From Xavier’s place we rode about fifty five kilometers to Whitehorse, the capital of the Yukon. Depending on the source, you will be told that somewhere between 35,000 and 40,000 people live in the province. All but about 5,000 of them live in Whitehorse, which is probably about half the size of Texas. There are maybe seven grocery stores in the Yukon; three of them are here. Nobody that lives in Whitehorse is from Whitehorse. Most of the people that you meet have a similar tale of having passed through it once and never leaving. There is good music, delicious food, and a thriving outdoor community. There is a city wide initiative called #stopsuckingwhitehorse with the objective of banning plastic straws. I like Whitehorse.
We decided to treat ourselves to a Warmshowers experience, our first of the trip, so we could do laundry, work on the bikes, and get clean. Our hosts were Olivier (Not to be confused with Olivier the Crepery owner) and Katie (and their two year old Lily). Olivier had toured through Asia on a bike and carried a saxophone. He is a tall and lanky Frenchman with a fine collection of fedoras. Katie was from some town in Canada that she described as a shithole and not worth remembering. They had another baby on the way and were planning to tour long term with the family once the second kid was 9 months old.
The thing about Warmshowers is that you simultaneously want to have a relaxing experience where you can let the gut hang out a bit, but also you need to be conscious of the fact that somebody is letting you stay in their home free of charge. There were lots of hosts in Whitehorse, so we did our best to find a place where we could have some privacy, be close to town, and also have a host that we would be happy to spend some time with We were very fortunate to find Olivier and Katie. When somebody hosts us, we try to cook them dinner as a way to say thank you. Our standby meal is a variation of a spinach curry. We always make way too much and it causes the house to smell like Indian spices for a week. This way we leave an impression that they can both smell and taste for several days after we leave.
We heard some music as we were walking past a park. The sound caught my attention as something I hadn’t really heard before. Female drummer in teal dress with cowboy hat and aviator sunglasses. Gangly gentleman with slicked back hair, mustache, sandy brown cowboy shirt, glasses, and grandpa dark brown pants. He played a Danelectro that perfectly matched the drummers dress. He drove a 1971 Buick. They were a bit like the White Stripes, except their shtick was that they did punk metal covers of 1930’s gospel songs. I loved it.
The next night we went to a benefit where Olivier was playing sax. The man can blow. It was an open jam and he was on stage with a drummer, bass player, keyboardist and singer. The singer, a short blonde woman with young blue eyes got sucked into an improv session in the middle of a song. Battling back and forth with Olivier, you could see that she was out of her element. But he knew how to play the game and somehow coerced notes and grooves out of her that she didn’t know she had.
It was hard to leave. Katie and Olivier were gracious hosts and let us stay 3 nights. I always want to rush out of these situations because I don’t want to overstay a welcome, but they had a way of making us feel like we were part of the family. One day we even watched Lily for a few hours so they could run errands and get some work done. When we left, they rode with us for the first few miles. Eventually we reached a hill named “Two Mile Hill” to the main highway and parted ways. The joke amongst the cyclists in town is that most of the people that come through on a tour never leave because they don’t want to ride up the hill.