The Grey Panther, 2018: On the Road Again


April 2, 2018

The 2018 journey begins. A year has passed since we were on the road and it was a good, productive year. We also celebrate Jim’s 3 year stem cell transplant anniversary. But it is good to be on the road again. We’ll travel through Yukon Territories, British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Ontario arriving in Toronto then on to Michigan.

Yukon Territory (YT)

I love the Yukon. I always have since driving through it for the first time on my way to Alaska. It’s populatin was 17,000 in 1990 and eccentric and eclectic are the best words to describe it. It is also the end of the Klondike relay race from Skagway which The Women Who Run with Salmon completed in the late 90’s. Now the population is 28,000 and it is becoming more refined but it still holds intrigue and adventure.


It’s different than Alaska. The YT government heavily supports the arts and many different artists have found their home here. I worked with a palliative care consultant who lives here and one of my favorite cookbook authors of The Boreal Forest, Michelle Genest, lives and writes here.

We cross the border into YT. Unlike Alaska, rest stops are open year round and plentiful with bear inhibitor trash bins.


The toilets are unlocked from the outside. In Alaska, due to government budget problems, none remain open during most of the year. In the popular Turnagin Arm winter sports area (snowmachines on the left, human powered on the right) someone was annoyed, the toilets were locked and shot 14 bullet holes through the metal door!

The weather is bright and beautiful with blue skies and pristine snow. We listen to our new 13 hour playlist and sing along to mostly 60’s and 70’s music—folk, rock, Motown, sound tracks, it’s all here. The terrain flattens and straightens out as we drive East. Far from Texas where we listened to Texas songs, Gordon Lightfoot now sings about being Alberta bound, which we are…..eventually. We pass “No Trespassing” signs but there are hundreds of different animal tracks around the signs as they danced in the light of the moon.

All the campgrounds are closed and most of the restaurants and hotels. But we’re prepared. A few miles out of Haine’s Junction we back into a tiny road and settle in for the night. Jim jumps in bed with the hot water bottle (we both suffer cold feet from neuropathy). I sit in my front seat just breathing in the moment. I want to read for a bit, and I’ve brought the last two Sundays of the New York Times that I had no time to read, and want to start one of my used Donna Leon Venice novels, but I’m so content sitting and watching the surrounding mountains, trees and snow; watching the changing light as the sun starts to sink behind the mountains. I can never adequately describe the sensations of the North’s air. It’s crisp, clean, healing and so many other things. There is virtually no traffic and after the hectic travel packing, I am at peace.

I write about our day, our laughter, the joy of starting a new adventure. It’s good to be on our way.

After changing into my pink elephant flannel PJ’s, I climb in beside Jim and slide the hot water bottle over to my feet. The bed is so warm and soft. My feet and lower R legs are really cold so I put on the bright royal blue, big socks my daughter gave me. Awwwww. We sleep the sleep of young children, puppies and kittens who rest at the end of a big day.

All too soon, it’s time to leave our cocoon and start the day. I pour freshly squeezed orange juice and butter the cinnamon raisin sourdough bread I made for the trip for breakfast appetizers. I think I’ll wait for my tea at Tim Horton’s in Whitehorse, then decide I need at least one cup. We put everything away and Jim picks up a jar.

“What’s this?”

“Sprouts, I’m growing them for our sandwiches.”

“Only you.”

I also brought along a box of our favourite chocolates to enjoy one a day. fullsizeoutput_b45


The beloved Tim Hortons (former hockey player) is now owned by an American company. Canadians claim that the steeped tea they serve is not the same, treason by Canadian standards, but I’m still happy to enjoy a cup. It’s near noon and the restaurant is crowded with many ethnicities and school kids as we order our breakfast and a hot chocolate for Jim. The cashiers are very efficient and we’re soon sitting in the sun enjoying our breakfast. A fuel stop and a few groceries including a new Canadian flag to replace the weathered one that flies with the American flag at home in Nikiski. The American flag got a bit shredded two years ago. Jim claimed it’s the way the country is and he’d wait to replace it until life in the US settles down. Betsy Ross offered to repair it, but Jim realizes the country won’t soon settle and bought a new one.

I told Jim I wanted to shop a bit. Also we are committed to a brisk walk each day, to keep my new knee in shape and improve his health. All of the PT and the surgery have improved my walking gait and speed. Jim turned into his “shopping snit” but I insist and he parks a brisk walk away from the shop I want to visit. It is an artist’s cooperative gallery and I enjoy looking at the art, and have a good chat with the day’s volunteer staff person. She and another woman have a show opening tomorrow that reflects how art allowed her to overcome her fear of nature when she and her husband moved to YT 20 years ago from Nova Scotia. More customers come in and I head back to the Sprinter. Soon Jim returns from his education trek (he neither drinks coffee or alcohol so I can’t send him off for a cup of coffee) and we headed out of Whitehorse. Always the teacher, he tells me what he learned and points out the former infamous “Whiskey Road” street. Jim loves nature and history. Whitehorse does still maintain a little of the unexpected.


Traffic remains scarce as does the wild life. Our count for the YT is 2 moose, 1 squirrel and a white snoeshoe rabbit. On to British Columbia.


The Grey Panther, 2018: On the Road Again

4 thoughts on “The Grey Panther, 2018: On the Road Again

  1. Patti Burton says:

    Christine, I’m delighted to hear you’re on the road again with your beloved Jim! When Robert and I moved from Alaska to Ontario we drive across Canada… Perhaps a similar route as the one you’re embarking. I see Toronto, Ontario on your itinerary. We are 2 hours north of Toronto in Bracebridge, Ontario. Any chance you can stay with us on your way to Minnesota or if you’re pressed for time come for a meal? Bracebridge is the heart of Muskoka. Perhaps join us for a swim or with our kayaks?


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