First Days in Dawson

On a good day the drive between Whitehorse and Dawson is 6 hours. When you hit snow and ice… a little longer (there were a couple of cars still in the ditch from the snowstorm the day before).

I strongly recommend stopping at the Braeburn Lodge to fortify yourself with a family-sized cinnamon bun. In the off-seaon it’s a little intimidating with all the big, bearded guys in Harley Davidson gear, but man up and get your damn pastry!

The scenery along the way is spectacular, but keep your eyes on the road for megafauna: a moose will make mincemeat of anything smaller than a mack truck. Plus there are very few guardrails and the potential for lots of slick spots.

First order of business in Dawson: climb something.
Dome Mountain is a good choice in these parts.

While the trail may be quiet (other than the sound of your huffing, puffing, and groaning) remember you are not alone out here. There are bears in them thar hills.

It’s the darn birds that will give you a heart attack, though. It never fails – from Spruce Grouse in Wyoming to Willow Grouse-Ptarmigan in Dawson – they get me every time.
(Interesting historical side note: Chicken, Alaska is so-named because the local miners wanted to name it after the local Ptarmigan – but couldn’t agree on the spelling. So they settled on something simpler!)

Top of Dome Mountain (aka Midnight Dome) in my multiple layers… When we woke up the morning of September 28th it was -12 degrees Celsius. By mid-day it was warmer, and the tough up-hill slog helped, but we didn’t hang out on the summit too long!

The view of the valley below…

And the sun above…
Famous last words: “We should go down this way – it’ll be fine!”
Next thing you know, Doug’s sliding down on his butt and I’m bushwacking it through spiky rosehip bushes swinging from tree to tree trying not to roll down the hill like a cartoon character.
We survived – barely – and made it back to Berton House (which you’ll meet in the next posting) for a cup of hot cocoa.

Mud Season at Muktuks

The air was nippy when we arrived at Muktuk Adventures north of Whitehorse, but the sun was warm enough to melt the weekend’s snow and turn the road and yard into a mud pit. The 100+ huskies didn’t seem to mind, and those that weren’t fast asleep on top of their huts barked in greeting.

On the porch were half a dozen “old-timers” who get free rein after years of dedicated racing. Some hobble over for a sniff and a pat, others raise their heads slowly to look at you, and then go back to sleep. One – a spry little girl named Glacier – bounces around in all her ADHD glory. She’s got a bum leg so doesn’t race, but is still a valued part of this little community. (They are looking for ‘retirement homes’ for the older dogs, though, in case you’re interested!)

Muktuk’s sits on the edge of the Takhini River and during their off-season the dogs get daily walks and swims. In the winter when it freezes over, it’s a perfect spot to train. During this shoulder-season time, they start training with wheeled carts and it’s something to see: a pack of huskies bounding joyfully ahead of a cart with two trainers egging them on. There are no shocks on these babies, folks!

We got upgraded to Riley’s Roost, which was a very spacious wood cabin on the corner of the property. There’s no electricity or running water but the little wood stove did a fantastic job of keeping it toasty through the night.

While it had a camp stove, we decided to join the Muktuk’s crew and some other guests for Sunday night dinner in the big house. Frank gave me a musical education with his vast CD collection (Northern Tutchone artist Jerry Alfred is incredible) and gave me a Yukon education: regaling me with stories about his 30+ years in the north, his 24 Yukon Quest experiences (it is 1000-miles from Whitehorse to Fairbanks in February!), and insights into Yukon politics.

I think I liked Joe best because he reminded me of my dog, Riker…

Monday morning after eggs, bacon and thick slabs of bread from Alpine Bakery in Whitehorse, we packed up our stuff, bid adieu to Frank and the dogs, and headed north for my first glimpse of my new Dawson home.

Crossing the Carcross Desert

After a few wet days in Skagway it was lovely to feel the sun on my face as we drove the Kia back into the Yukon.

I’d read about the Carcross Desert in the tourist guides – apparently the smallest desert in the world at 260 hectares – and was game for a hike after I’d scarfed some Skagway smoked salmon on rosemary Triscuits (a delicious combo!).

When I was living in Wyoming I’d hiked the Killpecker Sand Dunes, but this is so different, surrounded as it is by mountains and water. It also has a lot more trees (which is a good thing because the outhouse had been removed for the season!). A word to the wise: while travelling in the Yukon outside tourist season, always have a supply of TP and Purell because ‘rest stops’ are often few and far between!

