I've been bitten by the Yukon bug.
I'm writing this from Vancouver, where the weather is beautiful and the air is warm and sweet and hints of the sea. I've been walking on the seawall and eating good food on patios and Vancouver truly feels like home again and not just some place I used to love, and I'm glad to be here, however briefly, but I know that I'll miss the Yukon for a long time, and I'll cherish the memories I made there.
After my epic overnight road trip up the Klondike Highway with Mairi, I returned to the Westmark Hotel in Whitehorse on Friday afternoon with only one event left on my calendar, a Saturday night reading in Carcross, a town of 300 located about an hour south of the city.
With a free evening and day ahead of me, I went for a run along the beautiful 5km riverfront loop and then met up with local celebrity Tara McCarthy and some friends for a taste of the real Yukon experience at a nearby bar.
What I've learned about Yukoners is that they play as hard as they work, and they all have amazing stories. It was all I could do to keep up.
I slept in on Saturday. Worked out and ate lunch at the delicious Burnt Toast Cafe before Don, my awesome Yukon Public Libraries host for the evening, picked me up at around 1615.
We were scheduled to leave Whitehorse an hour later, but Don had generously volunteered to show me the beautiful terrain around Carcross and along the highway to Skagway, AK, and I enthusiastically agreed.
Carcross is the current terminus of the White Pass and Yukon railway from the cruise ship port at Skagway, 100kms to the southwest. It's nestled in the mountains among some incredible lakes, and Don and I made good use of that extra hour, exploring the town and surrounds.
Then we headed back to Carcross to meet Linda, the town's librarian. Linda was apparently the first person to dogsled across Canada, and now lives in a cabin with eleven dogs, so we bonded pretty quickly.
Linda had a huge spread of fresh fruit, vegetables, sweets and bannock waiting for us inside, and I explored her cute and cozy library while we counted down to showtime.
We had a pretty decent turnout for the reading, but the undisputed highlight was the presence of a little boy of maybe eight or nine named Loric who arrived in full RCMP gear, including Nerf rifle, homemade baton, tactical belt with sidearm, cuffs, radio, etc, and with his younger sister (apparently an undercover officer) and mother in tow.
Loric was really keen to hear about the life of a crime writer, and his energy and enthusiasm were infectious. I told him about my experience riding along with a Minneapolis Police Officer and about how my mom used to work in crime scene investigation, and his eyes stayed alight and his mouth agape.
He was really wonderful, and proudly told me how he was friends with the three Mounties at the local detachment, who I have no doubt are as charmed by him as I was.
We had a good group of attendees who had great questions, and after an informal chat I read from Gale Force as a warm-up for this week's American tour.
Then it was closing time, and Don and I piled back into the Subaru to bomb it back to Whitehorse in amazing light, stopping just outside of the city to take in beautiful Miles Canyon. Don dropped me off at about 2200 and it was still plenty light outside.
Sunday was the travel day, and I was up early to catch the shuttle to the airport and an Air Canada flight to Vancouver.
I had a window seat, so I was able to watch a seemingly endless procession of snow-capped mountains pass by to the east, before the plane reached Vancouver and turned inland over the city, giving me a stunning, welcome home view of North Vancouver and the Coast Mountains beyond.
So that was my Yukon trip, and it was as wonderful as I'd hoped it would be. I'm sure most people who visit fall in love pretty quickly, and I'm no exception. I'll treasure my time there, and look forward to returning.
Today's an off-day in Vancouver; I have a few interviews and some errands to run before I jet off to Houston, Minneapolis, Phoenix and Orange, CA for the rest of the week.
It's been a lovely start to Phase Two of #ProjectNomad. I'm excited and optimistic for what lies ahead!