Where to Start

Hello,

If you’re visiting for the first time, our journey begins in the On the Road page when we left Ontario and drove to the Yukon, and then on the main page here: https://happytrailsyukon.wordpress.com/ is all about our Yukon adventure, and then ends on my other blog here: http://hollarblue.wordpress.com/tales-from-the-yukon/ I ran out of photo space and had to end it in a different blog.

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A Little Perspective

With only a week left in the YUKON, B and I set out on an adventure.  We packed Bo Bo Ska Diddle up to the max, left plenty of food and water for our little chickens and drove off to Whitehorse after B finished his last day of work.

I paced and paced and paced all day waiting until 4:30 to pick B up.  Once he hopped in, it felt so incredibly great to be on the road.

We spent our last night with Jaimoe at the Robert Service Campground with a fire and some bevies.  We sure are going to miss him and wish him all the best as he continues his studies at Yukon College.  Keep your head in the game and we’ll see you soon, Jaimoe!  Lots of LOVE!

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We had a long day ahead of us the following morning.  We had a few things to pick up before we headed up the North Klondike highway to Dawson city.  We actually didn’t end up getting out of Whitehorse until 1pm.  B and I had been having a few arguments about driving up the Dempster Highway.  I desperately needed to see Tombstone Territorial Park, and he desperately worried about the Subaru.

You see, many reviews and stories of driving the Dempster result in at least one flat tire.  We himmed and hawed all morning about being prepared.  Yeah, it’s pretty easy to grab a couple of spare tires, but not for Bo Bo Ska Diddle.  She has a unique size of tire, and one that none of the tire shops keep in stock.  They have to be ordered in.  If we did blow a tire, we had a couple of our winter tires for back up, but it’s not good for the differential to be driving with not a complete set of tires.  B knew how important it was for me to go up there, so he bit the bullet, and got a rim put on our winter tire, and just hoped we wouldn’t get a flat.

After all of that, we drove out of Whitehorse going Northbound and seeing new territory.  The weather was incredible.  25 degrees and sun for the most part.

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About 4 hours into our drive, we came across a little community called Stewart Crossing, and this is where B’s old pal Chase was working on a bridge.  We got there just before quitting time, and surprised him at the construction stop light.  We made plans to meet up with him the next night in Dawson.

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After a quick visit, we drove the next 2 hours to Dawson.  It was a long day.

Hazy skies full of wild fire smoke.

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Driving into Dawson was quite interesting.  You could feel the history just throwing itself at you.  Dredge upon dredge you pass for miles and miles.  The river had been turned upside down back in the rush days, by those looking for gold.

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We camped just outside of town in what we’d later discover to be a little flood plain.  We went out for incredible greek food at the Drunken Goat and got amped for our days in Dawson.

So it rained in the morning.  A little thundershower, that ended up lasting for half the day.  Pitter patter on the tent walls, and cracks of thunder kept us cozy in our bags until we felt the floor.  It felt like we were sleeping on a water bed.  At least 4 inches of the stuff.  Shit.  Up we got and took apart the innards of the tent like our thermarests and bags, with not a drop of water.  Paying $600 for a tent is worth it!  We set the tent up on a hill.  We’d deal with it later.  We drove into town to grab a coffee and get warmed up and dried off.  There was a pavilion next to the river, so B cooked us some breakfast there.  I waited patiently for my eggs, avocado and beans to finish.

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Dawson, what a place.  Neat old boardwalks and muddy streets.  It reminded me so much of the Dawson in my favourite story ‘White Fang’ by Jack London.  Being in this town was really important to me.  As a story that I have loved for years, and piecing it all together in the Yukon really was a dream come true for me.

We visited the Jack London museum where his cabin and food cache rested, and inside were many photographs of Jack’s time in Dawson.   There was a wonderful interpreter in there who told us stories.

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We discovered that while Jack only spent one year in the Dawson and the YUKON, that year had an incredible impact on his life.  It was there that many of his characters and stories were created.  I guess Jack spent a lot of time in the saloon back then, not to drink but to get warm.  It was during that time that he heard many stories from others and met a lot of people.  Those stories and people are what inspired some of his best selling books like the Call of the Wild and White Fang.  There was actually a photograph of one of his friends and a dog back in the gold rush days.  The dog’s name was Jack funnily enough, but that dog and his personality is Buck in the Call of the Wild.

