More shelves, burgers, and roasted vegetables

We decided to stay put this weekend and get some projects done inside our house.

Without a basement, or a garage, or even a shed, and despite downsizing half of our stuff, we still have a dozen rubbermaids full of tools, camping equipment, hunting gear, and curling irons.

(Yes, I had a rubbermaid with curling irons and a hair dryer. No I don’t use them. But what if I needed them someday!)

So Saturday morning we took a few things to the dump, some cardboard, a couple things that were broken in the move, and on the way back into town we went to the lumber yard and bought some 2×4’s and some pine shelving.

Dad had made us a terrific shelf for our canned and dry goods, but we decided to go BIGGER and move Dad’s shelf to another room to house rubbermaid containers by our freezer, and build a new shelving unit, wall to wall, in the back little bedroom.


We are renting this house, so we can’t screw anything into the wall, so the goal was to make it thick, solid, and sturdy.

It went together quite quickly! I had assumed at some point, we’d realize a big miscalculation, and we’d have to back track, but we are old pros now! It’s perfect!

Here is our food supply moved in!


We’ve since stacked the food denser, while keeping it semi-organized into categories, so Jeff could get a few more rubbermaids on the bottom shelfs.

Some of this canned food has come with us from Nova Scotia. Lots of it actually. It is almost like an emergency supply now, since we don’t eat much canned stuff regularly. We’re well stocked with cans of corn and green beans. We have at least 10 boxes of whole wheat pasta, cans of kidney beans, salmon, those gross canned hams, and a few cases of canned and diced tomatoes (which are actually kind of handy).

I’m making more food from scratch again. I think one of the reasons is because my work desk is about 5 feet from the oven, so I can see it out of the corner of my eye all day, looming there, taunting me to put it to work.

I made a good soup this week, and a big crock of baked beans the week before. Jeff comes home for lunch, so it feels nice to have something ready for him to eat for lunch, other than just a sandwich.

The soup was so easy, I might keep making a pot or two a week. I had never successfully made soup from scratch, but I followed a recipe on the back of a bag of dry soup mix Jeff had, a mixture of small pasta, beans, and barley, and I just had to add an onion, a can of diced tomatoes, and some chicken broth. So easy!

I was telling my Dad yesterday, that I find our fresh fruit supply a little wanting here in the winter, but the vegetables are readily available. Here are some I roasted tonight to go with the moose steak Jeff prepared in the crock pot:


I chopped up half a yam, half a red onion, a red pepper, half a zucchini, a carrot, and a whole bag of discount $0.99 mushrooms from the general store, and put them in a bowl. I drizzled olive oil in, and added some granualar sea salt (ie. not ground), ground black pepper, thyme, and rosemary. Then I put them in the oven at 425°F. I gave it a stir at 20 minutes, and then gave it another 15 minutes.


SO delicious. If you haven’t tried roasting your vegetables, do it right now. RIGHT NOW I said! The zucchini is the biggest surprise. It tastes amazing.

Anyway, back to yesterday. After all that carpentry, we went out for a beer and dinner at the Downtown Hotel. I got their chicken burger. It is a delicious chicken breast with all the toppings. Didn’t make much headway with the fries. Add the glass of Yukon Gold, and I was full up to my collarbones.


Yukon Gold is so good, it is the only beer I drink now here. Supporting the local economy I guess 😉


Oh! Speaking of burgers, we tried these this week: Ruffles Flame Grilled Cheeseburger potato chips with the Harvey’s logo on the bag. We are at least a 3 day drive to the nearest Harvey’s burger joint (in Edmonton), but these have an uncanning taste of a Harvey’s burger. Only they aren’t burgers, they are chips, and that is weird, but I’m a sucker for weird. Two bags for $8 on sale (ya, food is pricey here, even junk food).


Looking foward, tomorrow I’m going to go learn how to curl. I expect to be a dismal failure, and will likely hurt myself, but assuming my injuries aren’t life threatening, Jeff and I will be curling in a recreational league here this winter. More soon!


Mid-November update – it is getting colder!

I love cold weather, when it takes you 10 minutes to get out of the house, because you have to change, and put on long johns, and a couple pairs of socks (and I love those 20 year old thin socks I have with the metal strands, they heat up nice from the friction of walking), and get your parka on over your head (I really have not gracefully mastered this technique yet), and your pants wrapped around your calf, and inserted into your boots. You want your face mask on, and your toque, and keys in your hand, so you can lock the dead bolt from outside quickly so you can get your mittens on before your warm flesh feels the bite.


