Tagged with " Whitehorse"
Jul 11, 2009 -

Sanchez Cantina, Whitehorse

Canada and the northern US are sorely lacking in good Mexican restaurants. Oh, I had some pretty decent Mexican food in Omak and in White Rock, but the last time I had a thoroughly satisfying Mexican meal was in Savannah back in the spring of 2007. When I noticed a sign for Sanchez Cantina, which claims to be the only authentic Mexican restaurant in the Yukon, I had to go just to see if I would be proven right or wrong about the state of comida Mexicana in Canada.

I ordered a chicken burrito with rice and beans and a pina colada.

The burrito was good; filled with vegetables and perfectly seasoned chicken. The rice was pretty bad, tossed with canned vegetables and topped with a fishy tasting pale tomato sauce. The beans were just that, beans, of the black variety. I like black beans well enough, but a little seasoning would have been nice. The plate also had four lone crispy tortilla chips that were very yummy dipped in the bean sauce. All in all, a ho hum meal.

The pina colada, however, was excellent, the best I’ve ever had. You could taste the pineapple, the coconut, and the rum. I wasn’t too sure at first if I liked the liberal sprinkling of cinnamon over the frothy concoction, but it didn’t take long to win me over since I’m a huge fan of cinnamon.

I wouldn’t go back to Sanchez Cantina, not even for a pina colada, because the service was horrendous. I might as well have been invisible once I received my food. No one ever came to see if I needed anything and after several minutes of trying to flag down a server so I could get the check, I ended up going to the cash and standing there for several minutes while the guy at the cash mixed drinks without even acknowledging my presence.

When I was was finally able to pay, I did something I’ve only done three times before in my life at a restaurant: I didn’t tip. I’m normally a very good tipper, 20% to 25% is common for me for good to exellent service while bad to okay service gets 15%. It’s so rare for me to tip poorly, much less not at all, that I actually remember when I haven’t: at the Day’s Inn restaurant in New Jersey where I stayed when I visited NYC in 1996, at the restaurant at the Smithsonian in DC in 1997, and at the Royal Oak (Ottawa U Campus) in Ottawa in 1999!

I cannot recommend Sanchez Cantina. My quest for good Canadian Mexican food continues. Darn.

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Jul 11, 2009 -

Weekend in the ‘Big City’

WOW. My cousin lives about 40km from Whitehorse at the end of a well-graded dirt road. She can see a neighbour on one side of her house, but otherwise she is well set in trees as far as the eye can see.  That’s not what I’m ‘wowing’ about but rather the fact that she is fully ‘on the grid’, with electricity, phone, and high speed cable internet. I lived an equivalent distance from Gatineau in a much less remote area and I was stuck on 28kbs dial up internet! There is also cell service out here!

The drive from Dawson was quite easy as I had some company.

Thursday evening, I noticed two young guys trying to hitch a ride to Whitehorse in the first pouring rain we’ve had in weeks. They eventually came into Bonanza dripping wet and were quickly adopted by the manager who rented them a trailer for a cheap rate for the night so they wouldn’t have to set up their tent and take it down wet in the morning. This enabled me to get to know them a tad and to see that they were clean and respectable English blokes with gas money who would have been happy to take a bus had there been a bus. There is NO bus service between Dawson and Whitehorse! I felt bad for them, but was committed to enjoying a solo drive. Plus, I doubted I could fit all my gear and theirs in the car.

Friday, I saw them in front of the entrance at 8:30. I had errands to run in town and as I did them, I decided that if the ‘boys’ were still there when I went back past Bonanza I would take them no matter how much ‘scrunching’ was involved. I remembered what it was like to have to rely on hitching to get around and that I still had many rides to ‘pay forward.’

They were still there at 9:30 and had been there since 5:30, hoping to get to Whitehorse for 2 to catch the bus to Edmonton since the next one wouldn’t be for another three days. I pulled up to them, told them they were pathetic ( 😀 ) and to get in. We somehow managed to stuff everything and everyone into my small three-door hatchback and took off to waves and clapping.

They turned out to be fantastic company, regaling me with tales of their sixteen day canoe trip up the Yukon River. We also compared the ‘wilderness’ experience in Britain vs. that in Canada and my tales of hiking and hitching through Scotland made them decide that their next holiday was going to be in the northern part of their island. They had never been to Scotland! So many people explore the world but forget to check out the wonders of their own country…

We stopped for lunch at the very decent Gold Panner restaurant in Carmacks, where we all tucked into ‘real’ chicken sandwiches and fresh salad. My companions paid for my meal.

We were making decent time into Whitehorse when we hit some construction that stopped us for almost a half hour. I had thought to get to my cousin’s by 4PM, but by this point, my arrival was going to be closer to 5. Thankfully, we were in cellphone range by this point and I was able to call.

I was very impressed that my companions knew exactly where they wanted to be dropped off in Whitehorse, with no driving around in circles. They gave me some money; combined with lunch they paid for the gas to come down here. All hitchhikers should be so responsible. 🙂

Whitehorse was overwhelming after a month in Dawson! There are a lot of ‘pray and close your eyes’ left turns here and the traffic was impressive. I was glad to get back onto the Alaska highway and eventually into the ‘bush.’

This morning, I went into town fairly early to complete my shopping for the trip. I managed to do so in only two stops, Coast Mountain Sports for trekking pants and Walmart for everything else, which delighted me to no end since shopping exhausts me. I had quite a varied list of things to find and circled the store and various departments several times to find some items. The toughest to find were Duck tape and gloves. While looking through the Ziploc bags, I found a roll of Duck tape behind a box of baggies! As for gloves, they were the only thing left on my list as I headed to the cash, disappointed that there is no ‘off-season’ stuff in the clothing department when I had a flash of genius. I’d need the gloves for climbing the pass, so they’d have to be thougher than regular winter gloves. So, I detoured over to the hardware aisle and found good, warm pair of work gloves that will be perfect!

My shopping done, I called the number the tour group had given me to make sure that my guide knows where I’m staying and how to reach me. I didn’t talk to him, but was able to give the information to someone else who confirmed our 7PM meeting tomorrow (but who did not know where it is being held) and that, yes, we’re leaving Monday morning!

I’m now off to properly pack my pack and hope that there’s enough place left for the communal gear I’m supposed to carry. 🙂 And, good news, according to the Chilkoot information board at the corner of the Alaska and Klondike highways, the pass is open. 🙂

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Jun 4, 2009 -

Whitehorse to Carmacks

I got up at six on Tuesday morning and decided that Starbucks was going to make me breakfast (dark brewed coffee with space for a little bit of milk and a chocolate croissant, please and thank you). I gassed up at the best price I’d seen in a while (101.9) and hit the road at quarter to seven (unheard of for me!).

The day’s mileage would be about 500km and I decided to drive it as though I only had half of that to go. So, I stopped everywhere that looked interesting, did hikes, took advantage of photo ops, and had a good lunch break. It was another great day on the road.

First stop was Little Fox Lake:





Next stop was the Montague Roadhouse:


In the days when stage coaches and sleds were the only way of going from Whitehorse to the Klondike, roadhouses like these dotted the landscape and provided refuges for weary travelers, offering food and lodging.

The inside of the log structure was covered with muslin to lighten the interior and also keep the chinking from falling into the rooms. This ruin is about a hundred years old and, yet, some of that muslin is still visible:


The roadhouse in its heyday:


I then paused just long enough in Carmacks, ‘the hub of the Yukon’, to get a picture of its beautiful welcome sign mosaic:


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