Archive for November, 2012

Turning the Corner

November 6, 2012
Heading for the Dempster Hwy
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Driving directly into the North wind Walter and Andrew are heading for a weekend in the Canadian Arctic. It is winter and bitterly cold and the days are very short. With clothing from the charity stores the gentlemen are poorly equipped for the chilly adventures ahead.

There is snow along the road and the old Dodge is really cold  inside now despite the heater on full blast. As the temperature drops outside the temperature on the backseat also falls below freezing. We know this because our orange juice in the back is frozen solid even after driving for hours with heater on full. The Dodge can get you there but don’t count on the amenities.

Andrew is piloting the jalopy like a jockey on an old horse. Holding off the whip we cruise along at a comfy 55 miles per hour. After a good 4-5 hours driving North along the Klondike Highway from Whitehorse we reach a junction. The Dawson City and Dempster Highway corner, known as The Corner. There is a gas station and truck stop and we stop for a hot meal. Since we only want to scoot up the Dempster to see how far North we can get we decide against going into Dawson City.

The Dempster Highway was named after a police inspector who at the turn of the century went looking for a lost party of Mounties who failed to deliver mail on dogsleds to Fort McPherson. Jack Dempster returned in record time with the remains of the frozen patrol.

Dempster Highway

As I am eating my fried liver lunch I can hear a couple complain to a truckie about the road to Eagle Plains along the Dempster highway. The truckie nods and shakes his head a lot as I overhear tales of woe. Andrew and I look at each other and check out the room rates. We book a room and decide to stay the night. Even though it is only 4pm it is getting very dark outside and as the wind howls outside we drink more weak (free) coffees and decide against venturing into Dawson City a good half our drive and $20+ worth of gas return.

It is pitch-dark at 8am when we leave the motel room from The Corner and head for Eagle Plains. We are half expecting Eagle Plains to be a town with affordable gas stations and so reluctantly fill up our tank with the expensive octane juice on the corner of the Dempster and Klondike highway before we start the journey North. It is getting cold now, -20F and in our headlights we see the snow falling. Fearless and with a tingle in our spine we head North. We think the fun is really starting now.

Eleven hours later mostly driving on snow with hidden potholes, dirt and gravel we arrive at Eagle Plains. The fuel tank is almost empty and we surely must be driving on fumes. There is nothing except for a hotel. It is still very cold and obviously it is dark again. All lit up the Eagle Plains Hotel appears along the road like a mirage in the desert. It looks warm, inviting and cozy. Unfortunately the hotel is more expensive than the el-cheapo accommodation we’ve been staying at. We decide to grab a bite to eat and have a long deep think as to what we are going to do now. It is way too cold to sleep outside now even with our warm Mad Bomber hats. And the gas here…. it is the most expensive we have seen so far.

 

Adjustable Snaplock at chin ensures a snug fit for most children!