Still Diving North. Still Daily Snow with the Colorado Traveling Ducks

Yesterday’s snow and icy roads, the worst of the trip has ended.  We arrived at Haines Junction, in the Canadian Yukon.

Haines Junction, Yukon. Love the sign

And yes, you can drive to the Alaskan port city of Haines from here.   But we did not.   We are trying to get to Fairbanks or North Pole, Alaska to hire a new realtor.   Our motel in Haines Junction was very comfortable and had a good bar and restaurant nearby.

Alcan Motel in Haines Junction, Yukon Territory, Canada

So we were all happy.   We ordered our dinner and ate in our rooms.   We were exhausted.    Refreshed after a good night’s sleep, driving north, we met a new friend.

Canadian grizzly bear

This Canadian grizzly bear was too busy grazing to pay much attention to us, but we sure admired him.   That bump on his back is typical of grizzly bears, or so says our guidebook.  They can be ferious, but he looks so sweet and hugable.   This partially frozen lake caught our attention.

A winter wonderland

We love to see the winter landscape.   We just don’t love the cold.   Driving past Canadian customs, we have arrived in Alaska, USA.   There are several monuments and signs here.   The Welcome to Alaska.   Looking the other direction, the Welcome to the Yukon, and this friendship bench.

Friendship bench

Canada and the United States have been friends for years, so this bench is a nice place to pause and enjoy the view.   The International Boundary Post shows the actual border, marked by the suveyors.  Before the Alaska Highway, the borders were not so clearly marked.  We quicky cleared US customs and we continued north toward Delta Junction.

Delta Junction, Alaska. Official end of he Alaska Highway

This milepost in Delta Junction marks the official end of the Alaska Highway.  From here there is a main road heading south to Anchorage and Valdez.  Valdez is the end of the Alaska Pipeline, which carries oil from the fields of Prudhoe Bay on the Arctic Ocean to Port Valdez on the east side of Prince William Sound.   Here ships wait to carry crude oil into the Pacific Ocean and to various world ports.   Also at Delta Junction, you can drive on the Richardson Highway and go north to Fairbanks.   That is the route we drove.   We were in Delta Junction the first week of May and the Visitor’s Center was not yet open.   Many businesses along our route are only open during the warmer months.   At the Delta Junction Visitor’s Center they have lots of information signs outside.   And this statue of a giant mosquito.   Alaska does have giant mosquitos.   But since the center is not yet open, this mosquito is not yet in its best form.   This photo from last year shows what the mosquito will look like soon.

Mosquitos.

Well, we are only hours away from our next hotel in Fairbanks.

Heading north to Fairbanks, Alaska

Heading down the road, we will reach our Fairbanks destination tonight.

Colorado Traveling Ducks in Canada’s Yukon Territory

Continuing northbound, we are enthralled with the winter scenery.

Frozen River

This frozen river is so beautful.   It is definitely winter weather, some snow each day, and frozen water everywhere, but the days are much longer this far north.   The sun rises before 5:00 a.m. each morning and doesn’t set until after 10:00 p.m.   A few more minutes of daylight is added every day.   And this fellow is always a treat to view.

Black bear

He is one of the first bears we saw.   Actually, the earlier bears appeared and walked into the woods before mom got her camera out.   No matter how many bears we see, we stop to admire each one.   We stop at another rest area.

Picnic area. Statue dedicated to surveyors

This one has a nice picnic area, for later in the summer, and a marker remembering the surveyors that made this road possible.   We enjoy another view of a frozen river.   Imagine this picnic area in the summer, watching the river flow.   So beautiful and peaceful.  Next we see the wild buffalo along the side of the Alaska Highway.

Baby buffalo in the spring

The precipation does not seem to bother mom and baby.   But, as usual, the rain and snow start and stop.

Buffalo along the road

There are several young buffalo with moms here.   A little distance from mom and baby, the dads remain watchful.    Further north we leave British Columbia and enter Canada’s Yukon territory.

Welcome to the Yukon

Chloe, Soapy’s mom and three Colorado Traveling Ducks are happy to see this sign, marking progress on our northern travel.   You may remember that we drove this route last year.   That trip was one way, heading south.   We bought this blue Jeep from the estate of mom’s brother.   Both this year and last year we spent the night in Watson Lake, Yukon.  This time, there is snow on the ground and it is rather cold.

Snow around church in Watson Lake

We liked the Liard Evangical Free Church in Watson Lake.   Originally built in 1942 near the airport, the building was moved here in 1963.  This church is open to all.  Leaving Watson Lake in the morning, we soon encountered snow and icy roads.

