Alaska Trip Day 5: Teslin, Yukon Territory

Odometer:  166,623

166623

Day Distance & Time:  617 Miles; 9 hours 48 Minutes

617

Overall Trip Distance & Time:  2,924 Miles; 45 hours 33 Minutes

2924

teslin_tyson

“It’s like driving through a Bob Ross painting,” I told Jason via walkie-talkie as we crested the Yukon Highway 1 near the Liard River today, with “happy” pine trees in the foreground and the looming, snowy peaks in the distance.  Today’s scenery has been endless and awe-inspiring.  We put in a long day, at 9 hours 48 minutes, but it went by quickly because we were too busy enjoying the surroundings.  Best of all?  ZERO CELL SERVICE most of the day.  Staying unplugged today (until now) was one of the most enjoyable things I’ve ever done.

I definitely think we timed this trip perfectly.  Springtime is sprouting all over, the roads are free of snow, and yet the peak tourist season isn’t yet underway so we rarely have to deal with a slow-moving RV in our way.  For miles upon miles, we had the roads to ourselves today.  Every once in awhile a tractor-trailer would come barreling toward us I’d wave just to see if I could get its driver to do the same back.  I was in my element.

tyson

Jason and I survived our showers in non-clear water at the Buffalo Inn in Pink Mountain, British Columbia this morning. The gal in the restaurant this morning told me I could have a banana for the road, and I wasn’t super hungry so that’s all I cared to have for breakfast.  Just 35 miles into our drive, we had a black bear sighting on the left shoulder of the road.  I didn’t have time to brake & snap a photo in time, but it was an eye opener and definitely not something I’m accustomed to seeing out in the wild in Arizona!

There was very strong evidence of forest fires in some areas as we made our way up Highway 97.  But soon the landscape changed from pine tree forests to a very rocky canyon called Stone Mountain Provincial Park.  There were signs warning us to watch for sheep in the road but we didn’t have any sightings (probably because I wasn’t paying close enough attention).  We got photos at an abandoned service station in Summit and then continued on toward Muncho Lake about 40 minutes down the road.  Even though the clouds had started drizzling on us, it didn’t dampen my spirits because I soon saw the lake itself in all its turquoise glory.  The road winds along its edge for about 6 miles before arriving at the log cabin-styled Northern Rockies Lodge which was our next pit stop.

munch_dist

hwy

Once again I’ve thrown a kink into my fuel tracking because (for the first time in ownership of my ILX) I don’t know what octane I pumped there.  There were only two options:  Unleaded and Diesel.  I had to go inside the lodge and leave a credit card on file before the attendant would activate the pump.  The car took 22 or so liters of fuel and I’m sure I paid a crazy premium price for it, but I didn’t want to risk pressing on to the next stop given I was already down to about ½ tank and I like to travel on the top half whenever possible.

munch_gas

There were only 3 lunch menu selections inside the restaurant at the Northern Rockies Lodge, and each one cost $18.  I went with the ham & cheese sandwich and it came with a side salad.  The price gave me sticker shock until I read something on the menu that surprised me:  Groceries are delivered to Muncho Lake twice a week, by truck, from Edmonton, Alberta (800 miles away).  Now I didn’t feel too bad about the $18 sandwich.  Dorothy, our server, commented as the rains started coming down more heavily, “It’s liquid sunshine out there.”  I liked that.

Buffalo sighting!

buffalo

We passed a few “AVALANCHE AREA” signs – once again something very foreign to a desert dweller like me.  I have to imagine this area and its roads area extremely rugged for most of the year.  We did get stuck in a few construction-related stops where we had to wait for a pilot vehicle to guide us through, and two of those construction zones were on muddy / gravel roads of about 10 miles in length.  Road conditions elsewhere were surprisingly good, aside from the occasional frost heaves (most of which are clearly marked with yellow signs).  I love a good roller-coaster highway anyway.  Yukon Territory entry sign:  2006 & 2016.

yukon1

Watson Lake, Yukon Territory’s most famous attraction is its signpost forest.  People from all over the world have taken signs of any sort – mostly license plates or the like – to nail to the boards.  There are thousands of them.  Jason contributed a New Mexico license plate to the cause, and I pinned up a dealership plate from Acura of Tempe, Arizona – just because I thought to grab one when I got my last oil change.

tyson_sign

Now came the moment of figuring out how far we wanted to go that night.  We weren’t quite spent so I looked at the map and figured we could make it to Teslin (166 miles) in about 2.5 or 3 hours, so I called ahead to the Yukon Lodge and made a reservation for the night.  It must have been the Red Bull I picked up in Watson Lake but I somehow got my “second wind” and I was listening to music at max volume, moonroof open, and chair dancing by the time we did get to Teslin.  I re-created a 2006 photo near the bridge leading into town (first pic in this post) before we checked in for the night to cabin #16.

teslin_cabin

One interesting thing I’ve learned about Canada is its special credit card policy.  Your card will never leave your sight.  If you’re dining out, the wait staff will bring a handheld swiper to your table and print a receipt on the spot.  In the States, we give away our card and send it to who-knows-where with the server until they return with a receipt.  Here, there’s no chance for funny business so I think it’s a good concept.

With that, here are the rest of today’s pics!

