Around the World... One Journey at a Time. Around the World... One Journey at a Time.

North to Alaska - Live!

by Kathy 22. June 2011 23:17

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Whitehorse, Capital of the Yukon


The small city of Whitehorse, Yukon, was enchanting. So enchanting that my mind started drifting to thoughts of “I wonder what the school system is like here?”, “How expensive are the houses?”, and “I bet the dirt biking is excellent in the summer.” All those thoughts came to a screeching halt, however, when a new arrival to town told me that the temperature was 40 below zero when he stepped off the bus this past January.

Still, the city had a vibrant energy, and we found a lot to do in our two days here.  It proved to be the perfect place to celebrate Genevieve's 12th birthday! 

One of our first stops was at the visitor’s center:

The artwork on the side of the building had 3-D birds dangling over the scenery:

The center’s front desk was staffed by people who greeted us with a smile and provided maps and information to ensure that we had a great time in their city.

One of the things that I appreciated about Whitehorse was the inclusion of the First Nations in the public art and exhibits. In a sidewalk plaque about the city’s history, the first paragraph described how the nomadic First Nations had lived here on a seasonal basis for thousands of years, and that their favorite trails, camping areas and fishing spots still remain in the hearts of the Elders today.

Near the visitor’s center was a marble and steel sculpture of traditional totem poles called “Building on the Past, Looking to the Future” by artist Ken Anderson.

As for relatively recent history, Whitehorse was “settled” in 1898 during the Klondike Gold Rush. Because of its location on the Yukon River, it became an important transportation hub for miners heading further north. After the gold rush was over, Whitehorse received an economic boost when the Alcan Highway rolled through in 1942. It is now the capital of the Yukon.

Before the Alcan was built, sternwheelers played an important role in transporting people and goods up and down the river, between Whitehorse and Dawson City. One of the largest sternwheelers was the S.S. Klondike, now on display in Whitehorse:

The rear paddle wheel was gigantic:

The SS Klondike was located near a large public park that had a splash zone for kids, as well as a playground that Genevieve and Sebastian couldn’t resist:

A local boy joined Sebastian and Genevieve on their favorite piece of equipment, which I nicknamed “the child chucker”:

Another interesting sight in town was the “log cabin skyscraper”:

Sebastian pretended to be a “musher” on the sculpture outside of the old train station:

The sculpture celebrates the importance of sled dog races in this area. Whitehorse is the starting point for the Yukon Quest, an annual 1000-mile sled dog race between Whitehorse and Fairbanks. The race occurs in February, and many consider it to be the toughest sled dog race in the world, with evengreater challenges than the Iditarod.

A great place to spend a few hours was the Beringia Center, which had excellent exhibits and activities related to the land bridge that had developed between Alaska and Siberia during the last Ice Age:

The glaciers during that time had retained so much water that the sea level dropped almost 500 feet, which exposed the bottom of the Bering Sea and created the land connection shown in green below:

One of the animals that lived on the lush grasses covering that bridge was the wooly mammoth:

The giant beaver (now extinct) also shared those grasslands:

Inside the Beringia Center were many exciting activities for kids. One was a hide-and-seek game in which a small plastic mammoth was hidden somewhere in the center; if you found it, you received a certificate and then got to hide it yourself for the next person to find. Genevieve and Sebastian rose to the challenge, and each found the mammoth at least once. Here is Genevieve holding her certificate in front of a wooly mammoth skeleton:

The kids also enjoyed putting together a puzzle of the western camel:

One of the fascinating things that we learned at the center was that the camel, as well as the horse, actually originated and evolved in North America.  The migration over the land bridge wasn't just from west to east.  Indeed, both the camel and the horse crossed over the bridge in the opposite direction, from here into Asia, and then became extinct in North America. (Horses were re-introduced to North American when Europeans brought them over in the 1500’s.)

Genevieve and I became engrossed in a challenging puzzle that required us to match patches of actual fur with the correct animal names. Here we are looking through the booklet of animal photographs:

Our completed matches:

Sebastian put together some electronic animal puzzles on the computer:

Many of our questions at the center were answered by Carine, whose enthusiasm and obvious love for her job greatly enhanced our visit. Here she is with Genevieve:

Behind the center was this First Peoples sculpture:

While we were standing next to the sculpture, a man came out to give a demonstration on how the First Peoples used throwing sticks to launch long arrows much farther than a mere arm could throw them.

He then gave both Sebastian and Genevieve some basic instructions, and they flung their arrows through the air:

After leaving the center, we traveled to another wonderful place near Whitehorse--Miles Canyon, with its white suspension bridge:

The original bridge had been built in 1922.

Genevieve, on the bridge:

The canyon was once full of treacherous white water, but a nearby dam had raised the water level about 30 feet. The former rapids were now calm, and the water was a gorgeous turquoise.

