Wednesday, June 8, 2005
In the morning, I didn't want to leave the Inn
on the Lake, but I knew that we had to keep
moving. Carson had packed us breakfasts
for the road and the coffee maker was prepped
with organic coffee so we savored a cup before
(We'll Be Back)
Instead of eating the bagged breakfasts in
the morning, we thought we'd save them
for lunchtime and ate in Whitehorse at the
Edgewater instead. Then we continued north.
The drive was long, bouncy, and dusty.
Bouncy from the frost heave caused by
the expansion of water in the soil that
freezes in winter, pushing up into the roads
and forming humps while thawing causes
air pockets. Dusty from the long stretches
At the construction sites on the Alaska
Highway (or maybe it is a Canada thing),
you have to stop and roll down your window
so the flagman (or woman) can tell you
what to expect up ahead.
"You've got to wait about 2 minutes and
11 seconds for the pilot car," said one
flagman. "Then you have 500 meters
of construction up ahead. Give the trucks
the right of way. Drive...35 miles per hour,"
he instructed after glancing at our license plate
and seeing we were of the mileage persuasion.
After so much driving, you tend not to notice
all of the incredible scenery anymore - you
almost become numb to it. But then in a flash,
you look around and suddenly realize how
breathtaking the surroundings truly are.
(and more beautiful...)
(and still beautiful...)
We stopped in Kluane National Park at
Sheep Mountain Visitor Center for a picnic
lunch that included the bagged breakfast -
hard boiled eggs, cheddar cheese slices,
muffins as well as some left over chicken.
(Sheep Mountain Visitor Center)
We were able to see ewes and lambs on
Sheep Mountain through several telescopes
on the viewing deck - a "nursery group" according
to National Geographic Man who proceeded
to explain different aspects of Dall sheep to
Mom and me as well as to the park ranger on site.
He obviously knew more than the ranger.
Back in the car. More driving and driving.
And more dusty, gravelly roads. And more
bouncing. I got into the habit of shouting "Yeehaw!"
every time we bounced over a particularly
bucking spot. A little levity for the road weary.
Years and eons later, we arrived at Beaver Creek,
the Western Most Community in Canada and the
last real stop before the border. We filled up
on gas and Greg, as usual, chatted up some
people nearby. Turns out they were on their
way to visit a niece who lives and works in
Anchorage. Also turns out the niece works
in the same building as Greg and attended
the same Christmas party. Yes, he knew her.
This kind of thing happens often with Greg.
Once we went for lunch at a little cafe in
Centennial, Wyoming (pop: 100). Greg began
to chat with an older couple and during the
conversation revealed that he was working
a temporary position in Washington, DC
and was just in Wyoming to visit me for a
"Our daughter works in DC," they said.
Turns out their daughter worked in the same
building as Greg. Yes, the same building out
of all office buildings in Washington, DC.
I know the world is very small in some ways,
but this type of thing tends to happen to Greg
very often. Probably because he talks to strangers
everywhere we go.
(Almost in Alaska)
Before the border, we made the obligatory
stop at the Alaska sign, posing for the perfect
tourist shots. Then we got to the border and
were ushered ahead with only a few questions
and no errant talk about explosives from the
man in the car, although I did point out a sign
to him at the border and he proceeded to
read it out loud instead of getting the inside
"Keep HOOF AND MOUTH DISEASE out of the
state," he read aloud, loudly.
We were still allowed to cross the border.
We were now officially in Alaska!
(Road to Tok)
The goal was to get to Tok and have dinner with
Greg's friends Jeff and Heather. We had about
90 miles left, and they were the longest 90 miles
in my life. I was tired, hungry, and cranky and
just wanted to get there NOW. Greg remained
cheery and positive even as I got surly.
(One of the main roads through Tok)
Finally we were in Tok, Alaska, population 1800.
We searched for a dog-friendly motel and
the third one was the charm. The room at
the Tok Lodge was clean but hot and stuffy
with no A/C. Still, we were grateful to have it.
We met Greg's friend Jeff (Heather was away on
business) and walked to the restaurant at another
hotel. While the place offered typical American
fare, the specialties were Mexican "because the
chefs are actually Mexican," explained the waiter.
We ordered off the Mexican portion of the menu,
and I had a few Alaskan Ambers, a delicious
microbrew that I had just sampled for the
first time last month in Laramie, Wyoming at
the Overland Restaurant. The beer was
cold and delicious!
I had Arroz con Pollo and Mom had Carne
Asada. The food was tasty and authentic or at least
more authentic after Mom and I asked them
not to put cheese on anything (not on the chicken,
not on the beans). It is a very American thing
to melt cheese on top of Mexican dishes.
After dinner, I was fading fast so Mom and I headed
back to the room. I was able to get online to
update this blog but still not able to upload
photos quickly enough. After an hour attempting
to upload, I finally gave up, showered and went
to sleep. Six more hours of driving left until I'm
at my new home.