Monday, 7 September 2015

Dawson City

We left Whitehorse, but with a very short drive ahead of us. We went as far as Takhini Hot Springs. This is a beautiful private campground, with electricity only, but they have a dump station and fresh water fill-up.

A beautiful wide site, with lots of privacy
The staff are friendly and very helpful, and the grounds are beautifully kept with sites are carved out of the forest and are well separated. After choosing our site and eating, we went up to the hot springs.

Entrance with a Cafe attached
This one is a very large concrete pool, with the hot spring water coming in at one end- the hot shallow end- then through a gate into water 1.7m deep with a shallow end in a much larger section- with outlets at this end to the natural stream outside the fence.

The closest end is the hottest
It was delightful, to just lie in the water, paddle around and move from cooler to warmer and back again! There were people there of all ages, young babies, toddlers, quite a number of kids having fun, all ages right up to the white-haired crowd. 
Everyone had to follow the rules, especially No Snowballs!

 When we got back, the campground police came knocking! Our Nova Scotia friends were there waiting for a part for their truck. We had a great visit and catch-up before they left the next morning to get it fixed. 
It rained the next day, and John felt miserable, so, we stayed an extra day and just hung out in the trailer. We couldn’t do much with the Internet as it was really weak. 

We began our trip North towards Dawson City, stopping first “on the marge of Lake Laberge”.
The Marge of Lake Leberge

View across Lake Leberge

30 Mile Heritage River

It was a bumpy dirt road, but we had to see the site of the Cremation of Sam McGee.

We had decided to stop at Twin Lakes Territorial Park,

Formation of Twin Lakes
and when we got there, Christina and Paul had already arrived. We had a beautiful large site up on a hill overlooking the lake.

The view from the hill behind our trailer

Actually it was a double site, but the Park was not busy, so we did not have anyone else come in.

The park was really pretty, with sites of all sizes, but well separated and level. We enjoyed another campfire at their site and were joined by a lady from Colorado. She raved about a Territorial Park up in Mayo, on the way to Dawson. She said it was much prettier even than Twin Lakes. So The four of us decided to go up there for the next night, before carrying on to Dawson City. 

The next day was a bumpy green day!

rounded hills

Montague Road House

There was a roadhouse every 30-40km

We drove over three separate areas of road construction, 6km and 8 km and on only a few hundred feet, and lots of frost –heaved bumps and pot holes! There were several spectacular views of the rivers,

We drove into what was once Beringia

Pelly Crossing Bridge over Pelly River
but the drive was mainly through green fir trees and aspen. It was generally flat with some mountains in the distance. The road up to Mayo had several sections under construction [what else is new !]. 

More muddy roads
When we got to Mayo to the Five Mile Lake Campground, Christina and Paul were already there. The campground was beautiful with wide sites well separated, but there were no sites on the lake,

and we couldn’t even see it, unless we walked up the road.  It was a narrow lake, with a gravel beach and swimming area.

A narrow 5 Mile Lake the next morning
Several children were enjoying a raft near the shore when we arrived. 
However, it certainly did not rival Twin Lakes or Muncho Lake Park. 

The next day dawned bright and clear. We took a quick drive into the town of Mayo before we left. There is not much there, but they have developed a beautiful lookout and small park above the river with spectacular views of the area. 

View from The Mayo Gazebo

Stewart River

We drove right to Dawson City. It was a rather ordinary day of driving, once we got back on the Klondike highway, broken only by gravel patches.

Our truck and trailer looked just as muddy

One section we drove km without a pilot car, but with graders and rollers on half of the highway. We finally had a pilot car for the last few kilometres. The terrain was fairly flat, with rolling, domed green large hills.

Fairly flat

Some domed green hills

Often beside the Stewart River
We drove right to the Klondike River Territorial Campground, another beautiful, well maintained campground.

Lots of room for a bonfire and chairs

We met Cristina and Paul, and later after dinner at the Greek restaurant, 

Our first meal in Dawson City

we decided to take the ferry

Looking back to Dawson City from the ferry

to West Dawson

We don't really think this is the Hostel, but maybe....

The Moosehide Slide
The explanation...

to check out the other government campsite. Then we drove up to the top of the Dome Road to get a view of the whole area. 

The Stewart and Yukon Rivers

Dawson City

and the road back down...

As you drive towards the city, you are welcomed

and then you see high, long curved mounds of gravel.

The tailings

The explanation... 
 These are all tailings from the dredges. This whole are had been mined for gold. This is a picturesque town, of 1998 people (according to the guidebook- no kidding). It has the look and feel of an old frontier town, streets are wide,

Front Street

and the brightly coloured stores have a frontier appearance. Front Street, along the Yukon River, is paved with white asphalt,

Front Street on the Yukon River
while all the others are dirt roads with wooden sidewalks.

There are a lot of historic buildings, some fixed up and in use,

Bunk House apartment

and some needing to be renovated,

One of the next to be renovated??

and many of which are not open to the public. We found out that many are Government Historic Sites and are open at certain times of the day only, or only opened on one of the many walks with a tour guide. We learned to plan our day around when buildings are open or a walk is happening. 

But some have explanations,

and some houses are beautiful private homes.

