure to a close. But no worries, we still had a full day of driving on the Dempster to keep the adventure factor up. We made the requisite stop for gas at Eagles Plains (population 9), grabbed a drink, checked the weather forecast for Tombstone (cloudy but no rain, Yay!), and got back on the road. There was a forest-fire burn we had seen on the way up that seemed to be from last year, as there was not yet any shrubs growing, but there were white flowers in abundance. We kept an eye out for that as I wanted to get some shots. We found one, that didn’t look quite like what we remembered, but we thought that the “flowers” which were like mini dandelions gone to seed, had mostly run their course. I got out, trudged into the burn an bit and got some pics, then we headed on again. A little way done the road, we found the burn that we had actually been thing of, so stopped again for some 11 (2 of 1)

About 10 minutes down the road I reached into my pocket to grab my phone for charging and found that it wasn’t there. FRIG! I had no idea if I had left it at Eagle Plains, or if it had fallen out of my pocket at one of the 2 places we stopped for pics. We turned around and looked for the last place we had stopped. Surprisingly we found the place on the road we had pulled off, and then found the spot in the burn where I had taken the pictures. There was no phone to be found. I knew that there was no chance of finding the previous stop, and Eagle Plains was about 1.5 hours away. So we pointed south again, and headed for our destination for the day, Tombstone park. We would call Eagle Plains when we got back into cell service in 2 days.

The one thing that made losing the phone bearable was knowing that I had uploaded pics to the blog site while we were in Inuvik, as there were pics of us at the signs to NWT, Tuk, Tuk road, and a few selfies from along the way. Still, it set an somber mood for the day.

There were still a lot of sites open at Tombstone, so we found a nice one that even had a tent pad and set up camp. Surprisingly, it started to rain while we were setting up. The pop-up shelter we brought really has made the difference for us. We played some cards then called it a night. I had been sulking about the phone since I discovered it gone and continued to do so into the we hours of the morning, unable to sleep. I didn’t realize home much my phone really is my security blanket. Not having cell service or wifi is fine, just don’t take my phone, as it contains my life.

Tuk 2018 – Day 10 – What goes up must come down.

Tuk 2018 – Day 10 – What goes up must come down.

We had a remarkably good sleep considering how chilly and windy it was last night. That hot-water bottle was a great help, not to mention the stylish head gear. The ensured everything was dry for packing up this morning though, so that was a nice bonus. It also meant that we had to cook in the car, as the heat was being blown away.

After everything was packed up, we put on our sandals and waded into the ocean. OMG was it freekin cold! I have been in glacial lakes and thought it would be pretty much like that. Boy, was I wrong! And, I have to confess that the original plan was to put on bathing suits and take a quick dip, but we wussed out and only went in to our shins.Day 9 (4 of 1)

We stopped at the Northern Store looking for Tuk shirts, but they didn’t have anything that really grabbed us, and I was looking specifically for a Tuk-U shirt. So, we headed over to the town office, they didn’t have Tuk-U shirts, but we wanted to support the local economy at least a little, so I picked up a long sleeve T-shirt, some stickers and we got our “I traveled the highway to the arctic ocean” certificates. We seem to be getting quite a collection of certificates from this trip. We’ll have to scan them when we get home to put them in our photo book of the trip.

We drove around town looking at the sites and taking photos. We discovered that Tuk is the northern end of the Trans-Canada Trail. We also saw a sod house, and the under structure for making a sod house.Day 9 (9 of 1)

Just outside of Tuk is Pingo National Park. Pingos earthen domes unique to the north and are formed when lakes dry up and permafrost pushes up the previous unfrozen ground and water. There are around 1400 around Tuk, ranging in height from 3 to 45 meters.Day 9 (11 of 1)

The road to Inuvik was just as challenging as when we came up, but it seemed to go by a faster even with us stopping to take some pics we didn’t get the day before. One thing we found interesting is that snow-machines and sleds (kamiks) are left in what seems to be random places along the road. We wondered if they might be at someone’s trap-line, but honestly we have no idea and sometime we just make stuff up.Day 9 (12 of 1)