Spring time in the Yukon

Driving was trecherous.   But there is beauty with the snow also.

Snow makes trees beautiful

These trees are beautiful.   We pulled into a rest area after the snow stopped.   Our Chloe likes to get out of the car and have some exercie.   Really, we all enjoy the stops.

Snowy mountains from rest area

The mountains blurred by snow are breathtaking to us.   But it is May now and we are ready for some spring warmth and sunshine.   Soon, we think.

Watson Lake. Colorado Traveling Ducks Visit Sign Post City

We are in Watson Lake.   This will be our last community in the Yukon Territory.   But what a community!  Driving into the community of Watson Lake, we see something unusual.

Are those sign posts?

Are these sign posts?   Oh yes.   Not just a few signs, but so many.

Sign Post Forest, Watson Lake

This is Watson Lake’s most famous attraction.

Sign Post Forest of Watson Lake

We are at the Sign Post Forest.   OK, but why are all these signposts here?

How did this start?

This sign explains the beginning.   Just think, all these signs are the result of a homesick American from Danville, Illinois.   Apparently he was not the only one suffering from a little homesickness.

Sign Post Forest, Watson Lake

Look at all these signs.   The Alaska Highway was started March 8, 1942.   More than 11,000 soldiers and engineers, 16,000 civilians and 7,000 pieces of equipment built this 1,500 mile road through the vast wilderness of northern Canada and Alaska.   In less than 9 months Dawson Creek, British Columbia and Delta Junction, Alaska were connected.    What an accomplishment.   Once Carl Lindley put up the first sign, the idea really caught on and everyone started putting up signs.

Sign Post Forest, Watson Lake

Even with these panoramas, there was no way mom could get photos to show the thousands of signs, everywhere.   We ducks enjoyed sitting on the bridge and reading some signs.

A bridge in Sign Post Forest, Watson Lake

We went to the Visitor’s Center in Sign Post Forest.   They were very helpful and so nice.   If humans have a sign to add to the forest, the Visitor’s Center will provide a hammer and guide humans to the area where new signs can be placed.   Our moms said if we ever come here again, we will bring a sign to add.

Sign Post Forest, Watson Lake

Leaving the Visitor’s Center, we looked more and are still rather speechless at all the signs.   Our guide book says Sign Post Forest is one of The Yukon’s most famous landmarks and contains over 72,000 unique signs.  Looking down the main street (The Alaska Highway), we liked the international flags.

Main Street, Watson Lake

As you can see, Watson Lake is not a large town.

Main Street, Watson Lake

According to Wikipedia, the 2016 census showed a population of 790 permanent residents.   Our hotel was clean and comfortable.   The restaurant served great food.   If you are looking for an interesting place to get away from it all, you might like Watson Lake, Yukon Territory, Canada.   Heading south in the morning, we once again saw an adorable bear along the road.   Of all the bear photos mom took, this just might be her favorite.

Favorite bear photo. Is he watching us?

Isn’t he looking right back at us as we look at and admire him.   We were thrilled to see bears along the road in the Yukon almost every day.   Continuing through the beautiful scenery, we left the Yukon Territory and entered beautiful British Columbia.

Leaving Yukon Territory and entering British Columbia

We are enjoying our scenic drive through Canada.

Teslin Tlingit Heritage Center with Colorado Traveling Ducks

Here in the Canadian Yukon Territory, we discovered a Heritage Center and it is located on beautiful Teslin Lake.   The Yukon is beautiful!   Let’s stop and explore the Teslin Tlingit Heritage Center.

Teslin Tlingit Heritage Centre

It was cool and cloudy, so the walk to the entrance is rather dark.

Walkway to enter Heritage Center

But we loved these totem poles.

Totem Pole

If you have visited southeast Alaska, you may have seen some items from the Tlingit Indians.   There are many totem poles in Ketchikan, Alaska and other Alaskan towns.   Entering the Heritage Center, we stopped to look in the gift shop.   They have many beautifully made items, but we wanted to see the exhibits here.

Great masks

These masks are fantastic.   Remembering that -40 temperatures are common, we really liked the furs.

Such beautiful work. Love the boots

We would love those boots in our Colorado mountains.   Of course, other items are also needed.

All made carefully by hand

Things must be hand made.   No nearby shopping mall.   There were so many fascinating exhibits and we hope you visit here.   But the setting of the Heritage Center is breath taking.

Picnic anyone?

From the back of the center, you can access the lake and enjoy a picnic.   Or just sit and admire the view.   The view from the side is equally beautiful.

Another picnic area by Teslin Lake

And the building has beautiful large windows for year around viewing.   We love these canoes.