When it is so cold that you can’t wear your glasses, because they freeze up from your breath. And your eye lashes glue together with frost.

When it is so cold the snow isn’t just crunchy, it is squeaky, and loud, oh so loud.

It was -34°C’ish when I went for a walk today, down to the river, which stopped flowing a couple days back.


The dyke along the river has footprints, and cross country ski prints, snowshow prints, dog paw prints, and even a skidoo track. The cold stops no one here in Dawson City.


The river is thick and chunky, and still. Folks living across the river are cut off and isolated. They are likely eager for the river to freeze hard and deep so the ice road can be formed so they start driving across.


This was just before noon. As you can see, our “high noon” isn’t so high. The sun is low enough in the sky that it stopped hitting our house this week. We are now in the shade… maybe until sometime in January?

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The snow dogs (rainbows beside the sun) are beautiful :)

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Here’s our Front Street:


After walking along the river, I met Jeff at a restaurant for lunch and then walked back home to continue working.

I love winter.  The calendar says it is just over a month away!  😀


Caribou on the Dempster

If you quickly glanced at the next photo, you’d think we got an early start on our Saturday adventure today, but I took that photo at 9:59AM (sunrise was 9:41 today) as we rolled out of town.


We set out to see the caribou on the Dempster Highway (the extremely remote gravel road that begins 40km south of town and heads north towards the Arctic Ocean.

Our plan was to go north enough to see the caribou coming to overwinter, but not north enough to where they are actively being hunted (north of kilometre 195). With a two caribou limit per hunter, that is a blood bath I’m not sure I was ready for (despite being perfectly happy for Jeff to fill our freezer with caribou next year, I just don’t want to connect all the dots to the beautiful creatures we saw today).

Winter adventures (because let’s face it, the calendar may say November, but it is pretty wintery here already) require a bit of extra preparation. It was -26°C in our backyard when we got up. So we each packed a bag with some emergency, survival stuff, like a lighter, knife, fire starter, snacks, change of clothes, water, winter sleeping bags, candles, head lamp, and Jeff brought a canned ham. He was pretty excited to pack that ham. I almost think he wanted us to have to crack it open.

He winterized the truck this week and installed an electric warming wrap around the battery. It plugs in at the same time as the block heater. So a couple hours before we headed out this morning, Jeff plugged it in to get the truck ready to start. It would probably start without it, but it is only November and it is going to get colder so now we’re ready. He also covered the front grill with a thick piece of canvas and zip-tied it in place.

As we drove south towards the airport, the temperature dropped to -31°C. We watched the temperature gauge for the engine, but it wasn’t even approaching half way with the grill covered, and didn’t get any higher all day.


On the Dempster, heading towards the Tombstone range.

The sun doesn’t rise much at all these days, which gives the snow a warm sunrise/sunset glow.




We stopped around kilometre 85 to talk to the Conservation Officer who was stopping trucks to monitor the hunt. He was only the second vehicle we had seen since we turned onto the Dempster. He was looking for Dall sheep on the hills where they overwinter. We saw some trails on the slopes but couldn’t find any sheep, which are likely pretty hard to see since they are white.

He said the active caribou hunting right now was north of Eagle Plains (KM 371)  but we’d probably see several caribou by about kilometre 98-115.

He was right!



We probably saw a couple hundred caribou in total, but they stuck in smaller groups, some standing and eating, others curled up in the snow.


Despite there being lots of tracks crossing the road, none of them were too close so we don’t get any award winning shots, but still pretty decent considering how far away they were.




We went to about kilometer 125 before we turned around, north of the Blackstone River. It was -33°C according to the truck grill. My new Skookum parka was amazing. It has really long zips under the arms, so I wore just a long sleeved t-shirt and opened the zips so I didn’t have to take it off in the truck.

I even peed on the road at -33°C which may be a new record cold for my bum 😉


See how there is a bit of haze? This crazy Dempster road is so dusty in the summer, but it also is in the winter too. You can see the cloud of someone driving towards you for awhile.




It was a really great day, and we made it home safe and sound (and so did the can of ham).


Our trip to Whitehorse

Last week Jeff had meetings for work in our capital city of Whitehorse, so I took the week off to go with him so we could stock up on supplies for the winter, and buy a few other things we still needed for the house.

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It takes about 6 hours to drive to Whitehorse (or 7 hours, if you believe Google). It is a peaceful drive, very little traffic, very few guard rails or signs, just a road, trees, snow…


Heading south from Dawson City


No one coming, you can drive on the right, the left, in the middle, doesn’t matter.

