Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Brief holiday escape

I am in Whitehorse for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day - a short trip with a lot of traveling, but worth it. I have never been to the Yukon in the winter, and what I saw (and felt) on White Pass before darkness fell was simply breathtaking - and unphotographable because of bad light: Black spruce painted white with rime, big mountains and hard blasts of wind. The wind chill was forecast to bottom out at 39 below. I don't think it was nearly that cold, but I guess it's possible.

My friends here have a big Christmas dinner planned. I spent most the evening helping my friend Sierra assemble several complicated and stress-inducing Norwegian delicacies. I finally perfected the Lefse by pretending I was making tortillas. We made three kinds of increasingly complicated cookies, which Sierra admitted were really all just elaborate versions of the sugar cookie I grew up frosting with food-dye powdered sugar paste. "Really," she said as she held up a pillowy wafer of batter that had been whipped up, dipped around a metal mold, deep-fried into a golden rosette and coated with sugar, "they're all just vehicles for butter and sugar that take a long time to make, which makes sense, because Norway is like here and it's dark and cold and there's not much else to do."

Tomorrow we tackle Lutefisk, but not before copious amounts of Pugsley riding on hard, frozen trails.

I worked on my writing project during the entire seven-hour (somewhat delayed) ferry ride between Juneau and Skagway. I made enormous progress, and feel encouraged by it. Not sure if I worked past my block of if writing for me is simply a matter of being trapped in a place where it is impossible to ride my bike.

But on all fronts, it's been a great trip so far, and I haven't done a lick of biking yet.