WooHoo…we made it to Alaska!
We have arrived in Alaska in one piece! We’re celebrating a very significant milestone in our journey, with a tale for this stretch of the drive.
Mile 1083: Destruction Bay was the stopover we chose between Whitehorse and Tok. Getting there was a slow 4-hour drive. The highway between Whitehorse and Destruction Bay was rough and required slowing way down and paying close attention to the changing road conditions.
However, Steve complained that it was hard to focus on the road with the beautiful scenery surrounding us. Leaving Whitehorse took us into about 10 miles of dusty gravel breaks. Here our speed was between 17 and 20 mph, and we were happy to let other vehicles pass us. Whenever they did, or whenever a fast-moving vehicle approached from the other direction, we simply pulled over and stopped to prevent rock damage.
We encountered several marked and unmarked frost heaves as we approached Destruction Bay.
The highway skirted the shores of Kluane Lake, one of the most beautiful lakes in the world! Wow, even my new favorite, Muncho Lake, was surpassed by its size alone – Kluane Lake is 43 miles long and gorgeous.
Destruction Bay has a place in Alaska Highway history – it was one of several camps built to supply the army during construction of the highway. It got its name after an extremely violent storm destroyed buildings and much of the highway construction material that was stored there for the project.
We stayed overnight at Destruction Bay RV Park, and the owner Loren was very happy to see us, since we were the first customer to show up there in several days. We got to pick the spot we wanted with a mountain and lake view. Nothing fancy, just electric and we did not bother extending the slide outs, since we wanted to leave early the next morning.
The mosquitos were very excited to see us, too! This was our first encounter with the big suckers on this trip, and they were living up to their reputation so far.
We were aware of all the warnings and cautionary reminders of the tough road ahead, so at this point Steve placed a modified tarp cover over our Honda CRV to protect it from rocks and gravel.
Our drive from Destruction Bay to Tok, AK was 225 miles; about 100 miles of it being the worst Steve has driven. Although not a problem for cars, the frost heaves and dips in the road gave Betsy’s upgraded suspension a real test. It’s difficult to see the upcoming dips from so high up in the RV cab, and running through them with 60′ of RV and car caused some interesting moments for us. However, we were moving very slowly and the vehicles seemed to have survived the ordeal.
The bummer is that we will need to travel most of this stretch of road again when we return to Haines to catch the Maritime Highway in September. Our average speed on this stretch was 39 mph and it took us seven hours – including a lunch break and a 30-minute wait at the U.S. border, to get into the state. It was a long day.
This stretch of the Alaska Highway remains the wonder of the north, for it has been rebuilt and straightened several times. The annual outbreak of frost heaves is a never-ending challenge for road maintenance crews, and they have a short window of time to repair them before the “crowd” of summer travelers arrives. We can see they are trying their best to patch them up.
We were so happy to see the U.S. border, thinking the road would be better on the American side. However, we were given only a 14-mile reprieve and after that the frost heaves and dips prevailed for the next 91 miles.
We gave each other a “high five” right after crossing the border – we were so pumped to finally be in Alaska. After over a year of planning we had arrived to fulfill our trip of a lifetime. We had arrived at Tok, the first community in Alaska that weary travelers like us see after crossing back into the U.S.
But hey, where are the Walmart and Costco stores? Oh, I guess we need to wait until we get to Fairbanks in a few days.
We are staying at the Sourdough RV Park, very quiet and big-rig friendly. There was power and water available, which we are learning is fine for short stays. We simply dump our tanks at the dump station when we leave these parks. And it’s usually a few dollars cheaper when using partial hookups. But for stays of a week or more we still prefer full hookups so we won’t risk filling the waste tanks and having to move the rig just to empty them.
One thing we’ve learned about RV parks in Canada and Alaska – sewer is optional or not available, and 30-amp power is standard. Since we don’t need air conditioning this time of the year (which pretty much requires 50-amp service if running at full power) the 30-amp service with water is fine.
While in Tok we checked out the Visitor’s Center, a required stop for getting information ranging from road conditions to “things to do” around town and in the state of Alaska. We also took a 13-mile bike ride along the highway. We’re just relaxing for a few days and taking a break from the tedious drives.
The sun rose at 4:30AM and set at 12:30AM…the long days enabled us to enjoy every minute of our summer in the Last Frontier. We haven’t seen darkness and stars in quite a while. And oh, Alaska is on its own time zone, an hour ahead of Pacific Standard Time.