On Saturday morning, I made a mad dash to the Whitehorse airport so I could pick up my sweetie, Mark. He hadn’t been able to enjoy the luxury of a full two week sojourn as I had, but happily for me he was able to set aside a week to come and join me on my adventure.
I had been too excited and distracted when I myself first arrived at the Whitehorse airport to stop at the entrance and take a picture of the world’s largest weather vane (pictured above), so after collecting Mark, I drug him directly over to see it as the first stop on our itinerary. This perfectly balanced DC-3 really does turn on it's axis to indicate wind direction - pretty cool, eh?
Our next stop was for a bit of lunch at the Yukon Meat and Sausage Market where I once again opted for an exotic hot dog - this time selecting a tasty caribou dog. On my glowing recommendation, Mark partook of a reindeer dog, only, since he usually comes down on the Charles Addams side of things, he wished aloud for a cherry tomato to garnish his reindeer delicacy.
After a quick stop to the grocery store on the way out of town to procure a few items that would allow Mark to make a batch of his marvelous life-giving onion soup during our stay, we headed back to the cabin to rest up for our big evening - a dessert buffet and dance, orchestrated by the Whitehorse community big band. I pretty much always make a beeline for live big band performances. There’s just something about the sound of all those myriad instruments playing in tandem that never fails to thrill me in the way a classical orchestra could never touch.
As I had hoped, the people watching was choice. Whitehorse is a small enough town that hipsters were virtually absent and earnest couples in party frocks and dress up shoes (which emerged from deep beneath layers of puffy jacket, trapper hats and snow pants) sat chatting happily in small knots around the ballroom. There were also plenty of plaid flannel shirts and sweat pants in evidence, but the fervor with which many of the young girls had embraced dressing up for the event was absolutely charming.
After the first set, the band took a break and a local dance teacher walked willing participants through an abbreviated lesson in swing dancing to encourage a population boom on the dance floor. After much counting and dipping, the lesson was concluded and the band immediately launched into a rendition of my all time favorite big band tune – String of Pearls. I winced with a crooked grimace on my face as the trumpet solo wandered and warbled, but the unbridled enthusiasm of of the crowd soon turned my momentary discomfort to merriment.
Mark and I were soon headed back toward our little cabin in the woods, completely swallowed by the darkness of the lonely highway north when the lights on the northern border of town receded into the distance. I don’t think Mark had quite conceived of the inky night time blackness I had described to him earlier, but when we arrived at the cabin and he got his first look at the dazzling soup of stars that graces this sparsely populated region on a clear night, he became an instant believer. Even more spectacularly, it was only a few hours later that we spotted the first tendrils of the aurora borealis licking the horizon and Mark was treated to the wonder of the sight his very first night in town. What luck that he was able to enjoy such instant gratification as luminous scarves of light undulated in the heavens. However, the need for sleep – both for Mark who had been delayed by the monster snow storm named Nemo that had paralyzed the northeastern U.S., and for me who had not gotten more than 4 hours of rest a night since I arrived – the luxury of snuggling in our warm cozy cabin while gazing out the huge picture window at the foot of our bed trumped any and all theatrics displayed by the northern skies.