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She is just a Klondike Nugget

We had a relaxed and fun first day in Whitehorse on Saturday. We rented a beautiful two bedroom apartment in a B&B just outside the city. It’s on a beautiful acreage with the Versleuce Meadows as the backyard. We had breakfast at home before going out for the day.

One of the reasons we wanted to bring my parents here is my Dad’s love of Robert Service poems, especially “The Cremation of Sam McGee”, which starts like this:

There are strange things done in the midnight sun
By the men who moil for gold;
The Arctic trails have their secret tales
That would make your blood run cold;
The Northern Lights have seen queer sights,
But the queerest they ever did see
Was that night on the marge of Lake Lebarge
I cremated Sam McGee.

While walking around downtown Whitehorse yesterday, we came across a small tribute to Robert Service, with the above quote inscribed on the desk. This is a picture of my folks at that desk:

(Photo to come when we get a stronger signal)

We also visited the McBride Museum of Yukon History where we learned a lot about the history of the Yukon, including the real Sam McGee. As the poem goes, Sam McGee was from Tennessee, hated the cold, thought he’d sooner live in hell than the Yukon, and while he was dying, asked the character in the poem to cremate him so he would finally be warm.

Well, the real Sam McGee lived in this cabin in Whitehorse with his wife:

(Photo to come when we get a stronger signal)

He was from Peterborough (not Tennessee) and apparently loved the Yukon. While in the Yukon, he met a young bank teller from the CIBC in Whitehorse–Robert Service–and they became friends. Service asked Sam McGee if he could use his name in a poem, and McGee agreed, never for a moment thinking that anything would come of a poem written by a bank teller at the CIBC in Whitehorse. Of course, the poem went on to become famous around the world, and everyone knew the name Sam McGee. The real Sam McGee could not escape the infamy in the Yukon, so he finally left and moved to Alberta. However, he returned to his beloved Yukon many times before he died in Alberta, and during one of those visits, he met a man selling an urn that he claimed contained the ashes of the legendary Sam McGee!!!

We spent a couple of hours wandering through the museum, soaking up the atmosphere and learning about the characters that have contributed to this amazing part of Canada. One of these included Cam Smith, a Prankster from the Yukon who wrote a couple of songs that made it big around here. One of those songs was “She is just a Klondike Nugget”–this is a picture of my Mom holding the sheet music for the song:

(Photo to come when we get a stronger signal)

We were also lucky enough to be at the museum for a talk by Rob Cooke, a British guy turned Yukoner who finished the Yukon Quest in 2012. It was a fascinating talk, full of real life anecdotes from someone who has actually finished the 1000 mile race from Whitehorse to Fairbanks.

It was a great and informative day, and we finished with a yummy dinner at a restaurant downtown called Klondike Rib and Salmon. We gorged ourselves on–you guessed it!–ribs and salmon before coming back to our apartment to play cards. The salmon here is a special treat–fresh, never frozen Alaskan sockeye–and is one of my favourite things ever.

Bye for now and thanks for reading!


Welcome to the new blog – Golden Rush!

Hi everyone!

Mom & Dad - before and after!

We have no idea how many people are still following this blog, but we decided to start it up again for the next couple of weeks.

Tel and I have the immense joy of being with my folks in the Yukon for the next two weeks. My Mom and Dad just celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary and this trip is our gift to them.

If you’ve read this blog before, you know that the four of us like traveling together. PEI, Argentina, Uruguay, Ireland…we’ve been to a lot of places together!! And we love it enough to keep doing it!

So this edition of the Never the Right Time blog is dedicated to them–my folks and Tel’s outlaws–for their 50th anniversary. As a tribute to them, we’ve called it “Golden Rush”, in honour of their golden wedding anniversary. We love you Mom and Dad, and are looking forward to another adventure with you!

Melissa & Tel


Where misfits fit: homos, mormons, bikers, scrapbookers, artists and more

Hi everyone!

Tel and I arrived yesterday at a spectacularly remote cottage in the Ozark mountains here in Arkansas, and this is where we will be spending the rest of our honeymoon.  More on that at the end of this post!

