Kluane Country

Any time you can attract twenty percent of a town's population to your book reading, you're having a good day.

Even if that town only has 72 residents.

Yesterday started early. I was up at 0600 for a radio interview with John Hines of WCCO CBS Minnesota. It will air next Tuesday, May 8th, on GALE FORCE launch day.

After the interview, I did a quick and intense twenty-minute workout in my room, and by the time I was done and showered, my Yukon Public Libraries host for the day, Noushin, was waiting in the lobby for our 0750 departure for Burwash Landing.

Burwash Landing is the aforementioned town of 72 residents. It lies on the shore of Kluane Lake some 275 kilometres northwest on the Alaska Highway from Whitehorse.

Our mission was to drive to Burwash Landing in time for a noon-hour reading at the local library. Then we would drive back to Whitehorse.

It was a gloomy, overcast morning for a drive, but Noushin was really friendly and wonderful, and the scenery was pretty outstanding, anyway--particularly after Haines Junction, where the Alaskan Highway turns north to skirt the eastern boundary of spectacular Kluane National Park.

We made excellent time, stopping once to peer out at some elk and not stopping for the many arctic ground squirrels who lined the shoulder of the highway like a suicidal gopher honour guard.

Soon we were in Burwash Landing and the small but very homey library-slash-community centre, where Sandy, the local librarian, was waiting for us, and where from the kitchen emanated the mouth-watering smells of homemade soup and fresh bannock.

My reading came with a free lunch for all attendees, which could have explained the excellent turnout. Frankly, I was just stoked to get to try some bannock.

I had a little bit of time before the reading, so two little girls in the adjacent daycare, having heard there was an author present, asked if I would read them a story.

I obliged them with THERE'S A GIRAFFE IN MY SOUP, which they seemed to already know by heart, and then it was time for the actual reading for the adults in the next room over.

I'd planned to read from GALE FORCE, but at the last minute, I called an audible and decided to lighten things up with a passage from THE FIXES where a bunch of rich kids rob Holt Renfrew.

I knew within minutes of starting I'd read the room wrong, but people listened politely anyway, and they were far more engaged when I tacked on a reading from THE STOLEN ONES, ostensibly to illustrate the difference in writing styles, but mostly to save face.

We had a fun Q&A, my jokes got a few laughs, I sold a few books and people seemed generally as happy as I was to be there, so it was a success!

Then, Noushin and I piled in our official Yukon government vehicle for the drive home, this time under glorious blue skies and against a brisk headwind.

We stopped at Sheep Mountain to look at, well, Dall thinhorn sheep clustered on the cliff faces, and stopped again at the brand new and very beautiful visitor's centre in Haines Junction.

And we could have stopped about a hundred more times for pictures, because everywhere you looked was a glorious vista.

I can't believe I get paid to do this stuff. Huge shoutout to the Canada Council for the Arts and Yukon Public Libraries for bringing me up here.

Anyway, we made it home around 1700. I walked off the car ride for an hour or so, set out to find dinner and settled for Earl's (it was fine), and headed back to the hotel to get some rest.

Thing is, it stays sunny here until practically the middle of the night, so it's tough to want to go to sleep, but I guess that's what blackout curtains are for.

Today, I don't have a road trip, but I do have a couple of phone interviews and an evening reading in Whitehorse itself. I'm hoping to go for a run along the Yukon River and continue to make the most of this northern adventure.

Until next time!