Before we left Watson Lake, BC, we walked up a block to see the Sign Post Forest. Back in 1942 during construction of the Alaska Highway a homesick soldier added his hometown sign to an army highway mileage post. Ever since then people from all over the world have been adding their hometown signs and now there are 70,000+ signs and growing. We found several that we recognized from Minnesota.
So, on we go with our journey.
We’ve seen at least one bear every day.
Whitehorse, Yukon Territory, is the largest town along the Alaskan Highway. We stopped for a day and saw the local sights which included this actual retired DC-3 plane atop a pole that spins to always point into the wind. This could be the world’s largest weather vane.
We spent the night in the Walmart parking lot along with 40 other RVers, yes I said that right. I counted at least 40. It looked like a RV sales lot. The Walmarts in Canada all close at 10pm so we all had the lot to ourselves all night long.
Did I say what a beautiful drive the Alaskan Highway is?
Up to this point the road has been fairly good, but not long after we left Whitehorse the road began to deteriorate. The last 80 miles before the Alaska border consists of dips, bumps, potholes, road construction, patches, gravel breaks, and cracks where much of the time we could only drive 30 mph. Needless to say, we were “all shook up” by the time we got to the Alaska border. The RV held up well, no damage.
Much of the soil along the north Alaska Highway is of glacial origin and unsuitable for road embankments. Frost heaves are frequent and that keeps the highway department busy trying to keep up with repairs. An international project is underway to try to minimize the melting of the permafrost by allowing cold air to penetrate the road bed. These vent-like structures on the side of the road in one area are part of that project.
At the United States Border Inspection Station we were asked just a few questions after presenting our passports. The man was very nice and asked if we had any fruits or vegetables we bought in Canada or from the US. One of the apples we had did not have the little sticker on it and we were told that if we wanted to keep that apple we needed to eat it right there. We surrendered the apple and went on our way.
We have arrived in Tok, Alaska, the first town in Alaska on the Alaska Highway, population 1,435. Tok is the one town in Alaska that the highway traveler must pass through twice, once on the way in to the state and once when leaving. Unless you leave by boat there is no other way out.
The Tesoro gas station in Tok provides a free self-service RV wash, free sani-dump, and free tank fill of fresh water when you fill up with gasoline. Thank you Tesoro for a much-needed treatment. After that long, dirty, rough drive this was a refreshing treat. The gas price today is $4.129/gallon.
One last thing…we have entered the Alaska Time Zone. Yes, it’s a real Time Zone. So we’re -3 hours from Minnesota.
Now here we are at Sourdough Campground “Home of the Sourdough Pancake Toss”.