Since the last time we wrote (and I have lost track of days, so I have no idea when that was!!), we left Lousiana and drove to Little Rock, Arkansas, where we spent a relaxing night watching TV and doing laundry….just like home!  The next day, we left Little Rock for the Ozarks and rural Arkansas.  Our drive took us 4.5 hours through the countryside, along twisty, windy, steep, narrow mountain roads, and past scenery that we can only describe as both beautiful and surprising.  We *really* felt like we were in rural Arkansas, the bible belt, Jesusland…..signs along the roadway offering “free pregnancy counselling” and asking us if we’d been “saved” yet, trailers along the road that had been turned into homes, with wooden additions built on to them, and in one case, a wooden roof added to a tin trailer.  Like I said, we definitely felt like we were in rural Arkansas!!  Part of the way here, we started to see a lot of motorcycles on the road, and after we passed a sign warning us of “steep and crooked roads”, we ran into a group of a few hundred bikers at the side of the road.  We took a road called “the pig trail” to get here to Eureka Springs, Arkansas, running into more and more bikers on our way here.  By the time we got to the town, it was clear that there was a biker event going on!

We checked into our inn close to the centre of Eureka Springs, and found out that in Fayetteville, AR (about an hour away), there was a biker event called Bikes, Blues and BBQ going on, and that there were 400,000+ bikers attending the event.  Yikes.  We had chosen Eureka Springs to visit because we’d heard it was a sleepy, quiet, little artists community in the Ozarks–what folks around here call “the buckle of the bible belt” because it does not adhere to the Christian fundamentalism found in so much of the rest of the Ozarks. Actually, the motto of the town–where misfits fit–really appealed to us.  We were NOT expecting thousands of bikers!  But, honestly, I suppose that is part of the “misfits” mentality that made the town so appealing.

We took a trolley ride around the whole town to get our bearings and found it beautiful, sweet and charming. The roads are carved into the hills, as are many of the buildings. The town twists and meanders up and down through the Ozark Hills and has countless sweet inns, charming stores, wine bars….all along cobblestone, uneven roads that require a LOT of concentration to navigate.  For our first night in town, we visited an amazing restaurant called Local Flavours, drank two bottles of vintage wine (a cab and a petit syrah) and took a pink limo back to our hotel room!




 The next day, we woke up, only a *bit* hungover, to the sound of bikers gunning their engines at 6:30 a.m. The noise, we discovered, would continue for the rest of the time we were in Eureka Springs–the first thing we heard in the morning, the last thing at night, and constantly in between.

We had an amazing breakfast at our hotel before heading to the Thorncrown Chapel, a church built just outside of town by a local Christian man who wanted to share his beautiful view of the Ozarks with others and give them a place to be “saved” if they wished.  The chapel is built entirely of glass and wood, and contains hundreds of windows; it gives you a view of the sky and mountains all around you.  After reading about it, I wanted to sit inside the chapel, and spend some quiet time meditating.  When we got there, a sign invited us to “come in and sit just as we were”–loved it!!–and the chapel itself was stunning in its simplicity.  

 Alas, my quiet meditation was not to be!  A man inside the church handed us some propaganda about the history of the church, why it was built and testimonials from others who had visisted the church and were subsequently “saved” by Jesus.  The brochure invited us to speak with him if we needed to be saved (FYI, neither one of us took him up on that offer!).  Instead of blissful quiet within the church, we had organ muzak.  Instead of a peaceful encounter with nature, we had bikers revving their engines and busting into the church.  Sigh.  Although the inside of the church was indeed beautiful, we could not find the peace there that we hoped.

After that, we headed even further out of town to see the “Christ of the Ozarks”, a 7 story high statue of Christ built to remind people of his power and protection, based on the idea of Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janiero.  As some of you may remember, Tel and I visited Rio and caught an amazing “You, me and JC” picture with Christ the Redeemer….we were trying to replicate that moment!  The statue here in the Ozarks was not quite tall enough to have the same effect, but we sure had fun trying!  Once again, the peaceful environment that we were seeking was not possible…..and I am sure you can guess the reason!




