I figured I would break my trip down into
four parts five parts because that’s almost how I think of it, plus a fifth section just about taking pets on the ferry. I think of it in two main parts: Alaska and not-Alaska, but both of those would be too long so I’ve elected to break them into two more parts each with another part about taking my dogs on the ferry. This is the first part.
When I realized I would be driving out of Alaska alone, I was a little concerned because not only was it still snowing but it was also still below freezing and I worried that slick roads coupled with remote highways would spell disaster for me. I decided the safest thing to do would be to break up the trip over several days. Haines is only about 14.5 hours away, but you cross into the Yukon, then British Columbia, before coming back into Alaska again. I checked the road conditions and although they didn’t seem bad from the websites, I decided it was better to be safe than sorry.
I drove the four hours to Tok the first day and spent the night in a motel next to a restaurant called Fast Eddy’s. The roads were fine and I passed several trucks towing snow machines back from Arctic Man. The dogs were mostly good about the trip. Zane spent the first two hours nervously panting and shaking in the back of the car before he settled down and went to sleep. Both dogs were so happy but sort of confused when we got to Tok for the night. It’s been a long time since either of them moved and the last time either of them moved we all moved together.
The next day I was undecided where I’d end up. I had planned on spending the night in Destruction Bay or Haines Junction, but even with my stopping to take pictures of everything I thought was vaguely interesting, I got to Haines Junction around 2:30. It was only another two hours to Whitehorse and I wanted to eat real food and also look for an audio adapter for my iPhone so I headed up north.
I stayed in Whitehorse when I moved up to Alaska so I vaguely remembered the layout. I drove around for a bit trying to find the Best Western I’d stayed at before. I stopped and asked Canada’s Best Value Inn if they accepted pets, but they didn’t. I drove around some more before I saw a Days Inn that was also conveniently located next to a grocery store and on the edge of the downtown, which was perfect. I always take my valuables in at night, but I didn’t like the look of some of the people hanging around downtown.
The grocery store was a real treat. It’s possibly a little weird of me, but I’m fascinated by other peoples’ grocery stores. I love how food brings people together and so I find the places where local people shop to be really intriguing. I love seeing the varieties and familiar and unfamiliar brands. Canada definitely didn’t disappoint. The store was called the Real Canadian Superstore, if I remember correctly, and was similar to my local Fred Meyer or a Super Wal-Mart. It had clothes, cosmetics and health products, limited automotive and pet supplies, and an enormous grocery section. Sometimes I forget that Canada is actually a separate country. I’m just so used to thinking of it as a neighboring state. Since Alaska has no other neighbors, except maybe Russia, I just take the Yukon for granted. But Canada is SO different! For one, they have so much more diversity in their products. Their ethnic hair section had more than just products aimed at black hair. They had henna, Asian beauty products, and Indian beauty products. The white products still dominated, but it was so nice to see a wider range. Their food sections were equally diverse, though strangely their Hispanic section was pretty much Old El Paso taco kits like you’d see in the Deep South (yes, you Georgia.) Plus, all the road speed limits and distances are in kilometers. I discovered that there was no way to change my car’s units displayed so every time I saw a changed speed limit I’d have to do the math quickly. Whenever I wasn’t sure I just drove slower. I’m sure it was just really annoying for everyone else around me. The gas was also sold in liters (litres?) and not marked in dollars and cents like we do, just whole numbers. The going rate in Whitehorse was 119.99 for a liter. That doesn’t sound bad, except it’s something like six liters to a gallon so really that gas is six dollars a gallon. Ouch.
At the grocery store I bought some Sour Keys, which are my absolute favorite Canadian thing, and also some dried fruit to snack on. I remembered last minute that I did a Reddit gift exchange a couple of years ago and received some chicken dip mix from a Canadian and found it. It’s Swiss Chalet and I remember it being remarkable delicious. She told me it was a chain in Canada, but Whitehorse didn’t have one for me to try out.
I also made sure to stop at Tim Horton’s for breakfast the following morning before heading out. It’s Canada’s version of Starbucks but in non-American sizes and the coffee doesn’t taste burnt. Since I knew it would only take me about five hours to get down to Haines and my ferry wasn’t until late that night, I dawdled in Whitehorse as long as I could. I stayed in the hotel until check out time, I drove around looking for an audio adapter for my iPhone, I took the dogs on a long walk by the river. I had lunch. Finally, I had run out of things to do and felt like I should hit the road so we left Whitehorse and somehow I got turned around and we drove 45 minutes the wrong way. I don’t know how I did that when there’s only three roads into a place, but I figured it out and soon we were back on the right road.
Again, I stopped at everything that looked interesting and we saw a bunch of snow machines in British Columbia just before we crossed the border back into Alaska. We still made it to Haines pretty early so I grabbed a wrap for dinner from a local store and took the dogs to a park so we could all eat. I still had several hours to kill so I tried taking the dogs for another long walk until they obviously wanted to go back and sit in the car. Out of things to do and with two dogs who thought they’d be left behind if they weren’t in the car all the time, we went and checked in at the ferry terminal and waited for it to arrive.