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An oasis?

Start of the Dempster – We reach an “oasis”. (Map this!)

I have always loved reading travel authors – Peter Matthieson with his lyrical writings, Tim Cahill’s, outlandish adventures, Gerald Durrell’s expeditions collecting animals for the zoo. A few years ago, I picked up Bill Bryson. Although I believe he owes his popularity to his humor and wit, I find his traveling style admirable. In the book “In a sunburnt country”, he relates his travels to various towns in the outback in Australia. In these middle-of-nowhere towns, however small, he finds something interesting enough to write about. I learnt from him that every little nondescript town has some history to relate and most probably a museum where they want to talk about it.

Eagle Hotel

Outside the Eagle Plains Motel

I was reminded of him tonight at the Eagle Plains Motel, at km 369 of the Dempster Highway. Having been forewarned by a Dawson resident that it reminded her of “The Shining”, we arrived to be greeted at the motel by taciturn (but polite) motelkeepers. The hotel feels like an eccentric museum, decorated in dark colors with long corridors. The walls are decorated by huge mooseheads, caribou heads and bearskins. The dining room and bar is hung with pictures telling the story of the “Mad Trapper from Rat River (1931) – his manhunt and eventual death at the hands of the RCMP (Royal Canadian Mounted Police). His death mug shots are proudly displayed at the entrance to the bar. Also lining the walls are stories of dog sled patrols, of introducing reindeer to the NorthWest Territories to help counteract the failed whaling industry and other such equally harsh tales of frontier life.

(For Shreesh’s infinitely more sinister description of the Eagle Plains Motel, click here).

Shreesh and I often find ourselves wondering, “Who lives here and why?” Why would anyone live at Eagle Plains, a motel so remote that it has to be self sufficient with electricity, water and TV – with no community to speak of and that gets bitterly cold most of the time?

The drive from Dawson City to Eagle Plains brought us amazing vistas of sunrise, snow covered mountains and a surprising amount of animal life

fj-sunrise fox-sneak sno-dunes dempster1


7 Responses to “An oasis on the Dempster(?)”

  1. Fred says:

    It is much more comfortable, I must confess, getting my Dempster Hwy fix from the comfort of my living room. Still my fedora is off to you for getting off your butts and checking it out for real. Beautiful, but not a spot I think I’d like to hang my suspenders and call “home”.

  2. Fred says:

    BTW, just out of curiosity – and to feed my need for useless data – how much is gasoline in the styx? Can you get as much as you want :)?

  3. Neena says:

    Hey Fred…
    You can get gasoline as much as you want on the Dempster…but not the “premium” that we “need” for the fj. We have been getting 20 MPG, so I am not complaining. The longest drive without gas was 229 miles. We would have cut it close without the second gas tank.
    Pretty harsh conditions here. We have been lucky with relatively warm temperatures so far…in the single digits. Lets hope it stays that way.

  4. Fred says:

    But how much is gas? More expensive I assume.

  5. Shreesh says:

    Gas at Eagle Plains has been the most expensive yet – $1.49 a liter or almost $6.00 per gallon! At least you can pump as much as you want!

  6. Dennis says:

    I recently read a journalist’s account of his trip on the Dempster Highway in a magazine, so I was quite surprised to read that you had travelled it as well. I’m looking forward to reading more about your adventures!

  7. Neena says:

    Hi Dennis!
    Yes we are at Lamd’s End (Inuvik) now. Next stop – Wyoming!

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