A common question we get is whether we book everything in advance or if we just find places to stay as we go. It has been a mix of both but when you end up with an Airbnb as good as the one we had in Whitehorse, you come to appreciate the “book early and find the most awesome place”. We knew that my mom would be joining us for part of the time in Whitehorse so we booked a nicer place than we usually do. Even still, this place far exceeded our expectations. It was a two-bedroom penthouse condo (3rd floor but that’s high for Whitehorse) with a great kitchen and floor-to-ceiling windows. It was really nice having our own space for 3 nights in a row. It made us concentrate all the more to book longer stays in one place.
The most striking thing you notice in Whitehorse is the sunset at 11 pm. Getting kids to bed is pretty challenging when 10 pm still feels like midday. The condo had blackout curtains but also had a wraparound balcony and we liked the bizarre feeling of sunlight at all hours so we rarely shut the curtains.
Whitehorse also surprised us because it felt less isolated than we would have expected. We had been driving through remote areas that felt very remote with things like exorbitant prices on fruit and 5 oil worker trucks for every car. Whitehorse did not feel remote. The grocery store had the best selection of organic and gourmet food that I’d seen since Toronto. The Kind Cafe next door to our condo offered 4 kinds of milk and “dairy” seemed to be far less popular than oat or almond milk. I even got to have an avocado toast with pomegranate, dukkah and pickled onion. Yummy.
Now on to what we did in Whitehorse. I am working to overcome my fear of bears but as we are now firmly in grizzly country, I finally bought a bear spray. Most hikers here seem to carry one so I felt justified in having one too. Hiking in and around Whitehorse is magical. Michael and Izzie did an early morning walk down the Yukon River while Julie was still asleep (not surprising since it took until midnight to get her to sleep in the “daylight”). We also did a walk on the cliffs overlooking the town and the majestic river (and for the record, it is as majestic as you imagine it to be). But the best hike of all was the guided tour we took in Miles Canyon. The Yukon Conservation Society offers these free tours and we saw a notice pinned up in the visitor centre. Given my fear of hiking around bears, I jumped at the idea of going with a group and a guide. The guides that we had were not native Yukoners (they said that the society had trouble finding locals this year due to the labour shortage) but they had just completed an intensive training course on the flora of the Yukon. They taught us to identify lots of plants and trees and the kids were in heaven soaking up the knowledge. For the rest of our time in the Yukon, Izzie and Julie would quiz us on the sunscreen properties of the trembling aspen or the way to correctly identify a lodgepole pine.
Fish Ladder: This ladder was built to help salmon who are returning to their spawning ground after a dam was built which blocked their route. It is the longest wooden fish ladder in the world. The first day that we tried to visit, we couldn’t because a beaver had decided to perch himself on the tourist boardwalk. It was a first for us -closed because of beaver! A few days later we returned and we were able to see the ladder and its workings. The Chinook salmon run is about two weeks away though so only a few lonely fish were using the ladder.
Canada Games Centre: For a travelling family, a great pool is an awesome find. I do not think that I have ever been to a better pool than this one. It had a waterslide, a sauna, a hot tub and most exciting of all a jet-powered lazy river. The kids went twice.
We also visited the Kwanlin Dün Cultural Centre – a first nations spot with a collection of Native Art. Julie just loved watching artists there doing beading.
For the three days in Whitehorse, I cooked and we ate “normal for us” meals which was a treat. It made us realize that an Airbnb nice enough that I want to cook saves us in restaurant bills. However, the grocery bill does increase (as does the stockpile of things that I keep in the cooler). My cousin already told me that soya sauce might not be an item that every camper carries with them across the country. I’m glad she saw the cooler before Whitehorse when Parmigiano Reggiano cheese and other “staples” were added. Essential right?
By the Numbers:
- Total Kilometres: 7556km
- Bags of English Peas Consumed: 3 (along with 3 trips to the BC fruit stand)
- Bear Spray Purchased: 1
- Pamphlets collected at tourist information: At least 12
- Number of times Mike asked if I had written “By the Numbers” while I wrote this post: 5