Alaska Part 7: Whitehorsing Around

“Oh maaan howya doin’ eh? Gettin’ hot out derr eh?”, I overheard from my table at Tim Hortons; the temperatures had just crested 50ºF. Timmy Ho’s, the undoubtable center of the morning universe of Whitehorse. I had been in town for a few days and was still trying to figure out the vibe of the city; somewhere between affluent/upbeat and alcoholic/decrepit.

My buddy, Nick had managed to intercept me in my haul and it was great to see a familiar face in the Yukon territory. Getting to Whitehorse felt like an accomplishment within itself and was the single biggest push in degrees latitude since driving from Los Angeles to Oregon. The notable difference was the sun angle.

We spent the week trying to feel-out the place, complete with checking out the river and many watering holes around town. The Yukon river passes right through town and there was a path that lead past the hydroelectric dam and fish ladder. Unfortunately the last day of the season had been the day before to view the fish, but the salmon run had pretty much expired anyway.

A short drive to the top of the dam and a bit further on was the gorge; a narrow stretch of the Yukon that drove a deep gash into the rock. This straight had historically taken many lives and when looking at the dark waters churning below, it was easy to see we were not on the kiddie end of the pool.

A dive bar reminiscent of our favorite (The White Front of Philipsburg, Montana), welcomed us to their club when we answered a few questions about the taxidermy on the walls. Never mind the fact that we simply overheard the responses of patrons who went before us, we became genuine members of the 98 Hotel bar.

It was Thursday afternoon when the van and I rolled out of the last city I’d see for 700 miles until Anchorage. Fall was in its most colorful phase of metamorphosis and fresh snow dusted the surrounding peaks that passed by for hours. The trip was starting to feel big; big in the way that only one-directional travel can feel. I had driven thousands of miles, hauling thousands of pounds of human produced materiel almost 30 degrees north. There is some sort of purpose inherent within such a long voyage, the ability to call it a simple “vacation” discarded long ago.

 

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