The folks at the Visitors Centre were very helpful, and interesting. There was a water hose out back, that we could just drive up to and use. We filled our 6 gallon container several times and our trailer before we left. The wifi however was iffy. Macs, iPhones, and iPads connected with no problem, but the signal was weak, but my PC would not recognize the network after the first day. I was trying to connect at the Visitors' Centre while John toured the Keno National Historic site. The Keno, an 130-foot riverboat built in 1922 in Whitehorse, was the last steamer to run the Yukon River from Whitehorse in 1960.


Passenger cabins

Later, we finally went to the Library to use their wifi.

Elementary School with the Library attached [on right]
There were only Four places to get wifi, the Visitors Centre, the Library which was connected to the Elementary school, the Yukon College and one coffee house.
Alchemy Cafe -excellent lunches- with rooms at the back
Unfortunately, one Monday we wanted wifi and, both the college and the coffee shop were closed Monday's.

There was so much to see and do, we were busy every day- not that we started out very early, because evening lasted until after midnight almost every day! The sun was setting about 12:05 or so each night and it really felt like the “Land of the Midnight Sun”. John’s axe got a real workout as we had fires most nights. 

We walked the streets several times, as we toured various buildings. There was the beautiful Palace Grand Theatre.

The Lobby with bar

The Theatre stage

and backdrop
This is used once a year for a grand revue for the town, for the annual Music Festival and by Parks Canada in the summer. It is magnificent, and has been restored to 1937. 

The Bank, the Saloon 

The Saloon, and our guide on an evening walk
and Post Office 
The original Post Office
are three of the buildings we saw on our evening guided tour. They are not open to the public, but appear just as they would have during the gold rush! 

One day we drove to the Top of the World highway. We crossed the Yukon River, on the barge.

It will carry about 9 cars or trucks, or one big Class A, and a couple of cars! The line-up is usually long, particularly the first weekend we were there as it was the Music Festival. We drove to the end of the road on the Canadian side, overlooking the Canadian US border.

The Border
Christina and Paul were camping up there for the night, and we drove up to see it and have dinner with them. It was an incredible drive. You feel as if there is no one else around for most of the drive. The road goes across the tops and around some of the higher mountains in the range.

The views are spectacular.

Even a rainbow right at the top!

One view south

We saw a heard of caribou off in the distance, a couple of hills away. Then on our drive back, because the Border was closed, and we were the only car on the road, the caribou came right to and across the road.

We saw about 5 herds as we wound our way back. They ran beside us along the meadow and crossed in front or behind us. They are quite skittish though, and would not come too close. 

One evening we all went to Diamond Gertie's Gambling Hall for the 8:30 show.

Diamond Tooth Gertie's Gambling Hall
This is actually a casino with a floor show. We got there early, but there were no seats on the floor except way at the back, so we sat up in the balcony on the side. It was a great show of song and dance!

Gertie sang

The dancers

Gertie and the Dancers came out at the end for photos
We enjoyed it so much, we stayed for the 10 pm show too, but decided not to see the midnight show! It was great fun! 

We toured Robert Service’s cabin,

View from the back hill 
Robert Service

The bedroom

The opening of The Cremation of Sam McGee
and had an interesting presentation

Presentation Cabin

at Jack London’s cabin. This cabin has been moved here. Only the bottom half of the original cabin, that he lived in in 1897, was used in this cabin, The logs from the top half are in a replica in Jack London Square in Oakland, CA.

Sod roof on Jack London's cabin

Pierre Berton’s house has a plaque on it, but it is a private residence for Dawson’s Writer in Residence each year. It is a more modern bungalow. 

There are all kinds of shops, only a few are touristy. There is a great bakery,  but you have to get there early, several great jewellery stores with local artists work and gold nugget jewellery, a couple of grocery stores in original buildings, several boutiques, a home hardware, and a couple of banks. There are a variety of restaurants from Chinese and Greek to Klondike Kate's. 

I did not get a chance to Pan for gold, but we did drive out to Dredge #4, one of the original dredges used during gold mining.

Back view
Front view

We found out how the huge arcs of tailings are formed- the buckets

Dredge #4's buckets
on the front work in an arc digging from the top down, feeding the material into the inside of the dredge where it is tumbled, and moved along a series

what the operator sees, but with the bucket on the front

of drums and belts to separate the gold, 

The final filters
until only the waste gravel is thrown out 30ft from the back. These are huge machines! We saw several smaller mining sites. 

View of tailings from the air

A Claim being worked today
Then we drove up Bonanza Creek

Bonanza Creek today
to see the first claim, the Discovery Claim, at Bonanza Creek.

There is an interesting Discovery Trail to follow.

The Red Chairs...

Tailings from Bonanza Creek

Gold Flakes

One of our last visits was over the river, and up to the Golf Course lookout. We got a beautiful view of Dawson City.

The confluence of the Klondike and Yukon Rivers
And the confluence of the Klondike and Yukon rivers. Then we drove into the campground on this side of the Yukon River, to see the paddle-wheelers graveyard. We parked at the end of the park, and followed the beach

to the wrecks of not one, but at least four boats.

They are all twisted together. A sad sight! 

We moved to the Bonanza Gold Campground nearer to town for the last night so we could fill with water, dump black and grey water, and do laundry. We registered, then drove into Dawson for the last time, to see the Commissioner's Residence

The Residence

Drawing Room

Moose Antler chair in the front hall
and the Dawson City Museum

This was a city we were very sorry to have to leave. We loved our time here, even if it did rain some part of every day!

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