Time to catch up on some blog posts!
Whitehorse, capital city of the Yukon Territory, is located at mile 887 of the Alaska Highway. It is a great place to stop in a city that has enough essential amenities for anyone traveling the Alaska Highway. For me that meant it was time to stock up on supplies and get some work done on the RV as well as finding the local pool, brewery, museum and hiking trails.
On the road I had envisioned that it would be difficult to find places for things like getting the oil changed in the motorhome but the shear number of RV’s traveling this highway to Alaska each year means that the businesses along the way are familiar with working on RV’s. Even though the oil change shop that I pulled into didn’t have service bays that were tall enough for my rig they were more than happy to climb underneath and get the necessary work done in a timely and efficient manner and without an appointment.
The Canada Games Center in Whitehorse is truly an amazing recreation facility. Opened in 2005 and funded by the Canadian, Yukon and Whitehorse governments it was built to host the 2007 Canada Winter Games. Ignoring the very cool pool for now, the facility has two ice rinks, an indoor playing field, workout areas food concessions and beautiful locker areas. An interesting thing that I ran into in Canada was that their recreation facilities do not allow outdoor footwear. There are areas to leave your shoes when you enter the facility. Different, but this seems to make sense given the harsh winters in many of these areas.
The pool area is multiuser friendly with lots of windows, lap lanes and an additional pool with waterslide and very kid oriented play areas.
They have an extensive calendar to manage the various uses and seem to do a great job in serving the community on all levels.
Of course there is a brewery in Whitehorse – in fact there are two of them. The Yukon Brewing Company is the largest and in fact they bottle and distribute all over the Yukon. The other is the Winterlong Brewing Co. A smaller newer brewery located outside of town in a more industrial area with some really good brews. They had only four on tap when I visited but they were all good tasting brews.
“Beer, it’s the best damn drink in the world.” – Jack Nicholson
There is always time for a hike and Whitehorse “the wilderness city” boasts more than 700 km of trails so provided plenty of opportunities. As it had rained early in my stay there the trails around quite muddy so when picking a good hike the Millennium Trail was a good choice. A 5km paved loop trail following the Yukon River around town it seemed well used by local residents.
A short side hike was a must to see the world’s longest wooden fish ladder. The ladder built in 1959 helps migrating chinook (king) salmon on the final leg of their epic journey. As young smolts, they migrate downstream to the Bering Sea. After three to five years, they reenter the Yukon River and begin the two-month nearly 2,000-mile swim back to their home waters. The lucky ones—a tiny percentage—will make it to spawn and die there. This 1,200-foot chute allows the salmon to skirt the Whitehorse Dam and avoid its turbines to make it back to their home spawning grounds, a recommended stop when visiting Whitehorse.
This was the week for the release of the new Pirates of the Caribbean movie so I couldn’t resist finding the local theater that just so happened to be showing the film. In this era of mega theaters this was the smallest and probably oldest movie theater I have ever been in. Showing just two movies and one of them was the new Pirates it also had good popcorn so it filled the bill.
“Carina Smyth: I’m not looking for trouble!”
“Captain Jack Sparrow: What a horrible way to live.”
Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales
Traveling north has had two unintended consequences on my ability to listen to satellite radio and television. Now that the satellites are too far below the horizon and radio and television stations are often few and far between I had to find some other form of entertainment while traveling the roads. Fortunately books on tape are both educational and entertaining and my first choice for this trip was James Michener’s “Alaska”. A long novel when translated to audible it is 57 hours of listening pleasure! I am finding things along this Alaskan journey that I can relate to and understand much better because of Michener’s story. One such example is the Yukon Beringia Interpretive Center in Whitehorse.
“Alaska did not produce supermen, but in its formative periods it was served by men of character and determination, and it is a fortunate land which knows such public servants.” ― James A. Michener,
During glacial periods sea levels dropped 120 meters exposing the Bering Land Bridge (also called Beringia). Fossil evidence strongly supports the belief that, over time, these type of “land bridges” allowed plants and animals to move between the Old and New worlds. This most recent Beringia is also considered to be at least one of the ways (if not the principal route) by which humans migrated into and populated the Americas. In Michener’s “Alaska” much of the first part of the story is about this migration of humans and other animals across this land bridge.
Beringia was a world of cold, dry, treeless expanse as far as the eye could see. A place where predators of staggering proportions competed with human hunters.
This museum tells much of the story and features life-size exhibits of ice age animals, tours, interactive exhibits and dioramas depicting the unique landscape, flora and fauna of Beringia.
The nearby transportation museum is home to what is probably the largest wind vane in the world. The 1950’s Canadian Pacific CF-CPY is mounted on a pedestal that allows her to pivot with her nose always pointing into the wind. Although I didn’t have the time to visit that museum I will certainly do so on my next trip through Whitehorse.