Monday, June 6, 2011

Exploring Dawson City

Dawson City is a bust.

Sometimes, not often, but just sometimes I'm unimpressed with a place we visit. And I'm unimpressed with Dawson City, Yukon. Even though it's on the National Historic Places list.

We visit the government-sponsored Visitors Center and they ply us with brochures and suggestions about government-sponsored things we can do in town. Everything costs. $6 to do that. $7 to do that. Do three, and the price falls to just $16.

What's with the grab for my wallet?

We decide to ignore the government's gold digging and set out on foot to explore the small, dusty town on our own. We pass numerous decrepit buildings, most worn out by the region's nasty winters and apparent financial decay. We explored the outside of some government-restored properties -- the hotel, bank, surveyors and brothels, all vintage from the Klondike Rush. We read memorial plaques about how this place swarmed with prospectors after 1896, with the discovery of gold. The Great Stampede.  The place rolled in gold dusted people for a few years, then, by 1905, lost its glitter for the little guy when the big guys brought in massive dredges to do the work.

Today's extraordinary riches are us, the tourists, who intentionally make a long wilderness journey into the Yukon to see this city, where the race for riches all began.

We buy into a $40-a-night campground and plan to leave in the morning. Afterall, what else is there do to? We saw the dust and the decay. After we sleep, it's time to go.

In the morning, as I walk the dogs, I chat with our neighbors who, from the looks of things, are preparing to leave, too.

"Heading out?" I say. The conversation that follow floors me.

"Oh, no!" she replies. Because THERE'S SO MUCH TO DO!

She and her husband plan to send the day out at a government-sponsored park, panning for gold, watching for wildlife, and resting up. Yesterday, they took a few of the government's WONDERFUL, INFORMATIVE, FUN tours and then, last night, partied with the dance-hall girls and the folks from The Discovery Channel's new show on mining for gold in Dawson City. They partied in the original, restored dance hall, where all those miners o long ago sought solace from the hardness of life here.

They plan to stay a few more days, to visit a few more parks. Because it's all so much fun. So wonderful. They struck it rich in Dawson City. They bought into the government-sponsored stuff I naively cold-shouldered. In Dawson City they found gold.

And I, to save a dollar, struck out.

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