We have so many stone chips on our windshield since moving up here. It was finally cold enough for them to have some fun. With the cold outside, and the hot defroster blowing on the window, with two little snaps one stone chip near the bottom of the window split all the way to the left and to the right, across the window.

Here’s a little time lapse video I took:

Six hours of this will transport you from Dawson City to Whitehorse.

A video posted by Lisa Schuyler (@lschuyler) on

There are 4 places with a gas station between Dawson City and Whitehorse: Stewart Crossing, Pelly Crossing, Carmacks, and the Braeburn Lodge. Two of them have a cell signal, Pelly Crossing and Carmacks, so you can quickly check your email or make a call.


There was light, fine snow falling until we got closer to Whitehorse, where the sky started to clear.


The road is a hard surface, but it isn’t asphalt. It is stones embedded in a thin layer of tar. So it can have some potholes, and sunk areas here and there due to the permafrost, but for the most part it is a really good surface, especially in winter when the potholes fill in with snow.



Jeff spotted some of the Braeburn elk herd beside the road! We turned around and pulled out the camera to take a few shots.

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We saw about 7 elk, but unfortunately they were tagged and two of them have tracking collars. Those stupid tracking collars make me so, so angry. If I could change one thing about mankind, it would be to eliminate all collaring of animals for tracking purposes. Have you ever seen the size of the collars? Grrr…


Soon enough we were in Whitehorse and ready to settled into our home for the week, at the Westmark Hotel. Here was our room’s view:


I had grand plans for all the things I was going to do all week.  I was going to put Monty in a boarding kennel for a couple of days because he barks at every noise in a hotel and I knew we wouldn’t get any sleep.

However he was a dream! So no boarding kennel for him. Although that meant that he had to come everywhere with us. I didn’t do anything that would take too long because it was really cold to leave him in the truck for too long. It was better at night when we were running errands, so the truck had time to heat up between our stops and dinner.

Mostly, during the day, Jeff was at his meetings, and Monty and I watched Christmas movies in the hotel room on the tv.


We had so many things on our list to buy, but it takes a bit of strategy to shop in the winter. Anything that could freeze we had to wait until Friday to buy, on our way out of town, or haul it all into our hotel room.

We did pretty good though, bought a lot of stuff that we had on our list.

Some shots from around Whitehorse:





OK so I didn’t take many photos.

On Friday we did pretty good getting out of town by noon. Shopping at the Real Canadian Superstore was better than expected. Living here in Dawson City, we want to support our two local grocery stores, so they stay open and available for all of us, but at the same time, the prices are drastically higher than elsewhere, and we’re still carrying our house in Nova Scotia, so money is tight.

The Whitehorse Superstore had surprisingly fantastic prices. Most items limit their good price to the first four items. If you buy more than 4, then you pay a much higher price. I’m sure this helps keep their stock in place, because I imagine they often have people shop there who are buying many months of groceries at a time. We focused on meat, frozen vegetables, and some dry goods that could freeze (granola, cereal, flour). We brought a cooler to keep some things from freezing and breaking, like tomato sauce. Next year we will do more canning and freezing, and after a year in the Yukon, Jeff will be able to hunt for moose, caribou, and bear, so we won’t be so dependant on grocery stores.

We also picked up a couple more bags of Monty’s dog food from the pet food store. At the Walmart we stocked up on bathroom products, cleaning products, and some carpet runners for our hallways.

Walking into Canadian Tire was almost overwhelming. Seriously, we haven’t lived here for very long, but walking in a fully stocked store, my eyes open wide, and I immediately think I want this and that and two of those, and then I’d stop and realize I don’t really need any of it. We drastically downsized this year, and we really only need the essentials to live.  And some nice smelly candles :)

We headed north for home with a pickup truck full of supplies. We stopped at the Braeburn Lodge for lunch.


Braeburn Lodge is where you can get the biggest cinnamon buns in the world. I just don’t feel the photos do them justice.


They are as big as dinner plates, and inches high. Bigger than my hand stretched wide. Maybe as big as my head. Three days of eating. Maybe four. Seriously.

Instead of a cinnamon bun, we decided to each get a sandwich.

I was NOT expecting the sandwiches to be the same proportion. HOLY! Here’s my ham sandwich:


And Jeff’s reuben sandwich:


Freshly baked, homemade bread. Really good, old fashioned, delicious sandwiches.

I still don’t think the camera is getting the size proportion of these sandwiches either. Those are full size dinner plates.


