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Oct 3 – Haines to Whitehorse




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Day 4- (Oct 1) Carcross / Tagish


An early morning start to head to a great pancake breakfast.  The Whitehorse United Way Pancake Breakfast.  Joanne is a celebrity server and is supposed to be flipping pancakes, having been promoted from serving yogurt the year before.  It is a packed event at the Whitehorse Convention Center.  We arrive to find Joanne serving potatoes.  The job of flipping pancakes was left for the RCMP – they did a great job. 
We bid on and won a one night stay at a hotel (formerly a Brothel) in Dawson City – Bombay Peggys!  We will be doing that later in the trip.

Today we head south to Carcross; a beautiful little tourist town.  At the United Way Breakfast we are advised to makes some stops en route:  Emerald Lake and the World’s Smallest Desert.
The scenery on the drive is spectacular, which will be the case for the next several days.  The sun is lower here.  As we drive due south at 11am, we have to lower our visors to prevent from being blinded.  The sun is similar in height to the low sun in late afternoon in Ottawa. It won’t get much higher that day. 
 The first official stop for pictures – Emerald Lake we meet up with Devra, the tourist from Toronto we met the day before, and we play leap frog with her for the next few stops. Emerald lake is picturesque with beautiful green waters.  Though I must say, I am partial to the Emerald Lake in Yoho National Park. 
The World’s Smallest Desert is 2km north of Carcross.  While a big sign at the highway proclaims the area Carcross Desert, the interpretive display tells us that the area is an old seabed and not a desert at all.  Still we cross the desert and climb the dune on the opposite.  As we climb higher up the dune and look back, a lake is revealed in front of the distant mountains.

In need of food and a washroom we head to Carcross.  We arrive in Carcross, only to discover that it is a town that is not open in the off season.  Train station – closed.  Restaurants – closed.  Oldest continually operating store in the Yukon – closed.  Post Office – closed. Community Centre – closed.  Library –‘ Back at 2pm’.  Out houses – chained and locked.  Main road – seriously dug up.  The town will look beautiful next year when the tourist season opens again and the sushi restaurant will be open again.  The beach is beautiful and it is open; the water is too cold for us!
We decide to drive another 33km to Tagish.  The trees that line the highway are filled with yellow leaves.  Tagish is spread out along the highway and having driven through the whole ‘town’ we realize there is but one choice for food.  We turn around and go back to the beginning of the town.  We both decide to order a cheeseburger.  It is the largest burger we have ever eaten.  It must be a full pound of beef.  The owner apologized that she had to serve it on bread as she forgot to buy buns.  The couple that runs the restaurant/post office/hotel/general store is from Germany.  They were looking to come to Canada and found this business for sale – so they bought it.  (note:  Reading the paper today – the business is up for sale.  $429K and you can live in the Yukon)

She told us that if we have a 4 wheel drive vehicle that we should be able to see a visit a great look out.  Continue along the road 4km until the power line crosses the road and then turn right.  There is no street sign.  We find the hydro line and turn right onto a dirt road.  The road is about 8km long.  It winds and is steep and snow covered in places.  Occasionally a downed tree lies partly across the road.  At the top, is an antenna and fire tower, and the view is stunning.  The wind is incredible.  At the top of the mountain the iPhone has a signal again (outside of Whitehorse there really isn’t much cell service).  We take a picture of the Rav4 on the mountain and send it to Joanne- just so she knows her Rav4 is a good little climber.   The wind is so cold that on the way down the mountain we put the seat warmers on to warm us.

When we return to Whitehorse we join Joanne for a Pub Night at a local hotel.  It is a loose group that gets together that had the pleasure of having Ron James join them a few weeks back.  While that we got to hear the numbers being called for Radio Bingo – a Friday night occurrence.
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Day 3 (Sept 30) – Whitehorse and environs

Apparently we are good house guests.  When Joanne got in the shower to get ready for work, I got up and made coffee.  Joanne has told her co-workers that coffee was made for her – now we have even more places to stay in Whitehorse!
As I look back on today and on vacations past (places like Korea and Indonesia), I realize that going up is pretty consistent pattern.   So today we start with the Black Street Stairs.  A brief run around the neighborhood to warm up, then 3 repeats of the stairs (4 repeats if you are tough like Darlene).  These stairs are pretty cruel and as I ran through the formula for MAX heart rate, at my age, I think I probably set a new personal record.  What is more cruel than the stairs, is the hill leading to these stairs.  Though they connect Downtown to the airport and provide a walking back to Suburia (yes — suburbia) the stairs don’t start at the same level as downtown.

