Friday, May 18, 2012

And onward to the last American frontier - Alaska

After our stay in Banff and Jasper, we began our final push to Alaska.  In approximately 300 miles, traveling along the northern end of the Canadian Rock is, we reach mile 0 of the Alaskan Highway - Dawson Creek.  The Alaskan Highway, aka Alaskan-Canadian Highway, aka The Alcan, is a two lane 1387 miles from Dawson Creek, British Columbia to Delta Junction, Alaska.  It was built in 1942 by the US army, with Canada, to connect Alaska with the US mainland to serve as a supply route, and a way to protect the US.  The majority of the road is in Canada.

It travels through the Yukon and gave a different view of Canada than a stay in Banff.  Much of the road is empty of people and buildings .... and drivers.We saw our first bears right on the side of the road.  Our first overnight was in what seemed to be a brothel - from our check in process -'what would you like?' to the paint on the walls - purple with black velvet pictures, the late night check ins, and the lack of evidence of those check ins still there in the morning.

Our second night we stayed in a historic US Air Forece barracks in Watson Lake in the Yukon, most famous for its signpost forest, here signs from all over have been posted.  On our third and final day on the highway - we hardly saw another driver as we drove our way across the border into Skagway, Alaska.  Before getting to US customs we saw a frozen, snow covered no man's land stretching for 10s of miles; just a foreshadow to the tails of earlier stampeders who arrved in Skagway and Dyea each to start a treachorous climb up the Chilikoot Trail or up White's Pass at the start of their journey to Dawson City during the Klondike era of 1897-98.

Next stop - Skagway - home to 900 residents and 850,000 cruise visitors in the summer month. Today's gold rush being sort by the diamond, tanzanite, T-shirt and saltwater taffy vendors lining Broadway, downtown Skagway. between night and day this small town turns from barren Hollywood set to Main Street, Disney.

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1 comment:

  1. incredible. the whole thing. especially the barren snowcovered mountains. i'm glad you didn't (apparently) have any trouble negotiating the AlCan Highway. i would have been quite spooked by the desolation.