When we got to Inuvik, we had hoped to have lunch at Alestine’s Restaurant as they are rated the best in town and serve local fare such as Reindeer chili, local fish and Eskimo donuts which are pretty similar to what we would call fry bread on the prairies. Alas, they are only open for supper until next week. There are not a lot of restaurants in Inuvik and after looking at short list we picked up at the visitors centre that included the hospital cafeteria, we decided on Cloud 9 at the airport. As we didn’t want to have to double back we decided to get gas and do our shopping before we left for the airport. Still in search of a Tuk-U shirt we headed over to Mavis’ house as she sells the shirts. We were looking for some sort of sign attached to a house, but no, there was nothing. I did see a woman standing in her window waving us in, so figured we had found the right place. Unfortunately, she had no Tuk-U apparel left and wouldn’t get any until next week. Too late for us. She did have a great assortment of hand-crafts, the bead-work on the moccasins was amazing. It seems she used to work for the development corp and when she left the elders kept bringing her their work anyway. The north really is a different place, with a different pace of life and a different way of doing things than we are used.

Next stop was the Inuvialuit Development Corporation. They have a craft shop and hold the copyright for the Tuk-U apparel. At last, we sort of had success. There were only 4 shirts left, 2 small and 2 XXL. Since it took me over 40 years to get here to pick one up I couldn’t leave empty handed, so picked up an XXL sweatshirt. Maybe it will shrink a little, and I can always use it as a hoodless hoodie.

Lunch at the airport was ok, but certainly not something to write home about. If we lived in Inuvik, I don’t think we would be eating out much. The airport did have decent wifi though, so I was able to upload some pics to the blog. The relevance of this will become import in the next day’s blog.

Although the scenery is beautiful, we are starting to be done with the Dempster, and are looking forward to hitting pavement again. So, even though we had intended to make a stop in Tsiigachtic, it would mean an extra ferry crossing, so we went directly to the McPherson landing and continued south. A little after McPherson, there was a lot of road maintenance going on, grading and applying calcium chloride. Although it made the road wet and slippery, it also got rid of the dust that made visibility quite bad.

We ended up in Rock River again for the night. Had a lovely campsite right by the river even though it was a little busier than it was 2 days ago. Our food supplies are starting to get a little low, but we got creative and had quesadillas for supper. Just one more way to serve pepperoni, olives and cheese 😊 By the end of the trip I may not want to have any of the above for a long time.

Day 9 (16 of 1)As we were getting dinner ready and sitting by the fire afterwards, we were visited by a rabbit (Arctic hare?) with white feet who did not seemed afraid of us, and seemed to be friends with a squirrel, we also had a grey jay come and visit and we were expecting Snowwhite to pop out of the forest at any minute.

Tuk 2018 – Day 9 – Most Northern road in Canada

Tuk 2018 – Day 9 – Most Northern road in Canada

We slept a bit late after a cold night in the tent. If we were this cold here, it should be fun in Tuktoyaktuk!

The clouds were very low and made driving a bit challenging as we went through Wright Pass into the the Northwest Territories.

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Of course we stopped at the NWT  border for a pic. We also learned that not only do birds migrate to the western arctic from all over the Americas, the Northern Wheatear migrates from Northern Africa. Now that is one heck of a trip! Shortly after we left the border we encountered a Grizzly running down the road towards us. Unfortunately it dashed off into the bush before we could get a pic, but Linda was happy as she had never seen a griz before. We also saw 2 arctic foxes along the way. Again, no pics, but really we did see them.Day 9 (2 of 1)

Our next stop was at a view point that gave a 180km view down the Mackenzie Delta. The vastness of this land continues to amaze us.Day 9 (2 of 1)

There are 2 ferry crossings on the way to Inuvik. The first one is the Peel River ferry, a cable ferry that operates on demand.Day 9 (3 of 1)

Next was a quick stop into Fort McPherson to get our passports stamped, then back on the road to the MacKenzie River ferry at the confluence of the MacKenzie and Arctic Red Rivers. This ferry has 3 landing points, 1 on the McPherson side of the Dempster, the 2nd is for Tsiigachtic a small village between the 2 rivers, and 3rd is on the Inuvik side of the MacKenzie.

Day 9 (4 of 1)

We stopped for directions and our Arctic Circle certificates at the visitor centre in Inuvik, got fuel at Bob’s Welding, and hit the road.img_1552

If we thought the Dempster was a bit challenging before, it now seemed like a cake walk compared to the new Tuk highway. Because it is such a new road, there are many areas that have not quite settled in yet and for many kms the gravel is deep and loose, it is like driving in sand. There is a not bad section in the middle, then many kms of pot holes and washboard. We drove slow and had ample opportunity to enjoy the view.  2.5 after we left Inuvik, We’ve arrived!img_1553

We stopped at the RCMP to ask where we could camp, as there are no campgrounds in Tuk. In Dawson we had heard that people were using the ball diamond and “the point” The RCMP told us the point was our best bet, so we joined a handful of other die-hards who were spending the night here and not heading right back to Inuvik. There were only a few other tents most were campers or vans. We got a site about 50 yards from the shore of the arctic ocean with the use of a picnic table and fire pit. It was very cold and windy and we used the car as a windbreak for the tent. We also put on all the headgear and jackets we brought with us.

