Sunday, July 10, 2011

Day 5 – Beaver Creek to Haines Junction

Towards Haines Junction
Towards Haines Junction
After saying good byes at Buck Shot Betty’s I headed back to Haines Junction. The road between Beaver Creek and Destruction Bay is under construction and has frost heaves, pot holes and many gravel stretches to contend with. It makes the 185 Kilometres seem very long and in fact instead of about 2 – 2.5 hours you are looking at more like 3.5 – 4.
I met up with some boys from Texas pulling trailers and followed them around Kluane
Lake for a while and soon waved good bye to them…

Hello Haines Junction
Haines Junction
Reached To Haines

I was booked in at the Raven Hotel in Haines Junction. I was also booked with Sifton Air to take a glacier tour in a Cessna airplane. I got in at about 4 and went straight to the airport, the gent at he front desk expressed that one plane was down for some repairs and maintenance and would I be available at 7 pm?
So, 7pm it was and with that arranged off to the hotel I went to check in.

The hotel is very simple and bare of the usual trappings.
With stark white walls and silk flowers and plants the plain decor draws your eyes to the fabulous photography on simple black frames. When I checked in I had to change my dinner reservation from 7 to 5:45, the switch was easily accomplished and off to find my room I went. The room was large, very clean and similar to the lobby, very stark.
Hotel View from Outside
The Lobby of the  Hotel

Satellite TV and internet were available but the room had no coffee pot, no microwave or fridge. In fact, the owners live in town but not at the hotel so at night, the front desk is not manned. There is a local number to call in the case of emergencies.

The parking was reasonably close to the room although not right out front of it.

A continental breakfast is served in the morning but not until 7:30 AM and I know me, I would need coffee long before that so I asked if it was possible to somehow have some coffee for the early morning and was told not a problem, when we close the dining room we can bring you a thermos carafe of coffee (Which was still nice and hot in the morning!).

Every place has its attraction, something that makes it special and sets it apart and I was soon to find out why the Raven Hotel had a 4 star rating for their restaurant.

The dining room is located on the second floor and as such is not wheel chair accessible.
When you hit the top of the stairs you are greeted by pristine linens, perfectly set tables and again an atmosphere that does not detract or distract. From the windows of the dining room you can see the mountains of Kluane National Park, and there is a deck off of the dining room where many choose to eat or have their dessert and enjoy the scenery.

I was seated and served up some water given a menu that I was informed changes weekly and a liquor list. I ordered a glass of merlot and a bowl of Smoked Salmon Chowder, jumbo prawns wrapped with prosciutto served on a bed of tomato pasta and the bison tenderloin served with baby potatoes.

When the soup arrived I was wishing I had brought my camera into the dining room – it was almost to pretty to eat – with small purple flowers for a garnish that made the colors of the peppers , corn and salmon seem somehow more vibrant. The fresh breads that were served were a standard white bread and a multi grain – hot, fresh and delicious, they were the perfect accompaniment to the soup. When the prawns arrived again the presentation was such that you almost hated to eat them. I wished there was some way to adequately describe the taste – it was slightly salty and spicy but not the kind of spicy that hits the stomach hard – it was the kind that wakens your taste buds and it was absolutely perfection. The prawns were perfectly cooked and the pasta was again cooked to perfection.

I sipped on the merlot and gazed out at the mountains wondering what a flight over the glaciers would be like. My day dreaming was interrupted by my waitress (one of the hotel owners) as she brought out the bison tenderloin. Again the presentation was stunningly perfect. Served with Yukon Gold baby potatoes done in butter and dill, carrots, bok choy, and beets the bison itself in a blueberry sauce with blueberries all around the outside of the plate again I found myself wishing I had a camera. The colors, the smells – my mouth was watering.

As I cut into the steak I knew, before it ever hit my tongue that I was in for a treat and I was not disappointed. Tender, flavourful, this steak was cooked to perfection. After dinner I ordered a crème brulee for desert with coffee. When it arrived I was taken aback, there were three flavours in a partitioned dish; strawberry, vanilla and chocolate – I have only ever had traditional crème brulee – vanilla, so these other two were new

to me and quite unexpected, none the less with the fabulous dinner I had just had, I was eager to break from the traditional and give it a whirl. After eating the fresh strawberry that adorned the dish I started in on the strawberry first – no disappointment here – the strawberry flavour was just like the fresh strawberry I had just eaten, the chocolate one was rich and creamy and garnished with chocolate covered raisins…what a way to end a perfect meal – the coffee they served with dessert was equally impressive; full bodied and rich with no bitter after taste. Their coffee is blended and roasted for them right here in the Yukon!