We spent the rest of our day wandering around Eureka Springs, up and down the hilly streets and in and out of its quaint stores.  We marvelled at the diversity of the town….a pride flag right beside a second hand Christian clothing store, signs welcoming scrapbooking groups, mormon groups, church groups, bikers, seniors…..really, it was quite something!  We got a big kick out of a t-shirt hanging in the second hand Christian clothing store–Jesus saved me from my karma–which was right across the street from a sign advertising  (supposedly legal) liquid marijuana!! 


We sat and had a couple of beers on a balcony overlooking one of the main streets, and on our second beer, we got a BLISSFUL break from the sound of motorcycle engines–we heard drumming, clapping, singing–and were so excited that we finished our beers and decided to go and investigate…..and in doing so, we found the heart of eclectic, artsy, hippy Eureka Springs! A jam session held by all the local musicans and artists on the first Saturday of every month, in the town’s park. There were HUNDREDS of people with their drums, tamborines, harmonicas, etc…singing and dancing in the park. It was absolutely delightful, and it was the first time we got a break from the constant sound of motorcycle engines being gunned. It really helped us to see how amazing Eureka Springs could be had we visited it at a different time, without the thousands of bikers everywhere.

So we left Eureka Springs yesterday morning completely and totally frazzled from the constant sound of motorcycle engines.  Honestly, I thought I was going to crawl out of my skin if I heard even one more biker gun his motor!  I think I would have loved Eureka Springs at a different time 🙁

Now we are at our cabin in the Ozarks, a blissful, luxurious cottage with a hot tub for two, walk in shower, wrap around deck overlooking Beaver Lake, luxurious bed, fireplace…..we feel pampered, relaxed, indulged, happy… is WONDERFUL!  The resort has an amazing privacy policy, and will not disturb us during our stay for any reason.  The lake is warm enough to swim in, the surroundings are beautiful, everything is quiet.  We are in heaven!  This was a wedding gift from ma tante and uncle Dennis, and we love it!

We will write more before we go, and after a few more days of doing nothing!

Bye for now,



Cajun Open Mike Night, friendly small towns

Hi everyone!

We are still in Lafayette, Louisiana and are just packing up to leave.  We’ve had an amazing few days here, and found exactly the culture, friendliness, fun and music that we were hoping for.  It has been AMAZING!!  We leave today for Eureka Springs, Arkansas, where we will be spending another fun-filled weekend.  And on Sunday, we check into an amazing luxury cabin on a lake in the Ozarks, where we will veg out and do absolutely nothing for four days.

My beloved mentioned in her previous post that I wandered around the Acadian and Creole museum taking notes in my little Hello Kitty notebook.  She was right, except that my notebook has a picture of a pink shoe on it…..sadly, I have not found a little Hello Kitty notebook yet!!  But the notes….yes, that is exactly what I do in museums!  I found it super interesting, mostly because I learned the difference between cajuns and creoles, something that I was not clear on before.  The museum was a tribute to the Acadians who were expelled from Canada and the Creoles–two groups that built Louisiana into what it is now.

Louisiana was settled by the English, French and Spanish, and it was actually the Spanish who were in power when the Acadians were unceremoniously booted from Canada.  It was interesting to me to see how many of them were tricked by the colonial government into deportation; after pledging *conditional* allegiance to the British crown (the condition was that they would never have to fight against the French or any aboriginal group that supported the French), there was relative peace between the English and the French in Acadie.  That is, until the English decided, in secret, to deport the 10,000 Acadians who would not swear unconditional allegiance to the crown.  Many of them were tricked into churches, under the guise of a church meeting, and then loaded on ships and unceremoniously deported.  Of the 10,000 given the boot, 3,000 came to Louisiana and were welcomed with open arms by the ruling Spanish government; they were given land, seeds, clothes etc upon their arrival, and set out integrating into Louisiana.  At that time, there were three groups of people in Louisiana: whites, free people of colour and slaves.  Within the loosely defined category of “whites” were French, English, Spanish, German, Welsh etc settlers.  The Acadians identified themselves first as Acadien then as Cadien (spoken with French pronunciation).  The term was eventually anglicised by the English speaking folks living here to Cajun (and actually, that sounds remarkably similiar to the word cadien!).  Although the cajuns were the minority of french speakers in Louisiana, eventually any white, poor, french speaking person in Louisiana was called a cajun.  The practise continues to this day, with any person with French heritage being called a cajun, when in fact they may not be a descendent of one of the 3,000 acadians booted out of Canada.  However, a teeny and gorgeous town here called St. Martinsville, has erected an Acadian memorial (which we visited) which pays tribute to those 3,000 Acadians who were so instrumental in builing this part of Louisiana.

