Travel article about Alaska and Yukon on Beststory.ca

I┬árecently found out about a new journalism site, www.beststory.ca, being set up by Montreal-based┬áreporter and editor Warren Perley. After checking out this new delivery model – readers pay only for the stories they want to read, and there’s no advertising – I was intrigued. Enough so to get in touch and offer to write something on spec, which I’ve never done before!

There are some great articles (with photos) by Canadian journalists and writers available, including:

  • Duane Radford’s “Yukon Discovery Day in Dawson: singing, dancing and a barrel of fun”
  • Warren Perley’s “Little Albert’s whacky world of bullets, beatings and bad guys”
  • Margaret Somerville’s “Ethics and law governing abortion must catch up with current science”

And, of course, mine: “Quirky, colourful characters emerge in winter tour of Yukon and Alaska.” A little teaser…

A September snowstorm blew in the day we arrived in Whitehorse. Other tourists were fleeing as we arrived. Were we foolhardy ‘outsiders’ tempting Mother Nature’s mood swings with a three-month car tour of the frigid North? The road sign as you enter the Yukon reads, ‘Larger than Life’. We discovered that it refers to more than the scenery!

This Is Wyoming (Part Two)

For those of you who read my original post, This Is Wyoming (TIW), you probably have an inkling of what is to come in part two…

Preparing for an overseas journey is always a little stressful. You want to get ahead on your work – clear your desk physically and mentally. Then you need to figure out what the weather will be like, what you need to pack, and what you need to buy. You need to make arrangements for the pets, the mail, and the plants. A bunch of small things that can be a bit of a hassle, but usually work themselves out quite easily.

But this is Wyoming. This is a rural place with a small population that has largely been forgotten by the rest of America – and the world – except for a small blip of notoriety when Brokeback Mountain came out (if you’ll pardon the pun).

In a week and a half I am leaving for the United Kingdom to visit Doug, who’s in training in Edinburgh (Scotland) and then down south to Kent and London to visit good friends. Because I will be doing a fair bit of travelling on planes, trains, and buses, I decided it would be far easier to get a big backpack than have a rolly suitcase (been there, done that – the wheels broke and I almost died walking uphill to my B&B; in Ireland). Off to buy a multi-day camping backpack! Well, nothing in Green River, nothing in Rock Springs, and nothing at the outlet centre in Park City, Utah. Okay… thank goodness for the internet! I shopped around and found one half price through Eastern Mountain Sports last Friday. It shipped today from Massachussetts and should arrive in the nick of time next week.

Next step: clothes (because I do not want to show up in the uber-fashionable UK looking like a country bumpkin). The shopping selection here is very limited. While I like Herberger’s quite a bit (as you may have noticed with my Christmas post), it’s nice to have variety. So off I drove the two hours to the closest shopping area to me – Park City, Utah. I personally believe that the Mormons back in the nineteenth century went too far: they should have stopped about 30 miles east of Salt Lake City. At the risk of sounding sacriligious the Tanger Outlet Centre is my Zion, my temple square.

But one trouble with outlet stores is that you’re often getting the overstock from the retailers and special items – swimsuits, for example – are tough to come by out of season. So I checked out the local stores: the J.C. Penney website convinced me I didn’t want their swimsuits even if they had any; the local Sears, the man who answered the phone told me, only sells appliances and tools; and no one even answered the phone at Herberger’s. I was NOT driving 2 1/2 hours to Salt Lake City on slippery roads for a swimsuit. Time to do the unthinkable: shop for a bathing suit online. After poring over several websites I decided to order from Land’s End. So I ordered a whole mess of tops and bottoms and hopefully something works – then I can return whatever I don’t like for a flat fee of $6.95 shipping and handling… (Doug – probably best if you don’t look at the account until then!)

This morning, sitting at the computer, I decided to order my last online purchase: British Pounds. Doug’s company has a great system – in theory: you can order foreign currency online, they fed-ex it to your house, and deduct the amount from your account. Well, like everything else with The Company if it seems simple and straightforward it probably isn’t. Half an hour after I put in my online order, someone telephoned from a call centre in Toronto, Ont. to inform me that my request had been denied. Apparently they have a limit of $1500 US in any 90 day period from one account. If you’ve been watching the exchange rates, that’s lots in say, Zimbabwean dollars but zilch in GBP. The lady kindly informed me that I could take the money out of a different account or credit card. I informed her back that we had only just moved to Wyoming from Canada and were trying to keep the number of accounts and cards to a minimum. Then she suggested I get family to order the money and I could pay her back. I referred her to my last statement, sounding out the words: just moved to Wyoming = family in Canada.

Okay, fine, I’ll try and exchange money locally. So I call the branch I bank at and after speaking with two people discovered they do not exchange money (what?!!). Then I called US Bank; it would take them 10 days to order in British Pounds. Then I called Wells Fargo; you can only exchange money if you have an account with them. (At this point I think I felt a blood vessel burst somewhere in my brain.) Then I called the Rock Springs National Bank. After two people failed to be able to tell me if they exchanged money at the bank I finally spoke to Jan, my new best friend, who told me they could order in GBP in two days and I didn’t have to have an account with them (just had to pay $20 in fees for the service). So now I’m sitting on a wad of American cash waiting for my sweet Jan to call and tell me that my pounds have arrived.

But I’m not resting easy yet. After all, as my friend Anna discovered while she was here – it ain’t over until you are on that Dash-8 and out of Wyoming.
© 2011 Danielle Metcalfe-Chenail. All Rights Reserved.