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September review

This month Lindsay, Stacey, Krista and I had a girls night out.  This was kind of a big deal as the four of us spent most of our childhood together, even more of our high-school years together and then life took us in different directions and now we are in a place where reconnecting makes sense.  We enjoyed catching up so much!  We have even planned another get together in the near future!

The school had the curriculum night and book fair, and this year it was done a little differently.  There was a samosa sale, and parent mingle for about half an hour before actually going to the classrooms.  I think this will help annually if we do this for parents to meet each other.  
The kids seem happy enough in their classes, andI think we are off to a great start to the year.  The breakfast program has started.  Easton has already done a class trip to Camp Samac in Oshawa.  There was a Watershed festival, we did so many activities with water, and they even saw Salmon spawning.  
Both kids have field trips booked for October.  I love outdoor learning!

We have done our birthday photo session for Easton.  However, they now just give you digital images and you are to figure out how to print them on your own if you would like to.

Easton did the Zoo Run put on by Oasis and over $59 000 was raised for zoo conservation.  He came in 39th out of over 300 kids in his age bracket, running 800 m.  Mathew from next door also ran the race with him.  Ellie (also next door) ran the little kids race of 400 m and their mom ran the 10K.  It was a really fun day, but also a very busy day.  The race in the morning, hockey in the afternoon, and then Brian had his high-school friends over for a D&D weekend.  Trevor and Joel.  Trevor also brought his daughter Natasha.  Both our kids learned how to play D&D (Dungeons and Dragons) this summer while at summer camp.

The Terry Fox run happened at the kids school and Easton won for running the most of any grade 4's, with 14 laps.  He received a ribbon in front of the school.   He was pretty excited.  He has been training  for Cross Country, so he has built up his endurance!  

We hosted a baby shower for Brian's sister Julie as she is due in just a few weeks to have her baby.  Brian's cousin Tina was generous enough to let us have the party at her place, and we co-hosted what I think was a wonderful shower for this new baby girl.  We can't wait to meet her.  There was so much food and lots of catching up with family.  Hadley was super happy to help pick out decorations, including a selfie wall that people quite enjoyed.  I found this BABY sign in all pink which I think was super cute and sparkled, and we decorated the walls with spirals, cute cut outs of baby girl decals, and balloons.  A bunch of us went in on a stroller, and then she was showered with many other amazing gifts.  I was happy to pass on a little pink and a little yellow dress, both of which I received when Hadley was born.  These were worn by Lisa and Julie, then Hadley, and now they will go to this new baby.  I kept one for Hadley.  The pink and blue one that Hadley wore to Lisa's wedding.  Such special little dresses!  Much thanks to Brian's grandma who made these with love by her own hands.

Shaye came to visit for what was probably one of her fastest visits.  About 24 hours total.  She has a busy month and this was the only time she could squeeze in for a birthday visit with Easton.  Such amazing effort.  I am thankful to have her in our lives.  

Orange Shirt Day was recognized at the kids school this week.  It is an event that started in 2013, designed to educate people and promote awareness about the Indian residential school system and the impact this system had on Indigenous communities for more than a century in Canada.

September was a busy month, but I wouldn't have it any other way.

- Leanne Verkley

Ethan, Easton's first time at camp, and back to school

Since getting back from our trip we have been quite busy.  Our friends Shawn and Violette welcomed baby Ethan on August 22.  However, with back to school prep, their own family visitors and Easton off to camp for a week for the first time, we finally got to meet him on September 1st.  He's so cute and little.
We enjoyed a lovely bbq together and visited for a few hours.  The kids were great with the baby.  I am so happy for Shawn and Violette, they will be great parents!

Easton did great at his first week of summer camp by himself.  He was lucky enough to have Beckett from hockey go with him and be in his cabin, and his sister Ayslin was there also but on the girls side. Easton was so excited to go.  He wrote a letter home but we didn't get it until after school started.  Still so fun!  He enjoyed much spiree and swimming apparently.  Among other things.  He is on the red team while Hadley is blue.  Once you are assigned a colour, that is your colour for every year.  He is excited to go back next year.

