Day 46 - Thursday, May 16 - Milepost 4874 - Birdcount 220 - Beaver Creek, Yukon Territory
(SF's Journal). "Potholes!" That is the official greeting of those in the Yukon. And we see a lot of them. They are in the company of frost heaves, breaks in pavement and rough road. If they are not traveling with us, road construction is there to take their place.We have three stops all told and line up like cars going to slaughter. And slaughter is what happened to our Pathfinders headlight. It is shreaded to smitherins and our nice clean vehicles look like they have 100 layers of dirt. It is not all bad, for at the stops we hop out of our vehicle and talk to those before and after us in line. Plus we see some Dall sheep at sheep mountain. At Takhini Burn we take a rest and the only sound we hear is that of two woodpeckers tapping on trees on either end of an Aspen regrowth with a background of snow capped mountains warmed by a summer sun that gets little rest. However after that rough road ordeal, we decide to stop at Beaver Creek, noted for being 301 miles from nowhere where East meets West, a town I would have looked down my nose at a few days ago. We park for the evening in a RV lot next to the Westmark motel. It is clean, has a nice grocery store and water and electricity. Plus next door at the motel, they have a rip roaring dinner musical called "Rendevoux". It includes a little of 1942 nostalgia, romance, and loads of laughter, good songs and a surprise or two, plus a buffet dinner of ribs, chicken, salmon and apple pie. The best part of all, it is all free because they are doing a dress rehearsal and need an audience. What a treat for us. The show is so good I would easily pay to see it again. It takes place in a rather new round log building. Tables with red checkered cloths are set around a central fireplace, the atmosphere being extremely cozy and the staff making everyone welcome. 301 miles from nowhere is not so bad after all.
(BF's Journal). Although we are on the road for 10½ hours, we only travel 281 miles. The morning delays are planned, the afternoons are not. This morning we stop at roadside pullouts to read signs, view scenery and take pictures. The pictures we had developed in Whitehorse turned out better than we expected, especially those taken through the telescope, so now we are encouraged to take more. Near Haines Junction we view towering snow covered mountains, some capped with glaciers. For 60 miles the road skirts the northern perimeter of Kluane National Park, famous for the largest non-Arctic glaciers in the world. With a warm day and a clear blue sky we can see the peaks distinctly on our left and soon get a gorgeous view of Kluane Lake on our right. The enormous lake is snow covered and we travel a narrow road edged between the shoreline and steep barren rock mountains. At one stop we see white specs contrast against the gray rocks a half-mile up the slope. With binoculars and telescope the specs transform into Dall Sheep. I set up my tripod and attach our Canon camera to the telescope to take pictures of the distant sheep, hoping to capture a close view. The drive along Kluane Bay toward Destruction Bay is beautiful in white and we are anxious to see it in blue on our return trip after the snow melts. Shortly after a late 1:30 lunch we encounter the first of a series of heavy construction sections that turn the nicely paved highway this far into rocky, bumpy single-lane gravel roads. Three times we are flagged to a stop to wait 15-20 minutes for the lead pickup truck to escort a procession of vehicles across the jarring construction zone at 10-20 mph. Since we are not on a time schedule, the waiting time is happily filled talking to fellow travelers and the flag ladies. From one flag lady, about Missys age, I learn that construction continues throughout the winter except for a brief Christmas break. She lives with the others in a construction camp built in the wilderness six miles from where we are standing. The camp moves with the construction and last August it was transported 20 miles further south. Another flag lady talked about the bitter cold in winter when the wind from the glaciers sweeps down the mountains to hit her face as she stands in the highway directing traffic. By 5:30 we finally reach Beaver Creek, having traveled the last 70 miles in 3½ hours, an average of 20 mph. We now have a broken headlamp on the Pathfinder added to the other damage we previously sustained: our left windshield on the Pace Arrow has a hole we picked up from a thrown rock in Jackson, WY and our right windshield has a 14 inch semicircle crack at its base. A fellow traveler from Colorado (graduate of University of Texas, Austin) got a large hole in his RV windshield today. The tires also took a beating today on the ragged rocky roads and the dust throw from the motor home coats the towed Pathfinder inside and out. Ah, the perils and joys of traveling the Alaska Highway!
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