On the other side of the bridge were some great hiking and bicycling trails, including one that followed the edge of the cliff—and you can guess which one the kids were begging us to walk along! Genevieve and Sebastian also made a beeline right for the small land form that jutted out into the lake—almost an island:

Here is Genevieve on top of it:

Sebastian and Ben, at the tip:

Once back across the bridge, Genevieve led us on a steep “shortcut” (let me add a big “ha!” here) back to the RV:

To top off the celebration of Geneveive's birthday, we enjoyed a side-splitting evening at “Frantic Follies”—a vaudeville show that was a perfect blend of comedy, song, and dance.

I honestly can’t remember the last time that I laughed so much.

Genevieve's birthday was also summer solstice—the longest “day” of the year. Good thing too, as we needed that extra time to experience so many of the fun things to do in Whitehorse.  

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Map of Our Journeys

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Our travel map

Places We’ve Been, w/Quick Links

   Bumthang Valley
   Gom Kora
   Paro Valley
   Punakha Dzong
   Sangdrup Jongkhar
   Wangdi Phrodrang

   Janko Marca
   La Paz
   Laguna Colorada
   Laguna Verde
   Salar de Coipasa
   Salar de Uyuni
   San Pablo
   Santa Rosa
   Sud Lipez
   World’s Most Dangerous Road

   Banff National Park
   Battle Hill Nat'l Hist. Site
   Boya Lake Prov. Park, BC
   Burns Lake Bike Park
   Canyon Sainte-Anne
   Dawson Creek
   Eastern Townships
   Fort Nelson
   Jasper National Park
   Kluane Lake, YK
   'Ksan Historical Village
   Lake Louise
   Liard Hot Springs
   Niagara Falls
   Quebec City
   Thousand Islands
   Vancouver Island
   Watson Lake

   Forbidden City
   Great Wall at Mutianyu
   Hong Kong
   Summer Palace
   Terracotta Warriors
   Tiananmen Square
   Yungang Caves

Costa Rica
   Arenal Volcano
   Finca Corsicana
   Hanging Bridges
   Manuel Antonio
   Poas Volcano
   Proyecto Asis
   Sky Trek Zip Lining
   Venado Caves


   Amazon Rainforest
   Chaquiñan Bicycle Trail
   La Mitad del Mundo
   Napo Wildlife Center
   Papallacta Hot Springs
   Proyecto DCR
   Yasuní National Park


   Baja California
   Frida Kahlo Museum
   Hierve el Agua
   Marietas Islands
   Mexico City
   Monte Alban
   Oaxaca City
   Puerto Angel
   Puerto Escondido
   Puerto Vallarta
   San Agustin
   San Martin Tilcajete
   Santa Fe de la Laguna
   Santa María el Tule
   Studio of Jacobo Angeles
   Teotitlán del Valle

   Dead Vlei
   Elondo Village
   Etosha Nat'l Park
   Hippo Pools Camp
   Hoba Meteorite
   Khowarib Camp
   Moose McGregor's Bakery
   Mowani Camp
   Ngepi Camp
   Nkasa Lupala
   n'Kwzi Camp
   River Dance Lodge
   Seisriem Camp
   Treesleeper Camp

   Cañón del Pato
   Cerro de Pasco
   La Oroya
   Machu Picchu
   Nuevo Jaén
   Tingo Maria
   Yungay Memorial


South Africa

   Rock of Gibraltar
   Santillana del Mar

United States National Parks
   Arches National Park, UT
   Badlands National Park, SD
   Bandelier National Monument, NM
   Bryce Canyon National Park, UT
   Cahokia Mounds (UNESCO site), IL
   Carlsbad Caverns National Park, NM
   Canyon de Chelly Nat'l Monument, AZ
   Cape Hatteras National Shoreline, NC
   Capitol Reef National Park, UT
   Civil Rights Memorial, AL
   Death Valley National Park, CA
   Denali National Park, AK
   Devil’s Tower National Monument, WY
   El Morro National Monument, NM
   Ford’s Theater in Washington, D.C.
   Glacier National Park, MT
   Grand Canyon National Park, AZ
   Grand Tetons National Park, WY
   Great Basin National Park, NV
   Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, HI
   Joshua Tree National Park, CA
   Kaloko-Honokohau Nat'l Hist. Park, HI
   Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks, NM
   King's Canyon National Park, CA
   Martin Luther King Jr. Nat'l Hist. Site, GA
   Mesa Verde National Park, CO
   Montezuma's Castle Nat'l Monument, AZ
   Monticello, VA
   Mount Rushmore National Memorial, SD
   Mt. Rainier National Park, WA
   Olympic National Park, WA
   Petrified Wood National Park, AZ
   Pinnacles National Monument, CA
   Pu'uhonua o Honaunau Nat'l Hist Pk, HI
   Pu'ukohola Heiau Nat'l Historic Site, HI
   San Antonio Missions Nat'l Hist. Park, TX
   Tuzigoot National Monument, AZ
   Walnut Canyon National Monument, AZ
   Washington Monument
   White Sands National Monument, NM
   Wrangell-St. Elias National Park, AK
   Wright Brothers National Memorial in NC
   Yellowstone National Park, WY
   Yosemite National Park, CA