I just loved listening to this woman speak of him.  She said that there’s a quote from Jack that said something along the lines of being up here to ‘get perspective.’  Things really hit home for both B and I at that point, because that’s EXACTLY what we came up here to do, and we have gotten a lot of it.  I loved having this connection with Jack.  My heart was so swollen to be there, and things got a little more intense when I told that woman that a couple of incredible friends from the UK sent me a first edition, copy of White Fang.  I am so thankful for such a wonderful and thoughtful gift.  They know me well.  The woman was so inspired by B and my connection about perspective and this book that she wrote about it in a journal at the museum.

Needing to lighten up, and wanting to do one of the thing that was near the top of my list, was to get some old timey photos taken of B and I.  It was a lot of fun dressing up in gold rush days costume, and having a photo shoot done.

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We met up with Chase later at the Midnight Sun tavern for a great night, lots of laughs and experiencing the true midnight sun. 10 hours north of where we’ve been living in Watson Lake, there is no dusk for a couple of hours, it’s all sunshine.   It just dances a circle around the sky.

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He took us to Diamond Tooth Gertie’s for a risky show, and the Snake Pit where the floor is caving in.  Back in the gold rush days, no mining was allowed in town, so the shop keep dug up the floor and secretly mined for gold under the building.  To this day, these buildings are kept in their original form.

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I told them several times that I wanted to do a Sour Toe shot, but didn’t end up there, and when we did, it was way past last call.  I’m disappointed, but I didn’t NEED the shot to love being in Dawson.

I woke up a few hours later to a Dawson City hangover.  It was extreme.  B was in a really bad mood, because I don’t think he actually wanted to believe that we were going to drive the Dempster.  We drove 20 minutes out of town to realize that we needed ice for the cooler, so he wasn’t impressed about having to turn around and drive back.

I can see why he was worried.  We don’t really have a lot of money right now to spend $360 on a tire if we needed it, and didn’t have 5 days to wait for a tire to be delivered to Whitehorse.  We are driving all of our belongings home over the next month and a bit, so getting a flat would be hard for us.

When we eventually turned onto the Dempster, the stress level heightened.  But, it was so beautiful.

B looking NOT impressed.

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The closer we got to Tombstone, the more my heart shattered into a billion pieces.  I spent the hour plus drive into the park sobbing to myself in disbelief of its magnificent-ism and beauty.  It was a big deal for me to get here.  A big deal in terms of logistics and in my heart.  I wanted, I needed to see tundra so bad.

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I have written about a favourite book of mine called ‘Being Caribou’ by Karsten Heuer and to be on the tundra where these caribou roam was important.

I needed to see the very place where the trees eventually die out and disperse into tundra.  It was incredible and a place that I will hold so very dear to my heart.  This is the YUKON experience that I’ve been longing to have, the reason why I’ve wanted to come up here since learning about it in Geography classes and through my favourite story White Fang.  A big deal for me.  The feeling of being so far away from everything and everyone was overwhelming.

Once we reached the campground a massive sigh of relief came over B.  No flats.  Our campsite was the most beautiful I’d ever had, and I can tell you that I’ve had a lot!  Prickly rose bushes everywhere and the Klondike River flowing right next to us.

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We didn’t have a lot of time to spend here.  We got to hiking.  Just a little trail that took about 2 hours, and it started in forest, and then petered out into tundra.  We kept conversation to notify any large wildlife that we were coming and eventually took out the bear bell and rang it every so often.  It wasn’t so bad in the forest part, because you could see into the woods, and it wasn’t so bad when we were on higher elevation because you could see a ways out, but in the last part near the end where we turned around and hiked back was really thick bushes that were a little over our heads.  There was a ‘poof’ and ‘huffing’ sound in the thickets that we heard.  I was terrified.  I was so scared, and my heart was pumping so hard that it almost pumped right out of my chest.  “B, let’s turn around right now!”

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Stupid us weren’t prepared at all.  It is extremely advisable to have bear spray, and we didn’t have any.  Suddenly I felt defeated and disappointed.  I felt like a little speck of dust in mighty huge place.  I had prepared physically for Tombstone, but not logistically.  I’m an ass.  I couldn’t sleep a wake that night.  I woke up every hour on the hour not really knowing what time it was because the sun was beaming in our tent all night.  I had to keep checking my iPod to see the time.  It dragged.  But, I was happy to be spending the rest of my short time in Tombstone awake and listening to the sounds of the tundra and river right outside my tent.

We decided to pack up the next morning and drive to Haines Junction, YUKON which is on the other side of Whitehorse.  A long drive, but I needed to compromise with B.  He wasn’t all into being up on the Dempster because of the tire stress, but he was into seeing the highest mountain peak in Canada.  Sure, let’s go!

The Dempster Highway

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B looking a little happier on the way out!

