Kazakhstan mountains as seen from Almaty's Botanical Gardens.
Where are Kevin and Ruth now? Bangkok, Thailand.

Where are Kevin and Ruth going next? Not sure!

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Drink it fast, or drink it slow, but your lips must touch the toe...

We spent the last two nights at the Yukon River Campground, which is one of the Yukon Territorial Government Campgrounds. It's located on the opposite side of the river from Dawson City, so we had to take the free ferry back and forth whenever we went into town. These government campgrounds are only $12 CAD ($9.25 USD) per night, and with free firewood included.

There are no services other than pit toilets and hand pumped water, and many of the sites are very small and some are not very level. And, many of the sites are for tenting. Out of the 94 listed sites, I would say that perhaps 35 of them would have been suitable for Sherman.

And, it's getting busy here in Dawson City. The one RV park located in town (where you are packed in like sardines at almost $50 CAD per night) has been sold out the last few nights, and I believe the one we were at was as well. And the government campground at $12 a night is first come first served, so I would say you need to arrive there around noon for the best chance of getting a site.

Or, you can just find a side street in town and it looks like nobody will bother you. There's a housing shortage in Dawson City during the summer, and it seems like some workers simply park their RV and live outside somebody else's house.

Just downriver from the campground, there's an old paddlewheeler wreck.

The ferry gets busy quickly, and there can often be a one to two hour wait for an RV to get across the river. We set off at 6:30am, and we were the only ones on the boat!

The ferry at Dawson City.

We spent much of the day getting ourselves ready for the drive up to the Arctic Ocean.  We had showers and then went to the RV Park in town and paid the very reasonable $5 fee to use their dump station and fill up with water.  Then, we paid the somewhat unreasonable fee of $15 to do our laundry! For that kind of money, there should be someone doing it for you! But, it had to get done and the only other laundromat is at the other RV Park on the outskirts of town and it would have likely been similar cost although we don't know for sure.

Then, it was time to do a big grocery shop. We had stocked up pretty well at reasonable prices when we left Whitehorse, but that was 10 days ago. While the freezer was still doing okay, the fridge was looking pretty empty!

There are two small grocery stores in Dawson City, and between the two of them, they have everything we need including gluten free items. As expected, they are expensive, but we figured they would be. And, we have to eat! So, we simply bit the bullet. We spent $130 CAD ($98 USD) on stuff that should have been 25% less than that, but with $4 broccoli, $4 cauliflower, and $4 head of lettuce, things add up quickly. Still, even with that we are doing surprisingly well with our grocery budget for the month.

Then, off to the liquor store where we bought a 12 pack of Chilkoot beer and a 4 liter box of white wine for a total of $57.50 CAD ($44 USD) which is not much different than it would have been in Saskatchewan or Ontario.

We will fill up with gasoline on the way out of town this morning. And, I was going to fill up with propane but they want a ridiculous $1.65 per liter and we are still half full. They sell propane at Eagle Plain and at Inuvik, so while it may not be any cheaper I will wait and see if it is or not.

 Later in the afternoon we went for a walk around town.

The Kissing Buildings.

Many of the original buildings from the 1898 to 1904 boom are no longer around. Fire was the main problem, but damage from permafrost melting was the second. These two original buildings have been left standing to show what happens when heated buildings are placed on frozen ground: the frost melts, mixing water with soil to become a very fluid mud into which the different footing settle at different rates.

The original church has the same problem.

This is a pretty church.

Front Street (the main drag in Dawson City) is under construction in one section, so there's a detour to Fifth St. when you're coming into town. And of course some of the historic buildings are located on Front Street, so it's tough to get decent photos...

Designed by Thomas Fuller, the same guy who designed the Canadian Parliament in Ottawa.

The Dawson City Museum is supposed to be well worth a visit, and we will when we return in July.

Fifth Street in Dawson City.

Ruth, on the wooden sidewalk.
All of the sidewalks are made of wood because concrete would not last here due to the shifting permafrost.

After a late supper, we walked over to the Downtown Hotel. We had bumped into Terry and Mona again, the same couple who spoke to us back in Watson Lake a few weeks ago. They have just returned from Tuktoyaktuk, so it was good to get their perspective on the drive. They had invited us to join them for a drink at the Sourtoe Saloon...

The Sourtoe Saloon is famous for it's Sourtoe Cocktail... and you can't come to Dawson City without having a drink with someone's mummified toe in it!

The Downtown Hotel.

At 9:20pm, there was a big lineup of people wanting to join the Sourtoe Cocktail Club!

We waited until the lineup dispersed.

There are currently 79,203 members!

To give you some background...