Maybe I’ll add a fork for perspective? Does this help?IMG_6383

They were sooo delicious. Jeff managed to eat his entire sandwich. I thought I did pretty well with half, and I took the other half home for lunch the next day.

One of the great parts of travelling in the Yukon is our outhouses. First, there are still roadside stops here with outhouses! So much of the rest of the country seems to have de-prioritized roadside peeing. Second, they are open in the winter, plowed out, and most of them have toilet paper! These newer cement vault ones are really nice.


We stopped a couple times just for some fresh crisp air, a bathroom stop, and to let Monty stretch out and get out of our back seat.


The road was hard packed with snow and the transportation department was spreading a coarse sand mix on most of the hills and corners. There is no salt here (and our truck is thankful) because it is just too cold for salt to be effective. A coarse sand is perfect for a bit of extra traction.




You can easily go a couple of hours without seeing another vehicle. You’d be pretty crazy not to travel with full survival gear, because if you went off the road, you’d really want to give yourself a chance of surviving. We’re thinking about getting a personal Spot device (like this one). These give you a way to send a call for help through a satellite monitoring system.


There were actually two cars upside down in the ditch along the road. They’ve been there for months though. Not sure who finally comes to collect them. Luckily there is police or danger tape on them, so you know they weren’t fresh incidents and you didn’t have to stop to check on the driver.


About an hour after dark, we pulled into Dawson City. Home sweet home!


Beautiful wintry walk through town

It is Sunday… aka Football and NASCAR day in our house. So I bundled up to enjoy the crisp November subarctic air and went for a walk – dogless, since Monty has completely shed his undercoat and may need a winter coat. haha!

It is the coldest day of the season yet, about -15C now in the middle of the afternoon. The Yukon River has more slush and ice forming! There is a quiet slushy sound as the chunks collide and sail by with the current.IMG_6312

I love winter, and it is nice living somewhere where there is a real winter. Nova Scotia had a winter, sure, but it was rarely cold, and the time period of decent snow was short. We got so much rain in the middle of the blizzards there that the snow was often rock hard and icy. I used to miss those days walking to school in Thunder Bay with frozen eye lashes and using snow shoes for fun!


I wonder if anyone living here hates winter. Everyone so far has seemed pretty excited that it is finally here, because October was so mild and muddy compared to normal.


Today the sun rose at 8:59am (an hour earlier because the clocks rolled back an hour last night) and will set at 5:03pm. These pictures were taken in the 2 o’clock hour. The sun isn’t too high in the sky!


I wore my new Skookum Brand parka and tried out my new Canada Goose Arctic down mittens. The Skookum parka is amazing! So many pockets, and hooks, and vents. I zipped off the coyote trim (need to keep something in my back pocket, so to speak, for when it is colder out!). It was so cold when I started walking, that I had it zipped tight over the lower half of my face, but as I got going, I warmed up enough to zip open the neck a bit, and open the vents half way under both arms to keep from sweating.


My glasses were frozen in that selfie photo!


Here is the “after” photo for the ferry, now safely stored on land for the winter season:


The Canada Goose Arctic down mittens are amazing, but way overkill for -15C. I would wear them for a minute or two, and then take them off for a few minutes. They are seriously warm! There were a bit of a splurge, but I sold my old iPhone this week and wanted to smartly re-invest some of the windfall 😉


Since it was pretty cold for my regular camera, I just took these photos with my iPhone 6s. I bought a LifeProof FRĒ case for it, the type of case that is advertised as waterproof and completely covers the phone (front and back). So far I’ve had really mixed feelings. It is bulky and I don’t like having something over my screen. I whined the first week that I bought this sexy new phone and it is all covered up by this ugly case. However, this case is so great for the winter. My phone hasn’t died yet in the cold (my 5s did at above zero temperatures) and it is snow proof, so you can drop it in the snow, let the snow fall on it, shove it into your parka pocket, and no problem. Pretty nice.


Can you believe it is just November 1st?


I should have recorded the crunch of the snow. Isn’t that the best sound?


I think the next thing to improve on will be my leg coverings. I wore the traditional old cotton long johns, but if you sweat, they get wet and you’ll freeze. It isn’t cold enough yet to walk around in my snow pants, so they’ll do for now.


Some of the wooden sidewalks are completely cleared of snow, some aren’t cleared at all, and some of the main ones I think I are cleared by a sweeper machine.


Now I’m back inside, blogging from the couch, while Jeff watches football. Hope you’re all having a similarly enjoyable Sunday afternoon!