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Another long day as we drove for hours.  Once we reached Haines Junction, it was totally worth it to see these mountains.  Such a beautiful place.  We decided to go hiking here instead until I learned that it and the surrounding area hold the largest population of grizzly bears in the YUKON.  We tried to go out for a little stroll in the evening, but the mosquitoes were fierce.

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I was tired.  I hadn’t slept very well the previous night, and because we were camping in town I had a better chance of falling asleep without any fear.  We decided to hike the next day.  I needed to hike.   I’d been working so hard at it.  We didn’t have any bear spray though, and we’d be straight stupid to go out into those woods without it.  We stopped at a place in town to ask if we could borrow some, but they only had a can that had expired in 2007.  “It might work.”  Said the Conservation Officer in town. Well, I wasn’t taking any chances!

Speaking to the Officer, I had to ask about the bears.  “What are the chances of seeing a bear?”  I asked.  “Pretty good.” He replied.  He gave us all kinds of advisable information that I already knew of when it comes to being bear wise, but that didn’t matter.  He told us the usual, “if you see scat, or tracks than turn around.  If you see a fresh moose kill, then run for your lives.”  I wasn’t taking any chances.  He also told us that a runner not long ago was “clipped” on the ankle by a mama grizzly.  The runner ran for his life up a tree until the bear subsided.  Great.  Don’t go running in the forest B!

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We just drove to Kluane National Park where Canada’s highest mountain peak is, and decided to keep on driving to Haines, Alaska.  It was about 3 hours away and I was told that it’s one of the most beautiful drives.  Well it was.  I have driven many, many roads, and have clocked many, many hours and I can tell you that it was the most beautiful drive I have ever done.  We drove up over the mountains, kind of like how we did going to Skagway, Alaska but it was totally different.  More costal like and way, way up in alpine in the clouds.  You could see for miles.

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There was bear shit all over the road between Haines Junction and Haines, Alaska.  I wouldn’t be lying if we counted over 50.  But, we never seen a bear.  In all the miles we’ve driven in the past week, we never seen a bear.

Haines, Alaska is the home of the eagle valley.  Every autumn 3500 bald eagles feast on salmon in the rivers there, and you can bet that the grizzlies aren’t far behind.  You have seen many pictures of Alaska eagles and grizzlies together, and this is the place.  It was incredible, but we were too early for balds.  Only seen a couple.

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Haines was a neat little town on the ocean.  Not like Skagway at all that was so tourist driven.  This was a unique little fishing community and I knew that wild caught halibut fish and chips wasn’t out of the question.  It was the best I’ve ever had and worth the 3 hour drive.

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Another long day, we drove back to Whitehorse.  We had a few things to pick up here, and I need to tie up some loose ends personally and emotionally.  My YUKON experience this past week has made me fall in love, and B is taking me away just in time.  It’s called the ‘YUKON fever’.  There are many things that I love out living here.  I will write about them soon.

I definitely know that I have left a piece of myself in the YUKON, and it’s in the form of thousands if not millions of baby Cobi mosquitoes.  My bloodline is here now for eternity.  This is pretty far out in left field, but my baby mosquito eggs have hatched in the creeks, lakes and rivers here and I will also be flowing through ‘er forever.

Thank you YUKON for such an incredible life experience.  You are beautiful and harsh.  You have tried and tested me.  But I love you, anyway.

– Northern Gal

So Long But Not Farewell

B, Jaimoe and I went to a BBQ last night with our friends.  These are the people that have made our time here memorable, and we’re sad to say so long, but not farewell.  We’ve spent the last few months, but even moreso the last few weeks hanging out with these people, and I think I captured some great photographs of them.

 

Jaimoe

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B and Stevie B

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Meaghan and Corrine

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Al, Norma and Shannon

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Tiffany, Corrine and Meaghan

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Brian, Corrine and Stevie B

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Sus (dad) and Daisy (daughter)

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B and Brian

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Tiffany and Jaimoe

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Things wrapped up here in this photo at 2:30am.  What a great bunch of people!

 

– C

Our Days Are Numbered

If you haven’t heard the news already, than you must know now.  B and I are leaving the north to pursue an incredible opportunity in Guelph, Ontario.  B has been accepted into the University of Guelph to do a masters in Rural Planning & Development with a huge focus on preserving farmland.  Because of this news, we are leaving the YUKON in only a few days time.

There are some things that I’d like to catch up on here.  B and I have had a great time with a few of our friends in here in town and have spent the last couple of weekends attending BBQ’s and other commitments.

I had to send my camera away for repairs, so I apologize for the quality of photos.

