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Stories of the Road – The Klondike Highway and Dawson City

December 20, 2016
All materials © Henderson Productions/Sue Henderson. All rights reserved

In the summer of 2016, Henderson Productions and Poggio Amorelli B&B set off for a culinary and photographic journey through British Columbia, the Yukon Territory and Alaska.    Stories of the Road is a series of snippets of that journey.   Stay tuned over the coming months for additional stories of this and other journeys.

There are places on the Klondike Highway which test your dentist’s abilities.    Seriously.   Any one of us could have shaken out loose fillings at multiple locations along the way.    Even today, it’s a definite test of endurance and proper load management and sense of humor.    We did pretty well.

The dusty Klondike Highway north to Dawson City

The dusty Klondike Highway north to Dawson City

There’s a rhythm to the road in an RV.   Or at least there was for us.   We would rotate drivers and passenger/navigators with the other two spread out in the back.   It was driving vs boredom, navigating vs napping, watching outside the windows sideways or from the back vs seeing where we were headed.   When to read and write.   Should she cook?   Should I download pics?   Will we miss something if we nap?  Will I be able to nap with this bumpy road?  Mostly we just nap or watch the world go by and take it all in.

I’m a better navigator so generally sit passenger when there’s something needed.   But when there’s only one road – for the next four hours – not much need for that.    I shoot out the windows as a practice exercise as much as anything and make sure to keep the windows as clean as possible at every gas stop.    Others work with the new GoPro and practice some video technique.    Mostly we have our spots picked out.

We glide off the bumpy Klondike into the boomtown of Dawson City around 11 AM.   It was fun and dusty and authentic blending fifty historic gold-rush-era buildings alongside the converge of the Klondike and Yukon Rivers.   If you work hard at it, you can see prospectors filling the streets.

Bikers stretch their legs in Dawson City, Yukon Territory

Modern Day Prospectors just off their hogs!

In a way I saw modern-day prospectors all over town.   Some were walking bow-legged from their motorized horses off the journey.   Some were white-haired and pouring off the Holland America buses into the visitors’ center and walking around carrying printed “Walking Tour of the Historic District” maps.    With literally two streets four blocks long I’m not sure anyone NEEDS a map.   (But, I DID pick up said brochure just to reference later for my pics.)

Modern day prospectors approach the Bunkhouse in Dawson City

Modern day prospectors approach the Bunkhouse in Dawson City

It’s a boomtown at this time of year.   The paddle wheeler runs short cruises along the shoreline every hour.   I guess to showcase what it was like to arrive there in 1896 or 7?    I’m sure had we taken the time we could have learned a great deal.   And we do have a couple books with the history.    We felt it in the facades of the old buildings now housing a bakery here, a gift shop there, a cartographer, a gold jewelry shop, a couple mercantiles and one very good backcountry supply store with all sorts of cool old-style and modern options.

Snowshoes for sale in Dawson City, Yukon territory

Practical items for sale in Dawson City are reminiscent of olden days

colorful historic facades in Dawson City, Yukon

Painted Ladies of Dawson City

Had a nice chat with Harvey who was painting the woodwork of The Keno – an historic steamer pulled up along the waterfront.   He gave me permission to photograph him as we chatted.  He’s one of seven in the carpentry department as a government employee of Parcs Canada.   They maintain 50 buildings and the Keno in the historic district of Dawson City.

maintaining historic properties in Dawson City, Yukon

Harvey painting trim on the Keno historic paddlewheeler in Dawson City

And I caught a wonderful image of Pat at the Dawson City General Store putting bread loaves into the oven.   The place smelled heavenly and we bought a pastry to nibble as we wandered the boardwalk.

Evelyn was primping the hanging baskets before stretching on her tip toes to hang them this morning.  As we stood on the porch of the Northwest Territories Visitor Centre, she told us they bring all the annuals up from Whitehorse at the beginning of the year even though she has a greenhouse at home.   She has a green thumb and said “I work with these ‘cause my staff here at the Centre have black thumbs.”    She’s tried the petunias for the first time this year and likes them but might want to mix it up more next year.   She likes the longevity of the marigolds – they last longer into the season, and don’t require as much work.     This center is here because “there’s only one road we promote and it starts here”.    Not too much to promote in the western Northwest Territories.   Mostly backcountry hiker and camper safety information.

Evelyn stretches to hang the flowers at the Visitors Center

Evelyn stretches to hang the flowers at the Visitors Center

 

Staff at the Visitors Center maintain flowers in Dawson City, Yukon Territory

Evelyn and her flower baskets

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