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Thursday, 6 September 2012

Running FROM Yukon

My run for home.....






 






On highway 50 in the US southwest, touted as the loneliest highway in the world, there is an area just east of Reno where people have been doing stone words for years. I was happy to see that the same thing has begun happening on the Alaska Highway, just west of the 37 Junction.





 

 



 Just south of the Junction....just barley into BC. The light was starting to fail.





 I was driving along and something red caught my eye. Stopped..backed up and walked into the bush the couple hundred feet. I was thinking...a trap...someone has built a snare type trap. I am walking up to it and around it..and there a pile of dirt..and a very round hole...so, I am thinking no animal is going near this contraption...it's a bush toilet.







 



 Suns up and just coming south from Dease Lake.







 I saw this range as I was driving thru a construction area...that stretch for 45 k's....no place to even get off the road, so....stop and take the shots.






 I shot this just about 20k's from Mezziadan Junction.









Little bear at Mindy's Cafe in Kitwanga.








Things to say about my trip to Yukon.

The scenery isn't nearly as dramatic as I had anticipated. I expected towering peaks at every turn and the same sort of grandeur one see's in all of the glossy hand-outs. I know that these places exist, the pr stuff says they do, you just maybe have to hire a helicopter to actually see them. I will say tho, that the drive from Whitehorse to Carcross..that was awfully pretty.

The other thing that I noted..and really, this is what I am left with, as for impressions of things, is the people. Rude.

Unless they have their fingers on your wallet, they appear to care not, what you are saying, doing, asking. It is the 'Code of the North' I guess. If you aren't from the North, you ain't shit. The funny things is...they aren't from the North, either, most of them. They came here whatever number of years ago, but unless you are paying very close attention to what they say, you miss that part. Notice that I am drawing a distinction here...between BC's north and Yukon north and what I am saying does not apply to Alaska’s north because I wasn't there. (Which isn't correct, but that was a long time ago and I had local pals in Homer.) In stores and such, oh yeah...”hi, how are you?” on the street? Don't much say anything, but their eyeballs are all over you, trying to penetrate your cloths, maybe, to see if they can see a flag or an ID tag, see where this person gets sent back to. If your vehicle is something they can associate with you..then they are looking at your plate...and then observe, “oh, your not from Yukon”. No shit, Sherlock, I'm actually speaking to you, so that must mean I'm from somewhere else. People at gas bars...man, there was one at Pelly Crossing..I must have stood in front of this gal for 5 full minutes and she never once acknowledged me. It was manager guy that finally said, go pump your gas, and 'she will take care of it when you com in'..and she did. Sadly, that would be a recurring theme throughout my visit. By the way...just pass Pelly Crossing by..it is a hard place.

Business is business, whether from the North or from Timbuktu. Except that in the North, people excuse bad practises as..”oh, it's like that here”. People don't do what they said thy would be doing, or it's done in a haphazard fashion. God help you, if you are trying to work in a government context. Once it's for government, people just don't care if it's done or not. Or how it's done. Or when it's done. Don't make the mistake of thinking that people will be on time or have their shit together..nope..this is The North, by God, and we'll do it....maybe. I really don't mind that mind-set, I just wish that they'd tell you up front..'oh, by the way...just because we say we are going to do something, we don't necessarily mean it to be that way'. Then, I too, could have gotten with the program and done fuck-all. Which is probably not the way the contractor I was doing the Interview's for really works, but the people they have hired and the methodology/planning sucks. As I went thru the stages to get myself up here and doing the survey's there were some questions about apparel..a uniform, of sorts. I was to be issued shirts..that would be plural..more than one, eh....a hat and a jacket. This was to identify me as 'official', not just hanging out in rural areas, asking people to talk to me. I got a shirt. One fucking shirt, for ten days. I didn't even bother to wear it till the last two days. Oh yeah..and bit of paper on a string, with my first name on it and a photocopied coloured map of Yukon. But...in all of that...no one blinked. Not one person went screaming off into the wilderness, afraid that I was there to rape, steal, or in any way, offend them. So...I dunno...maybe the id doesn't matter, or maybe I am skillful in how I approach people in a disarming manner.

I want to come back to the attitude stuff..'in the North we do it s-l-o-w-l-y'. I have dealt with this many times in my jaunts. I have spent lots of time on reservations all over the Pacific Northwest and Southwest and I have dealings with First Nations folks in Kitimat and all along Highway 16 in NORTHERN BC. I get along fine with the 'take it easy' thing...it's often called “Indian Time” or 'Tico' time in Costa Rica...or 'Cubano' time in Cuba. But in all of those scenario's? They don't ignore you..they include you in the conversation or problem solving..like..'fuck, who's fuckin gonna fix the fuckin flat?'

And I really hate bugs. The biting things that swarm you when you get out of your vehicle and you feel a hot poker type feeling..and then you see you are bleeding....again.

The best part...I liked Keno. I don't mean the town itself, which is fine, but some of the people. There is a cafe...Keno Cafe or something like that..the operator/owner..Mike. A cool dude and just plain nice. Had a roomful of guys and thee were all friendly and yakkin. A truckload of chix pulled in, a new mining crew for some small outfit up there and there was right off, talk of a party in town 'tonight' and which place would have it. There are two drinking joints, in Keno, apparently and the selection was made and then it got down to serious talk about music and grub...and I could see that this was going to be an all-night, slam bang, get down and dirty escapade. Life is made up of choices.....I left and drove back to Mayo for the night.

I liked Faro. A broken community. Used to have a great mine there and now...meh. A few employed but overall, just weeds growing over condo's and not much more. Although, I will say...I was asking a guy for directions to the bar and he said, nah..have one of ours. Ultimately, I did neither, but it was nice of him to offer. The people that man the Visitor Information Centre and also the Craft barn...really nice. There was/is wifi at the VIC and although it's encrypted...everyone has the code. Park in the lot and no one minds.

Carmacks..I spent five nights, off and on, in that RV park and one has to make certain 'adjustments'. A First Nations community and the motel cashes the monthly cheques and then they go into the motels bar..buy off- sales..then sit in the RV park and do their thing. And everyone drives thru the rv park. No sense taking the road all the way to the corner...another 50 ft..nope, cut thru the RV's. Trucks, cars, ATV's...even a few people actually walking.

Carcross exsists to serve the people that come from cruise ships in Skagway and the RV crowd. For sure, there is some cool history, but by and large...ok ok...go.

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Things to know if you are going....the Wal-Mart campground is like you have never seen before. Free, easy..just pull in and you are home.

Enviro Lube is the only shop that can do oil/lubes on large vehicles. They are goo..fast and seem to do a good job.

Kal Tire has a shop in Whitehorse and I have only good things to say about them. I deal whenever I can with Kal because they have shops all over BC, Alberta, Saskatchewan and some other places too. They stand by their work, hands down, so if you have an issue, you don't have to go back to the original shop, you go to the nearest.

You can get free wifi at Staples, Tim Hortons and the usual places..McDonalds and Starbucks. The Staples lot is big and a great food store there too. I overnighted there, although locals don't recommend that..the liquor store is next door and there is a rough crowd that hangs out there. I was there on a long-weekend, liquor store closed for two days, so the peeps were other places.




The question then is...'would I go again?'.  I don't have a ready answer just yet. If I were to go back with the contractor, it would depend on what they wanted me to do. Would I go on my own? You bet, but with Sharon and in the fall, after a frost or two has put the bugs away.