A bit of a relaxed start today so the team drove up to the dome fro some nice views of the city before heading back to Eldorado for brunch. I even managed to sneak away to Woolly and Wild for a few trip knickknacks. We did our farewell with the folks at the visitor center who were really nice to us during this trip, providing all the information needed for our stories. Took the ferry across the river and drove on Top of the World highway into Alaska. Stopped at border patrol at Poker Creek with population of two - one Canadian and one American agent. The drive itself was kinda crazy - sometimes we had good roads but mostly it was gravel with lots of bumpy spots due to permafrost and construction work. Stopped at Chicken in Alaska for a snack and lots of Chicken (the place not the bird)-related photos, and then drove through Alaska Highway into Canada again at Beaver Creek, which is the most westerly point for entry into the country. Here, we were fortunate to meet with Sid from the visitor center, who was quite the welcoming host. We checked in at the Westmark - a hotel with very basic rooms, nothing fancy. No internet or phone service except in the lobby. We did dinner at Betty’s nearby and then drove to Sid’s place to check out his personal museum of eclectic collections of everything under the sun from comics to stamps to magnets to whatever else. If you get a chance to meet with Sid when in Beaver Creek, I highly recommend it. He’s a nice guy with a lot to share about the place.
Did a gold panning tour at 9 am where we drove out and visited the fields, panned for gold, and learned a whole bunch about the local gold mining/panning conditions. I found a speck of gold dust that was put in a vial for me! Made it back past noon for lunch at Sourdough Joes, a local fave. Over at the cultural center they had a great local music band and I enjoyed my first dose of first nations music. I also did a tour of the commissioner’s residence and walked along the main street with shops. One of the coffee shops served French fries with poutine - a bit of an acquired taste, I’d say. Last on the agenda for the day was the Klondike Spirit dinner cruise at 6.30 pm - the upper deck for perfect for viewing the beauty on both sides of the rive. Great views of Moosehide village. Got back to land and checked out some more performances at DCMF before calling it a day.
After breakfast at Eldorado, Parks Canada had a guided tour through Dawson City that I joined, albeit a little late. I even had some time to check out Harringtons photo montage and the Wild and Woolly store opposite hotel. The group met at the hotel again for lunch at noon before heading off to see the Jack London cabin and Robert Frost cabin - both famed authors that help put the city on the worldwide map through their stories. I also hit up the Dawson City museum and railway museum while clicking some fantastic pictures. So glad I had my professional camera with me. As part of the DCMF, there was a concert at the gazebo that was fun. The cultural center helped understand a lot about the history and culture of the first nations. We drove out to a mushing presentation on the other side of the Yukon but got delayed due to rain and traffic at the ferry area for crossing over. We met Kyla for the presentation, saw all the dogs and learnt a lot about dogsledding. The place was swarming with mosquitoes so I guess my attire for the evening was not the best even though I was fully covered. We left for dinner right after at Klondike Kates where I had some charr tacos for the first time. It was a nice white fleshy tasting fish so I am glad I was intruded to it. Another thing I was introduced to was the Sourtoe cocktail at the Downtown Hotel. I will tell you that it is a process in and off itself. There is a huge queue for it and quote some pomp and show attached. You go choose your poison (read alcohol) and then stand inline for your turn. There’s the old man who reads out the rules and drops the toes into your drink. Yes it is a human toe and there have been many in circulation. Simply look-up sour toe cocktail on Google and you can read all the rosy details. Last I heard, some patron had mistakenly swallowed the toe, it is not meant to be swallowed, and so they are looking for toes to complete the cocktail. The do give you a much-cherished certificate as proof of your courageous act so that’s one you can show-off to friends. In the right ‘spirits; now for a cabaret show, we headed over to Gerties. Its a jolly old casino style place with machines and drinks and drunken people as a result but the cabaret show itself was not risqué at all. Very show dance types and that’s about it. Was certainly late into the night when I hit the bed but the light staying out so long in the Yukon makes you feel like you could party a little longer even though it might be well past the usual bedtime hour.
Up at 6.30 am for the journey today. Breakfast at 8 am was served by the lovely Christianne - coffee, juice, bread, croissant, butter, jam, fruits in cream, all homemade! I met Jim and Frank, my hosts for the trip, for the first time. I also met two other writers/bloggers who were joining me on the journey. We started the drive to our destination Dawson City via the Klondike Highway. We stopped at a gas station for some snack in Carmacks, had lunch at Moose Creek Inn and then drove all the way for the Dawson City Music Festival. Once checked in at the Eldorado, we watched the kick-off, and then headed for dinner at 7 pm at a neat Greek place. Stuffed and tired, I chose to head back to my room and grab some shut-eye but I think the others partied until a little later. With the sun still out even that late at night, it was nice to have thick curtains in the room to keep out all that light.
I took the local train (MARTA) to the domestic airport and then the shuttle to the international airport. I was not an American citizen but travel to Canada with your permanent resident (PR) card and passport is permitted. I got my Starbucks fix for breakfast (it’s a travel writer thing!) and waited for my first time experiencing flying with Air Canada. Foursquare check-ins (and these are usually awesome!) got me some samples from Kiehls! And after loitering around looking like the queen of travel writing, I remembered I had to exchange currency to Canadian Dollars (CAD) from American Dollars (USD)!! Two currency exchange places in Terminal F had no CAD on them (my luck!) so I had to go to Terminal E and get it accomplished there, before rushing back to the gate. If you have traveled through Atlanta airport, you will understand what a feat that was.
Next thing I know, I am boarding the flight and the bag that they allowed me to carry-on at the security now did not fit on Air Canada cabin overhead bin or under the seat. And this is my traveler carry-on bag for all travel! Great – so that needed to be a curbside check-in. The good part was the snack selection on the flight was neat so I loaded up for the day long journey. Hey, who knows when the next meal will be, right?
Reached Toronto Pearson airport to find out that my flight to Vancouver had been cancelled. I was originally rerouted on Air Canada to a later flight to Vancouver, with a layover (yay!) and then next day flight to Whitehorse, which was my final destination. However, airport staff worked their magic soon enough to ensure that did not happen ☺ and got me a later night flight on Air North to Whitehorse.
The not so enjoyable portion of this journey to destination was I had to again check in my bag and find iyt at carousel. Then find Air North for tickets. Again told bag okay for cabin but had to check it in. But Air North itself was a great flight. Full of musicians heading for the Dawson City Music Festival tour which was a large part of the trip for me. Great food –unlimited beverages, snack plus deli treat that too with veggie option, then hot choco cookie and then mint as well, great service, nice crew on all flights. Jean Marc from the Takhini Lodge where I was going to be staying at was at the airport to pick me up even though it was close to midnight. Was still kinda daylight outside even at that hour. Saw a wolf along the way just happily crossing the street. His wife Christiane was there to receive me at the lodge despite the uncivilized hour of arrival.The lodge is a great place to stay at just that it is in the middle of nowhere. In the morning I realized it had wide green expanses on both sides, certainly off the beaten track. Fields with wild horses running round were visible from all directions. My room that night was very cosy, and they even had internet access. After a day of travel, that tub there and the comfy bed had me sleeping like a baby!