At the same time the cajuns were integrating themselves into Louisiana, the Creoles were facing their own changes.  A creole had always been defined as a (presumably white) person born in Louisiana–at the time, generally of French, Spanish or English heritage, but born here in Louisiana.  Before the civil war, the whites, the free people of color and the slaves had well defined roles in Louisiana but after the civil war, the free people of color lost that special status, and began calling themselves “Black Creoles” (much to the horror of the white Creoles!!) to distinguish themselves from former slaves. Eventually, any person born in Louisiana became known as a Creole with the exception of the cajuns.  Honestly, things are not much clearer now!  Creole culture is now a mixture of southern, spanish, african and english cultures while Cajun culture is based on french heritage (regardless of whether that heritage is from France or from Acadie).  

We have definitely found the culture here to be fascinating and FUN in the extreme.  We have spent our days driving from small town to small town, getting lost in conversations with locals and just having an absolute blast.  Yesterday we drove to a small town called Opelousas, wandered into an amazing restaurant/museum and ordered some food.  A charming woman, Wanda (who we discovered was the owner) wandered over to chat with us, eventually pulling up a chair and joining us at our table for an hour and a half of eating and chatting……absolutely wonderful for both Tel and I, and another long term friendship, we are certain.

Last night, we went to the Blue Moon Saloon, a local bar, for Cajun open mike night…..and discovered the heart of francophone culture in Lafayette!  All of the singers/musicians were French!  And, when I asked the bartender if he spoke French, he responded with a line we’ve heard often in Louisiana: “No, I’m Texan, I speak Spanish”!!!  But a few minutes later, two men approached us asking if we spoke French….they’d been sent to us by the bartender!!….and suddenly, we were surrounded by French speaking Louisana folks who were THRILLED to be able to speak French with us.  We met a woman from Quebec, here studying at UL, who adores the culture here, and was at the saloon with her fiddle for open mike night!  We also met two other guys, Michel and Lucien, both of whom have travelled to maritime Canada in order to go to school in French, and both of whom are part of a group of people here that are quietly trying to preserve the French language in Louisiana.  We spent the huge majority of the night speaking in French, having a blast.  And the MUSIC….wow, the music!!  By the time we left at 11 pm or so, there were 4 guitars, a steel guitar, two accordians, 3 fiddles, a banjo and a triangle being played, with all of the songs being sung in French.  We also met two delightful folks from Arkansas–DeeWayne-Eddy and his wife Lauren–with whom we hung out all night and had a really great time.   Honestly, we had an absolutely amazing night and made even more friends.  I will say again that the friendliness of people here truly gives Newfoundland a run for its money (and you folks know that I do not say that easily!!!).

We are a tad hungover today, but are just heading to our car to start the long drive north.  It’s about 10-11 hours to where we are going in north west Arkansas, so we will be stopping somewhere to sleep tonight.  We will be spending the weekend in Eureka Springs, a funky, proudly-artsy, blatantly gay-positive town……all adjectives not normally associated with rural Arkansas!!  After that, we are going off the map for a few days of blissful downtime in a luxury remote cabin–a wedding gift from ma tante and Uncle Dennis!

You can probably tell what a fabulous time we’re having, especially if you’re watching my posts and updates on Facebook!  I love it here, and find the pace of small town Louisiana much better than New Orleans, where it felt impossible to NOT be a tourist. 

Thanks for reading, and bye for now!









Towed out of the swamp…

It’s not often I get to say that I’m awake while the Girl is sleeping, but alas, the day has finally arrived.  Sadly, it’s not because of anything awesome, like skydiving or bungee jumping, but more because I’m wrestling with insomnia and she’s not (also a weird reversal of roles). 

