Day 15: Chicken to Dawson

Day miles: 112
Trip miles: 4788

Its been 17 months since my trip ended. Far too long to not have finished these entries. I’ve also fixed the mileages by using a computer to correctly do arithmetic.

Chicken DeityThere were other motorcycle riders camped out in Chicken; most of us were headed to Dawson City, Yukon for the Dust To Dawson “gathering.” After getting some breakfast I headed over to wait for the tiny post office to open as I had a few postcards that I wanted to mail out. Mail didn’t seem to move to frequently here. There were a couple of radio towers around the post office that indicated there wasn’t much for modern communication either. In the winter the highway isn’t maintained, so mail can only come through by plane. I chatted with the postmaster for a bit after opening and letting an older couple do their business. It turned out she was driving the ambulance I followed into Chicken from an accident the day before. Small town. Accidents are common out there it turns out, everyone goes too fast and the road isn’t all that good. Wikipedia says the road isn’t even safe enough for snowmobiles in the winter.

The ‘Top of the World Highway’ isn’t just one of the most northerly highways in the world, it also runs along the tops of mountains east into Canada. Supposedly this is what it is named for, and it is simply visually stunning. All of Alaska was remote and full of vistas, but this was one of my favorite sections.

Poker CreekEventually I reached the customs station. It isn’t near any population centers and is a bit of a tiny village of its own. There are not any services of any kind, just enough facilities to support those that work there. It’s so small that the US and Canadian customs is in the same building. I sat on my bike and chatted with the Canadian customs officer outside for a bit. I declared the shotgun and showed him the associated paperwork. He asked me a couple questions about my ammunition location but wasn’t much interested otherwise.

During the course of the conversation, I told him all about my trip and what had lead up to it. Before I left he said, “I hope you find what you’re looking for.”

View from Poker Creek, AlaskaThat immediately vibrated with me; not just the words but the sincerity with which he had said it. I had plenty of miles to think about it and I really felt like I was coming to a point in the trip where I had been out of the world for a spell, had shed enough baggage along the miles that what came next become much more clear.

Just before reaching Dawson City you come to the Yukon River and must cross it on a ferry. This ferry runs constantly, back and forth across the river. As neat as it was, I had to wonder if Canada hadn’t heard of bridges yet. Though, perhaps we’re all to eager to spend money on roads and bridges in America and we should take a play out of their book.

Dawson City really came to be in the midst of the Klondike Gold Rush. It maintains wooden sidewalks and old “wild west” looking buildings to this day. It would be a tourist town if not really so far away, but I don’t know what else supports it. I found the information center, some food, and headed back across the river to a park on the other side with camping sites. Naturally all the river-front sites had been taken already. Besides the obvious view, the other benefit to these sites is the wind off the water helping to disperse the flies. I fought them and set up in the walk-in sites in the middle, trying to get as much space between myself and tents.

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