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Bears!

We went for a drive to Mayo and back today and saw 3 bears, 3 porcupines, 2 bunnies, 5 swans, and 2 ground squirrels!

Here is bear #1. Definitely a black bear. Looks like he has an old injury on the side of his face. He was eating plants, but I can see a scar and his lip doesn’t seem to close all the way:20160430-DSC_0355

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Bear #2 which we wondered if it was a grizzly, but now looking at our photos of it, I think its just a light colour black bear.

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Here is bear #3. Black bear I’d say, although lighter than the first bear, and darker than the second. He had a real spring in his step like he may have been a young one.

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My quick trip to Glasgow, Scotland

I was in Dublin, Ireland recently for a work trip, and couldn’t resist the urge to also visit Scotland for the first time!

My coworker and good friend, Steve, lives in Glasgow, so I decided to head to Glasgow for a couple of nights before my journey home.

The flight from Dublin to Glasgow is less an hour on Aer Lingus. They have these neat little planes, that require you to board and exit from the rear door. The passengers in the first 10 rows or so are required to stay in their seats while the rear rows depart. I wonder if they are afraid it’ll tip over if everyone rushes to the rear? They also take you from your gate in the airport on a bus out to the tarmac where you get on your plane.

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Soon after arriving, I met up with Steve and his wife Grace and we went to get some lunch.

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Of course it was deemed mandatory that I try haggis. Jeff had warned me it was so awful that I would hate it for sure.

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I had my guard way up:

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But it was actually quite good! The texture was a bit weird, but it tasted so good I’d have that again for sure! I tasted black pudding too!

After lunch, Steve and friend and I went to see where Steve when to University.

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I still can’t believe the age of this place. Glasgow University was founded in 1451 ! When was Lakehead founded, in the 1970’s??

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The bricks, the windows, the doors! And so many little details , like the figure pictured above.

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Afterwords, we finished some of Glasgow’s finest drinking establishments, and I even had a fruity rum punch in a tea pot:

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My plan had been to bring a bottle of Scottish whisky back home to Jeff. Steve had a couple good suggestions, but what better way to know I was bringing home the right bottle, than to go drink some?
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And where better to drink whisky than in an old church!

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I stayed at the Merchant Inn, which was in a great central location. I’ve never stayed at a hotel like this. We are so used to modern motels in North America, which are all essentially the same thing. This one had some serious character! The room was just small, with a small bed, but it had everything – a washroom, shower stall, amazing water pressure, really high, tall ceiling, TV with lots of channels, and a big window that opened for fresh air.IMG_7721

Some of the firedoors in the hallway were so skinny I had to turn sideways to go through the door. Accessibility is just different in older places. I didn’t see many elevators (“lifts”) in Dublin and Ireland. And this hotel was no exception.
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See this round tower? That is the staircase.

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The stair case you have to haul your luggage up.IMG_7722

Back to the buildings of Glasgow, I feel like I spent so much time just wandering around looking up at them. Look at all the detail! Can you see the faces above those lower windows? The buildings are like this for blocks upon blocks!20160411-DSC_0313

Who built all these buildings? Why so much detail? Where did all the stone blocks come from? I’m so used to utilitarian buildings and found the buildings of Glasgow fascinating.

Here are some more:

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I saw a lot of reference to “People make Glasgow”. Overall, I found the spirit of the town was right in line with the character of Steve, who was raised there. Proud, willing to fight for what is right, fun, spirited, and willing to question authority.

For instance, here are a couple stickers I found on the same post in George Square:

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The first indicating that the city was corrupt, and the second criticizing the city council:

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Or perhaps the Dude of Wellington statue that always has a traffic cone on his head, and sometimes the horse even has one!20160411-DSC_0307

The city of Glasgow seems to spend quite a bit of money to stop people from doing this, yet the statue still has a cone on his head.

On my second day, Steve and co-worked at Brewdog. They had great wifi and had many interesting beers to taste!

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For supper, Steve and Grace took me to an amazing curry restaurant. It was sooooo good. I don’t have curry or Indian food very often, since it usually just isn’t an option where I’ve lived, but I will admit this restaurant in Glasgow was significantly better than the curry restaurant I ate at in Dublin the week earlier.

