Ice Roads- Part Three- Land Rover 0 Jeep 1

2.2Tdci engines don't like starting at -27. Ask me how I know...

We'd had another long 690 mile day when we rolled into Watson Lake. The Big Horn Lodge was the only motel open in town. There was a restaurant and a gas station next door so it was all we needed.

The restaurant was expensive. Like $35 for a pizza expensive! The bar next door to our hotel was closed so we figured the cost of the meal would offset the lack of money spent on alcohol. Bargain. I think.

The overnight temperatures were forecast for -30. The Big Horn had power points for the engine heaters in the parking bays so we thought it prudent to plug-in overnight. What we didn't know was the power points weren't working... Wes's Jeep fired straight up. The Defender cranked over healthily enough thanks to the large cranking capacity battery we'd fitted before the trip but the motor refused to fire. It would cough and splutter but no way were the four cylinders going to fire into life in unison. In the end we resorted to a little persuasion with a tow start. Oh the shame of it!  A Land Rover getting towed by a Jeep. I didn't care. The Defender fired into life with a clatter and we were soon leaving town in the dark (again) bound for the old gold rush town of Dawson City in the Yukon.

It was yet another long haul up to Dawson. We settled into the routine of Drive. Refuel. Eat. Repeat. The Klondike Highway was an ever changing mix of blacktop, drifting powder snow and hard-packed ice. We ran into our first ice road trucker on the Klondike. On a hard packed ice stretch where we'd been maintaining 60-70mph, I spied the headlamps of an approaching semi way off in the distance. I looked again and he was gaining. I looked again and he was REALLY gaining. I called up Wes on the CB to warn him. We slowed down to let the truck pass. He must've been doing 70mph when he passed us going into a series of bends. As he passed in a cloud of swirling powder snow, I picked up yet another stone chip in the windscreen. Cheers!

It was just getting dark as we rolled into Dawson. Another 600+ mile day. In the summer Dawson City is a popular tourist town. In February it's frozen streets are deserted. We check into the Downtown Hotel. There are only another couple of guests staying. In the bar a handful of locals sit in silence all staring at the TV screens above the bar. The TV is showing a Curling game. I've noticed that Canadian TV only appears to show Curling or Ice Hockey. It's on in every bar without exception. It could even be the same game on an endless loop.

The Downtown hotel is famous for the 'Sour Toe Cocktail Challenge' where a pickled human toe is placed into a shot of your choice. You drink the shot but the grizzled toe must touch your lips. The toe did (allegedly) once belong to the foot of a gold miner but a recent challenge participant caused a national scandal in Canada when he swallowed the original toe. We're told our toe is 'a fairly recent toe'. It doesn't look it! Wes and I successfully complete the challenge resisting the challenge to swallow. We are now part of the elite Sour Toe Cocktail Club. My membership card shows number 69,585. At $5 a shot. You do the math...

It's karaoke night in the Downtown Hotel. As Dawson's Mr Karaoke starts up his set we're the only people in the bar. We head for bed with him singing a sketchy version of "You were always on my mind". To himself.

Total Mileage 3,103

Defender Count: 0

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