Saturday, September 22, 2012


Without phone or internet connections, I have lost track of where we were and when we were there!  This was our adventure on Thursday, I believe.  And be forewarned.  It's a long one!

This was a most interesting day.  After a lovely breakfast at the B&B in Tok. we set off towards the east.  A couple of hours down the road, I remarked on the bright blue sky and the unusual white fluffy clouds.  We enjoyed the bright sunny day, the new snow on the mountain tops, the golden leaves on the trees, and the bright blue sky and the white clouds.  About the time we stopped for lunch, I noticed the space ships.  Remember we were in a very remote area, and I started envisioning Close Encounters of the Fourth Kind!
 The clouds were in the eastern sky, and came out of the north.
Many, many miles later they were still traveling with us, right ahead of the car.
I have never been so fascinated by clouds in my life!  I took approximately 60 photos, and all are beautiful!  With the bright blue sky and the beautiful clouds, how could I miss?
Just when I thought they might be breaking up, a new batch seemed to arrive.
 We traveled with the clouds for over two hundred miles over four hours.
Shortly before we arrived in Whitehorse, I think this one landed on this mountain! 
And then began the adventure.

We arrived in Whitehorse about suppertime, and began what turned into a 2 hour search for our night's stay, which he thought he had reservations for, but obviously he didn't.  First of all, he didn't know the name of the place.  Second, he couldn't find internet access to look on his laptop or check email for the confirmation he knew he had, which would have included the name and address of the place.  When he finally got online at a Starbucks, there was no confirmation waiting in his email.  He checked his bank account, and there was no charge for a B&B in Whitehorse listed in the transactions.  So that didn't help at all.  He dug through his scraps of paper where he had jotted down numbers and he found a number that I matched up with a number on an advertisement in the Alaska Milepost.  We got an address and drove to the place.  No, she was closed for the season and would not have sent him a confirmation.  (Today when we finally got access, he found an email from her stating that information.  Only 3 days too late!) 

So we started driving around, looking for a hotel/motel/B&B, anything.  All were either full or closed for the season.  Now it was 70 degrees that day, the highway was full of travelers, and they were closed???  Anyway, at the last motel, the kind person at the desk started making phone calls for us because we can't use our phones in Canada without incurring huge charges.  After several calls, she finally located a room for the night.  About 10 miles back down the road the way we had come from, out in the bush.  An "Adventure" B&B.  UH?  Yup, an adventure B&B.  A sled dog dude ranch. 

Well, it was take this or sleep in the same seat that we'd been sitting in for 421.3 miles, so we took it, grabbed a bit of supper that was now over 2 hours late, and turned around and headed back in the direction we had come from, toward the setting sun.
 And we turned off to the right, just as we had been instructed to do, unto a dark, narrow dirt road that led off into the bush.  (I took this picture the next morning because it was too dark the night of the adventure.)
On and on we drove, seeing nothing but little white signs that had sayings like:  Unless you are the lead dog, your view is always the same.  And:  Slow - old dogs may be resting on the road.  And:  Slow - dog sled crossing.  After about 10 minutes on this road that was not much more than a dog sled trail itself, I spied a yard light around the bend.  Around the corner were a couple of small cabins tucked back into the trees, and around the last curve were scores of little wooden houses, each with a name on it, and each with a chain connected to it.  At the end of each chain, and standing by the little house, sleeping inside it, or sitting on the roof, were 127 husky sled dogs, many howling into the night like their wolf ancestors.

The outside of the big cabin wasn't much to look at, nor was the inside.  We were shown our room, and the shared bathroom down the hall, and I read the rules printed on a sheet of paper and posted in the room.

We have no electricity provided for us out here in the bush,
so we run generators to produce our own.
Please use as little light as possible.
And in the bathroom:
Please conserve water.  Do not take daily showers.
Please conserve TP as we have a touchy septic system  Use the 1/2 flush
button when ever possible.

I slept fitfully, and awakened often.  Once I removed my ear plugs (yup, I sleep with ear plugs!) and listened to the mournful howling of the dog pack, and envisioned myself out on a trail with my sled, alone in the wilderness except for my dogs.  And then I looked up at the dark night sky, ablaze with millions of stars.  The magnificence of that Yukon night sky will be forever sketched on my mind and heart!  A lump rose in my throat as I spied the same big dipper that I see in the Minnesota sky, except up here I felt I could almost reach out and touch it!  I stood at the window for quite a long time, drinking in the awesome scene and thanking our God who created it all with a word.

In the morning at breakfast, we spoke with a young man who is working there for 6 months.  He is from Denmark, and he loves the Yukon.  He told us about 5 German men who are coming in October to spend 3 months working on the ranch with the dogs and sleds, and learning about dog sledding.  We spoke with 2 couples about our age or a bit older, who were from California.  One of the gentlemen was a German who was born and raised in Argentina.   Another couple, French accents, told of their adventures in Newfoundland and Europe.  And I remembered that when we had pulled in the night before, a bus/van, loaded with a dozen young folks from Japan, was pulling out, heading for the airport, I imagine.

The dog sled adventure ranch is run by a retired Yukon Quest dog sled racer.  Some say the Quest is tougher than the Iditarod dog sled race.  Such a place would never have been my first, second, or tenth choice of places to stay.  But it was clean, warm, comfortable, and quiet.  And no, it did not smell.  The grounds were very clean.  The staff was pleasant, the fellow travelers were interesting and internationally and culturally diversified.

It was truly an adventure.  One that was unplanned, and one that could never be repeated.  And I am a better educated person for it.

The rest of the day was anticlimactic after that night's stay. 
Oh, we saw a lot of bison.  A LOT of bison.
We saw three grizzly bear right along the edge of the road, and not caring that cars stopped to take their pictures.
 Did I say we saw lots of bison?  Probably a couple hundred all together in maybe three different herds.
This guy held up traffic as he crossed a narrow bridge.  We slowly followed him across, and chuckled at the trucks, wide load trailer hauling trucks, that had to wait on the other side.
We ended our day at a beautiful log lodge (read expensive) in Muncho Lake.  We had a lovely balcony off our room, and if we stood on tiptoe we could just make out the lake beyond the cabins and trees below.  And the motel furnished lovely crystal wine glasses for us!


theMom said...

I don't know if my first message got through or not. It seems to have disappeared, so I apologize if it is repeated.

I would love to spend time at a dog sled dude ranch. (The Jack London Yukon Tales thing...) Every year, since we moved up here, I check the schedule for the northern MN dogsled races. But we've yet to get to one. Maybe now that the littlest ones are not so, so little we might brave that 20 below January cold to watch a bunch of dogs go by.

It sounds like it was great fun. I'm glad you had an accidental adventure.

StitchinByTheLake said...

Wow Marge - what a great story and what a fun time, though probably at the time it was happening it didn't seem so fun. Those clouds are amazing! blessings, marlene

AKBrady said...

Yep. That sounds about right. :) Good for you, and your attitude! :)

Lyle and Deb Hoverson said...


You are a wonderful writer, you should write for Conde Neste Traveler Magazine!

Is Ernie still in the doghouse? Next time you should take a motor home and take some fine folks along, i.e., USSSSS!

Thanks and best wishes!