Here are a few more pictures of buildings in Glasgow:

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Also, I’ll fully admit I didn’t know a Police Box was a thing, and not just on Doctor Who. See this is why travel is good 🙂 I learn so much!20160411-DSC_0315

The air in Glasgow feels like Dublin and Nova Scotia. Very moist, humid, damp. Turns my hair into a wild homeless person’s hair. The locals told me they expect sun about twice a year. I saw it a bit on my first day, but it was drizzly for the rest of my visit.

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But, despite the drizzle, the blossoms were out! So pretty!

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Curious what old, closed schools look like in Glasgow? I know you are! Here are a couple!IMG_7773

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Oh! I bet you are still on the edge of your chair, wondering what whisky travelled the 5 flights back to Dawson City with me!

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I choose Laphroaig! It isn’t the rarest, nor the most expensive, and actually exports to Canada so I could probably find the same bottle here. It is a really smokey one. The barley is dried over a peat fire. On first sip, it was so crazy weird. I wouldn’t have said I even liked it. But by testing a bunch of other ones, I found myself going back over and over for more Laphroaig. It tastes like you just pulled a log out of your campfire and started knawing on it. Or maybe even you just licked out an ashy ash tray. It is so crazy good though!

So that concludes my quick adventure to Scotland. I will be back some day to see more of Ireland and Scotland. And Jeff will be coming with me!

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My Dublin, Ireland trip

Recently I visited Dublin, Ireland for a week with my team from work. At our company, we all work from home, around the world, and get together a couple times a year to see each other in person.  I’ve switched to a new team over the winter, so this was my first meetup with my new team.

loved Dublin. What a great place! Everything in the core of town is walkable. The people are so friendly, with a dry wit, eager to tweak you a little bit! Here are a bunch of my photos from the week. I’m eager to go back some day, and to explore more of the country. While working on my family tree recently, I see I’m 50% Irish, most of whom came over during the potato famine. I have so many names and dates and places that I’d love to explore a little more.

You can click on an image to view it larger, and to scroll through the photos.

Dublin, Ireland

GuiNness Tour

No trip to Dublin is complete without a tour of the Guinness factory! At the end of the tour, you can either take a lesson on pouring the perfect Guinness, or you can go to the top floor and look out over the city while you drink a pint. I chose to go to the top for the view.

Irish Whisky Museum

I really enjoyed the Irish Whisky Museum. It is a new, independent museum, without a tie to any of the local distilleries. For the first part of our visit, we learned the history of whisky in Ireland, and then got to sample 4 different whiskies and have our say on how they tasted.

Then, as a special arrangement for our group, their head whisky man gave us a lesson on how to mix two drinks, an old fashioned, and a whisky sour. He tasted each of whisky sours, and voted me the second best. Woo hoo! (Nothing like 7 shots of whisky over a couple hours either!)

Glendalough

A few of us really wanted to see some of Ireland outside of Dublin, so we took a tourist bus to Glendalough, which was about 90 minutes away. The area is known for an Early Medieval monastic settlement founded in the 6th century by St Kevin. We walked around the ruins, and the cemetery, and then around a lake. Beautiful day! Well, until the ice pellet storm hit as we were waiting for our return bus!

Stay tuned for my photos for a quick side trip to Glasgow, Scotland!

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Back in Dawson, with many blog posts to write

I’ve been back home in Dawson City, after a couple weeks away in Ireland and Scotland.

Most of the snow left Dawson while I was away, and most of the streets are dry dusty gravel already. The river is thawing, but I didn’t miss the break-up. Whew!

Here are some pictures I’ve taken around town since returning:

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Klondike River

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Klondike River

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Yukon River

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Sidewalk

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Westmark Hotel on 5th

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School on left

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Jeff on the Midnight Dome

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Still snow on the Dome

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Flood gate in place

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Visited Father William Judge‘s grave

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On Saturday morning, we went fishing south of town. While Jeff was fishing, I walked up on the road to cross the bridge and look around. There was an animal in the middle of the road. My first thought was wolf? Coyote? Then I saw the tufts on its ears. It was a lynx, and it was a whole lot closer than this iPhone photo shows:

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It wandered off the road and didn’t seem scared in the slightest.