After a run, a shower it was off to The Chocolate Chain for lunch followed by some unsuccessful jacket shopping for Bruce.
We drove just south of the city to Miles Canyon and hiked to Canyon City.  Miles Canyon is on the Yukon River and a very treacherous portion of the river.  In the gold rush many miners lost their boats, provisions and lives trying to navigate the river.  The miners disregarded the advice of the First Nations people to portage the route.  Eventually, it was decreed that only experience drivers could ferry goods through the canyon and a tram way was developed. 

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Day 2: Whitehorse, Yukon

The minute you walk outside you can feel that the pace and lifestyle is more relaxed.  We started the day with a brief hunt for an iPhone charging cable which Bruce forgot.  The first store we tried didn’t have one but got directed to The Source beside the Wal-Mart, close to the Canadian Tire.  As those stores were the wrong direction we carried on to Downtown Whitehorse.  We strolled down by the Yukon River and soon realized we were getting hungry.

We stopped at Baked, a local bakery/coffee shop and really busy place.  The menu board advertises a winter special:  30 cents off any hot drink whenever the temperature dips below -30C.  

Refreshed with coffee and food we carried on to the Whitehorse Visitors Center to find out what is still open – we are travelling off season.  Some plans have changed but we won’t spoil the surprise.  The information center runs on its own schedule.  Behind the counter a digital sign told us that the next showing of a movie was in 14 minutes.  We asked what the movie was: As the crow flies was the response, but we won’t make you wait 14 minutes, we can start it now if you want…  The film offered some fabulous views of the Yukon from a Crow’s perspective.

After the film we carried our walk along the Yukon River going upstream.  We passed the SS Klondike, a National Historic Site.   It is now lunch time in Whitehorse and the path has a steady stream of walkers and runners on it.  We carry on upstream the wind is in our face and it chills, though not clean through to the bone.  The highway to our right is the Robert Service Way.  A series of interpretative signs tell us we are on the Millennium Trail.  A 5km loop along both sides of the river.  We decide to walk the whole trail enjoying the smell of fall leaves and the chatter of wildlife (squirrels).

After the walk we were both parched.  Based on the precipitation we are told that Whitehorse is a desert climate. We were warned we would be thirsty. After quenching our thirst we carried on shopping.  This time we go to the original Coast Mountain Sports.  Turns out Bruce also forgot his gortex shell.
We eventually found the charging cable at Staples; we found it before The Source.  Close to Staples was a Coffee and Tea shop.  We decided to pop in.  As soon as we went in we found a product we have been looking for: eCloth.  Can’t find it in Ottawa; found it in Whitehorse.  Friends swear by it for cleaning windows and our windows at home desperately need it.

Now we had heard about a set of stairs, the Black Street Stairs.  They connect the downtown with the trails that lead around the airport. Frequently used by runners for training.   Joanne has complained about it on Facebook and we read about (scroll down on link) the stairs before heading to the Yukon.  It was something we had to experience.  Today we walked the stairs.  Soon we will run them.  They will be tough.

Once Joanne got home and had a chance to relax – we all headed out to dinner at a local restaurant and called it an early night as none of us really had a full night’s sleep last night.

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Day 1: Heading North of 60

We are off to an exciting start: a pat down at airport security (not as invasive as you might think) and an unconfirmed sighting of Jean Chretien in the Ottawa airport!   So far so good but should be a long day with 3 flights to go!
It was a long day – but awesome to see our friend Joanne waiting for us in the Whitehorse airport at 12:21 am (Whitehorse Time = 3:21 am Ottawa time).   We were quite sleepy but managed a quick driving tour of Whitehorse and a beer then off to bed.
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