Ryan Uytdewilligen traveled to the Yukon earlier this month. (Mariana Aramburu/Special to the Langley Advance Times)

Ryan’s Regards: Pack your mask and hit the road

A summer vacation was filled with fun times and social distancing measures

Even with an economy-stopping, border-closing, life-altering pandemic in full effect, I was still able to squeeze in a holiday this summer.

And with summer stretching on for just a little while longer, so can you!

Here’s how you do it!

Pack a mask, hit the road, and get yourself lost in the great white north.

Boy I tell you, I needed a refresher. “Coronavirus this” and “COVID that” was cluttering my mind, just like I’m sure it’s doing to yours.

I had two weeks of holidays that I didn’t get to take when COVID first took hold back in March, so I moved them to August, with little hope of actually getting to use them for anything more than couch time.

But last month, the Yukon government opened their borders to B.C. residents only for tourism and non-essential travel; we got scrambling mere weeks before we headed out on the highway.

For those who don’t know, there are less people living in the entire Yukon territory than there are in Walnut Grove – it’s very sparse.

The land of the midnight sun had been a place I always wanted to visit, and with nowhere else to go and endless nature calling my name, my girlfriend and I hit the road and headed up through B.C. via the Alaska Highway.

We were nervous when it came time to cross borders, but there is a crew waiting to screen all cars entering the Yukon (there is pretty much only one way in and out).

We passed the screening test and were told to cautiously enjoy ourselves.

I can’t think of a better place or type of trip or to try and social distance – we spent more than half the time alone driving in our car, a quarter of the time hanging out in campgrounds, and the final quarter taking lonesome hikes where the desolate tundra meets stunning mountain ranges.

READ MORE: Ryan’s Regards: There’ll be peace in the valley

We hardly saw a single soul on this trip, but when we did, or when we entered a business, we donned masks and added a new layer to our increasingly pungent sanitizer-slathered hands.

We spent our days watching wildlife (we counted 24 black bears in one single stretch of highway one evening), attempted to see some kind of resemblance of northern lights (it was only dark from 2 a.m. to 3 a.m.), and even successfully panned for gold!

The only thing we didn’t get to do was drink the infamous toe shot they do in Dawson City. Some bizarre bar has had the tradition of plunking an actual preserved human toe in people’s drinks for decades.

I figured any establishment that was willing to put a toe in your drink didn’t give two hoots about any kind of health standard; to my surprise (and probably for my own good in more ways than one), that tradition was stopped until further notice.

I feel very blessed to have had the opportunity to get a change of scenery and some fresh air. I know most folks around here have had trouble nabbing a camping spot… I guess all you have to do is be willing to drive a little further.

The people of the Yukon – nicknamed Sourdoughs for reason too long to explain here – proudly boast rugged lives still lived in harsh conditions that are very much reminiscent of the Klondike days.

Learning about the local history made me feel refreshed, even relaxed, for the first time this year.

If people could face the elements 120 years ago to settle the place and have the patience to strike gold in the middle of nowhere, we certainly have the strength in ourselves to face this pandemic.

It turned out to be a great summer after all. If you get the chance, be safe and head north.

_________________________________

Is there more to this story?

Email: ryan.uytdewilligen@langleyadvancetimes.com

Like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter

_________________________________

Langley

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

UPDATE: Teen missing since early Monday in Langley has been found

Police released information about a 14-year-old girl who has been found safe

Canada West Golf Championships cancelled due to COVID-19 travel restrictions

UBC, UBC-O, UFV and UVic athletes will not hit the links this year, Kelowna was set to host

Most Langley students back in class

District update released after the first full week of instruction

Trans-Canada twinning project between 216th and 264th Streets on schedule for 2021

Commuter said more work needs to be focused on 264th Street exit in Aldergrove

What will happen in Langley’s school district when student or staffer tests positive?

The school superintendent lays out protocols based on health expert recommendations

B.C. reports 96 new COVID-19 cases, one hospital outbreak

61 people in hospital as summer ends with election

‘Unprecedented’ coalition demands end to B.C. salmon farms

First Nations, commercial fishermen among group calling for action on Cohen recommendations

Earthquake off coast of Washington recorded at 4.1 magnitude

The quake was recorded at a depth of 10 kilometres

B.C.’s top doctor says she’s received abuse, death threats during COVID-19 response

Henry has become a national figure during her time leading B.C.’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

BC Liberals must change gears from election cynicism, focus on the issues: UBC professors

COVID-19 response and recovery is likely to dominate platforms

B.C. could be without a new leader for multiple weeks after Election Day: officials

More than 20K mail-in voting packages were requested within a day of B.C. election being called

Dozens of Canadian venues to light up red in support of entertainment workers

Local facilities among dozens across Canada to participate in Light Up Live

Most Read