Canoes

Aren’t they large and attractive?   Too bad no canoe rides for us today.   So many picnic tables and areas here.

So many picnic areas

This is perfect and so many people can enjoy the lake and the beautiful Yukon views.   Ducks and humans are so in awe of the beauty of nature here in the Yukon.   A few miles south of Teslin Tlingit Heritage Center is Nisutlin Trading Post and Motel.

Police car. Officer looks so real

Of course, we, like most drivers on the Alaska Highway, stop for gas at every gas station.   You never know if the next one is open or if it has gas.   This police car is great and the officer looks so real from the road.   No speeding here.   We loved our time outside today, but our favorite Canadian was enjoying a snack along the road.

Happily eating

We saw a bear about every day and we always pulled over to watch them eat and admire them.   This drive is beautiful.   And both relaxing and invigorating with the incredible Yukon scenery.

Yukon Transportation Museum with Colorado Traveling Ducks

A short walk and here we are at the Yukon Transportation Museum.

Yukon Transportation Museum in Whitehorse

After paying our admission fee, we wandered through the gift shop.   Soon you will see what we bought.   Focusing on transportation here, we immediately were attracted to this canoe.

A canoe. Introducing Yukon Duck

Yes, there are now 4 Colorado Traveling Ducks.   Our newest addition is an engineer for the train, but we call him Yukon Duck.  During the Klondike Gold Rush of 1898, the train connected Whitehorse on the Yukon River with Skagway, Alaska.

Train between Whitehorse, YT and Skagway, Alaska

Skagway is a little over 100 miles away and is a seaport.   Miners needed to get supplies and gold was often shipped out of Alaska.   Here is an early car for the Yukon Territory.

Early car

Most of the year it is winter here, so travel was done by sled.

Sled for traveling

Conditions were not safe for travel if the temperature was -40 (the same temperature for F and C).   How to know if it was too cold?  A bottle of Perry Davis Pain Killer was placed outside by the window.   If the bottle became frozen, it was “too damn cold for man or beast.”  We ducks don’t want to be out when it is -40.   There is more than one famous dog sled race in the area.   This sled is from the Yukon Quest.

Sled for Yukon Quest

The race is between Whitehorse, YT and Fairbanks, Alaska.  The starting point alternates between Whitehorse and Fairbanks each year.   Spectators can see the beginning one year and the finish the next.   This exhibit was something new to us.

Lost in the Yukon

Lost in the Yukon was about a plane crash in 1963 and a great survival story of two people.  These two, Ralph Flores and Helen Klaben survive for 49 days.   They endured painful injuries, starvation, weeks of -40 or colder, and the long dark Yukon winter.  In March, Ralph stomped SOS on a frozen snow covered swamp.   The SOS was seen and they were rescued March 26, 1963.   In 1975 Helen wrote a book about the survival titled, “Hey, I’m Alive”  A movie was also made in 1975.   Maybe we will watch it this winter??  In the airplane hanger, we admired many airplanes.

Planes in Yukon Transportation Museum

Flying is often the only way to travel in the far north.   We liked this helicopter, also.

Helicopter. Yukon Transportation Museum

The Yukon Transportation Museum is next to Whitehorse International Airport.

Whitehorse International Airport

We we impressed by the Plane Vane.

Plane weather vane

This sign explains it best.   A real plane with a long history and now a weather vane.   We want to show you that it really does move.   It was not very windy the day we visited, but you can see from these 2 photos that the plane did move.

Side view of plane

 

Wind moved plane

According to http://www.RoadsideAmerica.com   this is the world’s largest weather vane.  We are getting hungry.   After a great day in Whitehorse, it is time for dinner.   Klondike Rib and Salmon restaurant is next to our hotel.

Klondike Rib and Salmon

The reviews were great and the food was fantastic.   The humans ordered salmon and also halibut.   Both were very fresh and cooked to perfection.  Humans and ducks loved it.   The restaurant is housed in the 2 oldest operating buildings in the Yukon Capital.   The menu had a history of the building.  The dining room was originally opened as a tent frame bakery called, MacMillian’s Bakery around 1900.   The main building was Klondike Airways, a mail and flight business.   In the 1930’s the building was used as a carpentry shop and coffins were constructed for a mortuary in downtown Whitehorse.   Today we have this Quaint Little “Northern Klondike Theme Restaurant.”  With winters of -40, this little wall tent buttons up in the fall and goes into hibernation each year until Mother’s Day.  We ducks like menus that tell us about the restaurant, so this is a favorite with us.

