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North America

Alaska 4/8: To the North Pole

 The simple happiness that nature brings.

The simple happiness that nature brings.

If there is anywhere you stop in the Yukon, make it be Kluane. Picture driving down the highway in the middle of a wide valley, with no traffic in sight. The road is weathered and cracked from frost heaves, blaring sun, and the millions of RV's that pilgrimage down the Alaska Highway. Now imagine turning around a corner and there from afar, you see a beautiful cerulean blue lake surrounded by exalted mountains. That is the grandeur that is Kluane. 

Our first stop by Kluane was short and sweet. I had written a rough schedule of where I wanted to be for my trip in order to make the ferry and had to rush past in order to make up to the original agenda. We had some snacks on the beach and ran around barefoot softly kicking up the coarse sand. Then we pushed forward to hit the border at a decent time. In our rush to reach Tok, AK, I'm sure I missed a few beautiful stops but all I seem to really remember about this leg of the trip was that gas kept creeping up in price. 

 

 Enjoying a dip in Kluane Lake

Enjoying a dip in Kluane Lake

 

We crossed the border into Alaska on July 4th and hurried on to the closest town in hopes of finding some authentic celebrations. Perhaps it was because I had arrived later in the day, or perhaps it was because the town was a bit sleepy, but there were certainly no celebrations happening when we arrived. 

I remember Tok quite vividly because we wandered upon this duo of guys driving their motorbikes across Alaska who were just astounded that not only was I tackling a trip like this with a 2 year old, but that I was doing it weaponless. I told them that I had no need for a gun when camping but they just couldn't wrap their mind around the concept. 

It was also the first time Gaia had an accident in the tent. Up until this point, with lots of reminders, she had done fantastic for using the bathroom. This time, morning couldn't have come soon enough and I found myself wandering over to the facilities before 7am to give her sleeping bag a good wash. Luckily, we had chosen to stay in a private campground geared towards retired RV'ers and it had available washing machines. While waiting for the bag to air dry we managed to pass the time by using our sleuthing skills to find a cafe that sold homemade treats.

One of my favourite parts of tenting was the early start on the day. At home, some days we would just hang out in our pyjamas all day. Gaia has always been an early riser so 6am coffees were a bit of a normal routine. Breakfast would eventually follow and then clean up, playtime, and lastly, if we were lucky, we would get outside the house closer to noon. Tents don't offer those luxuries. A regular day would consist of waking up early, making coffee and a snack, listening to the birds, and then taking down camp. It was a regular occurrence to be on the road by 9am. Early starts made time for lots of stops, lots of exploring, and lots of adventure.

 

 Somewhere between Tok and Fairbanks.

Somewhere between Tok and Fairbanks.

Once we finally did get going we journeyed through layers and layers of smoke drifting down from nearby fires, smothering the road and the vehicles driving on it. Our destination for the day was Fairbanks with a pitstop in "North Pole" Alaska. I couldn't tell if I was more excited to take Gaia to the town of North Pole or if she was equally excited. The town was riddled with souvenirs ranging in price as well as reindeer, candy, elves, and it even had a "real" Mr. and Mrs. Clause. After thoroughly enjoying our time at the giant tourist trap, we purchased some onesies and carried on to Fairbanks. 

 Enjoying a lollipop and a view of the reindeer.

Enjoying a lollipop and a view of the reindeer.

Highlights: Kluane Lake, YK; North Pole, AK.