Every year we design our homeschooling curriculum loosely around a trip for the following year. I find it helps me stay focused and it feeds the boys interest throughout the year. I choose research topics and units based on hands-on experiences we can do on our trip. In order to avoid boring ourselves, we choose places that neither my husband or I have been.
For many years the Yukon had called. Through anecdotal tales and literary glory, others experiences of the vast expanse had created a desperate ache inside my gut. Once we decided that our home school trip would take us farther North than any of us had ever been our excitement began to boil. Luckily, we had quite a few books on the Yukon, but we lucked out at some second hand stores and added to the pile. We jam packed as much as humanly possible into ten days. We drove between ten and fourteen hours a day for the first week, in order to see as much as we could, and honestly we could have stayed another three months and been busy.
On our second night we stayed at the Hot Springs in Liard, BC. It was an easy and beautiful ten minute saunter into the forest, with an odd and invigorating smell, somewhat like sulfur. It was cold but the ground was warm, which created this steaming mud and fauna unlike anything I’ve ever seen. The long plank path lead straight through a remarkable meadow swamp. Moss, lichen, and fat bulbous leaved plants pushed through the shallow warmth of the grass and swamp like pools. When we reached the end of the path, we found their stunning pool. The cool end of the pool lead into a tiny little stream, barely two feet deep. We paddled through on our tummies – down and through and around. It wasn’t very far, but it seemed a million miles away as the other guests disappeared into the forest behind us and everything was silent. The plants above us and all around morphed into a jungle, and we instantly felt like we’d changed continents. Ferns hung over head, clinging to soggy logs and slick stones. It was truly remarkable.
Wandering around Dawson City with two kids in tow one one of my favourite days. It felt as if we had stumbled back in time. Other than a few fresh coats of paint on various buildings, it was easy to see that upgrades had never been a priority, which was a wonderful surprise. It was hot, which we found odd complaining about since we live in a bloody desert but it was surprising. The streets were dirt and the sidewalks were made of planks, which made the dust settle and stick to our sweat for the long haul. It was icky and the kids were tired. We were so thirty and the map of the town is made up of landmarks and historical points of interest, so unfortunately GET DRINKS HERE wasn’t marked.
Nevertheless, what an incredible place. The sagging churches, dilapidated billboards and old broken buildings were amazing. A town supported almost entirely by the tourist industry and yet, since the gold rush it had clearly never made enough money to make it truly take off. The Dawson City Museum was incredible – a true highlight for a couple of gold rush crazy kiddos. We stumbled into a little gold shop along the river and they had this incredible display of gold taken from all the different mines. We wandered and wandered, and around every corner was “wow!”
We got incredible lucky and had a friend with family that owned a gold claim just outside of town and we were invited to stop by the mine and see how a real gold mine worked. The boys found a little bit of gold, got to try out the equipment and then we had a Lynx casually wander by while we were panning. It was a fantastic day.
The hardest part about driving so hard and for so many days is we were ALWAYS tired. It truly was an exhausting trip. By day 7 we had one boy wanting to camp everywhere and experience more, and the other wanting to pull 20 hr days and get home ASAP. Nevertheless, with limited time off every year and wanting to get as much done as possible, rarely are our vacations truly a vacation. Although this is just a smidgen of what we did on our trip, I hope it inspires you to go and check it out. We’re going to go again!