The legend of the first “sourtoe” dates back to the 1920’s and features a feisty rum-runner named Louie Linken and his brother Otto.  During one of their cross-border deliveries, they ran into an awful blizzard.  In an effort to help direct his dog team, Louie stepped off the sled and into some icy overflow—soaking his foot thoroughly.

Fearing that the police were on their trail, they continued on their journey. Unfortunately, the prolonged exposure to the cold caused Louie’s big toe to be frozen solid.  To prevent gangrene, the faithful Otto performed the amputation using a woodcutting axe (and some overproof rum for anesthesia).  To commemorate this moment, the brothers preserved the toe in a jar of alcohol.

Years later, while cleaning out an abandoned cabin, the toe was discovered by Captain Dick Stevenson.  After conferring with friends, the Sourtoe Cocktail Club was established and the rules developed.  Since its inception, the club has acquired (by donation) over 10 toes.

You buy yourself a shot of something, but it has to be 40% alcohol. I chose Yukon Jack Whiskey, while Ruth had tequila (or toequila, as it was called)!

You have to kiss the mummified toe, and then they drop it in your drink and you pack it back!

Here is a recent news article...

You can drink it fast, or you can drink it slow, but your lips must touch the toe...

Certainly one of the strangest things I have ever paid $5 to do!

A new club member!

Yep, Ruth is doing it too!

Another new member of the Sourtoe Cocktail Club!

Membership certificate and card.

Kevin, Terry, Jens, Silke, and Mona.
Jens and Silke are a German couple who are on a long tour in their European camper.

We don't go out in the evening very often, so we've had a fun couple of nights out in Dawson City! There's still a lot to see and do here, but we are going to return around July 12th (give or take a few days one way or the other) and continue exploring the area.

And so we are off to the Arctic! We expect to be out of touch for a few days in a row. We're going to do probably three nights in Tombstone Territorial Park, and then there are not many services between there and Inuvik. I think we might be able to get on the internet in Eagle Plains, but that is yet to be seen. So if you don't hear from us for a few days, do not think we have been eaten by a grizzly bear!

Our route there and back for the next couple of weeks.


And in Canada...


  1. What fun! Congrats on your joining the Sourtoe Cocktail Club!!

    1. It was fun and not hard to do at all! :-)

  2. Have a safe journey. What a fun town Dawson is!

    1. Thanks Peter, are trying to have a safe journey north but it is a rough one!

      Dawson is a fun town.

  3. Ewww! Thanks but no thanks! Just the thought of a “dead toe” in my drink is enough to turn me away from the bar! Lol! You folks certainly know how to let your hair down. Good for you!

    1. We'd rather have a "dead" toe than an live one in our drinks! :-P You even get to kiss the toe before she pops it into your drink.

      We had a fun time that evening. :-)

  4. We will be in Dawson later in the season. I've told all our friends about the "cocktail" you described. Right now it's 50/50 who might be participating. I'll let you know. :)

    1. Glad to hear that you will be in Dawson, we hope that you are able to spend several days there and really get to see it. It is a very interesting town with lots of history. Parks Canada at the Visitor Centre has some good walking tours that you can do and they are two for one. You buy a ticket for one tour and then get to use it again for second tour.

      Drinking that cocktail, was very easy to do, we didn't even have to think twice about doing it. Way easier than eating fried crickets or mopane worms. ;-)

  5. Definitely a New Twist to becoming a member to an Exclusive Club.
    Wishing you Safe Travels and Enjoy the Adventure.

    It's about time.

    1. Definitely a fun way to become a member! ;-)

  6. EEW! I can't believe you guys did it!

  7. Ewww, that club's enough to make me a teeTOEtaler! ;)

    1. Haha, too funny! It was no problem at all, we even got to kiss the toe before it went in our drink! ;-)

  8. Such interesting and fun facts you have discovered. Very interesting city. Enjoy your arctic tour!

    1. It's not hard to add them in! There are lots of interesting things up here that are a little out of the ordinary.

  9. Definitly a club I prefer not to join :)

    1. There are quite a few people out there that feel the same way as you! ;-)

  10. Looks like your are enjoying all the fun things there is to see and do. Enjoy your trip further north and back.

    1. Yep, we are having a great time up here! :-)

  11. I joined the Sour Toe club when we were up there. Barb got Hyderized. Both were good times!

    1. Congratulations on being part of the "club"! :-)

      I had to look up being Hyderized and I think being a member of the SourToe Club is easier but I think we could both handle the being Hyderized as well.

  12. Sourtoe Club? Nah, no thanks. Have a great trip up nawth!

    1. Where's your sense of adventure? It's not everyday that you get to kiss a dried up toe and then have it thrown in your drink, which you then drink back and let you lips touch the toe once again. After all the alcohol is 40% and will kill any bacteria! :-P


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