Day 9 (5 of 1)

Linda gathering driftwood from the Arctic Ocean

Dinner was weenies roasted over an ocean driftwood fire, and canned beans. img_1559

Some enterprising residents have erected a wall tent and will be running a concession from it shortly. In the mean time, flyers taped to the outhouses let you know that you can get burgers and hot dogs delivered to your tent.

We campers seem to be a source of entertainment for the town.  Carloads of residents drive around the point to look at us. It kind of makes us feel like we are in a zoo, but is fun none the less.

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Campers at “The Point”

As one might imagine, is was chilly sleeping in a tent a few feet away from the Arctic Ocean in June. We used a Nalgene bottle as a hot water bottle and even I had pants on in the sleeping bag. img_1560

The influx of tourist, and campers has put an extra burden on the town, for example the porta-poties need to be emptied with greater frequency. And, I think so far the economic benefit to the town has not been that great. Next year will look a lot different I think, with an actual campsite, and fees. We feel privileged to be in the first few to experience it the way it is this year.



Tuk 2018 – Day 8 – Into the Arctic

Tuk 2018 – Day 8 – Into the Arctic

We woke up raindrops sitting on the tent, but at least it wasn’t actually raining while we packed up. We had a later start than we hoped today, but ended up getting to the campsite we had wanted to anyway. Dawson was fun, but it is good to be getting away from the bars and casino.

Today was north on the Dempster Highway. Highway is a strong word for this road. It is a 900km unpaved road from just outside of Dawson City to Tuktoyaktuk, with the Inuvik to Tuk portion just opening this year. The Yukon portion of the road is made from shale, treated with calcium chloride. It is super hard on tires and either very dusty when dry, or slippery when wet. The best time to drive it is within a day after rain, so we were hitting it at a great time.Day 6 (6 of 1)

Our first stop was the Tombstone Territorial Park Interpretive Centre. We popped in to get our Dempster Highway passports stamped, but also took the chance to ask them a few questions, as we plan to stop there on the way back down. Day 6 (2 of 1)

The next stop was  our first unplanned stop of the trip about 16km short of Eagle Plains when the low tire pressure light came on. A quick look at the tires didn’t show any visible damage, and Eagle Plains was close so we pressed on.  By the time we got to Eagle Plains, and pulled up to the gas pumps, the left-rear tire was visibly low. By the time the tire repair guy came to look at it, it was flat as a pancake.  He showed us the damaged spot, a finger sized hole was punched through the tread, likely from a sharp rock. Luckily, it was repairable, so we were back on the road with our wallets being not much lighter. (We were even pleasantly surprised at the price of gas) We are not sure if speed was a factor, but slowed down even more for the remainder of the road.img_1537

Next up, about 35km from Eagle Plains, was the Arctic Circle, a first-time experience for Linda. Welcome to the arctic explorer club! Of course, we stopped for a photo op.Day 6 (4 of 1)

The scenery along the Dempster is amazing, and changes all along the way. From the sharp peaks of the Tombstones, the expanse of Eagle Plains, and the undulating Richardson Mountains. It is next to impossible to describe the vast expanse of the land. Linda said she had never seen anything like it before, I know I hadn’t the first time I drove it. It was nice to be the passenger for most of it this time, as I got to take in all the viewsDay 6 (5 of 1)

Near Engineer Creek Campground we passed by treeless mountains that look more like enormous gravel piles than the mountains most people are familiar with. It really seems quite surreal. We were able to spot 4 Dall Sheep meandering on the side of the mountain. They were to high up to get a good pic, though they are more identifiable than just white lobs on a grey background :). We also saw 2 bald eagles along the way, but unfortunately we were unable to stop for the first one and the second flew away before we could get a pic.

Day 6 (3 of 1)

We hung our hats at the Rock Creek Territorial Campground. It is a small rustic campground with private treed sites and free firewood. It also had a welcoming committee of about a zillion mosquitoes. Nothing a little deet and some coils couldn’t fix.

