Arrived in Whitehorse at 4pm.
Tour around with Sam, our friend and local resident. Learn all the places we're not supposed to go after dark. Later that night we walked through all of them on our own (by mistake), but it was OK because it was still daylight thanks to the midnight sun.
Coffee at "Baked" a great little cafe in a mall that has all of the stores Alex would ever need - Canadian-made fashion, art & jewelry (mostly local) and yarn. Heaven!
Dinner was take out from the Klondike Rib & Salmon, a summertime only restaurant, which is really popular so we got takeout instead of waiting an hour for a table. They served us huge portions of ribs, salmon skewers, and an elk stroganoff with mashed potatoes & bannock. Needless to say, it was also lunch.
Sam ended up hanging out with us for a lot of the day, which was great. We had breakfast out with her, where we were introduced to the different levels of Yukon hospitality (according to Sam the government released a service brochure to try to make people better at interacting with customers. It didn't work). But the food was good, and I'm sure we've had worse waitresses in Ottawa. Then off to the SS Klondike for a quick tour. Parts of it were under renovation so we couldn't see it all, but it looked neat. Those things carried a lot of goods!
We walked along the water & enjoyed the kind of view you just don't get at home. Our mountains are hills in comparison. The Yukon river flows really fast!
Then we did some souvenir shopping. The local art even just around the city is lovely, and Sam took us to two great stores that sold beautiful paintings, jewelry, pottery, etc. Alex is going to spend a lot of money on this trip!
We spent the afternoon at the Beringia museum, learning about the land mass created around the Bering Straight and how it brought over so many animals and the first people's to North America. Interestingly, because this area was not covered in glaciers, it was a vast grassland where some amazing animals thrived. Our favourite was the giant sloth, although really how it survived I'm not sure. There were also woolly mammoths, mastodons, lions, horses, Buffalo, elk, giant beavers, muskox. It was also interesting to learn how the First Nations legends are sometimes used to find fossils, and also how the gold mining is finding fossils, and the partnerships that they say exist between miners and archeologists. Possibly we'll learn more about this in Dawson City.
One interesting thing we learned is that horses originated in North America, and moved to Asia across Beringia. Then they went extinct in North America until the Europeans brought them back.
Today was our greater-Whitehorse area exploring day. After a very slow start (and driving in the wrong direction & then deciding that loading up on gas whenever you leave town really is a good idea) we headed to the Yukon wildlife preserve. Since it was basically lunch time at this point, we attempted to go to Cafe Balzam at the Takhini hot springs, but it was closed. So instead we had lunch at the Bean North coffee shop, which was very yummy.
Now appropriately full, we headed to the wildlife preserve. It was a really nice walk, even with a light rain. We actually saw every animal that they have there (elk, caribou, moose, mule deer, snowshoe hare, arctic fox, red fox, mountain goats, wood bison, thinhorn sheep, muskox, Lynx, Arctic ground squirrel) in their natural habitats, which are quite varied. We also saw a bald eagle that must have been there for rehabilitation.
Alex got a bit too close to the Lynx enclosure, she got growled at. We were glad to be behind the fence. It was kind of creepy to see the Lynx prowling around mostly hidden in the tall grass and the three of them would move together like a pack even though we don't think they are pack animals. Creepy! They were impressive to see up close. Looking at the information book later, we discovered that they must have a lot of hair, because the males weigh only 2-3 times as much as our cat Tempest.
After our very strenuous (not really) walk, we were forced to head to the Takhini hot springs to relax. They are attached to a campground, and are two pools with water from a natural hot spring at temperatures of 36 and 42 degrees respectively. We timed things just right - in between the afternoon crowd and the people who were staying at the campground coming in to relax at the end of their day, so it was nice and peaceful.
We needed a fairly quick dinner, so we tried out the Vietnamese restaurant that Alex had seen the other day. We were told not to bother with the Chinese restaurants, but Vietnamese was fair game, and it was quite good.
Then we were off to our evenings entertainment, the Frantic Follies show. It's essentially the same show that they've been doing for 42 years, modelled after the shows the gold diggers and others in the Klondike would have watched during the gold rush. It was really good. The actors were very good at engaging the audience and made us laugh throughout. Alex's favourite part was when they played Pachelbel's Canon in D with saws instead of violins. Chad's favourite was the main actor who acted as the MC for the evening. He was very entertaining and excellent at playing a room.
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