Usually I drive down to Whitehorse for my semi-annual check-ups, but this time I opted for the free flight instead. It is great to drive, because then I have my truck and can zip around Whitehorse shopping and running errands, but knowing Jeff was going to be driving down a couple times over the next month, I took the government’s offer of flying me down instead.
While waiting for the flight to land in Dawson to pick us up, I stood and chatted in our little airport terminal with a friend of a friend, and a contractor from Vancouver who was up to work on phone systems for a government organization. This is what I love about the Yukon. Everyone is incredibly laid back and standing and chatting with strangers is easy and natural. Basically there are no “strangers” in the Yukon. Nothing is stressful about Yukon flights to Whitehorse. There is no security to go through. You can check two bags for free. It’s natural to be in your warm coat and maybe even have your snowpants in a Walmart shopping bag just in case (see above photo). There is a table set up with free coffee, with a pop machine in the corner.
I started a new book on my Kindle and enjoyed a free ham sandwich and black tea on the flight down. It is just an hour and 10 minutes to Whitehorse. We flew above the snow, and then going through the clouds to decend into Whitehorse provided some excellent turbulence. I love turbulence!
I stood and waited in the Whitehorse airport for my suitcase to arrive on the luggage carosel, watching all the Asian tourists arrive and find their tour agencies. It is neat they are still coming in the winter, likely to try to see the northern lights. I like watching their first reactions of this foreign cold territory.
After I grabbed my suitcase, I went outside the doors and onto my free hotel shuttle bus that was waiting outside. The driver loaded my suitcase, and another traveller’s suitcase into the back and then we climbed aboard. It was such a beautiful day. It had snowed all morning before we arrived, but now the sunshine was out and the snow was so white and beautiful. The most beautiful day, except for the loud sound of tons of sirens somewhere nearby.
The shuttle driver said another flight was just coming in now from Inuvik so he was going to wait for them to save a trip. Before he got off the bus, he showed me how to open the door of the bus just in case. I can’t remember him ever doing that before.
I sat in my seat playing Pokemon Go on my phone. What a nice chance to get my Pokemon into a couple of gyms. The other lady on the bus was quitely waiting too. I was in no hurry, since my appointment wasn’t until the next day, so I didn’t realize the shuttle driver was taking awhile.
Finally he returned and said, “The airport is on lock down. There is a guy with a gun. I had to beg them to let me out. So let’s go.”
He was so calm. So I was calm. I messaged Jeff and probably freaked him right out. The driver I’ve travelled with many times, and he has an off beat sense of humour so I wasn’t entirely sure what was going on. He said probably just someone is real mad their luggage hasn’t arrived and proceeded to tell stories of people who have violently reacted to not having their luggage and kicked doors and things.
I carried on with my day, and checked into my hotel and went shopping on foot to nearby stores. No one seemed to know anything about anything going on at the airport. The news didn’t post anything. I kept searching Twitter for “Whitehorse” all day. Later that day I saw a tweet from the Alberta Serious Incident Response Team (ASIRT) saying they were heading to Whitehorse to investigate an RCMP fatal shooting.
For the rest of my time in Whitehorse, the news was non-existant. Here the RCMP share very few details and reporters don’t seem to do much but drive by the scene and watch Twitter. All the details I know beyond Friday’s RCMP press release is from gossip. The event happened on the airport property, but not in the terminal building. I won’t share all I know, but the basic details are an employee of a company who had their office on the airport property was for some reason enraged, threatened his coworkers, brought a gun in, fired shots until his gun jammed, missed everyone, and then was shot by the police. The calls to the police about the incident occurred one minute after I landed and taxied past the building where this was happening.
Since there seemed to be no widespread concern on Thursday afternoon, I had a nice afternoon walking around and shopping. A friend I went to Forestry school with in Thunder Bay was in Whitehorse with her son’s ski team, so we touched base and planned to meet for supper the next night.
Since I’ve last stayed at the Sternwheeler hotel (previously the Westmark), they remodelled every room and Tony’s Pasta, Steak and Seafood House restaurant in that previously operated in a different hotel. I debated walking around to find a restaurant and then decided, why not just give this restaurant a try, since it is right here!
