Anchorage to Tok, AK: 318 miles
Tok to Whitehorse, YT: 394 miles (this was miserable)
Whitehorse to Watson Lake: 275 miles (this was pretty great)
This trip would be so fun with another human, especially, but maybe even alone with no birds to take care of. As I go through the Milepost, to map out the odometer reading for all the gas stations and restrooms (that’s how few there are and how likely they are to be out of order, relative to the ones on roads you might be used to) I see all of these neat stops that I won’t bother making, even though I can technically leave the car locked and running (so the heat or A/C and music keep the birds happy). I am still trying to make it fun, within reason: I really did intend to make the stop for the 10-minute walk to a waterfall, a few miles after the Continental Divide (where I did stop), but I missed the turn. Since I got into Watson Lake before 4pm, I visited the Sign Post Forest, which I wanted to do last time I was here but … was too tired? Or the birds were too sad? I don’t recall.
Anyway, I like road trips. I like driving. But I apparently do not like driving for more than 300 miles per day, at least not alone, through Alaska and the Yukon Territory and probably British Columbia. It’s lovely, between downpours, but it’s also just a whole lot of road, you know? A tree tunnel, for miles and miles of it, with not a lot of places to get gas or snacks, and all of those are expensive. Most of the stops and sights are also rutted gravel parking lots, which make me fear for my tires, in ways I wouldn’t if I had a working mobile phone or another person with me (what if a tire goes flat, or I run out of gas? I’m comfortable at a lot more temperatures than the birds are; I could just wait it out, or walk, if I were alone, where they can’t). And then you add that tiny extra barrier of deciding whether or not to leave the birds in the running car, which makes me less willing to stop and look at the sights, and this whole thing ends up being a lot less fun than it should be.
It isn’t all bad, though! Like I said, I’ve seen some pretty things. I seem to have moved out of raven country and into crow country. I’ve seen a few raptors: some kinds of hawk or falcon and some kind of eagle. Oh, and a baby bear! It ran across the road, in front of an RV (stopped in time) and me (also stopped in time). No sheep, moose, or caribou, yet. And as I drive, Octavia Butler’s Xenogenesis trilogy is keeping me entertained; the birds seem to like Aldrich Barrett’s voice better than music.
The Canadian border was easy enough; they had me pull over, but apparently I seemed pretty authoritative when I told the guard “Cockatiels and parakeets are the two species specifically exempted from that rule,” which had something to do with bigger/smarter parrots and endangered species. (It helped that I was telling the truth.) He let me go at that, didn’t even ask questions about my house plants or the little bit of food I was carrying with me.
Really, this whole thing is sufficiently not-bad that I want to take the trip again, with Dale or maybe a group of friends, so I can see all of these cool things and really enjoy it and travel fearlessly. My lack of enjoyment springs from anxiety about these frail creatures I am carrying (first night fright already happened :( ) and from knowing I’m doing the whole trip wrong, in a way. And maybe some loneliness, too; who knew that talking to people, whether in person or online, was so vital, right? :)
My spirits aren’t high, but they aren’t really low, either. The first and second days were the hardest, because saying goodbye always hurts and because Whitehorse is very far away from Tok, with a lot of construction in between (a 10 hour drive, no joke). I’m hoping the road conditions on Thursday are enough better to make that drive go nicely, since it’s almost as long as yesterday’s. (After I get out of Canada, I can start playing it a little more by ear, since my hotel/motel reservations stop at the border.)
I haven’t taken a lot of pictures, and the hotel wifi isn’t working well enough for me to get them from my phone to my computer, anyway. So those will come later.
Anyway, I’m pretty bushed. I’m going to read a little bit of stupid vampire novel, bribe the birds with some dried veggies, and get to bed early. Good night, all!