We finally landed at Haines Alaska yesterday just before noon and after getting something eat decided to spend the night and get an early start the next morning. As the day wore on I was struck by the absolute beauty of the place. It is simply gorgeous. I walked to the local auto parts store to pick up some tire chains to ensure we made it to Haines Junction today. As I walked back to the hotel I remember thinking, "Man, what a beautiful sunset. Awesome! Unbelievable! Hey wait, it's only 2:30pm!" So it was that we settled in for a long winters nap when no one could sleep. Keeping 4 kids and 2 dogs mentally intact in a small hotel room overlooking complete blackness is no small task. But we did it. And after getting everyone to bed later that evening we got some rest in preparation for an early start today.
This morning, we linked up with another couple headed for Anchorage and began the slow caravan to wherever we could get by evening. The roads were icy so I put on my chains and proceeded to head for the summit. All went well until we broke the 25 MPH mark. At that time the hounds of hell began to scream and they sounded remarkably like something trying to rip my front fender off from underneath. Living in the south for so long I'd forgotten that besides assisting with traction, tire chains produce approximately 3 billion decibels. And once I got past screaming to communicate with my wife riding shotgun, I began to enjoy the scenery.
Remember the time you were driving through the Yukon and you happened upon about 25 Bald Eagles roosting in trees and flying and feeding beside a nearby frozen river? Me too! That was this morning and it was surreal. And it was just the beginning of a day filled with new sights that I have only heretofore dreamt of. We saw Eagles, sled dog teams, scenic vistas that would make Ansel Adams stop in his tracks. We even saw some wild Canadians in their natural habitat. A very exciting day. We passed trough towns like Haines Junction, Beaver Creek, and Tok. All these places make you wonder why anyone would put a town there! At one point the gauge in our car said that it was 28 degrees below zero outside. That's not a real measurement until you actually experience it. We stopped and got out out for a second when it was a balmy -15 degrees and I actually felt my pancreas begin to harden. Within a few seconds, I couldn't feel my brain! So we jumped back in the car, cranked the heater, and within 3 hours began to thaw.
Finally we pulled into Tok, AK just in time to get dinner at the Grumpy Griz Cafe where they serve a pretty mean chicken fried steak. After dinner we got a hotel room, unloade the trailer and got busy getting ready for bed. As I think back on the sights and events of today, one lesson comes clear, rolling across the Yukon. At 28 degrees below zero, nothing in a U-Haul trailer is safe. Shampoo, hand lotion and even air freshener freeze solid. So, tomorrow we head on into Anchorage. With any luck, we'll arrive with semi-gelatinous toothpaste.