We decided to drive to town to cram in a few last things we didn't want to miss out on before we left. Our first stop was a local brewery where we discovered to our dismay that we could not buy a simple glass of beer since they were only able to sell it in large containers for taking away. If we wanted to sample some of their brew on tap, we'd have to patronize a local pub. I engaged the beer slinger and a fellow that was paying for a couple of growlers-full of beer for advice on just where to go, and preferably a place that provided abundant local color instead of cheap tourist thrills. I mentioned a place that Bianca at the Sundog had deemed gritty and full of local flavor, but the two men blanched at the suggestion and counseled us strongly to avoid the place. They directed us instead to a bar attached to one of the cookie cutter hotels downtown. Meh.
We figured a better alternative would be the bowling alley (which we unfortunately found closed) but the journey ended up being fortuitous because it took us directly past something extraordinary that I had completely forgotten about seeing shortly after I arrived.
In a nondescript front yard on a busy street on the outskirts of Whitehorse sits a huge dome made entirely of bicycle wheel rims. A fellow by the name of Phillipe LeBlond who had previously owned a bicycle repair shop in town constructed the dome from parts he gleaned from his endeavors. The rims are lashed together with a legion of heavy duty zip ties and nothing more. The structure shelters a small tree and even a grouping of sturdy rim furniture, creating a huge spherical doily of silver spokes from which one can sit and enjoy the symphony of the steady stream of traffic heading into town. It's a beautiful and inventive bit of work.
Back, however, to the task at hand: drinking! We decided to throw caution to the wind and head back to the notorious bar the beer swillers had so adamantly discouraged us from visiting. When we arrived downtown, we found the streets around the bar packed with cars (the Yukonese are pretty big drinkers, apparently) so after circling for several minutes, I pulled over near the front door to suss up the parking situation. As I sat listening to a raging internal debate about what we should do, Mark remarked quietly, "Um, I'm pretty sure I just saw a drug deal happen right in front of the bar." This was shortly before noon on a Thursday, mind you. We debated it briefly and decided to keep moving to find a venue that was a little less challenging.
We opted for the unremarkable hotel bar and it turned out to be perfectly adequate for our purposes and was indeed filled, as requested, with locals. Mark ordered a tall amber glass of local brew, but I was determined to sample one of the Yukon's most cherished cocktails, the Bloody Caesar. It's essentially a Bloody Mary made with Clamato and imported spices. I say imported spices because DAMN - I finally tasted something spicy in Canada! It was a fine beverage for a lazy Valentine's afternoon in the frozen north.
We soon returned to the cabin to begin the process of herding our possessions into a packable formation. I kept my eye on the aurora forecast as the evening began to unfold and the conditions weren't very favorable - cloudy, with little activity predicted in the magnetosphere. With the aurora out of the picture (literally), I decided to round up my gear for one last session of light painting. Mark was napping when I finally suited up and headed out the door.
I went to my usual spot and after setting up my equipment, began to frolic about in the sharp night air, trying this toy and that to see what they would do in combination.
It wasn't long before I heard the crunch of approaching footsteps in the snow. Lo and behold, there came the man I love who had just gotten up out of a warm bed to come and keep me company and cheer me on while I cavorted about like a mad woman. He volunteered to work the camera for me while I attempted a few more elaborate tricks, and a couple of photos later, without even discussing it, Mark selected some lights for himself and we were soon collaborating. It was really fun to work in tandem even though the results weren't necessarily the best of the evening.
When we reviewed the image below on the camera screen, however, we unanimously declared the thing done. We had spontaneously created the perfect valentine to one another without ever having set out to do so. I couldn't think of a better way to celebrate and knew there was nothing left to do out there in the cold and dark that could improve on what had just happened. What a supremely happy ending to our trip.
Although technically it wasn't the end of our trip. We spent the next two days travelling back to the deep south, laying over in Vancouver as before.
When we finally reached the Dallas-Fort Worth airport, a mere 30 minute flight from home, my weary spirit soared when I found this shop window welcoming me back to my wacky state. I'm sure people from other countries (than Texas, that is) were perplexed when they saw me standing by a window, clapping in a succession of triads. "But," I thought to myself, "they better get used to shaking their heads in bemusement here in Texas."