The menu was large and varied. One dish stood out to me. The lobster, shrimp, with scallop fettucine. Should I order something so extravegant? Lobster in Whitehorse? Well, let’s look at the facts. I’m in town for a post-cancer check-up, and I was just somewhere near some sort of fatal shooting. OK life is short, I’ll have the lobster please!
The waitress also offered a ceasar’s salad to start.
The main dish was absolutely out of this world. A lobster tail split vertically, huge large shrimps, huge! Delicious cream sauce. And below all of that, small bay scallops all through the fettucine. I planned to eat half. I ate the whole entire thing. It was the best thing I’ve eaten a long time! I highly recommend this restaurant.
I stayed up late that night watching movies, since I knew my appointment had been bumped until noon. The Sternwheeler is my favourite place to stay in Whitehorse. The rooms are so quiet and cozy, equipped with microwaves and fridges. After the remodel, the new king bed mattress was hard. Too stiff and the pillows weren’t enough to comfortably prop up. That was the only downside. They have new heat/air conditing wall units that are so much more responsive than the radiator system that took 24 hours to hit a desired temperature in the winter before.
The next day I walked to the hospital for my appointment. While it was mild the day before, it was a walk chilly enough to freeze up my thighs through my jeans, but not too bad. I have a new gynecologist now. My doctor has been missing in action for my last few appointments and they had fill-ins. Now his name is covered up and he’s been replaced. It was surprising at first, because I didn’t expect to feel such a connection with the doctors who originally diagnosed me, but I did. Since it took so long to make his departure official, I’ve gotten used to the idea. My new doctor is a friendly young female. My check-up and exams were good, and I’ll return in another 6 months.
I walked back to my hotel and watched a bit of soccer before my friend Karen came by. We walked to a nearby restaurant, the Dirty Northern, to hang out, catch up, and dine. After awhile we were joined by Karen’s friend Rob who also went to Lakehead when we did. Rob and I didn’t recognize each other, but I’m sure we looked different 25+ years ago! OMG, has it been that long? I just did the math three times. It’s been even longer… Shortly after, he spotted two of his friends, and the 5 of us had dinner together. What a great bunch of people!
Four of us ended up back at the house of one of the guys (Joseph) who was hosting Karen in a wall tent out back in the woods. I wasn’t sure I was going to join, since I had no confirmed way to get back to the hotel (maybe a taxi? do they go out of town?) but I tuned into my intuition that said GO!
I’m SO glad I did. As it turns out, the 4 of us were all born in the same year or two. We chatted for hours, played a bit of a card game, argued about euchre rules, tried beers (not me), sampled teas, and had one hell of a good time. As it turns out, one of the guys decided to drive rather than ride his fat tired bike through the trail in the woods so I got a ride back to the hotel even! Here’s the three Lakehead Alumni:
By the way, if you ever get to hang out with people who are counsellors and therapists, it is a really enjoyable opportunity! They just look at the world a bit differently and fill in interesting insight about people’s behaviour.
I was totally sure I was going to cave on my plan to not drink for a year. Hanging out with an old friend from University!? But I didn’t! I had a tall mocktail Raspberry mojito at the restaurant, and teas later. I didn’t feel like I was missing a thing, and when I got back to my hotel room after midnight, I felt like a million bucks and was so pleased with myself. I think this no-drinking thing is going to stick.
The next morning I dodged dozens of kids and their parents who were coming into the hotel to have pancakes with Santa and got back on the airport shuttle.
By the time the plane took off, there were big beautiful snowflakes falling. So pretty. And 70 minutes later I was back in Dawson and off to another Christmas bazaar.
I think I had forgotten how stress-free flying to the city can be. I didn’t have to worry about finding parking, or thawing my truck in the morning. I didn’t have to worry about traffic and shopping carts and checking things off a list and zipping around town. And of course the 6-7 hour drive in both directions. Especially in winter.
I’m off again for another appointment in Vancouver in a couple of weeks. I’m flying there too 😀