Whitehorse, Klondike and a Near Disaster

We drove the rest of the Cassiar Highway without incident. We had heard from several friends that this road was challenging. While we did run into a few patches of gravel road we did find it mostly paved. As I said yesterday, we did find it desolate and an accident or breakdown could mean a lengthy wait. I don’t think there was any cell service either. Still, it was truly a beautiful drive and I would recommend it. BUT. You must not let your gas tank get under half full (an old Alaskan rule) and you must carry a spare and know how to change a tire. The rest of the rules for remote driving also apply. When we were at the closed gas station we talked to a family headed south also looking for a fill-up. The man was very distraught to know that the last station we had seen was more than 100 miles ahead. The gas station pumps are mostly the old fashioned kind without a place to prepay with your credit card. The station has to be open to get gas. So…there’s my warning. Travel prepared.

Beautiful, but isolated cabin along the Cassiar Highway.

Beautiful, but isolated cabin along the Cassiar Highway.

We did arrive in Whitehorse late in the afternoon. Just in time to visit the MacBride Museum, a small museum dedicated to the local history, including the gold rush, some natural history (Matthew’s favorite) and a whole section on the poet Robert Service. When I was growing up we loved to listen to some of his most popular poems and in particular one called, “The Cremation of Sam McGee”. It’s a rather morbid story about a prospector who found the Klondike too cold and was always complaining until he caught cold and was near the end. He asks his friend to cremate him on the shores of Lake Labarge. The poem is really more fun than morbid. I’ll share it if I can find the YouTube version. You’ll like it. We learned that there really was a Sam McGee. He was a friend of Service and we got to see his real one room cabin. All you homeschoolers, notice how we added History and Language Arts to our trip.

Sam McGee was a real person and friend of Robert Service.

Sam McGee was a real person and friend of Robert Service.

north to alaska 103 a

After we picked up some groceries and long johns (to keep us warm at night) we found a campsite just out of town. Bob, Matthew, and Rebecca began setting up the tent while I worked on supper. It appeared the three of them were poking around with their job so I told them it was going to rain in three minutes and they’d better hurry up. Well, I was wrong. It began pouring, a hellacious downpour, just moments after the words left my mouth.

Oh my word.

All our stuff was sitting outside waiting to be put in the tent. The food was all outside on the table. Just about everything we owned was outside the truck. It poured and instantly we were all soaked. I yelled at Rebecca to get the packaged stuff back to the truck while I helped Bob. It didn’t matter. everything was filled with water…and sand from the campsite. Finally we got the tent up and emptied it of water, got the rain cover over it and it quit raining.  We reheated the food, found dry clothes and then made some hot chocolate because our hands were frozen and finally made it to bed. Thankfully, it did not rain again but we decided we need to pay much closer attention to those threatening looking rain clouds blowing in. And yes, we were grateful for those warm unders.


Finally: North to Alaska

4 thoughts on “Whitehorse, Klondike and a Near Disaster

  1. I am LOVING this adventure!!! Robert Service poetry was a FUN part of my childhood- Dad continues to this day to read it to my kids…stay dry, Wendts!! Love you!!

    • Been chewing some really delicious jerky thanks to you! I’ll send the kids a copy of my Robert Service CD. Actually, your dad will probably like it even more.

  2. I like reading your posts. Isn’t it wonderful how you can let people know how your trip is going. Wow, the rain didn’t wait for you and your family, huh? We mainly had one place, can’t remember where, when the gas was getting low. I forgot, we had a spare gas tank we carried and didn’t use it till we were back to Washington. We were drving back on the Alcan and went over a bridge where they were doing construction. We didn’t know till we got to some place around Everett. John decided to empty the 5 gallon gas in the truck. I told him, why is there smoke coming from under the truck? He looked under and said, we have a slow burning fire starting. Eli went around the other said and said, the fire is on this side. John looked underneath the truck and saw, a railroad timber from a bridge, was lodged into the catalytic converter. It started a slow burn and we made it from Canada to Everett when we noticed it. John got it out and I went to the restroom to get a few pot fulls of water to put it out. We kept the railroad tie.

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