Check that bath water!

bath_water

I found this drink in BC.  “Five Alive,” so it felt fitting to drink it while wearing my “Alive with Five” T-shirt!

five_drink

Best thing I saw on my phone all day!

no_service

Forest fire remains along Hwy 97

burned

The sign at left means “hold on – it’s a rollercoaster of a road coming up.”  Frost heaves do a number on these highways.

frost_heave_sign

Nice long, straight stretch.

highway

Waiting for the green light in one of the dirt road / construction stretches.

construction

Bridge crossing.  The road surface is metal on these, and it has a tendency to grab your steering wheel and steer it for you.

bridge

Entering Stone Mountain

stone_mountain

Quick pic at (abandoned) Summit Cafe there.

summit_cafe

Pumps are long since out of order, too.

summit

Old “rolly” numbers like an odometer!

broken_pump

Getting out of the cars to enjoy the air and the scenery.

stone_mtn_2

Loved the peaks in the distance.

stone_mtn

Same angle in 2006:

06a

Muncho Lake

muncho_lake

Gas pump at Muncho

pump

Northern Rockies Lodge

northern_rockies_lodge

The $18 ham & cheese

lunch

Rain coming down as we departed

mazda_ilx

Yukon entry comparison:  2006 & 2016

yukon2

Watson Lake Sign Post Forest

signs

With Jason at the entrance

signpost_entrance

Is that a butch enough expression?

butch1

Now heading out on Yukon Hwy 1 toward Whitehorse

whitehorse_sign

Market in Watson Lake.  One-stop shop!

watson_store

I found an Acura RSX in the Yukon!  Wearing snow tires.

yukon_rsx

Alrighty, time to call it a night!  Tomorrow, Alaska at last.

16 Responses to “Alaska Trip Day 5: Teslin, Yukon Territory”

  1. I love pictures of mountains with the low misty clouds. It is more beautiful than if it was bright and sunny. I have seen that before In
    Western Virginia and North Carolina right after a rain shower.

    • Yeah we saw that a lot today! I’m hoping the clouds move on tomorrow so we can have a sunny day. Just finished going for a 30 minute run – I needed the cardio after sitting in the car so long. It’s 10:30 pm and still light out.

  2. I would run too if I had to pay $18 for a ham and cheese sandwich!! Just kidding Tyson. I hope you found my comment funny. 😉

    • Haha, of course! I might not be laughing when I get my credit card statement next month. Everything I’m purchasing in Canada will also have 3% fee added on, according to Chase when I contacted them about using my VISA internationally.

  3. Pam Buckshon Says:

    Awesome.. thanks for all the great pics! How is the ILX faring, not getting too beat up I hope, good thing it’s not black.
    ** I was thinking that the simplest way for you to keep track of your mileage is just to record your credit card amounts and the mileage on your car when you get home. That way all of the exchange will be pre-calculated, assuming you’re using the same card for all your fuel purchases. Seems to me it could save you a lot of calculation. It might not be as OCD as some methods, but on a trip this long it should be pretty very close.
    Signed – a reformed spreadsheet junkie.

    • Haha – yes, I like that plan! At this point I’m less concerned about the calculations and just having more fun writing down our stops anyway so I can plot them out on a giant map later and post a final trip route & mileage. We’ve been on the road so many days now I’m starting to forget what day of the week it is. And that’s a good feeling, coming from someone who’s been glued to an office chair in Cubicle #1A032 for countless weeks. 🙂

  4. When I lived in the Twin Cities growing up, it was a treat for Kevin, Karin & Kristin to be in the car when we went across the Lowry Avenue bridge. It too was metal. When it snowed during the winter, the snow would just pass through it to the river below. Same concept up in the YT.

    • Now that you mention it, that makes perfect sense! Last night at the convenience store I met a local guy who was born & raised here in the Yukon. “Driving to Alaska for the summer?” he asked. “No, just a day or two.” He looked at me like I was out of my mind. I guess I sort of am.

  5. “The $18 ham & cheese”

    Really Tyson you need to stop eating at those 5-star Zagat restaurants or is it Michelin up in Canada?

    BTW, how much is Tempe Acura sponsoring you for the free publicity 😉

    Keep those great pics coming…

    • That ham & cheese was worth every penny! Sure beats the junk food I’d been snacking on all day up until that point. As for the Acura sign, it was all I could think of to pin up so I asked the Parts Counter for one during my last oil change a week or so ago. I didn’t even tell them what I was going to do with it. I guess I’ll send a link to the Service Manager now and show him.

  6. Great post, Butch…I mean, Tyson! Can’t wait for Alaska to finally come today!

  7. Joshua L. Says:

    Hi Tyson,

    Great pictures, I love it!! You have a great memories for 10 years ago that you have same pictures in present and past. Is that your dad with your Legend coupe? Are you almost arrive in Alaska yet? 😃

    • Hey Josh! Yes that was 10 years ago that my dad & I drove the Legend coupe to Alaska and back. He wasn’t able to join for it this year, but I’m sending him plenty of photos 🙂 We arrived in Fairbanks, Alaska tonight.

  8. Chris Green Says:

    It’s really fun following along this drive! I especially like the old gas pumps and the signpost forest. Safe travels!

    • Thanks Chris! I’m glad you’re following along. I love those old gas pumps, too. I need something like that for my yard. Or for my living room. Haha. Hope your week is going well 🙂

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