We spent the night in Rancheria, Yukon Territory last night. Good news—I didn’t get eaten by any bears. We hit the road early and were hoping to hit the Alaska border by bedtime. Initially I had thought we might need to stop at Kluane Lake, since you can’t make as much milage on the Alaska Highway, but we thought we’d push it and see where we could go.
Just as we were about to leave the campground, I noticed that the camper sounded funny so my dad and John jumped out to check stuff under the hood. Turns out we needed more oil. Personally I was a little surprised that we hadn’t taken care of that before we left—until my mom pointed out to me that we’d driven almost four thousand miles since Georgia.
Once we left Rancheria we got to show John some glimpses of the ‘real’ Alaska Highway. A lot of the highway has been paved and some areas have even been ‘citified’ with things light streetlights. Not so with the road after Kluane Lake.
But I’m getting ahead of myself.
Kluane Lake was BEAUTIFUL. John has declared it his favorite lake. Personally, I would never be unfaithful to Mucho Lake that way, but it was impressive. First, the size of it is pretty unbelievable. We read something in the Milepost about how quickly storms can whip up on the lake. You can set out in a boat when it’s perfectly clear and get in the middle and face a vicious storm. John found an island in the middle of the lake and according him, that’s where he’s building his house. Note that I said his house. I’m not sure he’s willing to share his lake with anyone.
Just when we had started to get the teensiest bit disappointed that John was just going to have to believe our stories about how bad the Alcan used to be, we started to near the border. On a positive note, if anyone’s curious to what pergatory is like—I know now.
This road was BAD. And I mean, really bad. It doesn’t even deserve to be called a road, much less a highway. We were flying over bumps, tilting to the side at uneven sections of the road and slamming into potholes. And all that was when we knew the bad sections were coming and could slow down.
On a good note, the road eventually quit alternating between good sections and bad sections, which meant it was easier to be on guard. On a bad note—that meant the road was all bad.
In the middle of this desolate wilderness area with a road that would make the devil ask to go back to…*ahem* ‘Memphis’, it started to pour. REALLY pour. I didn’t even know it stormed in Canada! I had given up my weather checking obsession because I thought surely I wouldn’t have to worry about severe thunderstorms in the Yukon. But the dark blue, almost black, cloud in the distance started to make me wonder…
And then it started to rain. Or so we thought. After a minute we noticed it was exceptionally loud and bouncing off of the windshield almost like…hail. Sure enough, it was hailing! It only lasted for a few minutes, and we only saw a few flashes of lightning, but after we’d been driving for a while we saw hail piled up on the sides of the road. It looked almost like patches of snow, but I knew it was too warm for that. Turned out the hail must’ve bounced off the road and the landed in piles along side it.
At least now I know they do have bad storms in the Yukon too. You just don’t hear about it because no one’s there to see them.
After the storms let up a little we came to Beaver Creek, which is about twenty miles from the border. The Canadians have their customs office/border crossing here, so basically if you ever need to flee the US and not have the Canadians know you’re in their country for refuge, as long as you stay on that stretch of road, you’ll be safe. Take note fugitives. The sky had made it so dark outside by this point that I was just hoping we could all hold it together long enough to make it to the border.
The Port Alcan border is what a border station should look like. None of this four lane garbage like we saw when we came into Alberta. Nope, this was a teeny building with, as far as I could tell, one man working there. He welcomed us home and we kept driving the three miles that would take us to where we had semi-planned to stop.
The owner of the restaurant at said place told my mom when she walked in to do recon that the grill was off and we could have something fried or have a cold sandwich. Now, I know we’re not in Kansas anymore, Toto (or the South, as the case may be) but in my day, people were a lot more welcoming in Alaska than this guy was. So since my dad and John and I didn’t really want to stop anyway, we left his rudeness behind and pushed for Tok. After all, can you really drive the highway through Tok and not eat at Fast Eddy’s?
Fast Eddy’s has apparently been a tradition with my parents for quite a long time. I remember when we moved up here in 2000 and stopped at Fast Eddy’s to eat dinner and my parents explained that we always stopped there. It must have stuck in my brain, because eating dinner there last night just seemed right. AND yummy. It’s a good thing we’re going hiking a lot on this trip or we’d weigh the camper down so much we might not make it back over the rough patches of Canadian highway.
The Canadians seriously need to consider highway maintenance in the Yukon.