The town of Carcross itself was pretty much done for the season. The general store which, a few days earlier was packed with tourist wares and even some tourists, was boarded up when we came through. The visitor’s centre was closed as was Gold Rush Sushi.

Knocking the sand off our boots, we climbed back in the car and continued our drive to Whitehorse. Next stop: Muktuk Adventures!

Putting the White in Whitehorse

Two days after the calendar told us fall had officially begun – and on our first morning in Whitehorse – Doug and I awoke to this wintry scene. All I could think was, “This is going to be a long winter…”

The rental didn’t come with a scraper, so out came my ski mitts and I had at ‘er while a number of SARtechs (Search and Rescue technicians) looked on amusedly. But I managed to dig the car out and we made it to Skagway that first weekend, even though it was a white-knuckle ride.
September 26th we were back in Whitehorse and everything had melted. The next day, though, at breakfast we heard from a woman who had just driven down from Dawson (our destination that day) and she told us about the blizzard that had blown through, leaving cars in the ditch all along the Klondike Highway.

Sure enough, by the time we got to Braeburn the wind and snow were howling. And from there all the way up to Dawson there was spotty snow, slick roads, and hardly any guard rails.

We stopped at Stewart Crossing for gas and a breather. That’s when I noticed we’d picked up “ice scales” along the sides of the car.

The snow is quite beautiful – as long as you’re safely ensconced in your house or have a 4-wheel drive vehicle with solid snow tires. When I woke up to this Christmas-card on Thanksgiving weekend, I thought it was pretty. Until I hopped on the Alaska Highway to get into the archives in Whitehorse and discovered the slick roads. A few kilometers later, I saw that several cars had just gone off the road ahead of me and were being helped by passer-by. I could just imagine the slow-motion slipping, sliding, and spinning as the cars went into the ditch. Been there, done that.
Hands gripping the wheel, I put my blinkers on, kept my speed low, and forged ahead. Even with a teeny Kia rental with bald four-season tires I managed to get to the archives, but I sure am glad I didn’t drive my car up from Edmonton for my sejour in the Yukon!

Skagway at Season’s End

When we woke up in Whitehorse (Yukon) the morning of September 24th, we were greeted by snow – and lots of it. We were due in Skagway (Alaska) that afternoon and saw the forecast there was rain. We told ourselves the things foolish travellers always do: “It’s only a couple of hours away!” “We’ll go slow!” “How bad could it be? “

In a rental car with semi-bald four-season tires, the mountain passes between the northern outposts of our two great nations were treacherous. And now that I’ve talked to some Yukoners it sounds like when it’s bad in Whitehorse, you just don’t go to Skagway, ’cause if a weather system is big and strong enough to push inland over them thar hills, it’s going to be rough going.

After slipping and skidding our way over the mountains, the weather did in fact turn first to wet snow and then to rain. After cresting we came upon this group of cyclists – even dumber than us? – who had just been dropped off at the top of the hill and were zooming down the wet, twisty highway. I did not hear any reports of them dying, but the newspaper is bi-weekly (and is for sale, if you’re thinking of relocating)…

At least we were greeted by a friendly face in Skagway: good ol’ Sarah Palin, who apparently spent part of her childhood in the town. They now have a Sarah Palin Store, where you can get everything from pins, magnets, to full-size cardboard cutouts. As Doug said, can you imagine Shawinagan having a Jean Chretien store? Or Toronto having a Stephen Harper one? Strange…

We were also greeted by much-needed food and beer at the Skagway Brewing Co. Nothing calms jangling nerves like spicy chili, fresh-baked pretzel, and a pint of Boom Town Brown ale.

By the time our bellies were full the rain had tapered off a bit, so we thought we’d spend a couple of hours walking around town enjoying the end-of-season sales. Skagway is a very seasonal town, we discovered, that relies on cruise ship traffic.

When these floating cities dock, people flood the streets looking for everything from local handicraft and art to the cheap tchotchkes that will gather dust until they eventually end up at garage sales. Oh, and fudge: it seems that fudge is a universal in tourist towns all over North America. Must have been a traditional food to indigenous peoples or introduced through trade. (I wonder what the word is for fudge in the Chinook trade jargon…)
In addition to the fudge (which was delicious, by the way), we ate a real meal at The Skagway Fish Co. A word to the wise: only tourists eat salmon here. The locals all eat halibut, and for good reason. My fish tacos were incredible (although the chicken tortilla soup was amazing too)!

