Back in the Saddle Again!

It’s funny how time can stretch out and become nebulous after a lot of intense activity. When I finally don’t have a million things to do in a day, somehow it’s hard to get even one or two things done. Which is why my vacation from this blog (and a lot of other things) kind of stretched on past the time I intended to get back to you all.

Ah well. When I oversleep, I tell myself I must have needed it — and when I have over-vacationed, the same thing must apply. I’ve had a good recharging, and now am itching to get back to work! I’ve gathered so much inspiration over the last few weeks that I’ll be writing about it for at least a week or two, in between posting about my current projects.

When last I left you, I had just come home from Whitehorse, Yukon (for less than 24 hours) and was headed off to a new adventure, camping on the coast of Vancouver Island. In my previous post, I promised a bit more about Yukomicon and the Yukon trip — here are some notes from my journal and some more pictures.

I love taking pictures out of the plane window! This is the first time I've used my iPhone for that (my regular camera had shutter issues so I left it home) and I was pleased at the results. Also aiding the photography was the fact that the plane's windows were the cleanest I have ever seen!

I love taking pictures out of the plane window! This is the first time I’ve used my iPhone for that (my regular camera had shutter issues so I left it home) and I was pleased at the results. Also aiding the photography was the fact that the plane’s windows were the cleanest I have ever seen!

August 8: (on the plane, travelling with my friends-and-comics-mentors Ken and Joan Steacy)

Travelling with Air North has so far been a real pleasure. Here I am 34,000 feet in the air, gazing down at spectacular scenery ~ first the fjords of British Columbia, then razor-ridged mountains, then a giant glacier, or maybe two, flowing like frozen rivers down to turquoise lakes, all framed by clusters of fluffy white clouds marching in ranks, parting to reveal vignettes of landscape.

I feel as if I’ve gone back in time. After our Air Canada flight from the island, which only took half an hour, we wandered like pilgrims through the Vancouver airport, following sparse clues as to where our next gate would be. We were finally directed down an inconspicuous hallway into the older section of the airport, where everything was suddenly much more human in scale. There was one cafe, where they made me a custom sandwich out of very fresh ingredients, and one newsstand, where I purchased the obligatory Halls drops to help with the ear pressure at the end of the journey.

When the air North staff member replaced the previous airline’s staff at the gate, she was relaxed and beyond courteous, she was downright friendly — a rarity these days at hectic airport gates. I watched as people disembarked, some of whom needed help; the people in wheelchairs, the folks who had left items on the plane, the two little girls who needed to be escorted to their next destination – all were treated as if they were friends, not just customers.

The in-flight staff has been treating us royally, too. This must be one of the last airlines in the world that still offers free meals on board. There were even freshly warmed cookies to finish it off. Not knowing that we’d be fed, I had already had the sandwich at the airport, but chose the gluten free option (they have vegetarian, too), since it would keep better than he others, and squirrelled away half of it for later. We won’t have much time when we land before we have to set up our tables!

In this older airplane, there are no distracting video screens, which I find quite refreshing. I’d forgotten what it was like not to look up and see receding, recursive iterations of the same movie, or to have annoying images playing on the seat in front (OK, I just figured out on the last trip how to make those go away). The seats are wider, just slightly, than newer airplanes, and there is generous leg room. Bring back the days when this was the norm, O airlines! Please!

All in all, this feels as luxurious as the last trip I took, which, through a series of circumstances, was in business class. I highly recommend Air North if you are going to the Yukon. Oh, and the flight attendant just presented me with a selection of hard candies from a basket. My choice? Butterscotch. Mmmm.

After checking in at the hotel, I proceeded to amuse myself by taking panorama pictures from my 3rd-story windows. I love how panorama shots are like fun-house mirrors!

After checking in at the hotel, I proceeded to amuse myself by taking panorama pictures from my 3rd-story windows. I love how panorama shots are like fun-house mirrors!

Later the same day, after checking in and setting up in Artists’ Alley, I wrote this. It had been a very long day by that time!

It’s 10:20 and it’s still light out! Apparently it doesn’t get dark until about midnight. I sort of want to stay up for it but need my sleep.

The con has been wonderful so far; they’re taking fantastic care of us guests. We got to go schmooze together in the restaurant, which was shut down for the evening to the public, and I got to fist-bump with Kevin-whose-name-I-don’t-remember* but who played the captain guy in Andromeda. He’s very nice.

My room is lovely, a corner with a nice view both ways of the town and mountains. I have a fridge, microwave, coffee service, kitchen sink, and small stovetop, besides all the usual amenities. Now, it only the grocery store weren’t at the other end of town…

Crowds were thin today, but will certainly be better tomorrow. I sold one Spammy book and a couple of prints. I may have over packed, but you never know.

*that was Kevin Sorbo, who also played Hercules on the TV show. I didn’t place him until afterwards — I just kept thinking, “gee, I know this handsome guy from somewhere, I wonder where I’ve met him before.” The fist bump was because I had sushi in my right hand and couldn’t shake!

So how could Ken and Richard be simultaneously stealing my lunch and discussing art with Joan? Magic happens at conventions!

