Monday, August 4, 2014

Alaska and the Yukon - Whitehorse, Yukon

July 10
Whitehorse, Yukon

This morning we woke up to sun and blue skies, perfect weather.  It’s a little weird to be this far north as the sun finally lowered after midnight and rose again about 3:00 AM and never got really dark.  Our excursion this morning is to the Yukon Wildlife Preserve which was pretty interesting, but also a little disappointing.  The disappointing part was that the animals were all fenced in; very large fence areas, but fenced.  I guess we kind of expected a large game preserve where the animals roamed at will, but the main purpose of this preserve is for animal rescue so I could see where the fences were necessary.  The work they were doing there was very impressive and a good cause.  We did see eagles, bison, big horn and mountain sheep, lynx, musk ox, caribou and we think, a beaver.  A guide from the park got on our bus and acted as our guide in the park and she provided us with lots of interesting information.  It really was a good trip, we just were expecting something different.

Those are bison off in the distance.

We think this is a beaver, but it could also be an otter.

Big horn sheep.

Val trying to get a picture of a musk ox through the fence.
A Musk Ox

Zooming in on the musk ox


A caribou buck.
And a couple of does.

We returned to the hotel just before noon and then set out to look for a place to eat.  After looking around a bit, we returned to Klondike Ribs and Salmon where we both had a Salmon Veggie Wrap which was really good. 

After lunch we decided to visit the MacBride Museum of Yukon History which proved to be very interesting, and just a couple of blocks from our hotel. When we got there the museum clerk said they were having a lecture in a few minutes and we were just in time to attend a presentation by dog sled musher Marcelle Fressineau, a woman who competes in the Iditarod and the Yukon Quest dog sled races.  Most everyone has heard of the Iditarod, but we had never heard of the Yukon Quest that runs between Whitehorse and Fairbanks, Alaska with the start alternating between the two cities in alternate years.  The Yukon Quest is the same length (1,000 miles) as the Iditarod, but not as well-known, at least to us. It was a very interesting talk as she spoke of the dogs, training and preparation and the race itself.  She also brought along a couple of eight-week old husky puppies from her kennel. Here is a link to an interesting video of Marcelle finishing the 2012 Yukon Quest, and here is a link to an interview with her.  As you can tell, we were fascinated by her and her story and we have a whole new respect for those who compete in the Iditarod and Yukon Quest, and especially the dogs. There were only about eight people at the lecture so we got to talk to Marcelle and play with her puppies, which was a real treat. Marcelle has entered the 2015 Iditarod (to begin March 7th) so we will be anxious to see how she does.  The whole museum is very interesting and was well worth the visit.

A future sled dog in the making
Marcelle and one of her puppies
This picture is not very sharp, but a great picture of
Marcelle, Val, and a future sled dog champ.

One of the museum exhibits showing a replica of a Canadian Mountie's living quarters.
The Yukon River runs right through Whitehorse so after the museum we decide to take a stroll along the river walk.  It was a nice walk on a beautiful day, very enjoyable.  After a bit, Val decided to go back into town, but I decided to walk on to where the SS Klondike, an old river paddle wheeler was preserved. Paddle wheel boats were used by the gold rush "stampeders" to make their way up the Yukon River to Dawson City, so they figure prominently in the rich history of the gold rush. 
A local artist taking advantage of the beautiful day.

The Yukon River
The SS Klondike

The Whitehorse city flag.
Looking down the Whitehorse main street.
For dinner tonight we decided to eat at the hotel.  It was a beautiful evening and there is a nice patio area so we had a nice dinner outside.  After dinner we bought some muffins for breakfast tomorrow and called it a night as we have to get up early tomorrow for a long bus ride to Dawson City.

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