The Grand Yukon Adventure
My journey through the trail of broken dreams
Fly from Calgary to Vancouver; Vancouver to Whitehorse
Arrived in Whitehorse at 1:00ish. By the time we got our luggage it was 1:10. The Eric Nielson Airport is a little bigger than Great Falls and is well adorned with local artworks. We looked around for our guide, expecting to be greeted by a sign from our tour company – but no, we couldn’t see anyone looking for us. I was disappointed, as I wanted to see a sign that stated “Gross / Leahy”. We looked, looked, and looked some more. I wanted to feel the slight thrill of being greeted. But as time went on, and no one was around, I started to worry. I left a message with Vicki. We then started phoning hotels to see if they had our names on their list. I didn’t know the name of the tour company or the hotel. Finally we found a hotel that had us registered, so we took a taxi.
Once checked in, we wandered around town., ending up at the Great Northern Bastard Hotel, a quaint pub with a garage door front opening to the street. We spent a little time chatting with the local character, a grizzled older man who obviously enjoyed sipping on beer frequently. He then proceeded to recite for us – “The Cremation of Sam McGee” – the ubiquitous Canadian classic by Robert Service. We knew then that this adventure would be filled with interesting characters and stories.
I then was able to get in touch with our tour company only to discover that they had been looking for us, thinking we should have checked in at 2:00 instead of 1:00. Probably we just missed each other! Anway, we finally met our group at 5:00 back at the hotel. We then met our guide Ryan, and were given our food packs. Shocked at how heavy they were, we were a little uncertain of how we would be able to carry so much stuff.
We spent the rest of the evening walking around town, taking in more of the sights. Whitehorse is a very artsy city. Many downtown buildings have vibrant historical murals painted on empty walls. IT also has lots of outdoor art, including some very creative bicycle racks. For example, the bike rack in front of one coffee shop looks like a coffe pot pouring coffee. Another rack looks like a white horse. You get the picture!
The downtown is very people friendly. A beautiful walking path follows the Yukon river for several miles. At one end, near the new library and first nations cultural centre, a historic section is be refurbished. Old buildings are used for community-based projects such as family literacy and an arts coop. A downtown trolley uses the old narrow gauge rail system to transport people from one end of downtown the other. Closer to the bridge, they have built a beautiful park that includes the historic steamship, two outdoor volleyball courts, frisbee golf course, and playground. I can see that in the winter, when the temperature is not too cold, many people would venture out to cross country ski or snowshoe. Many lights dot the paths that I am sure would be needed in the winter.
We arrived back at our hotel by around 8:30 so that we could repack for the next day. I was very excited, and a little nervous about the next day. But sleep came easier than I expected, despite the light outside.
Pictures: The Yukon River from downtown Whitehorse.