Monday, 29 June 2015

Relaxing Before The Dempster

I'm sitting here on the deck of the Westmark Hotel in Dawson City, in the Yukon Territory, whose official name, by the way, is just "Yukon". The sun is shining, as it has for the last few weeks, nearly 24 hours a day. Even when the sun theoretically sets, the sky remains bright as the sun is simply behind the horizon a few degrees. The air is cooler today, only about 22° Celsius, although the sky is clear, nearly cloudless for the first time in a few days.

The locals are loving these cooler temperatures and the recent rainfall. The forest fires came early this season; I could smell the smoke in the air as we got closer to Dawson. They have been bad enough that the territorial government put out a call for drivers and equipment operators to aid in the battle against the flames. It will get warmer; it has to in a land where the sun never sets.

It almost feels like I am sitting on a deck in the south, perhaps Florida, were it not for the absence of humidity. The air is light and easy, there is a soft breeze barely riffling through the trees, the sound of cars on the dirt roads of the town clear, unmuffled by moisture in the air. I could be sitting on the outer deck, in the sunshine, next to the small stream running through the hotel gardens, a setting merely adapted for hotel use rather than created by the hotel construction crew. The deck edges the water, the creek itself slowly running down and into the Yukon River just a few blocks away.

This is the ultimate kind of leisure and pleasure. Katherine is off exploring the town, looking for souvenirs, postcards, or whatever she can find. She has her small camera with her, ready to take the simple shots that this town presents with almost every turn of your head. This is a quirky kind of place, a mish-mash of old and new, maintained and derelict, repaired and broken. The land defines the boundaries here, the town limited by the river and the surrounding hills.

And so I relax, readying myself for tomorrow, for the run up the Dempster Highway towards Inuvik. There is a sign at this end of the highway warning that emergency services are not available on the Dempster. It's the north; if you want to go there, it's your business. If you want the safety of Dawson and the paved roads, don't go.

I will go.

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