We feasted on a wonderful meal of steaks, corn and potatoes done over the open fire, accompanied by a bottle of wine. What could be better. Still tired from our evenings in Dawson we called it an early night. Overnight it rained, though we were dry inside the tent in the morning, we did have to pack up wet gear, and our chairs had sat out all night. Oh well, we can dry them out in Tuk tomorrow.


Tuk 2018 – Day 7 – Dust 2 Dawson

Tuk 2018 – Day 7 – Dust 2 Dawson

Last night a European tour bus came into the camp ground. It holds about 24 people and is a self contained touring unit. The people sleep in little cubbies that take the back half of the bus. They seemed to be enjoying it, but I think I would be a bit claustrophobic if I had to sleep in one, as they seem a bit tomb-like to me.img_1490

We woke to more rain, coming down pretty hard. So, we had a nice hot shower to warm up and, in the bathroom, ran into Melissa, an old friend from Whitehorse that I had done the Chilkoot Trail with about 15 years ago. It was really great to see her and catch up a little.

As it was a kind of crappy morning, we decided to have breakfast out for the first time since we started the trip. We headed off to the Alchemy Café, a funky little restaurant in a log building. Linda had a cappuccino (her fave) and homemade granola with yogurt and a fruit compote, ii have the Black Bean bowl with eggs, beans, rice, goat cheese and pickled cabbage, along with a turmeric latte. We were both very happy with our choices. I would absolutely go back there if we ever get back to Dawson. The whole menu was vegetarian, only cheese and eggs, no meat. And all very healthy, and tasty options.

We had a window table and watched a couple of very wet riders having coffee outside under the roof overhang. Again we were thankful for the car instead of the bikes.

By evening the rain had stopped ad we went to the Dust 2 Dawson bike games. We have been to bike games before, but these were a whole new level of challenging. There was the requisite slow-ride, the winner was able to balance his bike while it was stopped, so there was no hope for the rest. It was quite something to see. There was also the standard, passenger-eat-a-wiener-hanging-from-a-string game. Honesty not my favorite. The next one was pretty wild. A hood is placed over the rider’s helmet, so that they can not see anything. They then ride until the crowd yells stop, trying to ride in a straight line, and land with their front tire on a paper plate. That has to be unnerving. Next was slow riding, while trying to drop tennis balls into progressively smaller tubes, about 1 foot off the ground. Definitely a challenging event, no one got all the tubes, most got one or 2, the winner had 4. We heard that the 2 riders who won all but the wiener event were professional riders, so they were great watch, but it would have sucked to be competing against them.img_1515

After the bike games, it was back to Gerties. This time we got to spend a couple hours at the tables without donating any cash other than what we spent on beverages. It is always a good night at the casino when you walk out with the same amount you went in with.

It was supposed to be an early night but ended up being after midnight. The problem with all this daylight is that you really don’t have any sense what time it is.

Tuk 2018 – Day 6 – Top of the World

Tuk 2018 – Day 6 – Top of the World

Today was a bit of a sleep-in after staying up for sunset. We did a little shopping, trying to find fuel canisters for the stove. Yes, we should have picked a couple up in Whitehorse, but no we didn’t. And, we were going through fuel a lot faster than we had planned. Being Aboriginal Day, the hardware store was closed, but there was a general store on Front Street that sells camping and fishing supplies. They didn’t have the canisters and didn’t think anyone in town sold them. Drat. I guess we will have to try and be a bit frugal with fuel and hope it lasts.

After shopping we went to the NWT visitors centre. Much to my surprise Dawn Kisoun, an old acquaintance of mine from my dog mushing days, was working there. We got a chance to catch-up, it turns out that they have gotten out of dogs as well. They now run a fishwheel tour company. From there we headed to Sourdough Joe’s for fish and chips. It is too early in the season for salmon, so we shared a 2-piece Halibut and chips, the fish was great and there was more than enough for us to share. We were both stuffed and can’t imagine how someone can eat that by themselves.

Day 6 (1 of 1)-5After lunch we took the ferry across the Yukon River to head up the Top World highway. The highway runs from Dawson to the Yukon/Alaska border. What amazing views! You really do feel like you are on the top of the word. I had really wanted Linda to see it and was happy that she found it as stunning as I did. We had lots of time to take some pics, and even found a bit of the old road while bushwhacking. Eventually were chased back into the car because of a thunder storm. On our way back to town we only had a 2 ferry wait to get across the river. When we got to the campground we heard that it had been a 3 hour wait to get across earlier in the afternoon.