The weekend brought more rain, but we didn’t hole up too much at the Mile Zero B&B;. On Saturday when the ships had left and the streets were empty, we headed to the old townsite of Dyea. We also visited the nearby Slide Cemetery where victims of the April 3, 1898 avalanche are buried.

Here Doug stands by the wood pilings of the old Dyea dock. A Klondike gold rush town, it boomed at the turn of the 20th century but by 1903 only had six or so inhabitants. Now the sea and forest are reclaiming the flats, and apparently it’s a great place to spot bald eagles and bears.
After our chilly and drizzly hike, we went to Glacial Smoothies and Espresso. Don’t let the name fool you: it is warm, welcoming, and my piping hot capuccino (and half of a giant apple streusel-cream cheese bar) was great. I can see why the locals favour it during the winter months, playing one of the board games or grabbing a book from the shelf.
Our last night in town also coincided with the season closing for Olivia’s Bistro and Denis, our barkeep/server, was in a celebratory mood. After a summer of work he’d saved up enough to spend three months hiking, camping, and doing yoga retreats in New Zealand. On went the Buena Vista Social Club cd, down went the mojitos, and everyone in the tiny place became fast friends. And they gave away thick slices of their three-carrot cake in celebration.

It sounds like it was a good season in Skagway, and season’s end was pretty fun too!

Jasper Photo Diary

Friday, September 10th:

Left Edmonton at 7:30am. Hit some construction on the Henday and missed my turn. After a short detour back on the road. Stop in Edson for Tim Horton’s breakfast sandwich combo.
Doug at trailhead. Used Don’t Waste Your Time in the Canadian Rockies hiking guide to choose Trip #123: Beaver, Summit and Jacques Lake. It had a very good shoulder-season rating, promised to be easy, and wasn’t too far away from where we’d be staying.
Me chilling at Beaver Lake after an easy 2km walk on a well-groomed trail. These boats were locked up, but apparently you can rent them and hang out on the lake.
A bird – a female Spruce Grouse, I think – Doug almost stepped on it was so well camouflaged. Could also throw it’s voice – we heard a call but thought it was up in the trees someplace!
Another few kilometers and we reached the First Summit Lake.

Judging by these animal prints (my guess is moose) we weren’t the first. Also saw quite a bit of bear scat on the trails but the only aggressive creature we encountered was an irate red squirrel.
After our hike we headed to our accommodations for the weekend – the rustic but luxurious Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge (think of the most expensive log cabin you’ve ever stayed in). But, for those who read my last post, you’ll know I got the whole weekend romance package for $495 on Kijiji!
When we arrived at our Junior Lakeview Suite the wine and cheese welcome was on the table. And I have to say, the Mission HillSonora Ranch Cabernet Shiraz was just to my taste (I let Doug have some too)!
For dinner we headed into town to the Jasper Brewing Co. and I was a little disappointed by their beers. Doug got the sampler and we agreed that compared with Brewster’s, Granville Island, and many of the other microbreweries we’ve fallen in love with, they just didn’t measure up. The food was great, though, and Doug’s fish n’ chips were served in a bucket, which was awesome. My yam fries and salmon on ciabatta were pretty darn tasty too!
Saturday, September 11th:
Back into town for breakfast at the Bear’s Paw Bakery. We each had one of their world-famous sticky cinnamon buns and an Americano. Can’t wait to go back to try their muffins, and scones, and cookies, and…
Doug went off to play a rugby game in Edson and I went for a hike around Lac Beavert (aptly named for its pretty blue-green water) to wear off breakfast. Chatted with the other folks I encountered on the trail, including a European woman who was ‘shore support’ for her scuba-diving husband in lake, and lots of Brits.
Nearing home I crossed paths with another woman and said cheerfully, “Looks like we’re going to get some sun after all!” I guess my guttural Canadian English and Germanic looks threw her because she responded in a thick ‘Souf London’ accent: “It’s Guten Tag, itn’t it?” “Yah,” I said, and kept walking.
Doug got back in one piece and we went for our Fairmont dinner at the Moose’s Nook Northern Grill. Great service, amazing food, and with my kijiji deal the price was right. Appetizers: scallops with ancho pepper and caviar. Entrees: Beef Tenderloin with potato/lobster risotto and mushroom/asiago ravioli. But the desserts were the standouts: barrista sampler (espresso ice cream, mille feuille, and creme brulee), chocolate-dipped strawberries, and the caramelized banana martini (heaven!).
Sunday, September 12th:
The next morning we had our final part of the romance package: breakfast in our room. I never thought I’d be able to eat again after the night before, but when that brioche French toast arrived with vanilla-scented whipped cream and Saskatoon berry compote, I gave in. And Doug’s west-coast eggs benny (smoked salmon on a crab/chive/potato cake) wasn’t bad either!
We’d intended to do a hike on our way back Edmonton but it was pouring rain… so we made a beeline for home, picked up the dog, and had a nap.

