Monday, July 04, 2005

Alaska Highway Not For The Timid, But It's Great

Written From Glennallen, Alaska --

I'll be in Anchorage today, more than 3,800 miles after leaving Los Angeles on June 21.

I certainly recommend the Alaska Highway, but it's not for those with no liking for dirt roads. There are at least 100 miles of such roads, whereever they are doing construction, and with the permafrost and the Denali earthquake it's necessary to keep building every summer. The car bounces around a lot, but otherwise the dirt isn't that bad.

Between, Whitehorse and the Alaska border, beware though. There were long, slow, rough stretches and one case of a truck throwing up small pebbles that struck the car, without any appreciable damage.

But it's a beautiful highway for the most part. I was lucky to meet a trucker toward the start in the Pink mountain sector, and he recommended some great places to eat. The best of these was the Iron Creek Lodge about 40 miles before Watson Lake, a young couple, great cooking and wonderful hospitality.

There were lots of caribou (corrected spelling), and a Buffalo grazing beside the road, but I missed seeing any bears or moose.

There's considerable traffic on the highway, built first by the U.S. Army in 1942 and improved and shortened since, but it's mostly truckers and RVs, not as many private cars, although I drove my Camry with no problems. I stopped for a fast lube and oil change in Whitehorse, the largest city on the trip, and a nice town of 22,000. Fort Nelson and Watson Lake were also nice, Dawson Creek at the beginning of the highway was rather scruffy. The weather was some rain and cool throughout. For 886 miles between Dawson Creek and Whitehorse, there's only one town as populous as 5,000 and that's Fort Nelson.

The best meal was in the Klondike Barbeque Rib and Salmon Restaurant in Whitehorse. I had a fabulous stroganoff with wild game. Also, if you go, be sure to take the two-hour Yukon River Cruise in Whitehorse. It cost $25 and I thought that was a bargain.

Drive about 300 miles a day. It's not a fast road, but the wilderness is great. This fulfills a life long ambition, which had to wait for retirement.

I used the Milepost guide, which could use some updating and leaves out such important landmarks as the Continental Divide. I had no reservations, but no trouble finding hotels, paying from $79 to $125 in Canadian money, which is $1.20 for each dollar American. The hotel keepers said they are as busy in the winter as the summer.


Blogger Big B said...

Caribou! Ken, I never thought I'd correct an LA Times editor on his spelling :)

7/04/2005 2:54 PM  

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