The Year-Round Road to Tuktoyaktuk Is Finally Complete

Long-time readers may remember the heady days of my Klondike summers, when I finally fulfilled my dreams of seeing Canada’s far north. Oh, those days seem so far away now, but they are some of the months I will remember most fondly in my old age. They taught me that dreams really do not have deadlines and that achieving them is particularly sweet after you’d given up hope. I may never again drive the Alaska, Klondike and Dempster Highways again, may never again see a show at Diamond Tooth Gertie’s or fly over Tuktoyaktuk’s pingos, but I did it!

Exploring the north is going to get a little easier for tourists because this coming Wednesday, November 15th, 2017, after years of delays, the all-year gravel road between Inuvik and Tuktoyaktuk is finally going to open. For the first time in Canada’s history, it will be possible to drive year-round to each of our three coasts.

I would like to invite you reread my series about Driving the Dempster Highway and to revisit the towns of Inuvik and Tuktoyaktuk. I feel privileged to have done so and to have spoken to locals so that I know that while this year-round road will change life in Tuk, in some ways not for the better, this road is ultimately a Good Thing worthy of celebration.

Standing in the Arctic Ocean at Tuktoyaktuk, NWT, August 2010

The Whitehorse Slog

I was up early by my standards today (7:30) even though I couldn’t leave early since I wanted to check out the post office one last time. I did some work then went into town. My package wasn’t there, but the mail clerk offered to go through the pile that hadn’t been sorted yet. I told her that wouldn’t be fair to the folks waiting in line and made her promise that she would let my friend pick up the package for me when it finally arrives.

Speaking of mail, my friend convinced me to keep my box in Dawson until I have firmer plans for next summer. She’ll check it for me and forward the contents as needed. One less thing to think about and lots of money saved!

I pulled out of the RV park at quarter to eleven without any problems. I didn’t even have a single one of my usual worries. Miranda behaved as she normally does prior to departure: well. I did top up the truck battery since it was a bit low and had a feeling that it would not restart when I shut it off at the gas station.

Gas at AFD was a ridiculous 112.9, vs. 139.9 in town so I was able to take on 130 litres for less than $150, a great start to my trip.

The Klondike River glittered against the amber poplars as I made my way south, feeling nothing but deep satisfaction as I left the Klondike and Dempster behind me. I had followed my dream to its limit so there was no regret at moving on.

Being behind the wheel felt normal and stress-free, and even though the drive to Whitehorse was long as ever, it wasn’t hard. I am tired of this twisty, frost-heave strewn road, though, and look forward to trying out new ones next year.

I made it to Whitehorse in my usual seven hours and decided to get gas and propane instead of having to come back into the city tomorrow. I like to go to Integra Tires, about two thirds of the way down Two Mile Hill. You can get propane then circle around the back to get to the gas pumps. Price was the same as in Dawson (!!!), and they are full service. It’s very luxurious to go for a leg stretch while someone else fills the tank and washes your windows and mirrors! As a side note, I didn’t come anywhere close to running out of propane this summer, yay!

I made good on my promise never to sleep at the Whitehorse Walmart ever again and headed back to Hi Country, where I tented back in June. I splurged on a pull-through spot, one that I would never have gotten into with the toad attach. It’s a nice RV park, but tight!

Even though I was pretty tired by this point, I went back into town to get some supplies. I’ll do groceries and beer tomorrow, then head on to Nugget City, keeping me on schedule. There’s really no reason to hang out in Whitehorse.

Last Night in Dawson

In the end, I’m glad to have had this final day in Dawson since it enabled me to really get the new computer going and I can now take off with a nearly fully functional machine. I’m sure I forgot some things, so I will make a note of them as the days progress.

Having solved the Mail issues (yay), there are now two hiccups. The first is that I have been unsuccessful in transferring over my invoicing information. I’ve put in a support ticket for that. I’m okay for now because my invoicing is up to date and I don’t anticipate having any more for this month, but it’s still a major issue that needs resolution. The second hiccup is that the internet runs at crawl speed to the point that I can’t download anything over a couple MB. So, I haven’t done any software updates, including the last security patches. I’ll see if the situation improves when I get to better cell service.

This first evening on the Macbook Pro tells me that even though I do have a bit of a learning curve ahead of me as well as some habit adjustments, I have made a smart, life-style appropriate decision in my purchase. I can’t believe I’ll be able to do everything when boondocking that I do when I’m parked for months at a time!

While files were transferring and downloading, I continued to chip away at my departure checklist and then went out for dinner. For my final meal in Dawson, I decided to splurge on a meal at the Drunken Goat. I bought an appetizer in addition to a full dinner, so the bill was pretty high, but I’ll get lunch and dinner out of the leftovers tomorrow, so the value was quite good.

The end of the season was anti-climatic compared to last year, but that was the summer’s tone, so I’m not disappointed. I’m just glad to be heading south now that the nights are hitting zero!

Still in Dawson

My package did not arrive today and by the time I found that out it was really too late to leave. I’m all ready to go, just have to put away the computers, unplug, and hitch up, so I will be pulling out at 10AM tomorrow. I’ll go check the post office first, but that’ll really be too early to hope for anything so I’ll leave some money with a friend and have her forward the item to me. I hate double paying for shipping!

It was actually rather nice to have today to get ready as it enabled me to make some serious inroads into migrating to the new computer. As it is, I can now pick up my work on it, so I won’t have to reopen the iMac before I get south where I will prep it for sale.

The Macbook Pro is now my main computer even though I still can’t get my new mail to download into Mail! The trackpad is taking a bit more adjustment than I initially thought, but the keyboard is okay. The biggest thing I have to get used to is the slash. On a French-Canadian Mac keyboard it is option-é (the key that holds the slash and question mark on an English keyboard). Option is an awkwardly located key, so I have gotten accustomed to just using the slash in the number pad even though it involves taking my fingers away from the home row. I’ve been doing it so long I never even though about it nor found it awkward. Having to option-é is going to take some getting used to. The upshot, though, is that the ù is closer than it is on a standard keyboard and I can now reach it easily with my pinky.

Tonight, I’m just going to keep transferring things over and try to download as much software and as many updates as I can. The aluminum casing of the Macbook Pro is detrimental to my aircard signal (not a surprise) so an external antenna is going to be a justifiable purchase once the computer is paid off.

So, eager as I am to head off into new adventures, this day of just pausing will enable me to leave in a much more relaxed and rested fashion. I might go out for one last dinner at the Goat, will definitely turn in early, and then just meander my way down to Whitehorse tomorrow where I should arrive in the late afternoon.