More of the Alaska Highway
Our goal for Friday was to make it to Burwash Landing, a small town near Kluane Lake about 250 miles away so we took off to head north on the Haines Highway. No moose crossing the river today. At Canadian customs, we had the usual question and answer session. This time, we were asked to produce the shotgun so it could be inspected. We have kept it stored with the barrel removed and a trigger lock on it so the officer was pleased and let us go.
Over the past six days, the temperatures have been in the 60s F. At Chilkoot Pass, most of the snow was gone and even in the high peaks there was a noticeable difference.
We made it to Haines Junction to fill up our gas tanks, met more RVers going to Alaska, and then headed west on the Alaska Highway. The road surface wasn’t as good as the Haines Highway but it was a lot better than we expected. We joked about the horror stories we had heard like the one from the mechanic in Whitehorse who said he was ashamed of his country for letting the roads get so bad.
We stopped for a while at Kluane Lake and took in the view (take the second entrance, not the first, trust me). An older gentleman from Michigan was playing guitar and the songs went perfectly with the scenery. The space, large enough for half a dozen large rigs, would be a perfect place to overnight. But, it was only 1PM and we wanted to get some miles in, so we left.
We got further up the road to Burwash Landing and pulled into the rest stop crowded with RVs. We made coffee and a decision – the US border was only 110 miles away so we would go ahead and cross today. We reason that it wouldn’t be more than a couple more hours driving. Well, the road here went from bad to worse. Miles and miles of uneven gravel or patchy blacktop. We crawled along behind a class C; we were passed by a Canadian Dreams rental, the driver of which seemed to have no concern about the damage he was inflicting (note to self – don’t rent from Canadian Dreams). Each time we started to relax as the road got better, it would again get worse. At one point, we heard a really big CRACK that sounded like wood splitting. I thought our overhead console would collapse on us at any minute. It turned out to be the eyelet screw that holds pantry cabinet closed when turning left. It had snapped in half. We were just glad it wasn’t something more serious.
The 110 miles took about 3.5 hours. We passed Canadian customs and 20 miles later, US customs appeared. Because we are over 12’10”, we had to use the truck lane which meant we had to go inside. We also had a new form to fill out – proof that we had the gun before we entered Canada. This is a new homeland security form used so that one doesn’t get caught up in some kind import/export loop from which, according to the customs officer, “is a pain in the a$$.”
We pulled into a rest area overlooking a lake, looking forward to a quiet night with no driving. Until we realized we had a water pump problem. It seems the top part (technical term) separated from the bottom part (another technical term) because the screws were stripped. We knew there was a problem with this but we thought we had fixed it. The road through the Yukon must have been the final straw. So, we decided to go ahead and run to Tok. It was 62 miles and the road, much improved over the Canadian side, seemed pretty easy. We made it in about an hour and overnighted behind the Chevron station.
Tok, considering the number of RVs that must pass through to get to Alaska, is unnaturally devoid of RV parts and repair places. In fact, the only one that anyone at Chevron could come up with was The Sourdough Campground. At 8AM we called and, believe it or not, they had our exact water pump and space available in their campground.
In all, we drove 438 miles. It was our longest travel day since January 1, 2015 when we left DC for Florida. I hate those days but this time, at least, there was daylight the entire time.