Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Dawson City to Top of the World Highway

6/28/08 & 6/29/08
Dawson City is an amazing town. The locals are friendly and all of the travellers are too. Just the whole feel is fun and relaxing. We packed a lot into a couple of days once again. Started at the visitor center then over to buy tickets for a few tours. Went out to Dredge #4 first which is about 30 minutes outside of town. Dredging was a most profitable way of getting the most gold in a short period of time with few men. The dredging equipment was made in Ohio and shipped up in parts. It was a very costly proposition, but paid for itself in a short period of time. It’s a huge barge ship that has 66 buckets weighing 1400 pounds each. They operated much like a paddlewheel digging up rocks and carrying it to a huge drum of sorts that had holes varying in size from 1” to ¼”. Very large pipes carried water up into the drums and washed the rocks and sand away, gold being 19 times heavier sinks to the bottom. The gravel that is removed is called tailings and you can see miles of mounds of them along the road taking you into Dawson City. I thought the gravel was a recent development, but all of these tailings are from the 1950’s. Just amazing.

From there we stopped at Claim 33 and panned for gold. As we were walking up to the place we were holding hands (nothing new there) and since we renewed Jimmy’s faith in love he let us pan for free. We each ended up with a few gold pieces called placer gold. Jimmy, the owner, was a fun guy. I can see how the gold fever spread. What a rush! You basically just add water to a pan with gravel pieces in it and start swirling it around to wash the gold to the bottom. Then you slowly flip the larger gravel pieces out and end up with sand and gold. You continue to swirl with more water that you pick up and wash the sand away leaving the gold in the bottom. Whatever you do, don’t touch the gold before you’re done. The oils on your hands will make the gold float and ruin the,whole process.

Had a quick bite to eat at Sourdough Joes. Great Halibut. Then it was on to the Midnight Dome. This is a mountain top overlooking Dawson City and the rivers leading to it. What magnificent views. You can actually see the rain moving across the mountain. Yes, we continue to get our share of rain. I climbed up to this top of life bench. I literally felt like I was sitting on the top of the world. On the way down we stopped at the town cemeteries. They had some dating back to the late 1800’s.

Back at camp for dinner and that’s when I finally found a spot to do the update before this one. I ended up sitting in the office to get a connection. The gal in there was so funny to listen to. She was solving everyone’s problems one at a time. If it was a younger person she treated them like a grandchild and wanted to know why they wanted whatever they wanted. She ultimately gave everyone exactly what they wanted. While I was there she got me a computer setup, gave some ladies towels when they needed more, unplugged the laundry tub, found rooms for a couple that needed them for the 4th of July, found a young girls pillow, gave a young man $20 and made him sign for it – to be returned tomorrow when he had time to get to an ATM in town, the list went on and on. It was quite amusing. She was just a friendly sort and great at her job.
When I finally got my post done MM and I headed in to see a show at Diamond Tooth Gerties. The house was packed. It was a simple show that had Gertie and her can can girls. There was a lot of audience participation once again. They had four men get up on stage at one point and do a dance to shake out any gold that might have been stolen. This one guy from British Columbia was a stitch. I think he was a can can dancer in a former life. They also had gambling at Diamond Gerties, and all of the profits from the gambling go to the Yukon Territory for tourism. I donated my $20 and we called it a night.
Once we left Diamond Gerties we noticed a lot of people at the Yukon River. There was a canoe race going on and the last canoe was due in. The race was the 10th Annual Yukon River Quest starting at Whitehorse at noon on Wednesday. The last canoe arrived at Dawson City at 10 p.m. on Saturday night. They were in the canoe 82 HOURS!! There were two manditory stops, one for 7 hours and another for 3 hours. We did notice several canoes coming in on Friday night which means these young folks from First Nations were in their canoes a full 24 hours longer. I can’t even imagine sitting that long.

We decided to take pictures whenever we woke up throughout the night to show how bright it is. We got shots at 11:00 p.m., 12:45 a.m., 2:30 a.m. and 4:45 a.m. It was a little dusky but basically daylight in all of the shots. It still amazes me. This one was taken at 12:45 a.m.

This morning (Sunday) we went on a tour of the town with our guide, Jill. You really get a feel for the heart of the pioneer spirit that prevailed during the gold rush. The hard times, and the comraudary that was formed because of it. The Yukon Order of Pioneers was formed and their main goal was the “Golden Rule” to do to other as you would have done to you. Most of the people were honest, hard working folks that wanted a better life. Much like we are today, in an easier time.
Once the tour was done we said goodbye to Dawson City (What a GREAT town) and headed for the ferry that had to take us to the Top of the World Highway that leads to Chicken. MM had decided that we should separate the coach from the car so we wouldn’t drag the hitch when getting on and off. The car line was short, I was about 6th in line. The coach line was much longer at this time he was about 8th in line. Since they take a lot more cars at a time than coaches that put me on the other side about 1 hour before him. The ferry just goes back and forth all day long, picking up about 2 or 3 coaches depending on the size, along with 3 to 4 cars. Good thing you’re only on it for a few minutes, it doesn’t give you much time to think about that big vehicle being on that little boat.

We hooked up on the other side and headed for Chicken along the Top of the World Highway. Once again the views were phenomenal! The road was narrow and very winding.

I can remember a time when it would have bothered me to be on the edge like that, but because you were usually looking off into the distance it didn’t bother me. Most of the highway was in Canada and we were thankful for that because as soon as we crossed through customs the roads got really bad. The last 30 something miles were done at 15 to 25 mph. The skirt that MM made to protect the car is really doing a great job. Lots of dust, but no rocks. We seem to draw a lot of attention with it too. Everyone wants to see exactly how he made it and where they can get one. He’s sure is a smart man! We stopped just short of Chicken at a BLM (Bureau of Land Management) park. Small and peaceful next to a small river.


Harmony said...

Sounds like lots of fun again! Congrats on all your gold!

B Boys Mom said...

What a great post. Love how you write about everything. The picture in the middle of the night is interesting. It would be so hard to know what time it is. Everything is so very interesting. I'm so glad you have this blog to share your trip.

whoever said...

You don't get much sleep eh! These are wonderful stories! And I hear you have arrived... by now... so soon we will see pictures of the family up there too! Very cool