The first stop further North on the Alaskan Highway was Watson Lake. This is a larger town so we could fill up on groceries, diesel and water. The visitors centre has an exhibition on how the Alaskan Highway was built in record time. The building started after the attack on Pearl Harbour by the Japanese in 1942. America realised that Alaska was open for an attack. In fact Japan tired to get one of the remote islands off Alaska but failed. To get material to Alaska, a decent road was required. So the Alaskan highway was created from Dawson Creek in Alberta to Fairbanks in Alaska. Some 1400 (?) km in a little over 1 year though mountains and over rivers. The visitors centre also had showers which we desperately needed. Outside is a large forest of totem poles made up of road and town signs from all over the world. Over the years some 55,000 signs have been hammered to the trees and poles. Unfortunately we did not bring one with us. Some other Dutch ones are already there. Further along the highway the mountains came closer and higher. The view of the tree covered mountain sides and valleys are a delight. Next to the road are small fast flowing rivers, small lakes or wide slow moving rivers like the Liard which we were still following. In the evening we left the road and found a very nice campsite along Lake Morley. There we met 1 couple, Canadian Overlanders and 4 cyclists who are also doing (part) of the Alaskan highway.
The next day we left the Alaskan Highway for a detour to Skagway, which is just over the border in Alaska. Along the way we stopped at a Native recreations centre in Carcross, where we admired the wood carvings resembling the different Native clans. Also there is an exhibition of 3000 – 5000 years old hunting tools which are becoming exposed due to melting of the permanent snow patches. The road climbs up over a pass (1000 m) and then descends to the Pacific Ocean. Here the infamous Klondike trail started. In 1896 gold was discovered in the Klondike river near Dawson city. The following 2 years some 100,000 gold prospectors and others landed in Skagway and lumbered their 1 year (500 kg) of supplies up and over the white mountain pass and then continue the route over lakes and rivers to Klondike in self made rafts and boats. Only 30,000 made it there only to see that most of the interesting sections of the river where the gold is, had already been claimed. Very few of them found any gold at all. The whole rush was over by the turn of the century. After driving through thick fogs and rain, we arrived in Skagway late in the afternoon (Friday). Since there is no ferry going out to Haines on Saturday, we decided to stay an extra night here and booked the ferry for Sunday. All cruise ships which sail the Alaska Marine Highway make a stopover in Skagway. On our arrival there were 2 cruise ships in the harbour and the following day 1.