Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Alaska Caper - Day 21

June 24, 2007
Posted by: Dick Wilson

Start: Tok, AK
Destination: Dawson City, Yukon Territory, Canada
Miles traveled: 246

We left Tok this morning bound for Dawson City in the Yukon. We would see our last glimpse of Alaska, beginning our journey back to the USA through the Yukon and British Columbia. The road was mostly paved, and the scenery was gorgeous as usual. Shortly after "hitting the dirt," we arrived at Chicken, Alaska. As the story goes, this town was supposed to be named for the willow ptarmigan, but the name was long and difficult to spell and as the colloquial name for that bird was the snow chicken, this name has stuck with the town from the get go. It is a dinky little town which is an incredible tourist trap. While we were there, three tour buses arrived. In the local bar, they have a collection of ball caps which completely cover the walls and ceilings. On one, Boise, Idaho, was clearly written using a felt tip marking pen. It was then on to the Top of the World Highway. This took us over the border into Canada. It was gratifying to have a reasonable, friendly, unofficious Canadian customs agent. As Steve and I obviously did not fit the profile of drug smugglers or problem persons, he approved our entry with a minimum of fanfare and interrogation, while possessing an enjoyable sense of humor. The Top of the World Highway is a gravel road. It mostly is at an altitude of 4000 feet. At this latitude, we were above the tree line which is at about 3000 feet. We were having some difficulty controlling our bikes which were wobbling a bit unsteadily on the gravel. A young GS rider named Chris Hardy stopped to visit with us while we were stretching our legs, and he suggested we lower the air pressure in our tires from 40 psi to 25 psi. This made all the difference in the world. The bikes began tracking as if on rails. This suggestion had previously been made to me by Darrel Case, but I was not bright enough to follow his advice. We arrived at the Yukon River. Dawson City was on the other side. A ferry boat which runs 16 hours a day transported us to our destination. This is a small boat, and in the summer months, during the day, motor homes may have to wait 2-4 hours to get across the River, as they may be lined up 20 or more in number. On our crossing, there were several motor homes, but the rule here for ferry boats (and when following a pilot car through a construction zone) is "motorcycles first." We checked into the Fifth Avenue Bed & Breakfast. Our accommodations were excellent, and our hostess, Tracy, was friendly and cordial. It had been a long, somewhat arduous ride. We are looking forward to a day off tomorrow to look around this historic gold rush city.

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