While he was at camp, Hadley and I did a few back to school shopping trips as she has grown so much and needed so much.  Plus she got her hair cut in a shoulder length cut which is super cute and adult shoes, that are the same size as mine!
With the new "season", it was time to try on hockey and skating gear, and do more shopping for new gear in the right sizes.  
Guitar and piano lessons also started back up.  

The first day of school went really well, as have the first two weeks.  I have been in the school quite a bit already.  While I have lunch supervised, there has also been a lunch supervisor potluck to go over important information, SCC prep for the upcoming curriculum night, I have been shopping for the breakfast program which will start up next week, and I have already volunteered for an upcoming trip for Easton's class and Terry Fox at the end of the month.  There is a new principal, and he seems lovely.  I am looking forward to the year ahead!  So far the kids are enjoying school well enough.  Easton has already done a presentation about himself.  He had to bring in 5-8 things about himself to talk about, and Hadley is loving having a chromebook which all grade 7's get to have for use at school and at home.  

My nephew Jayden plays for Saugeen Shores and won the provincial championship for baseball this year, so I am super proud of him.  He also had his 11th birthday which we will celebrate at Thanksgiving with the twins who will have their birthdays at the end of September, turning 8,  and Easton turning 9, the first week of October.

Well, off to get some things done around her.

- Leanne Verkley

Our Yukon/NWT/Alaskan/BC Trip

Our Yukon/NWT/Alaskan/BC trip started out with an early morning drive to the airport where we boarded the first of two flights.  One to Vancouver and the next with just a short lunch stopover in between to Whitehorse.
The kids were great on the flights and helpful with their luggage.
Once we had our luggage we tried to catch a few Pokemon in the online game Pokemon Go, while we waited for the shuttle to the Yukon Inn.  Well, it never arrived.  So the kind person behind the counter at the car rental company, shut down his booth, and drove us there.  Of course we tipped him well, but this introduction to northern living was quite unexpected but very welcome.
We got to the hotel, and everyone was hungry, so, we decided to go out for Pizza Hut.  Whitehorse has pretty much all the chains that you can think of.  I think I was surprised at how many chains it had.  
After dinner, we got groceries and loaded them into the small fridge in our hotel room as the next morning we would be picking up our truck and camper and we could just transfer the groceries.
We decided that a good night’s sleep was in order, and then got up early enough to walk to Fraserway RV rental to arrive when it opened.  We saw lovely fireweed along our walk, among other views of mountains and waterways.  I think the kids were glad that we could drive back to the hotel though.  The vehicle was a Ford F350.  Brand NEW!  They only keep trucks for a year and then they sell them to locals.  So all the rental trucks are new.  On the back we had a camper attached in the bed of the truck, so nothing to tow behind.  It had a double bed and a table that folded down to be a little smaller than a double.  It had an almost full size fridge, a stove and sink with storage for all the pots, pans, plates etc, and a small amount of storage for our things as well.  In hindsight, maybe we should have loaded our things into the trailer and asked the hotel to store our luggage for three weeks as the baggage was the most cumbersome.  However… it was fine.  We just juggled a little everyday.  The RV included warm blankets, lawn chairs, an axe, and many other things including a loan of bear spray, for just in case situations.  

After we felt like we were all set to start our adventure, we headed to the SS Klondike.  Here we explored the large ship and did the Xplore kids program which helped Hadley and Easton to stay engaged with the historical site we were learning about.  I love this program.  We did it all through our Eastern Canada trip a while back so the kids were familiar with how it worked and earned two dog tags on this trip for completing the workbooks.

From here we headed to the Yukon Wildlife Preserve.  It came highly recommended from Brian’s sister Lisa as it would show us all the animals we could expect to see in the Yukon.  
The weather is colder so fall jackets were necessary, but we walked for hours around the preserve.
We saw arctic ground squirrels, often coming up to surprise us.  We saw Muskox, mountain goats, moose, deer and many other animals.  The kids felt this walk was long, and we didn’t find the lynx.  
(For others who may visit, there is apparently a bus tour through the park).  

After the wildlife preserve we decided that the Takhini hot springs would be a welcomed retreat to end our day.  We met some lovely locals but mostly just enjoyed the warm water.

That night we stayed at Wolf Creek Campground.  I think we found one of the last spots.  In the Yukon, you can’t prebook sites.  So, upon arrival, you find a site, and then put $12 in an envelope and place it in the mailbox, with the corresponding slip on your site.  I think we got a site at all but one campground.  So, all was good enough with the system.  Included in your $12 site fee, you could burn all the wood you wanted from their bin of pre-cut wood.  