So how could Ken and Richard be simultaneously stealing my lunch and discussing art with Joan? Magic happens at conventions!

The next two days were filled with meeting a lot of wonderful folks from Whitehorse and many other places, visiting with some artists I already knew, talking comics with both artists and fans, and selling my comics! The pace of the event was refreshingly relaxed, but steady. The organizers were amazing — it was their first convention, organized since February (as I understand it), and it was running more smoothly than some established events I’ve been to! John and the others came by frequently to see if there was anything any of us needed, and the volunteers who spelled us when we needed a break were great.  I enjoyed myself immensely, and hope to attend next year as well.

It was also my first time out with my two new comics, Spam and the Sasquatch and Muse — yes, Iris has a printed book now! I was pleased enough with my sales for the number of people who were there (yes, I over packed a bit), and also traded with some of the other artists for their books. I learned a lot about what people were drawn to in my current offerings, and how to arrange my table to draw people’s attention to the main attraction, the books. I had also taken along some prints from my days of doing pen-and-ink fantasy drawings, and to my surprise they were a big hit! This is a good thing, because I still have piles of them in the basement! I had a binder of the originals of Spam and the Sasquatch, which was a great conversation starter — people often don’t realize what goes into making a comic-book.

I didn’t get to see nearly as much of Whitehorse as I would have liked, since I was only there for two and a half days, but one of the organizers, John Boivin, picked us up at the airport and gave us a whirlwind, guided tour through town, showing us how the town was laid out, pointing out places we might like to go and making suggestions for dining out (Whitehorse has a number of excellent eateries!). There was a lovely walkway along the water that I would have loved to have taken, but didn’t have time, and the surrounding countryside is apparently full of lots of beautiful opportunities for outdoor adventures (kayaking was offered!). Next time, I tell myself.

In the meantime, here are a few touristy shots to finish off with:

Whitehorse has lots of quirky arty stuff tucked away — we spotted this giant carved owl while on our way to an excellent Mexican restaurant near the hotel.

Whitehorse has lots of quirky arty stuff tucked away — we spotted this giant carved owl while on our way to an excellent Mexican restaurant near the hotel.

This old beauty still maintains a bit of dignity as a garden ornament in front of the hotel. There was also a giant cared Mountie, about two stories high, but it started to rain and we ran for cover.

This old beauty still maintains a bit of dignity as a garden ornament in front of the hotel. There was also a giant carved Mountie, about two stories high, but it started to rain and we ran for cover, so I never got a picture of him.

During our last few hours in Whitehorse, we got another whirlwind tour. This is Miles Canyon, which used to be the path of the rapids of the Yukon River before it was dammed. My friend Ken Steacy is kindly providing scale here.

During our last few hours in Whitehorse, we got another whirlwind tour. This is Miles Canyon, which used to be the path of the rapids of the Yukon River before it was dammed. My friend Ken Steacy is kindly providing scale here.

Through this narrow chute of corrugated rock the wild waters of the great river rush in a perfect mass of milk-like foam, with a reverberation that is audible for a considerable distance.

— said Fredrick Schwatka, who renamed the Canyon (previously known as Grand Canyon — I think they must have found out about the one south of the border!) after General Nelson Miles.

Here is a shot straight on to show the

Here is a shot straight on to show the “corrugated rock” of the canyon sides. There are miles and miles of trails around the area, some accessible by bike. I hope to walk some of them on my next trip!

Right next to the airport is the Whitehorse Transportation Museum. There wasn't really time to do it justice, but who can resist the chance to play train engineer?

Right next to the airport is the Yukon Transportation Museum. There wasn’t really time to do it justice, so I didn’t go in, but who can resist the chance to play train engineer?

For those who like to know this kind of stuff, from the plaque in front of the engine:

For those who like to know this kind of stuff, from the plaque in front of the engine:
“Although small in stature, this 0-6-OT Porter locomotive was put to work hauling coal and supplies in a Yukon coal mine. Purchased by the Coal Creek Coal company in 1903, the Porter was perfect for the 12 mile (19km) narrow gauge railway. The coal travelled on the tiny railway to the Yukon River, where it was loaded onto barges bound for Dawson City. Upon arrival the coal was then utilized in the town’s power plant. Serving several companies during its Yukon tenure, the Porter chugged away until 1918 when the mine closed and the railway was abandoned.
Built by the H.K. Porter Company of Pittsburg, Pennsylvania in 1888, this little steam locomotive began its career in Spokane, Washington. working on the Spokane and Montrose Motor Railroad, the Porter pulled two passenger cars. By 1892, electric locomotives replaced the steam ones and in 1902 the street car line was standard gauge.
Like many who travelled to the Yukon for the Klondike Gold Rush of 1898, the locomotive began its journey north from Washington State. In 1903, it was transported up the Yukon River on a sternwheeler to its final destination at Coal Creek, some 54 miles (87 km) northwest of Dawson City, Yukon. It worked the rest of its life on this little railway and remained there until it was salvaged in 1969 by long time Yukoner and Transportation Hall of Fame member Gunnar Nilsson.”

And now you know as much about it as I do! I’ll be back tomorrow, starting to post some of my drawings and photographs of my beach trip.

I'd love to know — what do you think about this?

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