Sunday, January 3, 2010

A Kluane New Year

As part of my holiday Whitehorse, Yukon adventure Colleen and I decided to head over to Haines Junction on New Years Eve.

We left shortly after noon and made the 150km drive. Cruising along the highways up here is beautiful. And my rental car seems to have pretty good snow tires. It was a great drive.

Haines Junction is at the entrance to Kluane National Park, a huge parkland that crosses the Canada/US border and becomes the Wrangell-St. Elias park in the US. It's a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Unlike most southern National Parks (e.g. Banff), you can't just drive through Kluane. If you want to experience it beyond just seeing it from the outskirts you've got to get out of your car and hike. It was -30, so there wasn't going to be much hiking, just some quick poses and then back into the car ASAP.

Haines Junction is a very small town. Population 800 - and I suspect that that's in the summer. Most of the motels and restaurants were closed for the winter. But we had lunch at a little grill where the staff were very welcoming. Aussie, the manager, let us know that if we were there that evening we should show up to the Alcan lounge, where there was free food and drink to celebrate the New Year.

A few hours later, after driving around the park a bit more, we decided to spend New Years Eve in Haines Junction. We got a room at the Cozy Corner, which was just fine for a small town motel. Definitely not luxury, but clean(ish) and Cozy.

In exploring the town (really just one street) we came upon this Catholic church. It's built from a military quonset hut, I believe left over from the building of the Alaska Highway in the '40s.

We went out to find dinner around 6:30, when we discovered that the entire town had shut down for the evening. There was no food to be found. Not even at the gas stations, which were also closed. It was a good thing we'd decided to stay, 'cause we weren't getting out.

We ended up joining the local party with free food and drink. We met some other tourists driving south from Alaska, had a few drinks, and decided not to stick it out until midnight. We celebrated the New Year at the Cozy Corner.

The next morning was the Breakfast Special at the Cozy Corner. A delicious start to the New Year. The clouds had settled into the area over night, so the view wasn't as spectacular as the previous day, but it was still beautiful.

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