This day was going to include a fairly long hike, so we decided to start the day with a kids request.  Our first breakfast included hash browns, bacon, and eggs.  This became a requested meal throughout the trip.   Then we played a game of Magic the Gathering, which the kids had recently learned from my brother when we were at Mark and Kaitlyn’s wedding.  
The hike we went on offered beautiful views of mountains, water, and trees.
That night the kids were happy to enjoy a campfire.

The next day we drove to Emerald lake, which was a beautiful lake just north of Carcross with magnificent green colours throughout.  If you get a chance to go see it, this is a beautiful lake.  

We stopped in at Carcross as we were told it had a pretty amazing playground.  It was good enough but not as amazing as the write up made it to be.  Still, I think the kids had fun.  We listened to some local live music, stopped in at the general store and bought some local maple candy.  

Next stop Bove Island lookout on route to Conrad campground. From our private rocky beach steps from our campsite, Hadley and Brian “enjoyed” a freezing dip in the water before we played at the park with a zipline.  (Apparently the best park around).  The kids met some locals, and we did too, and they played for a while before we went back to our site to have a campfire.

The next day we went to Carcross Dessert which is often described as the smallest dessert in the world.  We walked across the sand and took a few photos.

Alayuk Adventures was a very authentic dog sled experience.  Highly reccommended.  We arrived and knew we were there when we heard the dogs from around the corner.  We did the kennel half day tour.  
They took us out on a training run in a side by side vehicle with a team of ten dogs who were very enthusiastic about running.
We had lunch with the musher, Marcelle.   Marcelle is an Iditarod and Yukon Quest finisher.   She answered all our questions.  We had the opportunity to pet the dogs, and try out some of the gear, and see the sled she used and how it was packed for a race.  The over mitts she wore on top of her actual gloves were huge!  We also saw a video about the dogs and the lifestyle of the owners.  

From here we went to Myles Canyon and walked across the suspension bridge built in 1922!

We stopped at Fox Lake for the night and enjoyed a steak, rice, and vegetable dinner with our first Yukon Gold beer!  Again our view was amazing as we were right on the water, looking at the mountains.  

The next day we finally arrived in Dawson City.  Here we met up with Brian’s sister and brother-in-law Jeff.  We parked our camper in behind their house and got straight to visiting.    That night, Lisa took us for a tour of the town.  We started at the Downtown hotel where we all had the sour toe cocktail and kissed the toe.  You can drink it fast, you can drink it slow but your lips must touch the toe.  Brian and I were 89 725, and 89 726.  They hit 90 000 while we were in town.  

From here we went to the Pit.  A local tavern.  We saw crazy locals, met some of Lisa’s friends, and listened to Karaoke while we drank the night away catching up.

The next day Jeff took us out to see Dredge #4, a national historic site.  We drove to King Soloman’s dome and saw the gold fields.  Then Lisa babysat while we went to Diamond Tooth Gerties that night.  
We saw two shows.  One of which Brian was pulled up on stage to say a giant tongue twister.  He won a Gerties Garter.  We also met up with Brian’s dad’s friend who was visiting the Yukon at the same time.

The next day we all went to the Midnight Dome to see Dawson from another angle.  

I think claim 33 was the kids favourite.  They learned to pan for gold from Lisa and Jeff’s neighbour and got some actual gold!  From here we headed to claim 6, the free claim site where we tried our luck, but the kids didn’t find anything.  Lisa found a small klinker though!  

In town we drove by the famous kissing building which have shifted due to permafrost.  

The kids were happy to enjoy some fun playtime with Hank, go for a walk to the park with the spiral slide, and try their luck around Dawson for Pokemon Go sitings.  This is where they taught Lisa about the game.  It turns out Lisa’s house is a poke stop, so while our kids have to leave the house to play, she can play from her living room.  (She has historic sites all around her, so levelling up in Dawson is pretty easy).  

