After two days in Whitehorse we headed north on the Klondike Highway towards gold, adventure, and Dawson City.
Well, okay, mostly just towards Dawson City. But we were tracing the path of the gold rush pioneers, which was good enough for me.
Once we were out of town, things got very remote, very fast. There was farmland, mountains, the highway, and nothing else. No buildings or road signs or even other cars. . . until I passed a giant ‘Bakery’ sign.
The sign was by a turn-off to a narrow, unpaved road, leading to what seemed like nowhere.
Of course I followed it. It said there was a bakery.
Still, after well over a mile on the little road and no sign of a town – or anything else – I was almost wondering if the sign had been some sort of mirage when I finally found Mom’s Sourdough Bakery. It was a ridiculously charming cottage, even with the animal skulls outside. Inside we found the owner – a friendly woman named Tracie – and shelves full of pies.
The tiny space was decorated with memorabilia from Tracie’s days as a gold miner and as a musher in the Yukon Quest, which is kind of like the Iditarod for people who think the Iditarod is too easy. She told us stories while we got our pie and coffee, and I left with the humbling knowledge that no matter what I do in my life, I will never be quite as cool as a gold mining, dog-sled racing, baker.
About an hour later we stopped for gas at Braeburn Lodge – possibly the first gas station I’ve seen with it’s own airstrip. Inside were cinnamon buns and signs announcing that the Lodge is a checkpoint on the Yukon Quest.
Back on the road we saw a lot more scenery, and little else. Every hour or so there would be a lodge, gas station or visitor’s center – usually a single building – or a sign pointing out the turnoff to a campground. But for the most part, without even traffic, we were alone.
Carmacks had a rest area and what looked like a nice little visitor’s center, but it was closed, so we kept going.
We passed two wrecks, both single, overturned cars. I don’t know what had happened to the drivers or how long the cars had been there , but it made me grateful for my sturdy SUV. The Klondike was better paved then the Alaska Highway, but I still wouldn’t chance it in a lightweight car.
At Pelly Crossing, about five hours into the drive, we stopped at a gas station/restaurant/post office that was also a motel and the town bank. Next door, in a little one-room cabin, was the Big Johnathan House interpretive center. Inside were educational exhibits, displays, and crafts from the local First Nations community.
And then, after the prairie had long since given way to the remains of gold dredges, we reached Dawson. I was hoping to stay on the Dawson City side of the river, since the only way across is by ferry, but we couldn’t find a place. So after a stop at the visitor’s center – where we watched a short movie on the gold rush and acquired armfuls of brochures – we crossed the river, and set up camp for the night.
Next up: The Most Interesting Hostel in the World!
Part of Travel Photo Thursdays!