United States, Cities and Places
   The Alamo, TX
   Alaska Wildlife Conservation Cntr.
   Alpine Loop in CO
   Anchorage, AK
   Antares Junction, AZ
   Arctic Circle, AK
   Barrel Oak Winery in VA
   Biloxi, MS
   Bottle Tree Farm in CA
   Calico Ghost Town, CA
   Canfield Mountain Trail System, ID
   Cape St. Vincent, NY
   Carson City, NV
   Carter Caves State Park in KY
   Chappie-Shasta OHV Area, CA
   Child's Glacier, AK
   Circle B Chuckwagon Show in SD
   City Museum in MO
   Cody, WY
   Corn Palace in SD
   Crazy Horse Memorial in SD
   Custer State Park, SD
   Dalton Highway, AK
   Dinosaur Tracks in AZ
   Discovery Place in Charlotte, NC
   Dry Falls (Sun Lakes-Dry Falls), WA
   Fairbanks, AK
   Front Royal, VA
   Gallup, NM
   Goffs, CA
   Grand Canyon Caves, AZ
   Grand Canyon Skywalk, AZ
   Grave Digger Monster Truck in NC
   Great Salt Lake, UT
   Hackberry General Store in AZ
   Hannibal, MO
   Hatteras Island, NC
   Hawaii (Big Island)
   Hickison Petroglyphs, NV
   Holbrook, AZ
   Hole in the Rock, UT
   Homer, AK
   Honey Island Swamp Tour in LA
   Hoover Dam, NV
   Hyder, AK
   Jim Gray’s Petrified Wood Co. in AZ
   John’s Peak OHV Area, OR
   Kailua-Kona, HI
   Keepers of the Wild Nature Park in AZ
   Kennecott, AK
   Kennecott Copper Mine in UT
   Kingman, AZ
   Lake Havasu, AZ
   Lake Tahoe, NV
   Las Vegas, NV (winter 2010)
   Little Brown Church in IA
   London Bridge in AZ
   Loneliest Road in America, Hwy. 50, NV
   Los Angeles, CA
   Lost Colony Show on Roanoke Isl., NC
   Lowe’s Speedway in NC
   Mardi Gras World in LA
   Mark Twain Museum in MO
   Meteor Crater, AZ
   Million Dollar Highway, CO
   Minnesota Zoo
   Mitchell, SD
   Moab, UT
   Moab, UT (dirt biking)
   Montgomery, AL
   Montpelier, ID
   Navajo Nation, AZ
   Needles, CA
   Nevada Beach, NV
   Newberry Springs, CA
   New River Gorge, WV
   New Orleans, LA
   Niagara Falls 
   North Pole, AK
   Oatman, AZ
   Old Faithful Geyser in WY
   Omak Stampede, WA
   Painted Desert, AZ
   Park City, UT (summer)
   Plymouth, NC
   Portage Valley, AK
   Portland, OR
   Prospect OHV Trail System, OR
   Resaca, GA
   Riverside State Park, WA
   Rock City in TN
   Rosa Parks Library and Museum in AL
   Roswell, NM
   Russian River, AK
   Salt Lake City, UT
   San Antonio, TX
   San Diego, CA
   San Juan Islands, WA
   San Francisco, CA
   Santa Catalina Island, CA
   Seattle, WA
   Sedona, AZ
   Shoe Tree in CA
   Shoe Tree in NV
   Silverton, CO
   Sonora, TX
   St. Louis, MO
   St. Paul, MN
   Talkeetna, AK
   Telluride, CO
   Route 66
   Twin Knobs Recreation Area in KY
   Virginia Beach, VA
   Washington D.C.
   Wayne Fitzgerrell State Park in IL
   Williamsburg, VA
   Winom Frazier OHV Area, OR
   Winslow, AZ
   Zion National Park, UT

Planning Our Adventures

For us, each journey begins with the initial heart pangs to venture to a certain part of the world. Then the ideas start coming together . . . ahh, the possibilities . . . and the dream evolves gradually into an actual plan. But, oh, the joy of the dream!  Click here to learn more about how we plan and prepare for our journeys.

Where Are We Now?

Click here to discover where we are now, as well as our uncoming travel plans.

Words for the Heart

“. . . and then the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”

Anais Nin