The next day we drove in two vehicles to the Dempster Highway.  Jeff was amazing with the kids and showed them lots about fishing.  Easton was really into it!  Both kids reeled in some fish before we called it a day.  Lisa and Jeff went home and we continued on our way up the Dempster Highway.  
We hiked up the Goldensides trail, near Tombstone territorial park, which the kids were not thrilled about but we knew there was a lot of driving ahead so exercise at this stop was a good idea.  We didn’t walk all the way but did walk to the tower.  It was a fairly easy hike, with fireweed and lovely views of mountains.  

From here we drove on and stopped at Two Moose Lake.  Here… we saw… two moose at the lake!  A mamma and babe.  

Lisa told us about a mile by mile reading for the Dempster, so we printed that out and the kids took turns reading it as we went along.  This helped us to find things like elephant rock!  A rock on the distant mountains that looks like an elephant.  

With more driving we finally came to the arctic circle.  It was cold and a little windy but such a cool feeling to say that we made it there!  We took photos with the sign.
As we drove on we saw a bear on the side of the road.  This was the second bear we saw but the first one we could photograph.  This bear seemed unaffected that we were slowly driving by.  He continued to dig away at whatever he was digging and we took photos.

It was exciting to say that we had photos at the Yukon Territory sign, but soon after the arctic circle photos we found ourselves taking photos at the Northwest Territories sign!  I never thought I would get to either of these, so this was pretty awesome!  

At midnight, just outside of Tuktoyaktuk, we saw a caribou.  Since the sun was still up, we could see it easily.  We first saw him on the road in front of us, but then he ran off to the nearby water.  

That night we parked our truck beside the Arctic Ocean in Tuktoyaktuk.  It was SO windy, but with a tip from a security officer, we parked in such a way that we hoped the wind would be okay, and not blow our truck.

The next morning we saw the TransCanada Trail monument, tried Muktuk (Beluga Whale Blubber) at Grandma’s Kitchen, and of course took photos with the Arctic Ocean sign and dipped our feet in the COLD water.  We had thoughts of turning up the heat in the trailer, (which we only did twice on the whole trip), and then running from the Ocean to the trailer after swimming, but we couldn’t park close enough.  As it was, we dipped our toes, and ran and still had numb feet.  
Tuktoyaktuk is the land of the Pingos.  Which for any that don’t know, it is a mound of earth-covered ice.
So, we of course drove around to look at those while we were there too.

There isn’t much in Tuktoyaktuk, but we did manage to go to the visitor centre, look around some shops and buy a souvenir, and before leaving town we saw a motor home stuck in the mud, which either got towed out eventually or became a new home for the town???

From here we retraced a lot of our steps back down the Dempster Highway, but made some new stops too.  We hiked in the rain at Beaver Pond just before leaving the highway and then headed to Dawson to wash the mud off the truck and trailer.  SO MUCH MUD!

Next up, more visiting with Lisa and Jeff.  Lisa took us to the Bear Creek National Historic Site.  Here you could see that the gold mining company town just up and left without really packing up.  Calendars still on the wall.
After this historic walk, and talking with the Parks Canada people, we headed to Palace Grand Theatre where we saw the Greatest Klondiker Show.  Both kids were judges, as well as a third kid we didn’t know, and Brian was pulled into the show since the Parks Canada guy new he needed someone from Ontario.  What are the chances?

When we got back to Lisa’s house, the kids wanted to try metal detecting in her backyard.  So, Lisa brought out her detector that she got a few years back and we played around in her backyard.  We dug up about four spots and it wasn’t until we were about to put it away when Easton got the detector to BEEP… BEEP… BEEP… so we dug and found what we believe to be a small can of 7-up pop in the shape of an earring, likely from the 1970’s.  Cool!  

The next day we went to Peabody’s Photo Parlour where we all dressed up and took fun photos of gold rush times.  

The next day, we drove again in two vehicles,  and after crossing the ferry, we saw Dawson from the other side.  Then we headed to Fortymile, where we began with a picnic lunch before hiking and fishing again.  
We stopped to admire the buildings that people lived in during the gold rush, and we were thankful for them when the rain came even if wall paper was coming off the walls and there were only window frames, and no doors left.  
We eventually made our way to the 40 mile cemetery, and then guessed our way back to the road.

Our last fun event with Lisa and Jeff was to pick wild blueberries and we got a lot of them on the Top of the World Highway.  Yum!  
It is here that we sadly said our goodbyes and we continued on our way to Alaska and they headed home.