U-hauling It Across Canada

June 7th Andria and I departed Ottawa in a 14-ft Uhaul truck, complete with 6 wheels, Mother’s Attic and lots and lots of stuff.

We noticed the licence plate fittingly – since I’m a Canuck and Andria’s from the States – had both Canadian and American flags. We decided this was a something of a two-nation frienship tour across northern Ontario and the Prairies… and since we had only intermittent radio signals and no CD player or Ipod hook-up, this eventually led to a discussion about relations between our two great countries.
After Tim Horton’s coffee and some Timbits, the conversation continued to Three Dead Trolls in a Baggie, an Albertan group who has chronicled one of our famous cross-border kerfuffles, The War of 1812, in song form. With a chorus of “And the White House burned, burned, burned…” you know you’ve got a hit! (Check out the link above to see them bravely performing the song live in Seattle!)

As we bopped along northern Ontario another song by the Three Dead Trolls came to mind – The Toronto Song (aka “Ontario Sucks). Being from Ontario and having lived all over this fine nation of ours, I find this hilarious… Another Alberta group, the Arrogant Worms, have also tapped into the zeitgeist of our country at the turn of the 20th Century with songs like “Trees and Rocks,” “Canada’s Really Big.” and the “Mountie Song.”

We made a few friends along the way, including this large moose in Sault-Ste-Marie (The Soo) and I got to revisit my ol’ pal the Goose in Wawa.

As this picture shows, though, Canadians may not deserve their reputation for friendliness.
Observe how one northern Ontario town deals with its homelessness problem (just kidding!)

Manitoba to Edmonton is a bit of a blur to me of gas-ups and pit stops, but there are some things that stick out in my memory:
  • the new Earl’s in Winnipeg has scrumptious edamame and a soup/salad combo. One great thing about living in the West is we’ve got ’em all over the place! (Don’t worry, Andria, there’s one in Denver too!).
  • the small town in Saskatchewan (that narrows it down!) with unpaved streets and roads that led nowhere… weird…
  • CBC Radio sounds like home, although NPR rocks too! Especially hearing K’Naan and the Young Artists for Haiti singing ‘Wavin’ Flag’… I was captivated by one female vocalist at the end and it turns out it’s Nikki Yanofsky, a 16-year-old jazz singer from Montreal. Incroyable!

We arrived in Edmonton completely done with driving and U-hauling. Initially we’d thought of going for a hike in and around Jasper before Andria flew home, but after 5 solid days of bum in seat the last thing we wanted was to be back in a moving vehicle for any length of time. Instead, we went to Elk Island National Park, a 30-minute hop east of town. While we saw Bison on the edges of the park (from the road) once we were on the trail Riker was the biggest fauna we encountered.

We also traded the regular touristy things for lounging, laundry, and good food. We revisited the Cora’s franchise (they drop the “Chez” in English Canada), which opened in Edmonton right before we moved here; my fave Indian buffet spot, Maurya Palace on 34th Ave; and Brewsters, my new favourite brewpub, where we ate and had a sampling of beers. So far Farmer’s Tan White Ale and Gunther’s Hefeweizen top my summer sipping list…but the Blackfoot Blueberry and River City Raspberry Wheat Ales are pretty tasty too…

Unfortunately I couldn’t convince Andria to pull up her Wyoming roots and move to Edmonton, but I think the beers and breakfasts (among other things) might woo her back for visits!

Montreal, Mon Amour (and Onwards to Ottawa)

My friend, Andria, arrived in Montreal June 3rd, which turned out to be perfect timing, as by that point my brain couldn’t hold any more information about history and aviation (or anything else for that matter)…

I met Andria when I was living in Wyoming and while she has logged many air and road miles, she’d never been to Canada before. Imagine my surprise back in our local coffee shop last winter when she volunteered to drive a U-haul across this great nation of ours as her vacation! Her only requirement: we visit Montreal first.

