Alaska 3/8: Falling in Love with the Yukon
We crossed the border by Watson Lake. It was a dry, hot day so our visit was shorter than originally planned. Gaia enjoyed weaving in and out of the creatively placed signs at the SignPost Forest. From what I gather, it was originally created by a homesick American soldier who posted a sign of his town and the distance to it. Others quickly followed suit.
After some lunch and a leg stretch we continued West. In Teslin we discovered a cute little campsite off the side of the main road and set up camp. At the campsite I met a wonderful couple in their 60's who were travelling by camper across the Yukon. They had so many beautiful stories to share, and we sat around the fire late into the night. One of my favourite stories was a tale of compassion. A few years before, the husband had been diagnosed with cancer. They had a large rural property at the time and had enlisted some friends to watch over the place for a few months while he received treatment. When they finally were able to go home they were so surprised to see that not only had the property been well cared for, but the whole community had come together and renovated some of the older buildings that were in need of repair. The property had received a necessary makeover that may not have happened since the couple was devoting all of their time and savings to improving the gentleman's quality of life and fighting his disease. It was such a heartwarming tale told so passionately, that I couldn't help but be covered in goosebumps. It was apparent that the couple was so grateful with this second shot at life. Sometimes I feel we get so caught up in our own lives that we forget to open ourselves to others.
I had a school friend living in Atlin at the time, so we took a small detour (in Canadian driving terms- realistically it was a 2 hour drive down a mostly dirt road) to visit her and her family. It was a relief to stay in a warm comfortable house, and to settle down for a couple of days. Atlin was a warm welcoming community tucked beside, you guessed it, Atlin Lake. We spent a few days there enjoying each other's company and taking in the small community.
Driving through the heart of the Yukon was wondrous. The wide open roads and rolling mountains were so picturesque, it almost felt like driving into a Bob Ross painting, with happy little trees everywhere. When I finally arrived in Whitehorse I was excited to take it all in. The combination of the old gold panning history combined with the current architecture gave the town so much character without being overbearing. There were people playing music on the streets, lovely cafe's, and it even had it's own brewery. In fact, Yukon Brewing was our daughter's very first brew tour.
Being the sole adult on a month long trip with a 2 year old, I was happy to hear that Yukon Brewing would allow Gaia to join me for a tour. Afterwards, we enjoyed a beer in the tasting room - or, more accurately, I enjoyed a beer while G played on my phone. Kids can only take so much talk about hops before needing to be distracted. Then we purchased some souvenirs (and beer of course) and headed in search of a campsite.
That night was spent at the Robert Service Campground, a campground situated a stones throw from town and nestled by the river. I think it was a slightly more expensive campsite then what I was used to, but it was conveniently placed, the staff were very friendly, and the facilities (warm showers!! woohoo!!) were well worth the additional cost.
While in Whitehorse, we were able to stroll around Miles Canyon which is a wonderful all-levels hike that I highly recommend. Gaia and I loved getting out of the vehicle and just exploring. She wasn't yet at the age where we were ready to prepare for long hikes. Just sitting by the river was enough entertainment for her and I.
Whitehorse was such a captivating place. I really wish I had taken more photos, but I suppose I'll just have to go back.
Highlights: Atlin Lake, Yukon Brewing Co, Miles Canyon, Whitehorse, Burnt Toast Cafe.