I asked my hostess if I could meet the chef and thank him for the wonderful meal I had just had and was introduced to Victor Bongo. This man cooks all of the meals by himself – his kitchen was pristine and so very under control. I would have thought that he would have had at least one prep cook working with him but no – he is a one man show which made me appreciate the perfection of the meals even more. For those of you who have watched Chef Ramsey on TV, well this chef was one that Ramsey would love.

When I was done thanking my hosts and the chef it was off to Sifton Air and a flight over the glaciers.

I was met by two other guests that would be flying and our pilot, Clint Sargent. Clint went over all of the safety features of the plane, told us all about what to expect and soon we were taxing down the gravel run way.

As we lifted off, Clint explained that we would be hitting some turbulence as the wind came off the mountains and we sure did. It wasn’t awful though, more like riding in a roller coaster. As we flew, Clint explained the various glaciers, pointed out the mountains – his New Zealand Accent did not hinder his vivid descriptions of the sights we were seeing. There are no words that adequately describe what I saw – it was amazing, incredible, awe inspiring. I felt so small when presented with the majesty and the visible signs of Mother Nature’s brute force and splendour.

At one point the wind was so strong that it felt like we were suspended in mid air, it was scary and yet I felt quite comfortable with Clint at the controls. My flight mates had a set of binoculars which they offered to me and as I looked down in the crevasses and tried to wrap my head around the size of them, Clint explained that some of the crevasses were big enough to swallow up homes and small towns.

The View from PlaneThe color of the snow and the ice water was something else that I found amazing.
The water was an icy blue green – so pretty – I was amazed that when snow is that compressed it actually has a blue tint to it.

In amongst the craggy, jagged mountains we flew and then we came to the wet lands.
Kluane Lake had flooded at one point and consumed the entire valley and then receded as fast as it had flooded. No one can explain the phenomenon that happened many, many years ago, but it left some land locked lakes that have amazing fishing so I am told.

the marshy muskeg landscape We were able to see Trumpeter swans with their babies in the little lakes and ponds below us – the marshy muskeg landscape looking from the air like a soft blanket.

As we headed back to the terminal I was sad the flight ended so fast but the hour in the air will be forever etched in my mind. Mother Nature at her most incredible best!

Once we landed – a very smooth landing I might add, Clint went to turn the plane around to head into the fuel station, with the force of the wind attempting to prevent the plane from turning, Clint kept working his controls and we did this slow motion turn that reminded me of an old video tape playing at super slow motion speed!

I thanked Clint, got some pictures of the couple I flew with, had a wee discussion about what we just experienced and headed back to the hotel.

At 10:15pm, a carafe of black coffee arrived and I went off to slumber land.

When I got up in the morning it was to another bright sunshine filled day, hot coffee and settled in front of the computer to get some writing done and edit some pictures and video.

At 7:30 I went for the continental breakfast – the home made muffins were phenomenal, fresh fruit, juice and coffee rounded out the offerings.

I want to thank Yukon Tourism for ensuring that I had this fabulous experience.

The room cost was just shy of $160 taxes in.
The meal breaks down like this:
$12 for the soup
$17 for the Prawns
$38 for the Steak
Coffee and dessert came to about $14.00

Was it expensive – to some perhaps, but truly – this is the best meal I have eaten in a very long time – not since the days when I was a head waitress at the Mayfair Golf and Country Club have I had a meal that was this satisfying! This is what food is meant to taste like and look like – it was an utterly amazing thing to discover such fine dining in the middle of the Yukon – and I want Chef Bongo to know I will be back, and I hope it is sooner than later!

The flight with Sifton Air was $159 plus taxes and again worth every single penny of it.
Not only was Clint our pilot a great tour guide and pilot but a very genuine nice man.

Haines Junction has so much to offer and I encourage you to get off your motorcycle, get off the highway and explore – remember it’s about the journey NOT the destination!

On to Whitehorse next…until then, ride safe and have a fabulous day.

Raven Hotel
phone: 867.634.2500
fax: 867.634.2517
P.O. Box 5470
Haines Junction, Yukon Y0B 1L0

Sifton Air
Kluane Glacier Tours
(867)634-2916 Phone
(867)634-2034 Fax
Box 2165
Haines Junction, Yukon Y0B 1L0


  1. Lovely blog entry sister. Love the Buck Shot Betty's & flying pics. Your the bes. I'm following you girl :)