Halfway up the Dempster - Artic or Bust!

Eagle Plains Travel Blog

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Dempster Highway grand views

We left Whitehorse after stocking up on Canadian cash at an ATM, propane at a Shell station, Walmart for food and toiletries, etc.  (Did you know that Whitehorse is large enough to have a Boeing 767 nonstop from Frankfurt, Germany land there?  We met people today from that flight!) 

Anyway, we drove through historic Whitehorse, which has a fascinating history from the days of the gold rush and railroads and AlCan Highway.  It is quite a happening place and we really liked it.  Unfortunately, most things were closed because it was Sunday.  So we decided to head on up the road!

We made it to a Yukon Provencial Park on Hwy 2 for the evening- their Yukon cg’s are very beautiful, with large natural sites, rivers, etc.

Beginning of the Dempster Hwy sign
  The very best land has been preserved in their “state” parks. 

 

Then the next day as we headed for Dawson City, Jazy consulted a map and realized that we did not need to go past the turnoff to the Dempster Road- rather we could take it 25 miles before Dawson City. She found a gas station, using the Milepost book (which lists all services in Alaska and has been printed for almost 40 years!) and it was right at the start of the Dempster.

 

So we took it!  We had everything we needed and will see Dawson City when we leave the Dempster after our trip to Inuvik.  We were very excited and met people at the gas station who’d just returned from the Great Northern Arts Festival in Inuvik.

Beginning of the Dempster Hwy sign
  They confirmed the Dempster was drivable.  We loaded up our 1-gallon and 2-gallon gas cans as well and took off down the road.

 

Last night we stayed in a lovely Yukon Park called Tombstone Mountain and backed up to the river.  It was only about 50 miles up the Dempster.  It was raining and the road was filled with millions of potholes.  One would gain speed (up to about 35 mph) only to be jarred back to about 10 mph.  I could just imagine a tire rolling off.  It was a good rest break with yummy microwavable chicken pot pies for a cozy dinner.

 

Today we made it to Eagle Plains Campground, halfway up the Dempster.  To say the road is bad in places would be a vast understatement.

Beginning of the Dempster Hwy sign
  The fact that Ciao Baby is still in one piece is a testament to Lazy Daze.  We have not yet lost a tire and the gas attendant here at Eagle Plains said that after the next 9 km, the road gets much better farther north.  We tried to keep up with another Texan pulling a looooong camper with his truck, but never could catch him, just his long cloud of dust.

 

And dust!  You have never seen such a dirty RV before.  There is a layer of fine dust in the back windows as well.

 

The scenery is maganificent!  This highway is absolutely stunning with the mountain range- we crossed the Continental Divide twice today.  I realized today that my GPS is telling me elevation in meters too (of course), so forget what I said about 800 ft elevation, before.  That would be 2400+ elevation!  That makes more sense.

Dempster Highway grand views

 

We got the kids’ bikes off and they biked in front of me some.  That was about as fast as I could drive it, but when the only crazy fool on the road blew by us at about 90 mph, it scared us so badly that I didn’t let them go much longer after that.  You can see for miles and I never saw him coming- thank goodness the kids were just in front of me and to the side. 

 

Everyone else on the road seems very friendly and fun.  I have to admit that it is the travelers that we enjoy most of all, not the service providers for tourists.  They are rarely engaging, but the guys from Switzerland, the people on the day tour on the Holland America bus trip, the couple from Oregon… all are great fun to talk with and obtain travel tips.  They’re very interesting, open, relaxed, and fun.

Tombstone Mtn River behind our campsite- a man we met at the Gwinch'in Visitor's Center took this as an ice road for the dogsled when taking caribou meat to restaurants in Dawson City as a boy

 

Guess what we got tonight?  Our Artic Circle Certificate!  They were giving them out in the lodge if you asked.  Well, really you had to read the sign on the desk and run bother the bartender, but that’s how small places are run around here.  Tomorrow, about 25 km north of here is the actual Artic Circle!  We cannot wait!!

 

Gas- we made it to the gas station halfway up the Dempster, the only one!  This was the stretch of highway I was worried about and while Ciao Baby had less than an eighth of a tank, we didn’t have to use the spare 3 gallons.  The bill at $1.78 per liter came to $181 and then my worst fear- the bank card was *declined*.  I thought he was joking with me, but no go.  So we had to dig out the hidden Mastercard (for emergencies- and they don’t take American Express in small towns) and it saved us.

Dempster Highway grand views
  We don’t have that much Canadian money on us, I don’t think.  This is the main services stop before Inuvik and we are really in a place where there are so few people that everyone waves when they pass in their vehicles.  There is no place to get more money. 

 

But there was a pay phone and we’d fortunately bought another Canadian phone card yesterday (of course there is no cell phone service) and I was able to call Ned who will call the bank for me.  I already have called them in advance of the trip to notify them, but maybe the $181 put them over the edge.  We’ll get it worked out.

 

Historical Novels: 

Jazy and I read “Tisha” which is a fantastic novel written about a young teacher who came to Alaska in 1927.

Dempster Highway grand views
  It is so amazing because of the true adventures, which I will not give away.  But today the Oregon couple said they met one of Anne’s students.  Anne taught in Chicken and then Eagle and we plan to go to both those places after Inuvik.  Very exciting!  Jazy and I both have burning questions about the timeframe after the book- the prologue was not enough.

 

Charles is reading “The Mad Trapper” which is also a true novel and tonight in the Eagle Lodge we saw many pictures and papers on the walls about that man- very exciting that it happened within about 15 miles of here!  I love that the rivers that we cross and the towns we see have real significance for the kids now that they’ve read these fascinating books!

