En route due south to Watson Lake

I’m back in Teslin, being too exhausted to make it all the way to Nugget City tonight.

My departure from Dawson was the easiest departure yet, ironically enough. Everything was so under control that I partied hard at Gerties my last two nights, stumbling home in the wee hours of the morning. That happened to be past two yesterday, with departure slated for hopefully no later than noon. Let’s just say I wasn’t expecting to make it to Whitehorse till late, if at all!

To my surprise, I was up at about nine, had everything packed and ready to go by ten, took some things up to a storage locker by eleven, and was on the road by quarter to twelve. Shocking! 😀

The goodbyes were heart wrenching, but it’d be a lie to say that I wasn’t happy to be back on the road. I stopped at Mackenzie Petroleum for gas, 1.20$ per litre and then drove long and hard. The weather alternated between sun, rain, and mist. The mountains were covered in bright yellow leaves surrounded by lush evergreens. I have yet to tire of the Yukon landscapes.

I only had a quarter tank of fuel when I hit Carmacks, so I decided to gas up there, but was thwarted at both gas stations by selfish idiots parked in front of the pumps while they ate a meal! At neither location was anyone inclined to move until they were good and ready and staff didn’t care about the loss of a 200$ sale. Braeburn Lodge, a short ways down the highway, was happy to have my business. *shrugs*

Whitehorse was a welcome sight after 530km of driving. I was bone tired and just wanted to crash with a movie. I pulled into the Walmart and unhooked the toad so that I could park away from the road, went in for a movie, got some dinner, and I was done for the night. I went to bed at 10 and slept solidly until 7!!!

Today was nuts. Oh, everything went smoothly, but I had a million things to buy and it was unnerving to spend so much money! I had breakfast at Starbucks and then drove Miranda over to the Shell station for propane and fuel. The propane pump is oddly located, forcing the owners of longer motorhomes to park with their ass end in the laneway. Just that made it sensible for me to have unhooked, even though I don’t like to unhook when I’m Walmarting it. But I had a ton of errands to run, so it made sense to be parked centrally (the RV parks are all on the outskirts) and to have my car accessible. Propane was relatively cheap, 83 cents per litre, if I recall correctly, and gas was at 1.03$. I’m already under budget for gas, which is awesome! Once everything was topped up, I had to deal with my propane tank, which was leaking from the Extend-a-Stay opening. I quickly ascertained that this was because the opening was dirty. A quick swipe with a cotton swab solved the problem and allowed a proper seal with the cover.

The rest of my day went something like this, but not necessarily in this order:

I stocked up on a mega ton of groceries and a ton of beer, did some banking, and hit up Canadian Tire (found another oil heater on mega sale!), Staples (found an external hard drive on mega sale!),  Shoppers Drugmart (for the generator…), and Home Hardware (for something I’ll reveal in a later post). And let’s not forget the Walmart shopping spree for all the luxuries I’ve been rationing for two months, like toilet paper.

By the time I got home for the last time, it was mid-afternoon and I was sorely tempted to just stay the night in Whitehorse. But I had had my fill of that city with little charm and just wanted to get away from all the people.

50km shy of Teslin, I knew it would be my stop for the night. It would be dinner time by then; a push to Watson Lake would take me to at least 8pm. I was famished and exhausted and knew that by the time I said all my hellos and settled into a back in spot in Nugget City it would be past 9, maybe later.

As a compromise, I’m not on hookups tonight, paying 15$ to dry camp with access to the showers (which I’ll use seeing as I remember how clean they are) and the internet. I had a quick, but well-balanced dinner, and in short order I’m going to curl up with a good book and a mug of tea.

Tomorrow, I’ll be able to sleep in, enjoy the morning, and still get to Watson Lake at a reasonable hour.

Tired as I was last night, I still managed to find the energy to pen a few words in my journal, which I’ll quote verbatim as I tend to find myself funny when I’m this tired. 🙂

Back on the road!!!!!!!!!!

With Yukon plates!!!!!!!!!

With a Dawson City address!!!!!!!!!!!!

Going to Vancouver Island!!!!!!!!!!!!!

With a guaranteed job next summer!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Forgettable Gestures

I went to Gertie’s tonight for pizza and beer and wound up staying for the 8:30 show. Just as I finished my beer, the server came up to me and said “I have a free drink for you if you want it. It’s a vodka 7-up.”

I gratefully accepted it (and handed her a one dollar tip). The room was packed, so the only reason I can fathom that she picked me to get the free drink is that I gave her a big tip for the beer. This was probably a forgettable gesture for her, but for me it was a very much appreciated favour. I wouldn’t have ordered this drink on my own, but it was a real treat and a perfect cap to a perfect anniversary.

If someone had told me a year ago that I would have spent today on the Dempster Highway, came home to Dawson City, and spent the evening at Diamond Tooth Gertie’s, I would have called them big dreamers. And I would have said that after that, my cup would be running over, there’d be nothing more I’d want. I would have been wrong on both counts.