Soon after we arrived in Chicken Alaska, we saw a total of four stores, total!  A mercantile, where you can buy all things chicken, a liquor store, which was connected to a saloon with all kinds of hats attached to the ceiling from travellers, and a cafe.
We learned that Chicken is named Chicken because its founders were self-conscious about their bad spelling and didn’t want to spell Ptarmigan wrong.  

We continued on to Kluane National Park.  The park is home to Canada’s highest peak, Mount Logan!  While we didn’t climb that, we did climb the King’s Throne at Kathleen Lake.
It started out fairly flat, but soon became quite a hike with lots of rock.  Definitely challenging.
After an entire morning, we stopped at the throne and didn’t continue on to the summit.  Here we had lunch together celebrating how far we had come.  While Brian and Hadley walked a little further to see if the views were any different, Easton and I rested.  They came back only a few minutes later to say that the steep hike was not worth the effort.  So, we made our way back down where Brian, Hadley and Easton jumped in the icy waters at the bottom.  Hadley was first in… and you could see the shock in her face.  It was cold!  But, she decided to jump in again if Brian was going to do it with her.  So they did.  Then Easton wanted in on the fun and his shocked face after jumping off the dock was quite something!  All were ready for warm towels!  Although, Brian must have been the most shocked as he said the wind wasn’t cold at all when he got out.
Trust me… it was cold.  I wasn’t going in.

That night we enjoyed a nice campfire before heading through British Columbia, on our way to Haines Alaska.  Yes, Easton was in British Columbia for the first time and touched to Pacific Ocean!  (Near Mud Bay).

While driving on, we enjoyed some lovely views of the glaciers, a bald eagle sitting on a post, and after taking the ferry up to Skagway, we saw the White Pass train travel by us.

We eventually ended up at the Whitehorse Fish Ladder where you can view fish through the underwater window.  We learned about the salmon and saw them on monitors through underwater cameras.
We saw the actually ladders but didn’t actually see fish using them.

After returning the RV with 4026 KM driven, we decided that a walk was in order, so we got out our Pokemon Go, and went to tour Whitehorse.  However, it began to rain, so we popped into the Kwanlin Dun Cultural Centre where we accidentally bumped into Scott Martin, a friend both Brian and I knew from High-school.  He was there on a work trip.  What are the chances!   We both live in the GTA, and haven’t seen each other in many years, but here we were in the Yukon!

From here it was time to get all things gathered up in our hotel room, and prepare for the two flights home.

- Leanne Verkley

July

The first week of July Hadley was at camp.  This was the first year that I didn't spend Canada Day with her.  She was a little sad about this but prepared with a really cute Canada Day dress to wear on the day.  Her favourite part about camp this year was seeing the dogs, (Albi, Finn, and a third dog that she can't think of the name for), and doing the camp out in the forest for one night.  Hadley made pizza on a campfire.  She thought this was awesome!

This was a special Easton week.  We spent a day at the waterpark at Canada's Wonderland which he loved but his review was that Wet and Wild from last year was better.  We managed to get a few rides in as well, because the water park closes at 7pm and the rides close at 10pm.
He had a play date with Nathan, and we just did some other fun stuff together.  Parks, bike riding, soccer, we watched Tour do France, etc.

The next week Hadley had a playdate with Tiffany from her drama club.  I had a girls night out to celebrate Patti's birthday, and Brian went to the Bender LAN party while the kids and I went to Wonderland again with my brother Joe.  I know they love spending time with him.  They loved riding the stunt coaster with him.

Another play date in week three with Nathan, we did a few scientists in the school program at the library.  I am always impressed with Scientist in the School, but having it free at the library was amazing!    

While we attending Brian's cousin Mark's wedding to Kaitlynn on June 20th, which was beautiful and rustic and so much fun, the kids spent the night with their uncle Joe.  This is where they learned about Magic the Gathering.  This was the game we played for most of the rest of the summer. I think my brother was proud and happy to teach them this game.  I see new Magic cards as gifts in their future.  They are hooked.

We had a lovely visit at Shaye's house where we went swimming, and spent some time with Nory and her family as well.  There was ice-cream, Muskoka chairs, and Webbers burgers/fries and so much fun!


- Leanne Verkley

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