June 1st

        Rise and shine. The morning preparations go smoothly and we leave the campground a little after 7AM. Just a couple of miles down the road to the fuel stop. Damn – it’s closed until 7:30! I am beginning to think we need to check their hours of operation when we select a fuel stop. A couple miles further along we find an open station. I grab this monster hose and stick it in the fill pipe. The pump won’t start. A guy comes out and explains the big hose is for big rigs and that I have to use the other pump. OK, now we are going. At just over 100 liters the pump shuts off completely. Nothing I do seems to get it started again. I was thinking I needed about 160 liters so I know the tank is not full. Oh well, I have enough to get to Dawson City. Inside they tell me the pump has been doing that for about a week now and they have no idea why. They suggest I pay for this and then go out and start over again – I decline, I have had enough hassle for one fuel stop. A little down the road we turn north onto Hwy 2. The road is very scenic and not bad driving at all. Very little traffic. We saw maybe 20 cars during the 300+ miles to Dawson. We also saw about 20 pieces of road equipment and even got to follow a pilot car at one point. A little workout for the stone shields. There were a couple of 9% grades but not like we have had before. There are a couple of little towns along the way but there are no paved crossroads for the entire trip. The road only seems to go to one place – Dawson. We find the campground and turn in. There must be all of about 3 campers in the park’s 100+ sites. Sure glad I made reservations! During check in I notice they have a wireless router. I knew that internet was available here but now I find out it is wireless too – oh boy! During the unhooking process we discover that the Jeep is completely covered with mud so after getting the camper parked we use the campground’s RV wash to give the Jeep a bath. Cable TV provides 33 channels and we can use the internet from inside the camper at no charge. We decide we should stay an extra day and adjust the itinerary. Supper was at a restaurant next door where we suffered while a new cook learned how to use the grill. Returning to the camper, we watched a little TV, we had a little beer and I surfed the web until late into the night.
 

Jun 2nd

        Easy morning with a little surfing and we head downtown Dawson to look for lunch. On the way out of the RV park I stopped to chat with the owner of the campground about her wireless router. I used her computer to show her how to secure her router while still allowing easy access for her customers. We briefly discussed WEP and how she might be able to start charging for her internet access. After a quick tour of town Sourdough Joe’s was picked as the spot for lunch. We both had fish and enjoyed it. We walked around Dawson taking pictures and touring the local souvenir shops. The ferry we will be using on Friday is located at the end of the road. We checked it out and went to the visitor center to ask questions about the Top of the World  and Taylor highways. They are in ‘typical spring driving condition’ – what ever that means. They say it will take two hours to go the 67 miles to the border and an additional three hours to get to Tok AK. The border is only open from 9AM to 9PM so we can’t leave town before 7AM – not really a problem. We end the day at a bar called Sourdough Saloon. Happy Hour from 4:30-7:00. The bottles are a better deal than the tap beer. After a couple of rounds we return to the camper to have supper and a couple more beers.
 

June 3rd

        Rio Grill was today’s lunch selection. The menu was simple and the food was good. Very limited soda selection but they did have water. After lunch we took the Jeep on the ferry to get a feel for the process. We crossed the Yukon smoothly and then drove on the Top of the World highway for several miles. What beautiful scenery! I stopped several places to take pictures and even a little video. After a few miles we returned to Dawson and started out for Midnight Dome. This is a high point outside of Dawson where they hold a celebration each year at midnight on the Summer Solstice. This has been a tradition here for over 100 years. After some driving about we found our way to the top. The view was spectacular. You could see the entire town laid out below us. From here we wandered back to the camper to chat with the cats. After a few camper chores we took off for the Sourdough Saloon. The hockey game was on so the bar was more crowed than the day before. It seems a tour bus has arrived in town and people from Sun Tours are everywhere. After a couple of beers we walk down to Mama Cita’s for some pizza. The place had just been hit with a large group of Sun Tour people. The service was awful but the pizza was good. Overall I would not recommend the place. We returned to the camper for the night and I worked on volleyball stats that had just arrived from Carrie the VB ref at JoJo’s. In the morning I have to dump the tanks, check the tires, put the rock shields on the Jeep, hook it up and get fuel. I already know that the station does not open until 8AM so I should have plenty of time.
 