*raises a glass to Year Two*: Inuvik, here I come!

An Evening at Gertie’s

Last night, I met at Diamond Tooth Gertie’s the cyclists I picked up on Friday.

We ended up staying for all three shows, at 8:30, 10:30, and midnight. We were there four and a half hours! I wish I had known that it’s okay to take pictures of the shows.

The 8:30 wound up being my favourite. It’s the most ‘cancan-y’ of the three, with lots of swirling petticoats and leg kicks. The 10:30 wasn’t bad, but it was more song than dance. The midnight show was disappointing. I’d been told it was the most flamboyant and naughty show, but I found it less flamboyant and naughty than the 10:30.

What amused me the most about the evening was how many people came into Gertie’s and gravitated to my table. I didn’t realise how many folks I’m friendly with! Even Mark and Victor, the guides from the Chilkoot, walked in at one point, fresh off the Yukon River from guiding a canoe trip! Talk about an authentic gold rush experience; discussing our slog over the Chilkoot at Diamond Tooth Gerties!

I hadn’t had a night out in too long, so a couple of pints, some pizza, entertainment, and conversation were just what I needed. The best part is that thanks to my season pass, the evening only cost me twenty dollars. Of course, it helps that I didn’t gamble!

A Night on the Town

When I arrived in Dawson City, I promised myself a night on the town with dinner and a show soon as I got my first pay cheque. Since getting first said pay cheque, no night felt ‘right.’ But, after today’s grueling workload, a night on the town was just what I needed, so I went out and had some fun.

First stop was Sourdough Joe’s for dinner. I’d heard good things about this restaurant, so I didn’t explore other options. I had the ‘special’–king salmon with lemon-butter sauce, steamed veggies (carrots and green beans), and herbed rice. The meal was very good; nothing fancy or special, but the price was just right for a homestyle dinner. I had a beer with it and came out at 26$ with tip which would not be considered expensive south of the 60th parallel for such a meal. I will definitely go back to this restaurant and try their ‘famous’ fish and chips.

Next stop was Klondyke Cream & Candy. As it turns out they rotate flavours, so the triple chocolate brownie I was addicted to is no longer available. No problem, I am now addicted to New York-style cherry cheesecake over peanut butter chocolate. 😀

And, then, the pièce de résistance: Diamond Tooth Gerties. This is the oldest casino in Canada and it is non-profit to boot, so all the money taken in goes back to the community. There are three cancan shows a night. Entrance to Gerties for two nights is 6$ per person. In case that’s not clear, a 6$ pass gets you access to all three shows for two nights. What a bargain! As an employee in the tourism industry, I get an even better bargain, a free season’s pass! I like to go out for a drink on occasion and will make it a point to time these outings with a Gerties show!

I went in a bit early tonight and played the slot machines, something I do very rarely, but which is fun on occasion. I never play more than my budget and I find it sad to watch the compulsive gamblers who are so stressed out and focussed on winning. I played the penny slots and had fun watching my fortune wax and wane. Then I sat down in front of the stage and ordered a drink, trying out a house special called ‘Gertie’s Garter’ which is rum, some sort of fruity liqueur, and cranberry and pineapple juices; very tasty!

The show started promptly at 8:30 (next shows are 10:30 and midnight) and it was a lot of fun. I loved watching the incredibly athletic gals kick up their heels, showing off beautiful coloured petticoats. All the staff at Gerties is dressed to the nines, with the servers and show girls dressed in period costumes. When the music starts, you are transported back 120 years in history to the Gold Rush days; it is quite an experience!

When leaving Gerties, I suggest putting on sunglasses inside the dimly lit building as the glaring 9PM sun will just about blind you. 😀

Thursday through Saturday

Oookay. It’s as if I’ve lived a million lifetimes since my last post.



Day started at the Hollywood Museum, outside of which I apparently ran straight into Drew Barrymore. At any rate, that was the consensus among the group who happened to see a strikingly familiar looking woman…. Inside, there were three floors of amazing movie props and memorabilia, ranging from Gone With the Wind and Stargate costumes to items from Marilyn Monroe’s home. The museum is housed in the Max Factor building and I saw the ‘green room’ where he found Lucille Ball’s perfect shade of red. I highly recommend this museum to movie buffs.

Then I took a two block walking tour of Hollywood, which was really interesting because we got to go into two places where tourists can’t go alone. The first was a ‘speak easy’, which was a secret drinking room from the prohibition era. The second was the Egyptian theatre, usually only accessible if you have tickets to see a movie there. It has a beautiful ceiling!