She arrived at Dorval (aka Montreal-Trudeau International Airport) and we somehow managed to find our way through the maze of construction and round-a-bouts to the bus station. We parked at the mall across the street and carried our day bags to catch the bus into town (there was no way I was bringing my parents’ car into the city centre!). Sitting in the drizzle Andria was still zoned from her anti-nausea patch but excited at being in the land of her distant French-Canadian ancestors…

After our bus and metro rides, we emerged at Sherbrooke station. Completely disoriented from being underground, it took us a few moments to get our bearings, but soon enough we found our way to the Grand Plaza Montreal, where I’d snagged us a deal online. After dumping our stuff, we walked up St. Denis looking for food and found it at a great pasta bar called La Popessa. This was to be the beginning of what we called “our culinary tour of Canada.”

The next morning dawned bright and sunny. To fortify us for a big day of touring, I chose Chez Cora’s on du Parc for breakfast, a place where I had many a happy brunch during my university days. The resto, like me, has ended up all over the country, which has made me very happy indeed!

From there we wandered to McGill campus and I got to relive some great times: my home away from home at the McGill Institute for the Study of Canada (MISC), lectures in Leacock, Writer’s Circle meetings in the Shatner Building, and the summer day in 2005 when Doug proposed on the grounds. And then we went up, up, up Peel St. through the Golden Mile and into Mont Royal Park.

Lunch was a continuation of our gastronomical tour of Montreal, with carrot ginger soup and a delicious selection of Quebec cheeses at Le Cap Vert on McGill College. It’s a good thing it didn’t exist when I lived there, or I would have been even more broke as a student!

That evening we headed up St. Denis again for our 5 a 7 (Montreal equivalent of Happy Hour). Bieres et Compagnie has an amazing selection of microbrews from Quebec and the world, and some great Belgian-style frites with mayo dip (we had the spicy garlic). Andria sipped the St-Ambroise apricot while I had the Rebelle Quebecoise, but I could spend many happy hours and days sampling their other brews.

From there we saved our feet a bit by grabbing a metro back down to the Old Port, where we’d spotted some restaurants earlier in the day. By then we were eating on European time – 7:30pm – which also happened to be when everyone else was. And we’re used to eating on farmer’s time, so there was no way we were waiting in line for an hour even with some frites in our bedons

Luckily, a short walk away we found a less trendy (read: less busy and pricy!) resto/bar where we got a sampler of Belle Guele beers and amazing sandwiches on the best baguette I’ve had outside France.

Onwards to Ottawa!

The next morning as we prepared to leave Montreal after a much-too-short visit, the clouds warned of rain. We got sprinkled a bit on our way to breakfast, but it didn’t diminish our exquisite breakfast at Universel up St. Denis. What can I say? Montrealers know how to live and it’s a simple recipe: incredible bread, wine, beer, cheese, and maple syrup. You can’t go wrong!

And their demands for lovely foodstuffs have spread to the Laurentians, the picturesque lands to the northwest, where you can’t throw a fork without hitting an organic farm. It also happens to be were my parents live (and where I was storing the Uhaul), so after rejoining the car in Dorval, Andria and I drove the two hours there. With one quick stop: an asparagus farm! Needless to say, lunch at the “Chateau Chenail” was just as good as any Montreal bistro.

Later that day we arrived in Ottawa and rested our feet and bellies for the night. But the next day we braved the rain to enjoy Ottawa’s food legend – the Beavertail – al fresco in the Byward Market after a walking tour of the Rideau St., Parliament Hill, and the market.

[Man, after writing this post my lunch is going to seem kind of lame!]

Aviation, Writing and the Best Bud Light Ever: Conference Season 2010

While many were working on their yards and tans the past few weeks, I’ve been making the rounds of conferences. Which, in weather-changeable Alberta, is probably a safer bet.

The Creative Nonfiction Collective conference back in April started off the 2010 season. Held at the gorgeous Banff Centre, I let myself be inspired by the immensely talented writers around me and delighted in the deer grazing in the courtyards.

A couple of weeks later the Writers Guild of Alberta’s mini-conference and Literary Awards gala was just up the street at the Delta hotel. I sat at the back of the room both days – you know, where the troublemakers end up – and talked chicken fried steak with author David Poulsen, globalization with Gordon Laird, and diamonds with my new geologist friend, Michelle Tappert (who just wrote a book with her husband, brave girl!).

Other than the chance to hang out with other writers, the main thrill for me was hearing Will Ferguson’s keynote address. Not many people can have me crying with laughter at 9 a.m. But he’s also the only person who’s made Canada’s political history palatable to me (Bastards & Boneheads). Amazing!