We went over to our friends Stevie B & Shannon’s for a BBQ last weekend.  What a great time!  It was nice to sit around a fire, eat BBQ, and visit with some of the friends we’ve made here.

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We made plans to go fishing the following evening with our friends Tiffany and Brian.  Four hours in and not a fish caught, I reeled in a nice little pike.  Not long after that, I pulled in a second one (B is holding it for me in one of the photos) and shortly thereafter, Brian pulled in a third.  It was 11PM at this time and the skitters were ferocious!  Time to call it a day!

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It was so incredibly nice to be out on the lake.  It has been over a year since I’ve been on a boat!

We had a surprise visit from Jaimoe!  It was great to see him, and make plans to meet up before we depart the YUKON.

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And to celebrate Solstice, B and I spent a few hours at Wye Lake having a great time while the sun stayed up well past midnight, and dusk covered a little of the wee morning hours, until the sun was up again at 3AM.  I’ve been waking up around 4AM thinking it’s 7 because the sun is already so high and bright in the sky.

Also, we’ve noticed it’s the ‘thing’ to make a V with your fingers in photos, so here’s B and I trying to look cool.

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There was live music at one of the hotels, so we went to check it out.  Didn’t make it very far because of the dress code policy.

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The next morning B and I held our Boot sale!  Had Bo Bo Ska Diddle’s hatch open cranking out Outlaw, and wheeling and dealing many bargains, and made a whopping $460!  It was an incredible day with 30 degree temperatures.

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My last day at work is Tuesday, and B’s is on Thursday.  Thursday afternoon we’re heading to Whitehorse to begin our adventure north, north to Dawson City for the weekend, and then hiking in Tombstone Territorial Park along the Dempster Highway.  If I can talk B into it (and if we have any spare tires left), we’ll drive even further up to the Arctic Circle.

Tundra, here I come!

-C

North to Alaska!

A May long weekend to remember!  B and I took off to Skagway, Alaska for the weekend for a much needed holiday.

Our plan for the first night was to camp in Carcross (originally called ‘Caribou Crossing’) and for good reason, because we seen a few on our way.  Since there are only a few roads up here to travel on, it was nice to take a road that we hadn’t been on before.  We’ve passed it several times on our way to and from Whitehorse, but were never able to make the turn.

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A neat little road driving through the Southern Lakes region of the YUKON.  We passed through a little community called Tagish that was nothing but a few houses, a playground and a general store.  The lake was full of waterfowl, including my much loved loon.

As we drove through Tagish and came closer to Carcross, we passed Porcupine Creek and had counted seven porcupines along the roadside.   The landscape was pretty neat and the feeling of seeing something really amazing was looming in my mind.

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Only a few minutes later did we see a Lynx run across the road!  The first one I’ve ever seen, it was beautiful.

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Things were going well, we had seen a lot of wildlife and the scenery in and around Carcross was amazing.  B had talked to a storekeep before we left to ask about camping, and the guy informed him that we could set up camp right next to the store because there are a few RV spots.  We pull into town around 10:30PM (we’re getting 24 hours of light now, with a few hours overnight that’s just dusk-like) and this drunk waves us over.  Bad idea to roll down the window, she was hanging off our door and asking us for a ride to a place down the highway.  Getting a bad vibe, we drove off as best as we could without causing any harm.  We noticed a campground sign on our way into town, so we drove in there, and found a great site.

We started setting up our tent, when this drunk/stoned guy stumbles up to us.  B and I knowing what situation was to arise, we just kept our mouths shut and didn’t say anything to him.  He couldn’t talk anyway.  He slurred something about us needing help setting up our tent, and started falling into it.  At that point, I had to sort of push him away so that he wouldn’t crush the tent that holds so many memories for B and I.  Getting another bad vibe, I told him that B and I were going to call it a night and that he should be on his way.  He turned real aggressive and grabbed B by the coat and was beginning to start something with him.  I ran over there and push the guy away and asked him several times to leave us alone and to keep on his way.  He was having none of it.  I escorted him to the road, but couldn’t get him any further.  B stayed back and packed the tent up as best and FAST as he could, while I was dealing with a piece of shit guy who started yelling at B that he was an Indian and started calling threats to him.  He then started saying really horrible things to me about sexual connotations and then began pulling his junk out.

I was scared.  Flat out scared.  The guy has spit several times in front of me, calling me names, yelling at B, and just when I was about to knock this guy out, I heard the trunk shut and we both got in Bo Bo Ska Dittle as fast as we could and drove off.  It’s 11PM at this point, we’re both really hungry and need a place to crash.  We drive into town and see an RCMP officer that B waved down.  Apparently, the officer had just received a complaint about this guy and was just heading out there.

