One month prior to arriving in Beaver Creek on horseback, we drove through the small town en route to Anchorage.
It was the middle of a snowstorm that day, and we stopped at the Beaver Creek RV Park and Motel gas station at the beginning of town to ask if we could leave four bags of hay cubes for the horses. We purchased the feed in the Yukon’s capital, Whitehorse, and since there would be no place to buy hay or feed until we returned, we had to leave some bags here in order to feed the horses during the arduous ride.
“Yes, you can leave it (the horse feed) in our shop, no problem,” said Beat Ledergerber inside the warm gas station variety store.
As I rode down the small town of 80 people, I searched the horizon for Beat’s RV Park. Canada’s most westerly city looked a lot different now that winter’s blanket of snow had lifted and given way to the bright green grass of summer. But before I even reached the park, the elderly gentleman originally from Switzerland, parked his old purple truck on the side of the road to welcome us.
“You made it my friend, well done… we are waiting for you and your horses at the RV Park,” said Beat with a smile on his face before giving Smokey a hug around his neck.
For 3 days we rested with Beat and his wonderful wife Jyl Wingert at the RV Park, for FREE!
“You guys don’t need to pay us anything,” said Jyl the first day we arrived.
During our stay we heard stories of bears entering homes at night, the ravens that follow Beat’s truck back and forth several times a day as he makes the short drive from the RV Park to his home and back (about 30 of them) and the hundreds of tourists who used to come through here years ago.
“We used to host 300 tourists a night during the summers… but one day the buses stopped combing,” said Beat with a sad look.
A few years back, large motor-coaches used to bring thousands of tourists from Whitehorse through Beaver Creek on their journeys to Alaska every summer. But with the switch to boat cruises and motorhomes, the buses stopped running in such large numbers putting the Rendezvous Dinner Show to an end.
“They (tourists) used to love the show,” said Jyl before we watched a DVD of the performance.
I couldn’t believe how good the show actually was! With talent good enough for broadway, actors sang songs about the Yukon’s wilderness, its wildlife and rich history.
During our time in Beaver Creek, we also discovered an extraordinary museum built by a Dutch Canadian named Sid Van der Meer. He has six antique cars in his collection, army trucks from the construction of the Alaska Highway, a full barber shop from the early 1900s and a turtle fossil that’s more than 37 million years old.
“I just can’t pick a favorite item,” said Van der Meer, standing in the middle of the old west bath house section of his museum.
Sid, who learned English by reading the book “Renegades,” by Roy Rogers over and over again when he first arrived in Canada, works at the tourism building in town. All day he greets travelers from around the globe with a smile on his face and a firm handshake.