These no dark nights are really a weird thing they have in Alaska. It really plays with your mind….at night you don’t realize how late it is and in the middle of the night you think its morning. I bought everyone sleep masks before we left so that it might be a little easier to go to sleep. I use mine every night! Well this morning I woke up and looked at our little clock (not digital) and realized it was 6:30am. I woke up Scott because I thought we were leaving earlier today..around 8am. He informed me not until 8:30am. Okay, I am still tired..but I couldn’t fall back asleep and either could Scott. We got up and made coffee and did our devotions, I wrote my day before summary and then Scott asked what time it was. We had been up at least an hour. I looked and it said 6:11am. Hmmm, that clock must be wrong..another clock…6:11am. Oh boy, my sleepy eyes read our clock wrong and I woke Scott up way too early! I think it was actually 4:30am when we got up! No wonder I feel more tired than usual! With this much time I got lots organized and cleaned before we were leaving at 8:30am. We could have left earlier but we are headed to Chicken Alaska and its only 17 miles away so we don’t want t o arrive before anything opens.
Once we finally get out of the campground we realize that the road to Chicken is not good. Lots of potholes and damaged road and a huge construction project that a pilot car had to bring us through. The sunshine seems to be attempting to shine so that is awesome! We are all so ready for some warmth 🙂
Thr 17 mile drive took us about 30 minutes and we arrived to open businesses. Our first stop is the giant metal chicken someone made.
It was actually pretty cool. They also had a huge dredge on the property that they had moved here to preserve. These dredges are huge and were used to mine for gold. They would float on a pond of their own making and used a bucket scoop system to did the dirt or rock then it would go through a wash and screening process and whatever was too big to go through the screens would be dumped on a conveyer belt and emptied out the back . It was a very efficient way to mine for gold. It is really crazy to see all the mining in the area. It really changes the landscape.
It was neat to see one of these dredges close up. We checked out the little gift shop then headed to the next store that had a gift shop, a saloon and a cafe. Of course they had every kind of chicken paraphernalia you could possibly have. It is funny since the town was not named chicken after the chickens we know….I don’t think this would even be a stop if not for our interpretation. Ptarmigan just doesn’t allow such fun and silliness 🙂 This town has about 15 residence in the winter and it soars to 30-50 in the summer. They have no flushing toilets and they have no cellular service. They have seen -85F in the winter before!!! Hard to believe but they say it is true. They get mail twice a week by plane. Amazing that people can do this..I feel extremely spoiled!
We had a cinnamon roll at the cafe and the kids and my Dad tried panning for gold at the table they had set up. I loved sitting outside this little cafe in the sunshine…it was sooo nice!
We left Chicken to head towards the border and make our way into the Yukon Territory. This is Highway 5 which is also called Taylor Highway and then turns into Top of the World Highway. This is not a highway like I am used to highways. It began right off with massive construction. Huge trucks and big deep grooves, soft shoulders and long distances down the hillside if we were to go off the edge.
The “highway” was an experience all its own. Super stressful driving for Scott! The whole thing was just packed dirt and at one point there was even a new tuck that had gone off the side! As the Taylor Highway gave way to the Top of the World Highway the elevation increased along with the views but also the fear factor. I am not usually afraid of heights but this was a stretch for me. It was hundreds of feet down with no guardrails and no shoulders. I don’t think I would want to do this drive a second time.
It felt like we were driving and gaining elevation the whole time. We finally made it to and through the border and took a stop on the other side for some pictures. We were over 4, 500 feet up. It was really beautiful to look for miles and miles. The temperature was nearing 70 degrees which was exciting too 🙂
The road to Dawson City was another 60 miles of gravel and not nearly as bad as Chicken to the border. The thing with going to Dawson City is that you have to take a ferry. This is a tiny ferry that can carry about 4-6 cars or two giant motor homes. We got into the line that we thought was correct (really tricky to figure out) and we got on right away! They say that you can have to wait up to 3 hours during busy times.
Our little ferry ride
There were not many people waiting and we felt super thankful to not have to wait. Our 7 minute ride was fun. The ferry worker chatted with us the whole time and gave us a little city map that was helpful. We met Mom and Dad at the visitors center then just decided to walk around the town. Pretty touristy but cute.
Dawson City was the home of the gold rush when gold was discovered in Bonanza creek in 1889. The land had been home to the native people Tr’Ondek Hwech’in before the discovery and they were quickly pushed out. The town became a bustling city with rapid growth and was the first capital when the Yukon became a separate territory. 100 years later the Tr’Ondek Hwech’in negotiated the return of self governance and now have a heritage site as well a National Historic Site of Canada. The city did have a lot of historical buildings but you needed a park pass or tickets to hear about them. Unfortunately we arrived in town near 4pm and most things were shutting down at 5pm and some earlier due to the Canada celebrations (Canada Day is July 1st). We were able to see the SS Keno which is one of two paddleboats that survive in the Yukon. The Palace Grand Theater has been reconstructed to its past grandeur. It is lovely from the outside and is probably just as lovely on the inside but again we had no ticket so we just got the outside view. We walked into numerous souvenir style shops and even enjoyed an ice cream cone while we sat in the park and soaked up some sunshine. The area is fun to see and I am glad that we were able to make it here.
We pulled out around 5:30pm and headed to our campground the Klondike River Yukon Campground. We found two nice sites that were surrounded by trees…and lots of mosquitoes and these little black flying things that looked like a gnat. We had dinner and a campfire and the kids and Mom and Dad walked down the interpretive nature trail to see the river.
Adding a sticker to our really clean bumper…notice the message Katherine wrote in it 🙂
We lost an hour on our way into the Yukon Territory so we will be going to bed an hour early for us….good thing Scott and I were up at 430am 🙂
Tomorrow we are headed to Takhini Hot springs where they also have an RV park. I hope this sunshine holds and that the roads are not too bad because its over 300 miles away. Only a week left on our travels and I am looking forward to what we have left to see as well as being at home. Always a mix of feelings at the end of our trips.