UPDATE: The RCMP called B at work on the following Tuesday.  Apparently this guy has a warrant out for his arrest, and has been banned for life from the town of Carcross.  He’s been in jail since the night he was bothering us.  He’s bad news.  They are probably looking for a statement from us.  Just glad he didn’t harm us in anyway, especially our tent!

We drove around looking for a lodge, a hotel anywhere to sleep but couldn’t find anything.  We had to resort back to the campground.  I was so nervous; that I barely got any sleep for fear that this idiot was going to come back.

B cooked me some Bison sausages and vegan sausages for himself, then we called it a night.

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When we got up the next morning, the whole town was desolate, but really neat.  We walked around, and took some photos waiting for a coffee shop to open.

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Once we drove out of town, our day got better.  A whole lot better.  We’d be in Alaska in an hour’s time and cross over the White Pass.

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Heading over the White Pass and nearing the US/Canada Border.

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Right over the Rocky Mountains above any tree lines.  It was incredible.  Thick in clouds, we had no idea what our surroundings looked like.  All we knew is that we had finally arrived in Alaska!

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Skagway is a really neat little town surrounded by Fjords.  Very unique and they thrive off of the Klondike Gold Rush history.  Cruise ship after ship dock at the port and a town of 600 people quickly turns into a town of 2600 day in and day out.  It’s so busy there that the government offers a bonus to employees to keep them there during the tourist season.  The sidewalks are all boardwalks and the storefronts are all kept in their original structure.

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When we checked into our B&B, the innkeeper baked gluten-free muffins and cookies for me!

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We hit up the Skagway Brewing Company to try their Spruce Tip beer, and here is a line of samplers.

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Being right next to the ocean and Halibut territory, how could we not have local fresh caught halibut fish and chips?!  It was so delicious!

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We spent much of the afternoon and evening shopping and exploring.  We went out for Thai food that night, and it was the BEST Thai I’ve ever had.  We were stuffed!

The next day we set out on a couple of coastal hikes.  It was a beautiful day, (the previous day it had rained all day) and we both enjoyed being outside and seeing something other than Boreal forest.

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It was important for B to touch the ocean.  He has been to Canada’s east coast and has touched the Atlantic Ocean, here he is touching the Pacific Ocean.

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There was a little pet cemetery along the way.

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After our hikes, we spent the afternoon bar hoping, trying the local drinks.  Brew pubs to brothels, we really let loose and had a lot of fun together.  We started from one end of the street and made it down to the other end, and then stumbled back up again.  We ended our night with a game of shuffleboard and pool.

What a wonderful little town with really nice people.   We made our way home today with an early start.  We were able to capture some great photos of going over White Pass.

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Believe it or not, this is the same sign that B had his photo taken in!  We had no idea.

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Back on our home turf, we stopped to take some photos of Dall sheep.  The first ones I’ve seen!

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When we passed through Carcross, we stopped at the infamous desert.

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Yeah, the YUKON is a pretty amazing place.  Alaska too!

– C

Little Birds Are Singin’ All Around Me

I’ve waited ever so patiently for birds to arrive at my suet and so far in the past couple of weeks I’ve had nothing but Common Redpolls.  Only the females, but this morning I seen over 7 feeding and there was a mixture of females and males.

I’ve heard the little chickadees, and now I’ve finally seen one at my suet!  It’s the small things that are just getting me by this extremely long winter up here.

Pickles! and Satchel are constantly chattering at the birds as I’ve grounded their cat tree right in front of the window.  It’s quite comical!

I have always loved staring out the window at the birds and it’s taken 11 months to finally get them in front of my northern window.

It’s been an unusual spring here.  In fact, there have been few signs of spring at all.  The past 3 days have brought us over a foot of snow.  The forecast has been “5-10 cm’s, 5-10 cm’s”.  It’s been hard.

There’s talk of major flooding happening, because the warm temperatures will appear suddenly and a fast melt will happen.  Not only will it melt down here, but then the mountain tops have to melt as well.  That’s sort of what happened last year with the road closures because sections of the Alaska Highway had been taken out by mudslides.

We’re looking forward to a small vacation over the May long weekend.  Have booked ourselves in at a Bed and Breakfast in Skagway, Alaska.  Let’s hope we can even get there, because that highway passes through a huge summit and there are avalanche warnings this time of year as the melt happens.

I’m going to remain positive that it will all work out and we can cure our isolation blues if only for a few days.

Female Common Redpoll

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My sweet little chickadee-dee-dee

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Male Common Redpoll

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My crazy little chickens, Pickles! and Satchel

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– C