We woke up late this morning, assuming we’d have an easy 324-mile drive from Tok, AK to Whitehorse, YK. It was not meant to be. The sun was bright and warm as we left Tok for the 90-mile jaunt to the border. Papa was driving the U-Haul at a good clip, and the traffic was lighter than I expected. We stopped for a couple of potty breaks and for gas before we made the border, but things looked really promising for an uneventful but beautiful drive through the Yukon Territory.
The big YK sign at the border proved far-too cool to bypass, so we stopped for pictures. I noticed some very fresh bear poop on the grass near the sign, and I warned everyone to steer clear and keep an eye out for the bruin. Cole has been sick for two days now, and in his delirious state, he walked right through it. But we didn’t know this until he got back in the car, which promptly filled with the nasty aroma of whatever that bear had for breakfast this morning. We were all still gagging and holding our shirts over our our noses when we pulled up to Canadian customs. Driving into the Yukon is an interesting reminder of just how small we are in this world. We crossed so many wide rivers I lost count, and we drove in the shadow of so many peaks and saw so few people, it reminded me of a bigger, emptier Alaska. Like a leaden-gray wall in the distance, the Yukon opened up its waterworks for us as a welcoming sign. We left the sunshine in eastern Alaska and drove into a torrential furry that seemed somewhat normal for the surroundings, but it made for a miserable drive. Like doing a road trip in Oregon on spring break. We stopped and slapped ourselves silly trying to keep the mosquitoes off for a short trip to fetch salami out of the back of the truck or to order sandwiches at a Tasty Freeze. The road, or what might be called a road, or perhaps a trail, was so rough in spots we never traveled faster than 35 mph at times. You expect these patches on the Alaska Highway, but you cannot know how long and tedious they are until you finish a 324-mile drive 10-hours later and crash defeated into a hotel bed with the sick and snoring all around you. Towards Whitehorse, the trail picked up speed. my father-in-law took it up to 60, before the trailer started to weave back and forth dangerously. The other memorable part of today was the tremendously large dragon flies that I mowed down like so many windshield sacrifices. Ordinary bugs make their presence known with a gooey splat on the windshield, some of which you dread the task of trying to remove with the gas station squeegee later. Dragon flies in the Yukon look quite like a bird of prey coming through your windshield. I was so surprised by the sight of such large creatures smacking my windshield, that I actually flinched and swerved a few times. The second day is down, and the real test comes tomorrow. we have a 550-mile drive to stay on target. If we leave at 7 a.m., that puts us into Fort Nelson around 10 p.m., judging by these road conditions.