This was the fist day we had been truly thankful we were not on the bikes, as we were able to bring our pop-up shelter with us in the car and could to stay dry while the rains came down. Some riders from neighboring sites took refuge under it as well, so we got some stories from the road. One of the rider’s had to have his bike pulled out of the road with a front end loader as the front wheel was stuck in so deep. We also heard that the day before a rider was medevaced off the Tuk highway. The conditions of the road seem to change hourly.

While we were having beverages out of the rain, we heard a helicopter go up, followed shortly thereafter by water bombers. The lightening must have started a fire not to far out of town. The planes stopped after a short while, so hopefully it was a small fire, quickly contained.

After a supper at the campsite, we headed out to catch the can-can show at Gerties. It is quite a good show, with much more than just can-can dancers. And is a must-see if in Dawson City.  While waiting for the show, we made another donation to the Klondike Visitor’s Association by way of roulette and 21. The table minimums are pretty low and the players are quite relaxed. Linda even gave up slots and played 21 instead.img_1478

We called it a night pretty early, still tired from the previous evening. It was still raining when we went to bed, and thankfully the tent was nice and dry inside. We are quite impressed with the tent, even more so considering we paid very little for it.

Tuk 2018 – Days 4 & 5 – Dawson City, Solstice Sunset.

Tuk 2018 – Days 4 & 5 – Dawson City, Solstice Sunset.

Day 4 was a relaxing day in Whitehorse spent mostly visiting with old friends. It was great to be able to catch up with Beej & Norm, JF & Sylvie, and Robert & Carl.

We also needed to pick up some more fresh food for the trip and replace a couple of things that got left behind in Calgary when we did the quick pack-up of the car. We also picked up an electric cooler that was on Sale at Canadian Tire. It will have paid for itself by the end of this trip with us not having to buy ice and not having to throw out spoiled food.

Whitehorse (2 of 3)

Yukon River

We did manage to get in one touristy stop at the SS Klondike, a Parks Canada Historic Site. The SS Klondike is a paddlewheeler that operated in the 30s and 40s, taking passengers and supplies along the Yukon River between Whitehorse and Dawson City. She now sits on the bank of the river and is open to tourists. Parks Canada give guided tours and admission is free.

Day 5 had us heading back out on the road, going north on the Klondike Highway.  Linda had the pleasure of listening to me tell stories about everything along the road until we passed Lake Laberge, as this was my stomping grounds for many years.

We stopped for lunch at 5 fingers rapids. The Yukon River splits into 5 channels here, and not all of them are navigable, only one was deep enough for the paddlewheelers that traveled the river. There is still a cable that the ships used to pull themselves up the 2-foot falls. From the lookout there are stairs to go down the escarpment and a path to walk to the rapids, it takes around an hour round trip.Day 5 (1 of 2)

Next stop was a photo-op an hour outside of Dawson City, the Tintina Trench lookout. This is a large valley formed by the separating of a fault line some 8 million years ago. The 2 plates of the fault line have shifted over 450km from where they were 65 million years ago. It is a great view from here and a great place to contemplate how tiny a blip we are in the history of the planet.Day 5 (3 of 1)

Our stop for the night, and our home for the next 3, was the Goldrush Campground in downtown Dawson City. The sites are really made for trailers, not tents, and have no shade, but the facilities are well kept, we have power for our cooler, and it is in walking distance to most things in Dawson. We brought our pop-up canopy with us, so we have shade, and the double size air mattress keeps us off the rocks at night.img_1464

After we set up camp, we headed over to Diamond Tooth Gerties Casino to make a donation to the Klondike Visitors Association. After we left our money on the table and in the slots, we headed over to the Downtown Hotel so Linda could do the Sourtoe Cocktail. For $5 plus the price of a shot of something 40% you can have a human toe put in your drink, if it touches your lip, your get a certificate and membership card for the Sourtoe Cocktail Club.

While we were waiting for the toe to start, we got to listen to a great piano player. He was the Stompin Tom of piano, complete with a board under his foot. He has a diverse repertoire, and takes requests. He plays from 7-9 nightly and its definitely worth a visit to hear him play.

To end the night we sat by the river, and watched the solstice sunset at 12:50am. We didn’t manage to get up for sunrise at 3:57.img_1460