Day Four & Five on the Alaska Highway
We decided to take a rest day in Whitehorse, YT. Whitehorse is quite the city. Mary says it a town because of it's population (about 28,000) but I say it is a city because everything is relative. The population of the entire Yukon is about 37,000. Whitehorse has a Walmart, public transportation, a prison, an airport (you can get to Whitehorse from anywhere), multiple fast food establishments, government buildings, paved roads, parking meters and lots of things that make it a city instead of a town. Besides that it is all relative and in the Yukon Territories, Whitehorse is the one and only city.
We visited the MacBride Museum of Yukon History - it was the only one open on the day we were there. The lady that was selling tickets is a mountain biker and told us about the extensive trail system in the area (with names like RIP, No Shirt No Service, Hilarious, Broken Truck, etc.). She said if we went we should take bear spray. Mary immediately decided a mountain bike ride was a good idea for the afternoon. I decided that as much as I would like to see the trail system, I was tried and was not going to ride.
I dropped Mary at the trailhead and went to town to find somewhere to hang out and drink chai. Mary would text me to find out where I was when she got of the trail and she would ride to meet me. We both had a great afternoon. Mary was disappointed that she did not even get a chance to pull out her bear spray. Despite several warnings about bears in the area, Mary did not see a single bear; not even any bear poop.
That evening we were checking out all the info we could find for the next day's drive. Mary found info saying that the first 50 km (about 32 miles) of road from Whitehorse to the border was in relatively bad shape. What I found said that the road from Whitehorse all the way to the border was in poor to fair condition. We both wanted Mary's info to be correct. So far, the roads have been in good condition and to be honest, I was really thinking that the info both of us found was over exaggerated.
DAY 5 - Mary's info was correct, the first 50 km outside of Whitehorse had some potholes and frost heaves, but it was not terrible. My information was unfortunately also correct. The closer we got to the border, the worse the road conditions became. At one point, Mary stopped the truck and RV in the middle of the road, got out and walked back to the car and said, "Your turn, I am being beat to death." I had not towed this RV ever and here we were on a gravel road with no end in sight. I asked Mary if she thought it was a good idea for me to drive the truck under these conditions when I had not ever towed this RV. Her response was, "I'm not driving it anymore. You will be fine." For the next how ever many miles, I drove the truck. The truck actually rides better when it is towing, but it is still a very rough ride when the road is in such bad condition. There were large sections of unpaved road (one section was 45 km). There were potholes and broken pavement along with frost heaves that made the road like a roller coaster. One concession for the poor road conditions was the beautiful scenery. We passed snow/glacier covered mountains and beautiful lakes. Right before we crossed the border, Mary and I switched vehicles again.
We were both glad to see the border and I wrongly assumed that the roads would immediately improve. Our plan was to stop at an RV park right across the border. We pulled into the parking lot, got out and walked around and decided not to stay. The place was extremely run down. The power poles were in bad condition - not a good sign when you are planning to hook your home up to it. As with the other time we decided to pass up RV parks, the next town (Tok, Alaska) is about a hundred miles down the road. There was no cell signal, so we could not call to see if the RV park was open, but we knew we were not staying where we were.
I must have had on my rose colored glasses, because in my mind, once we crossed the border back into the USA everything would be grand - we would have a cell signal, the roads would be in excellent conditions, fuel and fast food would be readily available and cheap…. I was wrong. There was no cell signal, the roads were just as bad as the roads we had just come across (at anywhere where ten to thirty miles an hour) and there were no gas stations, no food, no nothing, but more bad road. We bounced our way to Tok and much to our delight as we approached the rv park, we saw colorful flags and a well maintained office. This was an actual RV park, not an RV parking lot. We pulled in and the lady at the desk asked what kind of site we would like - wow, we had not had choices since we left Boise on April 17th. I asked if they had full-hookups with water and sewer at the site. She asked if we would like 50 or 30 amps. I was ecstatic - we were going to have 50 amps which means we can make coffee, have the fireplace on and use the convection oven at the same time. Of course, all this had a price - it cost almost twice what we had been paying in Canada.
From Tok, AK to Anchorage, AK is about 330 miles, which is very doable if the roads are in good condition. After today, I am not confident that we can comfortably drive 330 mile tomorrow. I'm not even sure we will want to drive tomorrow.