Feature Story: Dawson City
As we make our way South, slowly I’m realizing my ingrained need to establish connections with people and places. I feel as if I’m constantly searching for a place and a community I can call home, somewhere I belong. Already having travelled much of the world, I’m yet to find such a place. Usually, in my search for inspiring stories, I seek out individuals. This was the first time I was inspired to tell the story of a place.
In my time in Whitehorse, all I heard from everyone was that Dawson City was the place to be. A place full of interesting characters and, this particular weekend, the famous ‘Dawson City Music Festival’. Not to miss out, I hitched a ride North with zero plans as to food or accommodations. When I feel like I have to do something, I do it without hesitation, because I have no doubt that God will provide me with exactly what I need, not just to get by, but to thrive. I caught a ride with a nice girl named Tara, and (through an unspoken agreement) she provided me food, transportation, and a couch to sleep on, while I talked our way into each and every event in town.
We went straight to the visitor center and took a walking tour led by our colorful guide Gabriela. We learned that Dawson City was born from the mass migration of people to the Yukon Territory during the Klondike Gold Rush back in the 1800′s.
Walking the town, our tour guide pointed out some of the many important buildings from Dawson’s history. I love the experience of finding buildings which clearly have a spirit and life of their own, and Dawson was full of them. I could so clearly and easily imagine what life looked like in this place over a hundred years ago. Due to the permafrost and lack of foundations under the oldest buildings, many are, noticeably, sinking into the ground.
The architecture of the city is a balance of the old and the new. The old buildings have been beautifully conserved, and the new pay respect to the city’s history by adhering to the original style.
The tour got me wondering about the unique people which surely give life to this place. Immediately after we finished, I went door-to-door meeting and getting to know the individuals behind it all. Dawson attracts people from all over the world. People who have a need for wilderness, freedom, peace, and who have, in a way, found themselves. Most of them have many skills which allow them to make ends meet, two or three different jobs is not uncommon. But the people of Dawson aren’t defined by their work, they have many layers and sides to them.
By now I was completely immersed in the Dawson culture. It’s hard to describe what Dawson is because there’s just so much to it. For such a small town, it contains more life than any other place I’ve ever been.
Finally I did make my way to the actual music festival, and I understood why I needed to go. It was much smaller than I expected, and much better too. The majority of the performers and the audience were from communities nearby. It felt like a big family get-together, and by then, I felt like I was family too.
I later went to an after party at the local underground bar. As I enjoyed pear cider for the first time and bounced back and forth in the mosh pit, I got to thinking that I could call this place home. That I could call these people family. Most importantly, I felt like I belonged. But as I thought this, a new realization came to mind: my home is where my heart is, which for now, is the road. And my family are the four other individuals I’m traveling South with. I belong doing what I love, exploring the world and sharing it through my eyes.
(A quick glimpse of my experience in Dawson City)
(Photos and video by Ricardo Palomares)