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Live the adventures of Dan Walker's travels through reading his travel journal. The travel journals are listed below in descending order of date. To search the travel journals, use the keyword search at the bottom of the page.

Journal Entry:

Tuesday, July 28, 2009 07:48:44

Rolls Alaska to Argentina & back: 3 - Haines, Alaska to Dawson City, Yukon, Canada

* *Wednesday, July 22, 2009

*Miles for the day - 455 (732 km) Mile to date: 682 (1,098 km)*

First we headed into Haines for an excellent breakfast and gas - not easy to find as the principal station was closed. We headed up river towards the Canadian border through a reserve touted as the largest concentration of bald eagles in the world - we didn't see any. The salmon have not started the run upstream here yet, which could be part of the problem. We did see fish wheels - these are large baskets on a wheel turned by the force of the river. The baskets rotate much like a Ferris Wheel, scooping any fish in their path into a holding tank.

At the Canadian border an official who appeared to be about 15 years old greeted us. Ours was the only car there, and he spent little time on formalities and lots of time on road conditions, best routes, distances between gas stations and so on. The route was scenic, and the excellent road had almost no traffic.

We gassed up at Haines Junction where we joined the Alaska Highway. It was good road until Kluane lake, the largest in the Yukon, where the wind was blowing so hard the birds were hunkered down and not flying. We were able to approach very close to them - if they stood up the wind blew them back a fair distance. The road deteriorated into frost heaves and gravel stretches from this point until about 30 miles after the US border. Crossing the border was once again fast and friendly.

On arrival in Tok, Alaska, we lucked into a small motel and had a recommendation for a great restaurant nearby called Fast Eddies. There we ran into a couple of bikers we had been passing back and forth all day, so recommended the motel to them, and after they checked in shared a nightcap in our room. Masses of huge mosquitoes removed the option of keeping the door open, but even then there were enough of the bloodsuckers in the room to make sleep difficult.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

*Miles for the day - 197 (317 km) Mile to date: 879 (1,415 km)*

It was necessary to backtrack 12 miles to the turnoff to Dawson City. The road through the site of a huge forest fire was not bad - the frequent stretches of gravel were smooth. It became rougher dirt road shortly before the tiny community of Chicken, once the scene of a gold rush boomtown. It is populated by a cast of characters, one of whom cooked us a great breakfast. He got tired of the Miami heat, looked up the coldest place in the US and moved to Chicken 10 years ago. There is no indoor plumbing, a the three hole outhouse has a large sign over it saying "Chicken poop".

Dirt road continued as we climbed steadily to an isolated border post located at the top of a high pass, the most northerly in the US. Basic wood buildings were close together, one on each side of the border, and each named for gold rush towns from the past. No one was on the US side, but a rather surely female employee curtly interviewed us on the Canadian side. It made me wonder what she did to be sentenced to this outpost, some 50 miles from habitation in either direction. It was windy and freezing cold - snow still lay in patches alongside the road.

The road on the Canadian side had been paved, but had deteriorated into potholed pavement separated by washboard gravel. It would seem the government is letting it deteriorate to impassibility - the dirt road on the US side was in better shape! This stretch is called the "Top of the World Highway", likely because it twists along the top of the high hills with views on each side for miles. Eventually it descends to the Yukon River, where a free ferry shuttles vehicles across within sight of Dawson City.

The city has been maintained much as it was in the gold rush, with most of the well-maintained buildings dating back over 100 years. The visitors bureau were friendly and efficient - we left with lists of times and places of things to do and hotel information. The dirt streets, wooden sidewalks and lack of modern structures gave a real feel for the past. There was little traffic, making it was easy to drive around to select a hotel.

An exploration on foot gave us a close look at the shops - it is a living town with most things available, from groceries to hardware items, all in original buildings. We picked up some things we needed for the trip and a couple of gifts, then went on a pub-crawl, having drinks and snacks (both were good) at several of the towns many drinking establishments. Later in the evening many had singers and honky-tonk piano. We were tired so strolled to the hotel in warm sunlight at about 11 PM.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Today was a necessities day. Marilynn got the laundry done while I washed the car. The mechanics here were friendly and helpful, so I had the car run up on the hoist to have a look around underneath - all was well. We attended a wonderful outdoor recitation of the poems of Robert Service, the bard of the Klondike gold rush, by an elderly Irish actor.

In the evening it was off for another pub crawl, starting with a bar with a honky-tonk piano on the outside veranda where we listed to two different pianists playing and singing upbeat old songs, then to the famous Diamond Tooth Gerties saloon and casino, where a first class gold rush era show was put on. This is a bargain - entry is only $6, and it includes all three different shows two nights. The town operates the casino, with profits going to the upkeep of restored buildings and other community necessities.

>From there it was off to another saloon where I was inducted into Capt. Dicks Sourtoe Cockail Club. This required the drinking down a glass of liquor with a human toe in it. We headed back to Gerties for the second excellent show, then to various other saloons and bars to sing along with the entertainment, ending up behind a plain wood door which hid another saloon populated largely by locals where a band was rocking the place. Finally we stumbled home in broad daylight at 2:30 AM