By June 1st I was all the way over in Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue, Quebec for the 16th Annual Air Force Historical Workshop. When I first heard about this event, I thanked my lucky stars. After all, the theme was “De-Icing Required: The Canadian Air Force in the Arctic” and my next nonfiction project just happens to be a history of aviation north of 60. Kind of eerie, actually…

The ‘cool’ topic sure helped keep my mind off the fact it was humid, 30 degrees celsius, and I was staying in a ‘vintage’ dorm room at John Abbott College. Even so, I was the envy of the other non-military attendees (who had swanky lodgings at the Chateau Vaudreuil) because I had brought my own personal rotating fan. Thanks, mum!

By the second day of intent listening and notetaking, I was antsy and decided to skip on the dinner out. After a jog I ate cold leftover pizza (which my friend and RCAF historian Carl Christie protected in gallant style as you can see above) and drank an icy Bud Light. Normally I’m a bit of a beer snob, but at that moment I was in heaven. This Bud’s for ME!

By morningI was recharged and ready for the next conference, also held at the John Abbott campus. The Canadian Aviation Historical Society’s Montreal chapter hosted this year’s event and scheduled it to coincide with the Air Force one. Lovely! I got to reconnect with members from across Canada and meet some new folks.

And it’s a good thing I paid such close attention at all these conferences because it looks like I’ll be co-organizing the CAHS one in Edmonton next year! I certainly picked up some valuable tips:
  • make sure people can get coffee first thing in the morning
  • make sure there are plenty of cookies at the coffee breaks (I could never seem to get to them in time!)
  • and make sure there’s plenty of time for people to shoot the breeze while sipping an adult beverage (or two)
You know, the important stuff!

Six Degrees of Dawson City

Dawson may be a small town (1,200 permanent residents) and the Yukon Territory may be one of the most sparsely populated places in the world (30,000 people in 2006), but it seems everywhere I go I find connections to the place I will call home from October to December of this year.

The first ‘coincidence’ was a couple weeks back when my colleague and friend, John Chalmers, invited me to take my pick of books at his mother’s house, which he is clearing out for sale. I had an armful of books – mostly CanLit and history, of course – when I spotted one that had fallen between the counter and some boxes. It turned out to be Starting Out, Pierre Berton’s memoir of years 0-27! John was nice enough to let me have it and I’ve since read the whole first chunk about Pierre’s childhood in Dawson…

Recently my mom also discovered we have a long-lost cousin living in Whitehorse, the capital of YT. Bruce Barrett is a historic sites project officer for the Department of Tourism & Culture and worked on researching and compiling an air crash registry a few years back. Can’t wait to meet him and all the aviation history contacts he’s been putting me in touch with!

“Queen of the Yukon” on display at the Yukon Transportation Museum

You never know who you’ll meet at breakfast! While chowing down two Mondays ago at the Wedgewood B&B; in Kamloops, I started chatting with the two other guests: Doug and Marie Mervyn. Not only were they lovely people, but it turned out Doug’s been flying since the 1950s and his son operates Mervyn’s Yukon Outfitting based in Whitehorse (and owns a couple of small planes for the business). They gave me his contact info and I’ll probably interview him for the book on aviation in the north!

The Mervyn Family up in YT

A few days later I was in B.C.’s Lower Mainland giving talks to the Quarter Century in Aviation Club and the Langley Aeroclub. Well, you’d better believe at least 1/2 those folks had some connection to flying in the north and many had been to Dawson. I now have a good-sized stack of business cards from flying Bishops and bush pilots ready to go! And it turns out that John Lovelace’s 2010 flying trip will be to the Yukon: it is Klondike Fever all over again!

Of course, when I’m in Dawson it will be the opposite of the ‘Midnight Sun’ – it will be the time of twilight at midday. But after meeting Claire Festel at the Creative Nonfiction Collective conference at the Banff Centre last weekend, I am even more excited about going. Claire grew up in the Laurentians, went to university in Alberta, and then went to the Yukon to work for one summer. And she fell in love with the place. Last October she returned south, settling in the Okanagan Valley, but was happy to share her tips for a winter in Dawson: there are yoga classes, bring your woolies (no need for ‘fall’ clothes in October), and there should be plenty of ‘community dogs’ for me to take for walks when I’m missing Riker. (Doug says I’m not allowed to adopt any ‘community husbands’, though!)

Claire out for a stroll

And while the weather will be cold and chilly, at least Edmonton is helping to acclimatize me in advance:

View out my front window this morning
© 2011 Danielle Metcalfe-Chenail. All Rights Reserved.