Can I mention how hysterical it is that the Girl stole the ‘Jailhouse Times’ newspaper from a Mississippi convenience store?  No kidding, there were pictures of people who’d been arrested (not charged, fyi) for things like ‘petit theft’.  It took me a little while to figure out that petit theft didn’t mean they stole something little, but rather something petty (like a newspaper).  She wasn’t joking when she said I was checking the rearview mirror for the Sheriff.  You just never know.  We might see Mel’s photo in the ‘most wanted’ section of next week’s paper.

So, I thought I’d pick up where the Girl left off yesterday.  We arrived in Lafayette, Louisiana on Monday afternoon.  It was an easy two-hour drive, and we checked into our really comfortable hotel without any problems.  To be completely honest, we were enthralled with the idea of the Acadians that live in Louisiana.  The Girl did a bunch of research and specifically worked this area of french cajun country into our trip so she could practice her french. 

We kinda lazed around for a couple of hours and then jumped into a cab to head out to this really cool place called Randol’s Dance Hall for dinner and what turned out to be quite a show.   The Girl keeps asking everyone, the hotel clerk, the cab driver, the servers at restaurants and everyone who will acknowledge her presence if they speak french.  They all shake their head in a sad way and tell us the story of how french was banned in the 1920’s and only recently became popular again.  We’ve also heard from the younger generation that their parents and grandparents chose not to teach them french so they could gossip about their neighbours while the kids were around.

Our first cab ride to Randol’s was….interesting.  A really friendly cabbie named Terry picked us up after we waited for almost 30 minutes at our hotel.  He asked where we were from, we said Canada and his first response was ‘I hear y’all have some great herbs up there’.  You know me, the herb connoisseur I am, I come back with ‘yessir, Mary Jane loves Canada’.  WTF?  I have no idea where that came from, the Girl looks at me like MJ and I have been hanging out and I shake my head.  I still have no idea where that came from. 

So we get to Randol’s and ask for a seat near the dance floor.  The reviews all said this was a tourist trap, so I didn’t have high hopes.  The server took our order, brought us beers and we watched the band do sound-check.  About 45 minutes after we arrived, people started going out onto the dance floor and sitting on benches.  The band hadn’t actually started yet.  About 15 minutes after that, 3 beers in, the Cajun band (accordion, fiddle, steel guitar, acoustic guitar and drums) started up a little diddy and the dance floor was full of members of the blue-hair club!  Seriously.  There must’ve been 20 people on the dance floor, all in couples, all over 70, and all doing the same two-step.  There was one exception though. 

 There was this sweet little lady, I imagine she’s got a tiny house somewhere in the mountains and a tiny little closet with some garden gnome friends.  She must’ve been 4 feet tall with a hair net type hat on that gave her at least another 6 inches.  When the music started, she got up from her bench and started doing laps around the dance floor, doing a two-step by herself, sashaying her hips and clapping every few beats.  It.  Was.  Adorable.   We laughed and laughed and awwed when one of the old men came and bowed at her to ask her to dance. 

We figured out during our meal why the night started (and ended) so early; the dance hall is open from 6:30 to 9:30.  It’s beacuse the old people don’t stay past 9:30pm and the only reason people come to this restaurant is to watch the old people dance.  I guess that’s what the ‘tourist trap’ reviewers meant.  I actually found it quite authentic, I haven’t seen 70 year olds move like that since…. ever!

The next morning (yesterday), we hit the road early (10 am) and headed out to our swamp tour.  We arrived and found some french speaking people!  Unfortunately, they were from France.  I don’t mean it’s unfortunate that they were from France, just that it was unfortunate that we still hadn’t heard a Louisiana cajun french person speak yet. 

In the thirty-five degree heat (not including the humidex), we stood on the dock, backed away from some huge ass spiders hanging in the trees and eventually got into the swamp boat, and figured out that our swamp guide was going to be doing a bilingual tour.  When he started speaking french, the Girl and I looked at each other with raised eyebrows.  We could completely understand him, don’t get me wrong, it’s just that it was like listenening to Acadie-man with a southern drawl.  It cracked us up.  The Girl took a video of him speaking  (see below).

