Photo Friday: Sunrise in Whitehorse

23 03 2012

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Welcome to Frozen Danger Land!

10 03 2012


Last year on this site, I reviewed Mad Dogs and an Englishwoman, a Yukon dogsledding memoir by British travel writer Polly Evans. I was pretty hard on the book – in large part because, as I wrote, it seemed that Evans tended to “exoticize or dramatize the Yukon, which, really, is dramatic enough on its own terms.”

It seemed like Evans felt a need to introduce a (not entirely genuine, in my view) sense of danger: There are references to the proper techniques to prevent drowning, should she happen to fall through the ice on a frozen lake or river — this, despite the fact that she’s being taught how to mush by experienced guides at one of the region’s best-known tour operators, well able to avoid any potential weak spots in the (very thick) mid-winter ice.

At one point Evans referred to her arrival in “one of the harshest climates on Earth,” and I thought to myself: Come on, lady. We have not one but TWO Starbucks franchises in town. Sure, it gets cold, but when you get down to it Whitehorse is really quite a civilized place.

Later I referred to my home receiving a “sort of Frozen Danger Land! theme park treatment.” Evidently, said treatment made me a tad touchy and defensive.

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Read This Now: ‘Hell Frozen Over’

8 03 2012

Sportsnet Magazine has a long feature on this year’s Yukon Quest, and it really brings the trials and joys of the race to life.

Here’s an excerpt from the start in Fairbanks:

Each musher takes one last walk down the gang line, scratching vibrating ears and shouting encouragement to the dogs. A whoop goes up from the crowd as each countdown finishes, and one by one, the mushers yank out the snow hooks anchoring their sleds, finally allowing their teams to lurch out of the start chute and down the frozen river toward the edge of town. Eventually, the crowds thin and recede, leaving each musher alone on the silent trail — nothing but a feral landscape, the rhythmic panting of a dog team on the move and sled runners whispering to the snow.

Read the whole thing. Then, for good measure, watch these amazing videos again.





Photo Friday: Mushing into the Sunset

2 03 2012

2012 Yukon Quest musher Kristy Berington leaves Braeburn checkpoint





Watch a 1000-Mile Sled Dog Race in 1001 Seconds

29 02 2012

I was lucky enough to sign on as the Yukon Quest’s in-house writer this year. I spent almost three weeks following the race from its start in Fairbanks, through the Alaskan interior, across the border to Dawson City and all the way to the finish line in Whitehorse. I wrote news updates for the Quest website, tweeted, and Facebooked.

Meanwhile, my colleagues on the video and photography team put together this incredible series of videos. Watch them all – it’s the next best thing to being on the trail.

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Off to Atlin

24 03 2011

I’m headed out this morning for a couple of nights in Atlin, a small lakeside town just south of the Yukon border in far northern B.C. I’ve been partway down the Atlin Road but haven’t yet made it all the way to town — I’m excited to fill in a gap in my local geography.

Meantime, here are some shots from my summertime trip down the road — I made it as far as Tarfu Lake, and I’m told things only get more spectacular further south.

The Atlin Road runs south from the Alaska Highway along Little Atlin Lake

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Northern Noodle Quest: Green Garden Restaurant

21 03 2011

Green Garden was one of the only names offered up when I first started asking around about where to find the best Chinese food in Whitehorse. It’s located just off the Alaska Highway in Porter Creek — one of the residential subdivisions closest to downtown — and a few acquaintances allowed that they’d heard it was better than most.

Ringing endorsement? Not quite. Still, it was all I had to go on.

A friend and I headed out to Porter Creek to eat, skipping the downtown delivery fee. We ordered vegetarian spring rolls to start (tasty, crisp and more flavorful than the other local spring rolls I’ve tried so far) and then veggie chow mein, chili tofu with satay sauce and — a temporary Chinese New Year special — shrimp dumpling fish balls. The chow mein was bland and greasy, but with an admirable variety and quantity of vegetables included, far beyond the usual strips of cabbage and carrot. (Unfortunately it also included soy-pork strips, an unexpected addition. I’m not big on the fake meat.) The chili tofu was tasty — again, it came with a nice array of veggies — but lacked the spice punch I expected for a menu item highlighted in red text.

Finally, the shrimp dumpling fish balls were… fishy. Chalk it up to a misunderstanding: We figured we were getting mixed fish/shrimp dumplings, but the dumpling wrappers themselves were the fish balls, which were then stuffed with shrimp. The overall effect was decidedly, um, aquatic.

Fishy fish balls aside, it was a solid showing.

Previously in my search for the best (or least worst) Chinese food in Whitehorse:
New Oriental Restaurant, North Dragon Restaurant, and an introduction to the Quest.