Aug 17 On the road again

Written Aug. 17th

Leaving Whitehorse in the rain

Leaving Whitehorse in the rain

It was raining this morning when I dropped Christopher off at his job and continued up the Alaska highway alone. My satalite radio is not working…something about the way the arial is installed say the Sirus people and so it was just me, myself and I heading north. It was raining but the highway was good although Dave and Desiree told me to expect some interesting spots…loose gravel, low and sometimes non existant barricades. They also told me that the road to Dawson was 6 hours long going 120k and I didn’t do 120 all day. The limit was 90. There were a few times that I noticed my speedometer creeping up past 100 but most of the time I was comfortably just about on the mark. I didn’t make Dawson but there came a time in the day when I decided not to go that far. A good nights sleep was something I wanted more. I love staying with the kids but they sure keep different hours than I do and so an early night was something I was looking forward to.

I am in a little community campground in Mayo 399k from Whitehorse and the day was a good one.

I didn’t stay on the Alaska Highway long. Not far from Whitehorse I turned onto the Klondike Highway. Well paved with yellow lines, I was happy. I drove in and out of rain showers. It was a great temperature for driving. I pulled over a lot and took pictures and stopped at the tiny little Carmacks information centre. It was not much more than a shack. I am sure it didn’t have running water and maybe no hydro either but it did have a wheelchair ramp. The woman sitting inside was burning one of those mosquito coils and sat with the door open. She had a dog, part wolf she told me, who greeted me enthusiastically. She was stitching infant moccasins for two babies who had just been born into the community.

Carmacks info centre

Carmacks info centre

I didn’t really need information. I don’t know why I stopped but I ended up sitting down and talking to her for a time. She said that the ‘recession’ hasn’t hit her community. “We live off of the land,” she told me, “We live simply and work at what ever comes along.” She had a brilliant smile and opinions on the state of the world. “The rest of the world is living beyond their means. They need to come back to community and find out what is important.”

Funny thing is that when I was in the Carmacks area I was able to get CBC. There was a program on hosted by David Suzuki when I got back into the car and he said almost the same thing word for word. I couldn’t believe it. As the radio faded back into nothing it did leave me thinking about communities and how they nurture us.

The steps - who builds and maintains these things...what a job

The steps - who builds and maintains these things...what a job

I stopped for lunch at a picnic area over looking the Five Finger Rapids on the Yukon River. It was a beautiful view and quite a few people were there. A long set of stairs led down toward the river and I got ready to take a hike down. At the top I met Barbara and Edith. They were traveling together. Both originally from Cochrane, now Barbara lives in Bowmanville. We talked about our trips. The two of them have put about 8000km on their old 1987 van. The van was a full sized one, bigger than Vincent but just as sturdy. We stood far ages chatting at the top of the stairs as the rain got harder. A bus came by and dropped everyone off for a stretch, a piddle and a picture opportunity and we still stood laughing about our adventures. They were headed to Fairbanks and then to Inuvik. We said we would see each other again, or I would drop by their places on my way home. I sure hope to. Both women were somewhat older than I am and obviously enjoying their time on the road. It pays to keep role models like that in sight when I am looking to the future.

Five Finger Rapids

Five Finger Rapids

I really was there

I really was there

As I drove the mainly open stretches of road with very few houses or villages along the way I was struck again by the history of the place, the vast distances and the impossible task it must have been to put in the overland roads and the hydro corridors.

The Yukon has approximately 40,000 people and 26,000 of them live in Whitehorse, and the handful of other towns and villages. The space is immense, open and beautiful. The space helps me to understand how corporations and money making ventures believe that they could never deplete the resources and wouldn’t it be nice if it were true.

One thing that struck me as I drove north was the Yukon habit of marking forest fire areas with the year that they burned. The really neat thing about it is you can see how the land can repair itself, how fire is part of the cycle and how new life comes from it. As I drove I saw land marked burns of 1998, 1953 and everything in between. I guess I have been trained to think of forest fires as bad but it only seems to be really bad when it gets in the way of human habitation or exploitation. Nature doesn’t seem to mind it at all. In fact is thrives.

The resizing took away some of the sign - Fox Lake Burn 95 (I think - I don't have my glasses on)

When I leave this campground I will visit Mayo (self identified as the heart of the Yukon) and then head to Dawson where I will camp out in the backyard of the family of a friend of Desiree and Dave. I am looking forward to meeting them. I hope to find internet in Dawson. Surprisingly I have cell phone coverage here.

Talk soon.

One Response to Aug 17 On the road again

  • Janice Turner says:

    It all sounds beautifully isolated and vast and yet I love to hear about the conversations you are able to strike up with people. You are definitely not the only crazy old woman on the road. It is really wonderful and inspiring to know all three of you and probably a whole lot more are out there prowling around this vast country and that even in dreary weather they laugh and talk and connect and move on. Old women are really incredible people. Crones Rule!

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