Klondike Rib and Salmon tent area

There really is a tent area of this restaurant.   Great in the summer, but too cold in the winter.  This was a great day in Whitehorse, and we welcome Yukon Duck to our duck family.

Whitehorse Museums with Colorado Traveling Ducks

We are still in Whitehorse, Yukon Territory.   We love it here.   This morning we wandered around town, found a grocery store and purchased snacks for our room.   Yep…Humans and ducks love to snack.  Now we are heading to Yukon Beringia Interpretive Center.

Yukon Beringia Interpretive Center

This is a great cultural and historical place.   We didn’t go inside, we just looked at and admired the vast outdoor exhibits.   Never enough time to do everything.  Meet Woolly Mammoth.

Woolly Mammoth

He used to live here.   Doesn’t he remind you of a shaggy elephant with smaller ears?   I think so.   Oh look.

Young Woolly Mammoth

This Woolly Mammoth is closer to our size.     Can we go for a short ride little Woolly Mammoth?   Apparently not.   The sign says carcasses of Woolly Mammoth have been discovered here.  Carcasses, complete with hair, skin and internal organs have been preserved in the Beringia permafrost.   These giant animals lived here tens of thousands of years ago.   They survived periods both hotter and colder than today’s temperatures.   This is the biggest beaver we have ever seen.

Giant Beaver

These giant beavers lived in the Yukon’s Old Crow basin region.  They were 8 feet (2.5 meters) tall and weighed 480 pounds (218 kilos).   These giant beavers roamed this area 130,000 to 60,000 years ago.   Now what is this?

Pay phone

A pay phone?   Once very popular and common in the United States, it is rare to find a pay phone at home.   Now most people carry a cell phone.   We like to see phone booths.   Here is an Eskimo in his canoe, or kayak.

Eskimo

The common way to travel the Yukon River and other bodies of water during the summer when the water is not frozen.   OK, what other animals formerly called this Beringia area home?

Statues of former residents

We recognize this musk ox.  We ducks are in front of him.  He resembles Africa’s Cape Buffalo.   Notice that these animals all need heavy skin and thick coats to survive the brutal Yukon winters.   We like seeing animals.   There are many signs here explaining the permafrost.   The ground never thaws a short distance from the surface.   One result is surface water cannot penetrate the permafrost, so the soil above permafrost is quite wet.   If the permafrost does melt, due to natural weather or human actions, the melting permafrost causes the ground to be unstable.   This place makes us think about so many new things.   Also, signs show how to read the story of climate change in riverbank layers.

Riverbed layers of earth

We can see several layers in this riverbank.   These are natural layers, not things cemented together.   So much to learn.   So little time.   We are now headed to the Yukon Transportation Museum.   We will show you what we find next time.

Whitehorse, Canada with Zeb, Soapy and Eider Duck

Canada’s Yukon Territory is huge, beautiful, and certainly not crowded.   We love it!   We are entering Whitehorse, the capital of Canada’s Yukon Territory.   Look at this welcome horse, the Whitehorse Horse.

The Whitehorse Horse

What is this made from?   What is the story behind this horse?

About that horse…

Now you know.   A contest winner and we have a great horse.   This is near the Pubic Safety Building in Whitehorse.   We like the fireman.

Fireman

Safety is important.  We found a hotel right downtown, so we could walk to the Yukon River.

By the Yukon River in downtown Whitehorse

Near our bench, we marveled at this giant totem pole.

Tall totem pole

Walking a few blocks, we smiled at this taller than life Canadian Mounty.

Canadian Mounty. Larger than life

Could be a surprise if you stayed in a room on the third floor, looked out your window in the morning, and saw this Mounty’s head by your room.  But we liked him.   Carving wood must be popular here.   This owl is wonderful.

Watchful owl

Don’t you just love it?  We heard this was a highly rated restaurant, so we tried Dirty Northern Public House.

Dirty Northern Public House. Great dinner here

The decor was so northern woods, the service great, people were friendly and delicious food.  We were so happy we ate here.   Maybe you will try it also when you’re in Whitehorse.  Walking back to our hotel, we could not miss this slab of native copper.   This weighs 2,590 pounds, or 1,175 kilos.

Slab of Native Copper. 2,590 pounds!

Discovered in 1905 in the upper White River, 250 miles NW of Whitehorse, this is the Yukon’s largest copper nugget.   The sign says it is possibly a Canadian record for the largest copper nugget.  We, ducks and moms, liked Whitehorse and we all agreed that we wanted an extra day here to explore more.   Guess we better tell our hotel we want to stay another night.   Yes!  We like Whitehorse.