Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Reunion Journey, Days 4,5 Dawson City,YT

Located on the Yukon River at the western edge of the Yukon Territory, Dawson was the center of the 1890’s Klondike gold rush. The metal gold continues to support the local economy to some degree, but these days Dawson also mines tourist gold. Catering both to the RV and the Cruise Tour business, the town has numerous dining and entertainment opportunities targeted at the itinerant tourist.

The Yukon River was a primary transportation corridor during the gold rush, and on into the 1950’s. Located on the riverfront behind a low levee, Main Street retains the colorful gold rush appearance, with numerous brightly painted false fronted buildings. Sitting on the Riverbank are a couple of antique riverboats, including the Keno, shown below.

Dawson City YT Main Street

Riverboat Keno

The drama of the gold rush was immortalized by authors such as Jack London and Robert Service. The cabins occupied by these two authors are preserved and are open for display by the government.

Jack London’s Cabin

We camped in Dawson at the Gold Rush RV Park. While there we enjoyed a delicious meal of fish tacos organized and cooked by Norma and Hal, and accompanied by numerous excellent appetizers, salads, and desserts provided by the participants. Four COW’s.

Gold Rush RV Park in Dawson City, YT

A Delightful Evening Meal With Our WIT Friends

The last evening in the campground, the following vehicle pulled in for the night. We had seen this German tour vehicle on the road, and thought it quite interesting. Tour participants sit in the front and tour by day, then sleep in the rear at night. We don’t know how many people it will accommodate, but it’s certainly an interesting way to travel for younger tourists who do not suffer from ABS (Ageing Bladder Syndrome).

An Interesting Tour Vehicle

The same evening this interesting tour bus arrived, a motorhme from Northern California arived with a story about a motorhome off the road near Chicken. Apparantly the coach wandered from the narrow right of way onto the soft shoulder and started to tip. The fellow we spoke with saw the incident happen. It was his opinion that the only thing which prevented the rig from going over was that the tow car stayed on firm ground and held it back. The Top of the World Highway is not outright dangerous, but it does require a heightened alertness to drive it safely.

Our first morning in town we ate breakfast at Klondike Kate’s, a historic restaurant near the campground. The food and service were excellent and the prices reasonable, so we returned with the group for dinner, which was not as good as breakfast.

Klondike Kate’s Restaurant

Our Group Dines at Kate’s

After dining at Kate’s, we moved on to Diamond Tooth Gertie’s, an 1890’s saloon , gambling hall, and stage entertainment venue. Going to Gertie’s is kind of like camping overnight at Wal Mart. It doesn’t cost much to get in, but you somehow wind up spending a lot of money. Cover charge was only $6 each, but Kathy’s martini was $10, and she left $40 at the tables. The show was a mix of show tunes sung by Gertie and her male cohort, punctuated by can-can style dances by four talented young ladies.

Diamond Tooth Gertie’s Gambling Hall

Three Different Shows at 8:30, 10:30, and Midnite

Our last evening in Dawson we drove up Dome Road to the top of the hill behind the town. The view from the top is spectacular. At the bottom of the hill is the town of Dawson, with the Yukon River as backdrop. Keith managed to snap a Mountain Goddess posing in front of the Ogilvie Mountains.

View of Dawson City and the Yukon River From Dome Road

Mountain Goddess Spotted on the Dome

Also visible from the Dome is the extensive damage to the countryside done by the gold mining. Also shown below is a machine which caused some of this damage in the past.

Extensive Evidence of Gold Mining Visible From the Dome

Historic Gold Dredge on Display Near Dawson

Tomorrow morning we depart south for Whitehorse, by way of Carmacks. The old Keith would have driven the 330 mile distance all in one day. Fortunately, the organizer of this Caravan Extension has better sense than Keith, and broke the drive into two days. More to follow.

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