So we went to Liard Hot Springs. Even before the border, N had already started “Well, I mean, Liard is already halfway to Washington….”
“N, we are just going to a hot spring and making Honey happy.”
“But Honey would be even MORE happy…”
“Argh, give you a roadtrip cookie…”
The night sky several hundred miles from any sort of population center is a shocking sight. Staring up at the moonless night sky stripped of every veil, we are restored to our proper place–humbled and small and insignificant.
Car camping between Tok and the Alcan border, huddling in our cold weather sleeping bags, stargazing through the moonroof. The car seems a fragile shell. I stare too long up at the sky and fall upwards, exactly the opposite of that sense of weightlessness we sometimes get just before sleep, but equally disconcerting. I kick out with my feet and bang a knee against the dashboard. “M*therf3cker!” Honey huffs once and goes back to sleep, the whole length of her body against N’s side.
Whitehorse is a great town, but getting there is very strange after hundreds of miles on the same road. You take a left at a stoplight, then the left turns into a downhill right which can feel like driving off a cliff. Then, oh, there it is!
Boom and bust towns like Whitehorse have growth rings–dilapidated areas of past expansion killed by subsequent years of decline. Looks like our favorite coffee shop of two years ago maybe got killed off by the last bust of rock bottom oil prices and decreased federal funding. A shiny new grocery store is part of the cambrium formed by the current uptick. The local economy is sustained mostly by government administration–it’s good to be the province capital–followed by tourism and mining.
Neither of us had all the gear we needed for a proper hot springs visit, so there we were, picking through the Walmart swimsuit and flip flop selection in early March, in the Yukon Territories. N has it easy. I, picking the best of a limited lot in my, well, quite American size, came away with a nice swimsuit–for a much less chesty individual. I must rely on the concealment of murky water.
We go down each street in downtown Whitehorse looking for that coffee shop of our memories, but no luck. We see one to try–as usual, N’s warm milkshake tastes great, whilst I gingerly sip on a scalding hot latte. The latte is better than Starbucks, but not even in the same LEAGUE as Nature’s Nectar.
One of these days, we are really going to wander downtown in Whitehorse. The area is probably a pretty tourist trap in the summer, but that doesn’t mean tourist traps aren’t fun, and interesting to tour–like a zoo, or an aquarium. With tasty snacks ;-). That, and the Trans-Canada trail passes right along the riverfront. Oh, and let us not forget the sled dogs which bed down in the city on piles of straw for all to admire, after they trot in for the Yukon Quest like the rock stars they are. And archeology! The confluence of river and topology has attracted people and animals to Whitehorse long before the current incarnation of the city ever existed.
Instead, we hit up the new SavOn for a few days worth of food and beverages, and tour Canadian Tire. I don’t know why, but we really love walking the aisles of that store. We always leave with a few TOTALLY NECESSARY items–N, for example, goes through gallons upon gallons of windshield washer fluid, so he goes in to stock up to replace the gallon he managed to use driving through the Frozen North, then gets beguiled by the 12v section, or maybe some sexy microsuede washclothes…
We are still far enough north the light goes early, so we leave Whitehorse in full umber twilight conditions.