Saturday, June 11, 2011

66 Degrees, 33 Minutes

Here’s part three of this saga.

Like the sign says over the front door of the hotel at Eagle Plains, this was truly an oasis in the wilderness.  And they had everything a weary traveler would want.  We were looking for a campground and they had one, sort of.  It was just a gravel lot with a few picnic tables and electrical hook-ups.

Since we had a tent, we pulled into one of the three spaces for tents.  It was fine; we really didn’t need much.  Gene pitched the tent and I arranged the stuff in the car so Peanut and I could sleep.

I’ve slept in some pretty rough spots, but the back end of a Honda Fit with a litter box may the all time record worst.  Peanut didn’t know quite what to think.  He chose to sit on top of the litter box and look out the windows all night.  Gene had more room and no litter box smell, but his air mattress had developed a leak and wouldn’t stay inflated.  He had a pretty rough night, as well.

By morning, we were both wondering if 5 more days of this was really worth it.  For the last 100 miles of our drive the previous day, there had been hardly any scenic appeal.  The most beautiful part had been the first 100 miles.  We were also disappointed in not seeing wildlife that first day.  Then there was the rain which wasn’t supposed to be. Everybody had said don’t drive the road in the rain.  My back was beginning to give me fits again and riding, and especially sleeping, in the car was most uncomfortable.

There were a couple of guys camped next to us from Ontario. They were on their return trip from Inuvik.  Gene spoke with them at length about road conditions, what to expect in Inuvik, scenery between Eagle Plains and there.  They didn’t have a lot of enthusiasm about their trip there.

We finally decided just to drive the 20 miles or so north to the Arctic Circle and then turn around and head for home.  The Arctic Circle was the main goal anyway.

We packed up the car then drove over to the gas pumps for fuel. They had every kind of fuel you might want from jet 2 fuel to home heating oil.  They had it all and it was all sitting in tanks above ground.  We got our 6 gallons of unleaded regular gasoline and turned north on the Dempster.

The twenty miles from Eagle Plains to the Arctic Circle reenforced our decision to turn around.  The scenery was not spectacular enough and the road was too rough to make driving an additional 400 miles worthwhile.  We just weren’t having that much fun.

I’m so glad we went to the Arctic Circle.  That was fun.  We got out and made the pictures and looked all around.  As far away from civilization as we were, there were still 4 cars there at the time we were.  A regular rush hour at the Arctic Circle.

We were happy to be heading south again.  It didn’t take long to get back to Eagle Plains. Gene wanted another cup of coffee so we went in the restaurant for that.  I browsed the tiny gift shop.  When we were ready to leave, Gene couldn’t find his keys to unlock the car.

I had been driving, so my keys were in my pocket; we weren’t locked out of the car.  We searched in pants pockets and coat pockets.  We drove back up to the campsite, but no luck there.  Back to the bathroom, but again no luck.  We went back to the gas pumps and looked around--nothing.  Gene went into the hotel to ask if keys had been turned in and then went down to the restaurant to look around.  He came up empty handed everywhere he went.  I scooted around in the seat for something and, low and behold, there they were.  I guess it just goes to show how uncomfortable sitting in the car is, if I didn’t realize I was sitting on a wad of keys.  With that mystery solved we got under way again.

The drive back was stressful.  It rained almost all day which didn’t make the driving any easier.  It was a good thing we had had some sun the previous day, because we had hardly any views this day.  The highlight of the day was seeing mom bear with her cubs.  That was pretty special.

We had left the motor home in storage at Dempster Corners.  That was a blessing.  We were surely glad to see home just waiting for us.

The folks at Dempster Corners were very nice.  The storage charge was $10 per night.  Gene paid in advance for 6 nights.  The owner refunded us $40.  We had an outstanding breakfast at the restaurant on Thursday morning.  We would have stayed an extra day in their campground, but they only had 20 amp electrical hook-ups.

They had a car wash.  Every place here has a car wash--a car wash and a tire repair shop.  Gene washed most of the mud and black goo off the car, then we drove back to Dawson City for a full service campground for a few days of sightseeing.

That’s the end of my tale about our drive up the Dempster Highway.  Thanks for tagging along.

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