“Hey Jim, I just got off the phone with Yamaha in Whitehorse,” Don said as we pulled into the campsite at Teslin Lake. “They said no problem, we can stop by in the morning and they will put new tires on our bikes.” That was the good news I wanted to hear. Both Don and I determined that we would wear out our street tires by the time we got to Whitehorse, the capital city of Yukon Territory. It was a great place to put on our new 50/50 Mitas E-07 off-road tires prior to the dirt/gravel roads we were about to encounter. There were only two motorcycle shops in Whitehorse. Don chose to call Yamaha; it was a great decision.
A short two-hour ride from our campsite along Marsh Lake brought us into the south side of Whitehorse and the Yamaha/Kubota dealership. That’s right, they sold Yamaha motorcycles and Kubota tractors. They were lined up side-by-side in the showroom. It seemed a strange combination and it reminded me of my favorite Gary Lawson cartoon showing a roadside stand with a sign: Fred’s Fill Dirt and Croissants.
“Go ahead and pull your bikes under the canopy in front of the store and go to work. Do you have the tools you need?” That was Jason the Yamaha service manager after we explained that we had our own tires with us and, indeed, we had our own tools to remove the wheels on our bikes. As quickly as we had a wheel removed, Steve had the old tire off and the new tire on with the wheel and tire balanced. In less than two hours we were ready to roll on new treads.
Was it just these guys, or are all Canadians that friendly and accommodating? While paying for the tire change, Jason recommended that we visit the Klondike Rib and Salmon Restaurant on Main Street. “As a matter of fact, after you leave I will call my friend Donna, the restaurant manager, and tell her three good looking guys are on their way for lunch.”
Whitehorse is the largest community in Yukon, containing 70 percent of Yukon’s population. It is located on the Yukon River at the upper reach of steamboat navigation, which was an important feature in the late 1800s all the way up to 1950. It has a young and active population and many amenities such as 700 km of trails for biking, hiking, and downhill skiing. There are 6 parks and well-equipped sporting facilities. As Richard was happy to discover, it also has the northern-most Apple store on the North American Continent! He was able to get a new screen for his iPhone given it “crashed” a couple of days before. And this small city of 25,000 supports some fine restaurants, including the Klondike Rib and Salmon.
We were well into our lunch of Heavenly Halibut Chowder, and Halibut Fish & Chips when Donna exclaimed: “So you are the good looking guys Jason told me about! I had to run some errands so I just got in, but I spotted you guys right away!” she said with convincing zeal. Donna was a real hoot. She was from the States originally but moved to Whitehorse years ago. She seemed genuinely interested in each of us but was especially keen on Don because of his shirt: she wanted it. Don’s tee-shirt, a gift from his daughter who has several adopted children, was inscribed: “ADOPTION Rocks”. It seems Donna was adopted as a young child. After the trip, Don sent her the shirt.
While Richard hung with the Apple techs who fixed his phone, Don and I took a tour of the S. S. Klondike, one of the few surviving Yukon steamboats, now a museum piece. We also hiked over the Yukon River pedestrian suspension bridge above the basalt cliffs of Miles Canyon where the Yukon cut through an ancient lava flow. Now with new tires, “new” iPhone, and some great experiences, we reluctantly departed the Robert Service Campground on the south of Whitehorse and headed north on the famous Klondike Highway toward Dawson City.
The Klondike Highway runs parallel to the Chilkoot trail prospectors used during the Klondike Gold Rush (1896-1899). Along the way, we saw unique landscapes, beautiful lakes, and some old mining structures still standing as a reminder of its interesting history.
The amenities at Moose Creek Campground south of Dawson City, operated by Yukon Parks, included a nice, secluded, wooded campsite, a hand water pump, pit toilets, and free firewood, a real deal for $12 Canadian, I thought. Richard, always cold, lamented the lack of power for his portable space heater. The early morning temperature was 35 degrees F, well above freezing, so he had little to complain about. He complained anyway. The weather forecast suggested it would be warmer in Dawson City.
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