 

Mom, I know you’ll like a weather report, so here it is:  Right now, at 10:00 pm, it is 68 degrees outside.

Dempster Highway grand views
  It probably got up to 70 today, maybe 75.  Clear and beautiful, with a brisk wind, it is the perfect outdoor weather for hiking or biking, but I wouldn’t swim in icy water. 

 

We’re going to try to make to Inuvik tomorrow if the road is really better than today.  That would put us there a day before our reservation, but I’m sure we’d be fine.  There are 2 ferry crossings though, before we can get there, so it may be slow-going.  We may decide to spend another night on the Dempster.

 

We’re having a good time- we know that the journey is the fun, so we try to stop at the historical markers along the way.  We’ll be so happy to stop driving, though. 

 

 

 

proller says:
Happy Birthday, Charles!!! Hope it was a very memorable birthday up in the arctic circle! Can't belive you are 12 - amazing. :)

Pictures are stunning - can only imagine what it must be like in person. Blog stories are great! Can't wait to read more.

Backup offer on house went away (they didn't want to be 2nd in line) but first offer wants to close earlier - next Thursday - 7/24! Inspection found minor things. Backyard work in progress but slow - rain due Sunday. Miss having a GC but not his expense.

We all send our love - if we could send a picture, we'd all just be green, green, green. ha! ENJOY!

Love,
P.
Posted on: Jul 18, 2008
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Dempster Highway grand views
Dempster Highway grand views
Beginning of the Dempster Hwy sign
Beginning of the Dempster Hwy sign
Beginning of the Dempster Hwy sign
Beginning of the Dempster Hwy sign
Beginning of the Dempster Hwy sign
Beginning of the Dempster Hwy sign
Dempster Highway grand views
Dempster Highway grand views
Tombstone Mtn River behind our cam…
Tombstone Mtn River behind our ca…
Dempster Highway grand views
Dempster Highway grand views
Dempster Highway grand views
Dempster Highway grand views
Dempster Highway grand views
Dempster Highway grand views
Ciao Baby getting dirtier- Tombsto…
Ciao Baby getting dirtier- Tombst…
Dempster Highway grand views- ice …
Dempster Highway grand views- ice…
Dempster Highway grand views
Dempster Highway grand views
Dempster Highway grand views
Dempster Highway grand views
Dempster Highway grand views
Dempster Highway grand views
Dempster Highway grand views
Dempster Highway grand views
Dempster Highway grand views
Dempster Highway grand views
Dempster Highway grand views
Dempster Highway grand views
Dempster Highway grand views
Dempster Highway grand views
A Moose and her baby!
A Moose and her baby!
Dempster Highway grand views
Dempster Highway grand views
Dempster Highway grand views
Dempster Highway grand views
Dempster Highway grand views
Dempster Highway grand views
Dempster Highway grand views
Dempster Highway grand views
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Dempster Highway grand views- Two…
Dempster Highway grand views
Dempster Highway grand views
Dempster Highway adventurers
Dempster Highway adventurers
A grand moose!
A grand moose!
Dempster Highway grand views
Dempster Highway grand views
A grand moose!
A grand moose!
Dempster Highway grand views
Dempster Highway grand views
Dirtier and dirtier!
Dirtier and dirtier!
Dempster Highway grand views
Dempster Highway grand views
Dempster Highway grand views
Dempster Highway grand views
Dempster Highway grand views
Dempster Highway grand views
Interesting reading pertaining to …
Interesting reading pertaining to…
Dempster Highway grand views
Dempster Highway grand views
Interesting reading pertaining to …
Interesting reading pertaining to…
Dempster Highway grand views
Dempster Highway grand views
Dempster Highway grand views
Dempster Highway grand views
Dempster Highway grand views
Dempster Highway grand views
Dempster Highway grand views
Dempster Highway grand views
Dempster Highway grand views
Dempster Highway grand views
Dempster Highway grand views
Dempster Highway grand views
Dempster Highway grand views
Dempster Highway grand views
Dempster Highway grand views
Dempster Highway grand views
Dempster Highway grand views
Dempster Highway grand views
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Dempster Highway grand views- "dr…
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Dempster Highway grand views- our…
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Dempster Highway grand views - th…
Dempster Highway grand views
Dempster Highway grand views
Wildlife!
Wildlife!
Beautiful Dempster Hwy
Beautiful Dempster Hwy
Beautiful Dempster Hwy
Beautiful Dempster Hwy
Beautiful Dempster Hwy
Beautiful Dempster Hwy
Beautiful Dempster Hwy
Beautiful Dempster Hwy
Kids ready to bike the Dempster- t…
Kids ready to bike the Dempster- …
Biking up ahead
Biking up ahead
Beautiful Dempster Hwy
Beautiful Dempster Hwy
Beautiful Dempster Hwy-note the ro…
Beautiful Dempster Hwy-note the r…
Beautiful Dempster Hwy
Beautiful Dempster Hwy
Beautiful Dempster Hwy
Beautiful Dempster Hwy
Beautiful Dempster Hwy
Beautiful Dempster Hwy
Beautiful Dempster Hwy
Beautiful Dempster Hwy
Beautiful Dempster Hwy
Beautiful Dempster Hwy
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Beautiful Dempster Hwy- not road …
Beautiful Dempster Hwy
Beautiful Dempster Hwy
Beautiful Dempster Hwy
Beautiful Dempster Hwy
Yummy chicken pot pies for rainy n…
Yummy chicken pot pies for rainy …
Eagle Plains
photo by: cvanzoen