Finally, I had a semi-private (group of four) tour of the Kodak Theatre, where the Oscars are hosted every year. This alone made my trip to Hollywood worth it. So, we were wandering around backstage for a minute when the guide said: “Get your speeches ready!” and pointed through some curtains. Next thing I knew, I was on the very spot where the winners give their speeches! Once the awe dropped a little, I gazed out over the familiar theatre and realised just how beautiful it is. I quickly ran through my list of favourite actors who have been busy lately and came up with one name. “Do you know where George Clooney sat last year?” I asked the guide. He grinned and said: “You got one I do know. Right there–” he added, pointing to a seat. “That’s where George Clooney was sitting when he got his Oscar for ‘Syriana’.” As a JOKE I said to him: “Can I go sit in George Clooney’s seat?” and the guide said YES!!!! So, I went down to the first row of seats and perched myself on the edge of the seat, but was told to make myself comfy for a bit and admire George’s view, which I did. 🙂 When we finally moved on, the guide whispered to me: “Go look at a couple of years worth of Oscar footage–Leonardo Dicaprio sat in that seat this year for ‘The Departed’ and Clint Eastwood sat there two years ago for ‘Million Dollar Baby.’ I bet you’ll be watching the telecast next year to see who’s in YOUR seat!” Is that cool or what?! LOL

I’d then had more than my fill of LA and decided that a studio tour or visit of the Griffith Observatory would require more energy than I was willing to put in, so I decided to take off for San Diego so I could visit Tijuana Friday morning.

The drive to San Diego was long because of traffic in both LA and San Diego, but tolerable, and I arrived around 6 at my motel a mere ten minutes from the Mexican border.


Woke up early and took off for the border. Parked, then walked to Mexico (not something I ever thought I’d write!). There are NO border checks whatsoever! I wandered around Tijuana for a couple of hours, picking up a purse and some place mats and visiting the wax museum (surprisingly good), but I got my fill pretty quickly. The city was hot, dirty, and stinky and the cat calls and pleas to come look at junk were getting harder and harder to ignore. But what fun! I got to barter in Spanish (apparently, I paid a reasonable price for my purse considering its low quality), and met a shop keeper who gave me tips on how to not get taken and how to get around Tijuana. He said I had no obligation to buy from his shop, even after I’d picked out the place mats, but I insisted, considering a) how much time he’d spent talking to me and b) how unique and inexpensive the place mats were. He was a welcome respite from the hustle and bustle of the street. I also visited a Mexican supermarket, which had most of the same products as in the US/Canada and a surprisingly good level of hygiene.

The guide books make a big deal about easy it is to get to Tijuana, but there is no mention about how hard and long it is to get back! I stood in line under the harsh Mexican sun (please roll your eyes at that) for almost two hours before I finally got to a border control officer who seemed confused by my Canadian passport and the fact that I was alone:
Him: When did you cross over into Mexico?
Me: This morning.
Him: And you’re alone?
Me: Yes.
Him: What did you buy in Mexico?
Me: A purse and place mats.
Him: *stares at my passport for a minute* Do you live in Mexico?
Me (thinking WTF?!): No…
Him: And. You. Went. To. Mexico. ALONE?
Me: Yes.
Him: Ooookay. Have a nice day.
Geeze, I was going to a very touristy place, not some dark back alley….

The rest of Friday sucked donkeys and doesn’t merit much mention except that it really, really, really, really, really, really, really sucked donkeys to spend seven hours in stop and go traffic from the Mexican border through San Diego and Orange counties and realise that at the rate you’re going, you’ll be lucky to get to San Francisco in a week.

Let me pause here to say that signage for the coast highway is really bad and I wound up on a Navy base. Twice. The first time, the soldier was very friendly, telling me to go to the lights and do a u-turn. Which I did, to find him frowning and waving me over. He didn’t like that I didn’t have a licence plate. That was so not fun, even though my car was legally registered. The US government is SCARY!!! I know I’ll laugh about this. Someday. Maybe The second ‘u-ey’ on a naval base was fine…ish.

At any rate, I had to give up my plans for driving up the coast and wound up taking the five, which is inland, and which added I don’t know how many miles to my trip but saved me perhaps an hour of stop and go traffic through LA, not that that’s saying much since I got a couple of hours of stop and go traffic beyond LA. Let’s just say that I was very tired, very angry, very frustrated, and very exhausted by the time it was dark and I was passing Bakersfield with still a hard five hours to San Francisco when I had hoped to have only an easy two hours left. So, I capitulated and did the smart thing, pulling into a motel that was surprisingly cheap and very nice. The only part of that trip worth remembering was my most memorable Esbat ever, driving down a lonely California highway with the full moon in my rear view mirror.

Let me pause here to say that California is a lot like Ontario, with concentrated urban centres that have very little between them, at least when you go through the centre of the state. It can become frighteningly desolate, especially when you’re going through the mountains and it’s getting dark and you haven’t seen a motel for many miles. I’m glad I had the smarts to stop when I did see one, instead of pushing on a bit longer.

I took off at seven this morning and made it to Neil’s for twelve. I dropped off my luggage then went downtown to return the car, came back here for food and entertainment, then went down to the Wharf just to smell and see the sea one last time.

Thus ends what I think has been the most amazing journey of my life, one that took me out of my comfort and familiar zone completely.

I’ll have lots of time in the next few weeks to put up more pictures for those interested.

If all goes according to scheduling, I will be taxiing in for a landing in Ottawa in precisely 25 hours.