Biggest Ball of String

Our road trip adventures, quirky roadside attractions, generally in the United States or Canada (and with occasional travel off the mainland into Hawaii, Alaska, Caribbean and Europe – so far)

“Yukon Ho!”

on May 26, 2013

I planned to talk more about Hawaii, and the Green Sand Beach in particular,Somewhere over the Yukon but I have a bit of a complication (short-lived, hopefully), with my Hawaii photos…

So, since our great & wonderful friends, Richard and Shannan, (perhaps you’ve read about them already in my stories…) happen to be visiting us this weekend, I’ve decided to tell a story about their move from Alaska to Michigan…

You may have read my blog about going to visit them in Alaska, after they moved there from Michigan, and this blog is about their “turn-around” trip – 3 years later.

Shannan and I were discussing their upcoming move, and she was talking about how long it was, and how it’d be more fun if it was a “roadtrip” instead of a move. Also, they had two cars, they’d be driving the entire way in different vehicles.   I said “too bad we couldn’t all go on the roadtrip together – besides, we haven’t been to Yukon before” (and you know, we are trying to go to all of the states and provinces).  Suddenly, at the same moment, we had the same idea! Why wouldn’t we go!?  We were excited for this very spontaneous adventure!

So, we planned to fly up to Whitehorse YT and they’d pick us up at the airport!  Just to put things into a location, Whitehorse is 272 km (169 miles) almost directly north of Juneau AK and 804 km (499 miles) almost directly east of Anchorage.  (However, you can’t drive directly east/west – Google maps says it’s 704 miles (1133 kms), by road.)Daisy & Coco in the airport

Daisy & Coco (our miniatureDaisy & Coco on the plane dachshunds – perhaps you’ve read about them in previous blogs, too) came with us, too – after all, it’s a roadtrip!  This was the first (and probably the last) time they had flown… they hated it.  I’d talked to the vet and a pilot friend of mine and everyone said “don’t sedate them” but that they could have an herbal de-stresser.  (Apparently, sedating can cause panic if the dog doesn’t handle it well..?) I did give them the herbal remedy, and I’m sure it helped, but they stared at us from their little carriages the entire 3 hours! (They are small enough to fly with us in the cabin, rather than in the belly of the plane.)

I expected the land of the Yukon Territory to be similar to that of Alaska, as our view from the airplane, but it wasn’t at all! For one thing – it was “flat” (at least, compared to Alaska) -almost like rolling hills. Very beautiful landscape.  However, not exactly flat – just the part we flew over.

Wikipedia states that “the southwest is dominated by the Kluane icefields in Kluane National Park and Reserve, the largest non-polar icefields in the world. Kluane National Park also contains eight of Canada’s ten highest mountains, including the five highest, all in the Saint Elias Mountains. A number of glaciers flow out of the icefields, including the Logan Glacier, the Hubbard Glacier and the Kaskawulsh Glacier.” 

The Yukon Territory was first established in 1896, when it was divided out from NorthWest Territory, but had a population explosion in 1897, with the Klondike Gold Rush. (And, by the way, I just read:  the Yukon Territory became just Yukon, in 2002.  Oops! I did not know that.)

The original gold find prompted an estimated 100,000 prospectors to try their hand at looking for gold, but apparKlondikeently, only 30,000-40,000 of them actually managed to arrive! (Not sure why – I’m sure the information is there, I just didn’t look for it – I’m guessing terrible travelling conditions, cold weather, rival prospectors and local people prevented most.)  Of those who managed to make it, only about 4,000 actually found gold.

During that time, Robert Service moved in from England. He wasn’t looking for gold – he wanted to be a cattle rancher.  He loved the North and he embraced the winter, but he didn’t make his success through cattle ranching.  He did it through his poetry.

Perhaps you’ve heard of “The Cremation of Sam McGee.” 

“There are strange things done in the midnight sun
      By the men who moil for gold;
The Arctic trails have their secret tales
      That would make your blood run cold;”  (etc.)

Rumor has it that, in real life, Sam McGee was a banker who wouldn’t approve Mr. Service’s loan, so Sam became the subject of the infamous poem (and one of my favorites).

 We landed safely in Whitehorse, and the puppies were so happy to get off the plane and out of their crates, they didn’t even care that they were getting straight into a car with 2 kids and another dog! Peter and Richard went in one car (the one pulling the cargo trailer) with the baby, and Shannan and I took their other son, and all the dogs.

Richard and Shannan had rented a nice little place that Shannan found online about 5 miles outside of Whitehorse.  A 2 bedroom, full kitchen, full bathroom, large (enough) living room and a gigantic yard, perfectly suited for children and dogs and adults who’ve been cooped up!

The property includes an outdoor hot tub, and indoor sauna, walking trails, mountain views, and allow dogs! Very comfortable.  We could have stayed longer.  But we just stayed the one night and the next day, hit the road!

 Alaska Highway, Wednesday.

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