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Monday, April 15, 2013

Mayo to Dawson City

Rangers dieing out
Ice Road trucks
Winning at slots
Joining the Sour Toe Club
Top of the World HWY

Canadian Rangers are a group of people who learn the land along with survival strategies.  They assist the RCMP and Canadian Military in search and rescue. They prove themselves an asset wherever their skills can be of service.  They meet regularly and do drills and excursions.  In an emergency in a remote area a Ranger can be a life saver.  

I spoke to a veteran Ranger in Mayo and found out that there are virtually no young people joining their ranks.   Approximately four years ago, he noticed a big shift away from young people joining the Rangers as a sort of rite of passage.  Now they simply want to text, surf the internet and disengage from the northern reality around them.  During my performance, I had to pry a couple teens away from their cell phones.

Our stay in Mayo (the heart of the Yukon) was awesome.  The school is brilliant.  Our hosts Ralph and Barb were fantastic.  Barb cooked us up a couple tasty meals of Bison that Ralph hunted. Mayo is a neat spot with geothermal energy to keep their city water from freezing.  It is the coldest recorded place in Canada (-62).

We left Mayo with plenty of time to be in Dawson City.  What we didn’t know was that there was a snow storm that hit the Alaskan HWY the night before.   It was a 4 hour white knuckled snow drifted ice rink drive.  We were aggressively passed by an 18 wheel Ice Road Truck like we were standing still.  He left us in his snow dust on the mountain highway while honking his horn.  I guess they can be like that now that they have their own TV show.

Dawson is to the Yukon like Quebec City is to Quebec.  Unreal!   Robert Service School was amazing.  Katheryn Johnson had everything organized and I had a great show with the biggest audience yet.
The difference in temperature from Whitehorse to Dawson is huge.  There is still plenty of snow there and 27 below zero at night. 

The kids were wide eyed and very receptive.  The teaching staff there are filled with passion and are super organized.  They have an amazing music program and scheduled 7 workshops for me the next day.  I was able to do something different with each age group and capture some real cool recordings.  On Saturday, the amazing Peter Menzies brought me to a youth drop-in centre where I jammed with some teens.  Peter is working around the clock trying to engage the students in his community.  He is building guitars and thumb pianos in shop.  He is taking their bands on tour. You name it, Peter is on it.

Dawson City is like stepping back in time. Every ten feet is a photograph.  There are no corporate franchises.  The snow covered streets are busy with snowmobiles and dogs.  The bars are full of people after work.  Live music fills the air on the weekends.  Everyone stops  on the wooden sidewalks to say hi.  There is even a famous casino, "Diamond Tooth Gertie's".  Thanks to our house mate Charles, I pulled a slot machine arm and it spit out $360. He was a fantastic host who introduced us to the haunts. We attended the Dawson City Short Film Festival and had a blast at an artists in residence party at KIAC. One of them was the Downtown Hotel where I became a member of the Sour Toe Cocktail Club by swallowing a shot of Yukon Jack with a real human toe in it. YUM!  We met way too many great people to mention them all.

We took a walk up the "Top of the World HWY".  This is the highest north by HWY you can officially get.
Top of the world to ya Homegrown Hamilton

Next we drove the Alaskan all the way back to Whitehorse to prepare for Teslin.

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