Saturday, August 16, 2014

In which Steph and I have unexpected adventures in the Yukon

About a week and a half ago, Steph and I had the day off together again. The day before, the Jons were able to get ahold of Sourdough Rentals for us, so we could rent a car to go to Whitehorse!

While we were in the rental office, waiting for Steve to hear back by phone from the owner about what our rental options were, an older man walked into the office. Eighty if he was a day, long white beard, crooked cane, big bone earrings, hat covered in little medals. He proceeded to chat with Steve and us, and it seemed at first that he knew Steve, although it eventually became clear that Steve didn’t actually know him, but that he had just been by earlier that day as well. Weird! The guy was from New Zealand and was here to surprise a friend in Anchorage whom he hasn’t seen in 24 years – the friend doesn’t know he’s coming!

Anyway, when Steve got the owner on the phone, the old man overheard that Steph and I were planning to go to Whitehorse on Thursday and asked if he could get a ride. He “doesn’t need to go back, only to Whitehorse, not back,” and could “chip in for petrol” and “could really use a ride.” Steph and I were pretty uncomfortable with that, and made up an excuse about having a full car. But this guy was very persistent! We could “stop by his hotel room in the morning” to pick him up! In fact, even as we were leaving and telling him that he would probably have to find another ride, he was still saying, “see you in the morning”! Weird.

Well, Steph and I got the car (a minivan, which was all they had left) Thursday morning without incident and headed out to Whitehorse, without the old guy. The minivan’s speedometer didn’t work, so I never knew how fast I was driving, but, you know, feelin’ out the road and all that. Made it across the border, made it to Carcross (about two hours from Skagway and an hour from Whitehorse), switched drivers, and got back on the road… only to blow a tire a few minutes later! Actually, what happened was that without either of us hearing the tire bust or driving over anything unusual, suddenly Steph lost control of the wheel. Hilarious panic!Sho shouts, “what are you doing?!?” and hilarious panic!Steph temporarily genuinely thinks she’s swerving the car around herself and shouts, “I don’t know!!” but we have the wherewithal to pull over and get out and check the tires, and sure enough one is flat.

Keep in mind that we are in Canada, in the mountains and the desert, and have no phone service – and even if we did, you can’t call AAA from Canada. So we went around to the back of the car and found the spare tire…

…but no jack, and no wrench.

Of course.

We thought were weren’t too far out of Carcross, so we proceeded to walk back along the highway towards town. We walked for about an hour – it turned out we were about three miles past the town, and finally, footsore and hungry, we turned into a gas station on the edge of town. We explained our situation to the two men behind the counter…

…who, rather than trying to help us, proceeded to laugh at us for not having a jack and for how much our situation sucked.

Thanks, jerks.

Steph finally said, “well, can you please direct us to someone who can help us?!?” and one guy said in a totally rude tone of voice, “there’s a police station around the corner. That’s their job.”

So we found the police station, walked in, and explained our situation to the lady behind the counter. Who was lovely. She was sympathetic, kind, and helpful above and beyond the call of duty! She got us coffee, and even called Sourdough Rentals for us to ask where we should get the tire changed once we got to Whitehorse and to tell them that they better give us a deal when we got back! She also called in the police officer on duty, Dan, to help us with the tire situation. Dan was also very sweet (and, uh, hot :p), and not only drove us back to the car, with the proper tools, but changed the tire for us, much faster than either of us could have!

We have a thank-you note in the mail to the RCMP Carcross Deployment J

Well, we got back on the road – me driving, because Steph was a bit freaked out still – and made it to Whitehorse with no further incidents. We were famished, so we stopped for sushi first thing, then walked over to a tattoo/piercing/music shop so Steph could get her cartilage pierced.

The piercing went smoothly, although Steph was a bit faint after. But as she was sitting in the chair recovering, and I was holding her hand, guess who walks in???


White-beard old guy.

There are four people in this room, and Steph and I are two of them. We are just frozen in shock. But he walks past us with, hilariously, zero sign of recognition, and sits down to get a tattoo!

Anyway, that was my favorite part of this story.

We left the shop, drove to the tire place to get the tire changed, and did a little Walmart-ing to kill the time. Actually, the tire change took longer than expected, since it turned out that the van had four different tires in four different sizes, so it was a bit of a struggle for them to match the new one! Oh, Skagway.

Once that was taken care of, we headed out of Whitehorse. However, about 20 miles out of Whitehorse there’s a right turn onto the Klondike Highway, to get back to Skagway. But Steph had never driven it before, and I wasn’t really paying attention or remembering that there was a turn, and it was hard to see and poorly signed. So we missed the turn without even knowing we missed it. Ten or fifteen minutes later, we found ourselves crossing a beautiful lake on a cute bridge, and we both commented on how lovely it was – only to look at each other in alarm as we realized that we had never seen it before!

We were pretty perplexed as to how we had taken a wrong turn when we had been going straight the entire time! We decided to turn around, which was the right choice, but it also was a relief that Steph’s phone had one bar of service, so I turned on her data roaming and looked up where we were to be sure. Sure enough, we were on the Alaska Highway, which would have taken us all the way down through B.C.

We made the turn on the way back and made it back to Skagway uneventfully. But really, getting briefly lost was the final ingredient to make the day just ridiculous! Good thing we like each other, and had a good time all day anyway J

Oh, Alaska.

Next up: Camping! In the rain!

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