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Published: September 9th 2013
Well, long and adventurous day today. Left hotel at 7 am in the grey and gloom again. Drove through North Pole, Alaska, where even the Mickey D's has a candy cane striped pole holding up the Golden Arches. First stop of the day was at Rika's roadhouse, which is a cute place but according to our tour guide will be closing at the end of the season because it's not as popular a stop off place as it used to be. Got a nice view of an interesting suspension bridge, not a car or people bridge, but rather a bridge of the pipeline.
Lunch was at Fast Eddy's restaurant at Tok. If the weather had been nicer, I would have skipped lunch and wandered around (I still have plenty of granola bars), but since it was still raining, I opted for a yummy teriyaki chicken sandwich. Should have told her to hold the fries..... The restaurant is at the motel (note, Motel, not Hotel) where we will be saying in a few days. According to our tour guide, they don't even provide shampoo. I can already imagine the comments by some of our fun folks.
Next stop was at the town of Chicken. I'd heard of them because they've had some of the coldest temps in Alaska. Now, the story goes that the Ptarmigan is the state bird of Alaska. The ptarmigan is a kind of grouse and tastes like chicken. When the folks up here decided to name their town, they wanted to call it ptarmigan, since that was what had gotten them through the winter. But they weren't sure how to spell it, so they just called it Chicken. There were 4 little stores in "downtown", a gift shop, a liquor store, a bar and a cafe. With really big cinnamon buns. Oh, and 4 outhouses, no flush toilets. One of the outhouses was labelled as handicapped.
After that, we had a bit of an adventure.... Our route to Dawson goes on the "top of the world" highway. Well, we got stuck at the top of the world. We were going up a hill covered in mud and couldn't get over the top. So Bill, our wonderful driver, backed up and tried again. No go. So he backed up a bit and tried a third time with us all standing near the back of the bus to try and get some wait in. Still no go. So Sherry our tour director got off the bus and started walking up hill to the border crossing. While she was still in sight, a small truck went past us and managed to get up the hill. We hoped that he would stop for her and help her out, but as we found out later, not only did he NOT stop, he didn't even tell the border guys that we were stuck and that there were other campers behind us. One of the campers tried to make it over the hill after the truck, but he got stuck ahead of us. The other camper managed to turn around and go back to the town of Eagle. Why didn't we just call for help, you ask? Well, there's no cell service out there in the boonies and no one has a satellite phone. Oh, I forgot to mention one interesting thing. We were stuck right near where the highway guys had parked their bulldozers/graders for the weekend. The couple that went back to Eagle managed to get a hold of the asphalt company, and they send out a crew to help us. They graded the road a bit to scrape way some of the mud, then they towed the stuck camper up the hill. Then they towed US up the hill. It was quite amusing to watch. Sherry was waiting for us at the top of the hill, so we picked her up and went on our way. Fortunately, everyone on the bus managed to keep their sense of humor about the whole thing and I didn't feel like I wanted to kill anyone.
Quick stop at Dawson Dome viewing point, then across the border to Canada. The road got a lot better when we were on the Canadian side. And the scenery might have been beautiful, but unfortunately, after our long day in the mud, the bus windows are completely opaque.
To get to Dawson City, you have to cross the Yukon River, by ferry. A bit confused as to why they don't build a bridge, as the river doesn't seem that wide (based on the length of the ferry ride, I couldn't see anything through muddy windows). But maybe they can't build it high enough to clear the ice that builds up during the winter.
The people at the hotel were nice and kept stuff open for us since Sherry called them when she got bars and told them we were going to be late. Tomorrow we are going to be going around Dawson, and yes, we will be panning for gold.
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