Chicken! A scrawny one at that.
Our camp site last night, au natural, was much better than anything on offer in the settlement.
The bonus this morning was that ‘she’ started reasonably quickly. Due to the location and difficulty of extraction, backed into a tree enclosed space, down a bank close to the river, I had devised a plan to run the winch rope out to a tree in front and winch it forward, in gear to start it. Not needed but filed away.
The settlement of Chicken might be scrawny but it comes with a benefit, the road from it east, is unpaved. This brings a whole new dimension to the journey. I believe that all roads should be unpaved..:). I can hear the groans. Anyway, it’s a lovely drive up onto what is known as the Top of the World Highway, and you can see why. Meandering amongst the partly snow covered hills with little forestation, allows you to see forever. Lower down, the signs of a past fire are evident. Blackened trees for miles in every direction. There are green dotted areas, the fire has skipped over.
Something on the road ahead! A moose and it’s small calf (a mooselet?). A hurried attempt to focus the camera resulted in a blur shot, as they both slid into the scrub.
The Canadian Customs post took our passports inside for checking and after a 20minute wait, came back and apologised for the delay saying that their internet system was the very best money could buy, in 1999!! This border post is isolated and the amiable official said they do six days on and six off, shifts. Living in the building. The road and border is closed during winter so, for a couple of young blokes, it’s an interesting experience.
Clocks an hour forward and back to k’s and litres. Fortunately the sat nav adjusts the time automatically and a couple of buttons and we are using k’s again. The road is gorgeous and we zip along sliding in the gravel with the front vents open to pressurise the cabin slightly to keep the dust out…:). Jen’s got a firm hold of the seat belt strap.
Dawson city is something else. Pop 1400. The loveliest town in Canada. New buildings are styled using traditional ‘gold town’ architecture of the early 1900’s. The streets are dusty and unpaved and there are people walking around in period costume. Similar to the Art deco style tradition of Napier. The only way of getting into the town from the west, is by ferry boat, crossing the Yukon river. it’s a muddy river about 200m across and running fast. However, chatting with a 1st Nations lady who was sitting close to where we had set up for lunch, she told us because of the paucity of winter snow, the ferry grounded on a sand bar in the middle and took some getting off. She said that in earlier years the river froze and you could walk and drive across!!
The Dawson City Visitor centre kindly allowed us some free wifi to post Jen’s blog from yesterday. The connection was too slow to load more than one picture.
It’s 4.30pm and rather than camp in one of the ‘pay for’ sites in town, we cut a track from town with plenty of food and water for the next stage – the Dempster Highway. Bill and Joan from Vancouver insisted we drive the Dempster. They did it in the ’70’s. In those days the road stopped at Inuvik. It now goes all the way to Tuktoyaktuk, the Beaufort Sea and Arctic Ocean.
At just abut dinner time, a new ute and 4 axle covered trailer flew past our tent in a short alcove approx 60m from the road. It must have seen us as it flashed past. A few minutes later it is backing back and stops. They are a small family of 1st Nations people and it’s obvious they have a problem. “Do you have a compressor”? “Sure”. “Whats the problem”? “We had a puncture in one of the trailer tyres”. After detaching the Caranex to get onto the roof to retrieve the compressor meanwhile he manoeuvres the trailer so he can hook the compressor up to our batteries under the passengers seat. We put about 40psi into the tyre but there was obviously a leak. Then he comes around with a partial puncture repair kit, with no applicator for the sealing strip. I decided that this was going to turn into a never ending job so pumped some more air in the tyre and told him to drive fast and it will last till he gets to Dawson. He had about half a dozen spare wheels with tyres in the back of the ute!!! Sounds like someone I know that drove across half of Eurasia with no wheel brace…:). Oh, by the way, we hadn’t lost it, I just couldn’t find it, Jen did, in my tool box..:)
I’m reading a book daughter Sarah gave me. ‘Touching the Void’ by Joe Simpson. Anyone read it? While it’s written about an event in the late ’80’s, it would still rate as one of the most heart stopping reads. I am sure Jen’s youngest, James has read it? He’s a keen rock climber, or was, because now he has a “handbrake” to slow him down.:). A wife and one, two…three children. Smile Jamsie, thats evolution..:)
PS. Sorry folks, very slow internet so pics later.