Jun 4th

        The morning goes as planned for a change – even the station is open when we get there. By 8:15 we are headed through town to the ferry. Our morning luck holds and we find no cars waiting. They waive us on without even stopping and off we go. The ferry can hold about 10 cars but they take us across by ourselves. OK by me! The first several miles are up hill on mostly paved roads. Then comes the gravel. The scenery is beautiful but the roads are awful. Potholes everywhere. If there is not a sharp drop off on the drivers side there is one on the passenger side. The 67 miles to the border crossing takes every bit of the 2 hours they told us to expect. The guy at the border actually seemed friendly and we went through with no problem and very little time lost. Now starts the 43 mile trek to Chicken. I am thinking the roads will be getting better, after all, we are back in the USA! Wrong. The road started out bad and got worse. We had to travel even slower in many places. The gravel was not smoothly packed but instead was much looser. Though some places seemed to be OK at 35 we hit a stretch of maybe 10 miles that was sever ‘washboard’. Anything over 10mph and camper shook so bad I thought I would be stopping to pick up pieces. Even at 10 the stuff in the cupboards was moving all over the place and the camper made noises we still have not found the source off. Even the front TV broke loose from its mountings – thankfully it was contained by the wooden cabinet. Then came Chicken – beautiful downtown Chicken. Three buildings that’s all. We had lunch at the only food stand and bought souvenirs at the only gift place. The third business, a bar, seemed busy enough but we did not stop in – I had to drive. The food was not bad and is certainly the best in Chicken. Getting back out of the place was tricky as it involved turning the rig around in the back yard while avoiding two large mud holes but we were quickly on our way. Two miles out of Chicken the road went back to being paved. Thanks to the steep uphill grades and 10% downgrades we still didn’t travel more than about 45mph. Arriving in Tok we found our campsite and got parked. Thanks to the gravel roads everything – inside and out – is covered with dusk. I hosed off the Jeep a little so we could unhook it and I left the rest for tomorrow. We had supper at Fast Eddy’s after checking out a restaurant at the Westmark Hotel. They had Mexican food but all the prices had 4 digits (nothing was less than 10.00) and I avoid those places. Fast Eddy’s has really good food and the prices are much more in line. We picked up some beer at Husky’s liquor store and settled in for a night at the camper. No cable service and only one channel available from the antenna caused us to watch more of the taped programs we had brought with us. No problem. Tomorrow we shop the town.
 

Jun 5th

        The campground has a cafe that serves until 11:00 so we hurry though the morning preparations and head on over. They specialize in sourdough pancakes hence the name of the campground. The starter for the mix began in 1956 so these are real sourdough pancakes. I enjoyed them as well as the reindeer sausage they were served with. After breakfast we started touring the various gift shops. Several items were selected. The visitors center provided us with several items of advertising literature for the various places we will be visiting during the upcoming weeks. We toured two other campgrounds in the Tok area and selected one to use on our return visit on the way out of Alaska at the end of the month. Twelve quarters bought us 10 minutes with a pressure washer. This was enough to get most of the dirt off the Jeep and discover the extensive damage to the paint on the front. It seems rocks are getting jammed between the rock shield and the Jeep. There they rub the paint off clear down to the metal. Oh joy, paint damage, 4 chips in the windshield, a broken parking light and a broken fog lamp. I think I should have prepared the Jeep a little better for the trip! We arrange for a guy to come out to the campsite to repair the chips in the windshield. He is somewhat successful. Reservations are made for the next stop and we settle in for some more tape and a dose of microwave popcorn. Back on the road in the morning.

Pictures