It was a really interesting swamp tour, we saw a lot of cranes, egrets, trees and spanish moss.  Even though we didn’t see any alligators, we did learn a lot about the eco-system and about the bayous of Louisiana.  We were in a 14 passenger swamp boat, which was full, and at the beginning of the tour, the guide (whose name escapes me) said that we’d likely be dragging bottom the whole way, since the bayou only has 4 feet of water.   We hit bottom a few times, but nothing the tour guide couldn’t get us out of.

On our final push to shore, we passed a dead carp that must’ve been about 2 feet long.  It was floating, belly up, and people in the boat kept asking what it was.  As the tour guide turned the boat around to get a closer look, I felt the top of the boat go up and then felt something solid underneath me. 

Less than two hundred feet from shore, we’d managed to get ourselves stuck on a log.  And.  Not only did we get stuck on a log, but the boat’s motor crapped out at the same time.  As our skipper tried in vain to start the motor, I looked around and very slowly realized that not only were there no life jackets in this boat, there also weren’t any oars.  We were kinda up a creek without a …. never mind. 

BUT NO FEAR, friends!  The skipper called Brian, another guy with a boat, and Brian sped along the bayou, came up to the front of the boat and bumped our boat off the log with his boat!  It was like boat bumper cars in the Louisiana swamp.  Southern hospitality at its finest!  Brian grabbed a rope, tied our boat to his and towed us to the shore.  Seriously.

We got into the car after the Girl bid adieu to the Cajun and headed for the nearest place with coffee.  A good lunch and some caffeine helped to propel us through the stifling heat.  It’s HOT down here.  We looked around a quaint little village, bought some cute little things from an antique store and then headed out to the Acadian Museum in St. Martinville. 

I’d love to tell you about the Museum, but to be honest, I was completely distracted by some people speaking in the lobby.  There were two women and an adorable little kid talking to the Museum guy, asking about Acadian heritage, about lineage from Nova Scotia, about french names and whether or not there was a list of those exiled from Acadia in Canada to Louisiana.  Then, we heard the Museum guy tell these women that Quebec didn’t really want to be a part of Canada and that they want to go back to France.  I was shocked. 

I looked at the Girl and walked up to the women and the Museum guy and said ‘You’re mistaken, Quebec doesn’t want to move to France.  Some Quebecers want independence, but most want (and have chosen, by referendum) to stay in Canada.’  They all kind of looked at me like I was some whackjob, and then I said ‘Oh, we’re Canadian’.  They smiled and nodded and continued their chat as I moved on. 

Of course, I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t want to talk to them more, so as I pretended to read the Museum signs, I completely eavesdropped on their conversation.  It turns out the younger of the two women is working on a fictional novel about the  Acadian exile from Nova Scotia and trying to track down her roots.  As we started to make our way towards the exit, the adorable little girl was hanging out, so I started chatting with her, making little drum beats with our feet and generally being a dork. 

I go to find the Girl, who is still immersed (of course she is), and I find her taking notes in her little Hello Kitty notepad (of course she is).  The little girl sees her notepad and is immediately impressed, I get ditched and now the Girl and said 3 year old are comparing pink purses, shoes and all things Hello Kitty.  Mel said it right yesterday when she said that she gets along best with three year old girls! 

We have subsequently agreed to a very hospitable dinner invitation from Morgan (the lady who’s writing the book), her mom, Eddie (still not sure where that name’s from) and Jiffer (aka Jennifer, the adorable three year old who will no doubt covet the Girl’s stuff over dinner tonight). 

That’s the thing about the South.  We’ve met some amazing people.  In New Orleans, we spent the night in a bar and made friends that I suspect will be friends for a long time.  These two boys asked us if we’d let housebroken boys sit next to us, and we immediately hit it off.  Scott ordered a drink, offered me his cherry and told me how much he liked girls (to which I responded, ‘me tooooo’!!)  Then there was Minnesota, this cute boy who’s name I didn’t even ask, because I wanted to call him Minnesota, and the boys from Calgary who were in town on a conference.  Now there’s Morgan, Eddie and Jiffer who invited complete strangers out for dinner, because, well….I guess because that’s what they do down here. 

We’re having fun.  We really like nice people.  :0)






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