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On Saturday afternoon while walking around town, we finally wandered into the old typhoid cemetery. There are a few grave markers still visible:

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More posts coming soon with my Dublin, Ireland and Glasgow, Scotland recap!

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We did it! We survived our first winter in the Yukon

So am I officially a “sourdough” now that I’ve spent a full winter in the Yukon? Or maybe I have to do all four seasons? Just spring left to go!

Winter was really easy. Sure it is long, but who needs the mess of fall or spring. We just get winter and summer up here!

The coldest I saw this winter was -34°C here in Dawson City, which is so warm! We were expecting -40’s and -50’s but the El Nino kept it mild here. Uncle Jeff in Huntsville, Ontario had a colder night than we had!

Going into our first winter here, I was worried about 3 things:

  • dryness and nosebleeds
  • my very frostbite susceptible face
  • darkness

When I lived in Thunder Bay, the dry winter air was so rough on my nose I had terrible nose bleeds. I haven’t had an issue here at all! Our house stayed at 30-34% humidity all winter, which sounds dry to me, but I drink plenty of water and haven’t had any trouble.

I was also worried about my face. I’ve frostbitten the skin around my eyes and upper cheeks a bunch of times and my skin is now really sensitive there to the wind and cold. It wasn’t too much of an issue. I just covered up my face in the cold.

The darkness scared me off coming north years ago. I love the sun. I thrive in the sun. How could I do without it all winter? This wasn’t much of a concern either, mostly because the length of daylight drastically changes every day. Before Christmas we were down to just a few hours of light a day, and we went two months without direct sunlight on town, but it’s just March now and it is light until 9:30pm at night already! I tried out a SAD (seasonable affective disorder) light during the darkest months in the mornings, and felt like it gave me a good shot of energy, but hard to tell if it is necessary. I’m sure it didn’t hurt though.

How to do winter in the Yukon

  • It will take 10-15 minutes to leave the house, so add that to whatever time you need to get where you are going. You need time to add a second pair of socks, long johns, tuck your pants into your boots, zip up your coat, get your toque and mittens on, and if it is really cold, add your face mask.
  • That’s it! Up here the snow is light and dry, easy to shovel (can usually sweep it away), it is rarely windy, it’s usually too cold and dry for frost to form on your vehicle’s windows, and it is never slushy. It is all the best kinds of winter!

Our house has been really easy to heat. I’m guessing the insulation is good and thick! We’ve spent less than $100/month on oil, which is a relief, since we’re spending significantly more than that on electricity to minimally heat our much larger house still for sale in Nova Scotia.

Here are some iPhone photos I took today when I walked to the mailbox, the Downtown for lunch and a couple hours of work borrowing their wifi, and then a walk back home on the dyke along the frozen Yukon River.

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The Midnight Sun Hotel. Closed and For Sale if you’re interested!

Heading to the Post Office

Heading to the Post Office

The town is working on grading the streets. They aren't plowed much in the winter, and now they are scraping them down to the frozen gravel.

The town is working on grading the streets. They aren’t plowed much in the winter, and now they are scraping them down to the frozen gravel. This is looking east at the corner of Third and Queen.

Looking north at the corner of Third and Queen.

Looking north at the corner of Third and Queen.

Looking west towards the river.

Looking west towards the river.

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From the dyke, a view of an ice rink and parking lot for the frozen river race track.

Heading south along the Yukon River.

Heading south along the Yukon River.

It was -12°C this morning, but by mid-afternoon it was +3! I walked without my coat on! Not even a toque or mittens!

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An awesome sliding hill for the kids to slide and toboggan down onto the river.

An awesome sliding hill for the kids to slide and toboggan down onto the river.

Looking back at the businesses along Front Street.

Looking back at the businesses along Front Street.

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The historical old courthouse.

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Yes we have a Chinese Food restaurant! It is even open most of the winter too.

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Haven’t been in it yet, but we have a pool in the summer!

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Part of the Westmark hotel on 5th Ave, a block from our house. Still closed and boarded up.

Slowly life is returning to town. The bakery is reopen and the pizza shop. People are drifting back to town for summer work, mostly because it is nearly impossible to find a place to live here so they are trying to beat the rush. Many people will end up living in tents and shacks just like it has always been here since the days of the Gold Rush.