Part 1: Trails in the Taiga or, The Ragged Road through the Drunken Forest.
Harrison Ford, in American Graffiti (I believe his big screen debut), leans out the window of his car to razz a fellow hot rodder. In critiquing the color of said hot rod, he says something along the lines of “What color is that, somewhere between piss yellow and puke green?” I my have gotten the quote wrong, but that was the gist.
Looking at the bathtub and vanity prior to departing our room in Tok, I thought to myself “This is the color of that car from American Graffiti.”
We loaded up, fueled up, and rolled on out of town. It was dark, and a bit cold, but we expected that. Today’s mileage was to be nearly twice that of yesterday’s, so we knew we needed an early start. Some hours later, I realized that I forgot we would lose an hour to a change in time zones. Alas.
The sunrise was even more spectacular than the previous day, especially as we were headed straight for it, on a very lonely road, through some very interesting country.
As the day grew, we ventured ever closer to the “international border”, which, given all that we were hauling, gave me some mild trepidation. However, as hoped, the legendary Canadian hospitality won the day and we were allowed to sally forth on into Beaver Creek, where, at Buckshot Betty’s, bikers — but not pets — are welcome. 2 cups of not very good road coffee and we were back to it.
The scenery got progressively more impressive, while the road got progressively more ragged.
Through the course of the morning we passed through endless forests of spindly black spruce, leaning akimbo as they are wont to do, situated as they are atop a thoroughly permafrosted substrate. The taiga; “land of little sticks”, or as some would have it, “the drunken forest”. On across the Tok River, across and along side, the Upper Tanana River, then later across the White River and the Donjek River, on our way towards the Yukon River at Whitehorse. All this of course had me thinking about rivers and courses and how a roadtrip, rather than the singular event we often refer to it as, is really more of a continuum of events (e.g., hot rods and graffiti spilling over from yesterdays musing). If one embraces it and goes with the flow, one can experience the road, rather than just drive it.
Early on, Coyote crossed our path, making me wonder what else the day might have in store for us… Especially given that we were destined to pass through Destruction Bay, which has stories to go along with it, but I think I have told them too many times already.
Part 2: Hareville; the Land of Little
Our four legged companion is not really the road tripping type. Given her blue heeler heritage, she is much more inclined to run and romp with reckless abandon. We knew this, but given the nature of our journey, there is nothing for it. The resolution is to stop reasonably often and let her, and us, out for numerous brief romps. this makes, on the one hand, for slower going, but on the other, yet another way to actually experience the road, rather than just drive along it.
In one of these stops we came upon a little snow covered track that looked perfect for a short stroll. Turns out it was a veritable hare thoroughfare. None of us had ever encountered such an open air warren, as it seemed to be. But even more peculiar to me was the nature of the local flora, dominated as it was by these curious stunted trees; birch, aspen, spruce… few in the immediate area were much more than a few feet tall. It was curious indeed, but a good place to walk. Little was right at home and romped here and there among the invisible hare, while a solitary raven swooped by, did a low, slow circle around me, then casually winged off.
On to Whitehorse, though we would not make it before dark. And tomorrow to Watson Lake and the “legendary” sign post forest.