I was in Atlin over the weekend, selling my salty wares at the Arts and Music Festival. If you bought something, or came and talked to me about your own projects or were just curious enough to try some of my salts, thanks! I had a great time, met a lot of people, and gained some insight into what people are looking for and what catches their eye. This past weekend was my first in-person selling and I am truly grateful for everyone that took a chance and brought something I created home with them.
On this most recent visit to Atlin, my fifth overall, I took a few opportunities to wander around, peek into the nooks and crannies, and do some thinking about why I've grown to love this "Switzerland of the North". After all, I live in Dawson City, I have suffered no shortage of false fronts, gold rush history, colourful locals, dirt roads, or scenic vistas. Maybe I just like quirky little mining towns at the end of the road (Keno comes to mind) but whatever it is, Atlin has it and if you haven't checked it out, you really should.
I really don't appreciate generalizations about "locals" in my town so I'll just say this: all the people I've met who live in Atlin have been friendly, fun (like, really fun) and welcoming. If you really want to know what the locals are up to, I highly recommend attending their winter bonspiel. The town has a passion for curling and even as a non-curling observer I was incredibly well hosted. I actually cried during a speech about curling, but that might have been all the cheap gold flake filled shooters. The bar in the recreation centre (or "the rec", as I heard one of the local bartenders call it) has fast become one of my favourite northern bars. It has everything I look for in a bar: locals, cold beer, medium dank...plus a cat.
Atlin is a small town but it's very easy to meet all your basic needs. The Atlin Trading Post sells groceries, booze, ice, and fireworks. Check. There is a cafe (who's name escapes me, despite the fact I ate there three times in the last five days) located next to the gas station that has a good breakfast selection, good coffee (locally roasted by Atlin Coffee Roasters ), and as you'd expect, a rotating cast of older men discussing the news and weather over coffee and bacon. There is also a bakery, another grocery store, a gas station, a hardware store/post office, a coffee roaster and wagon, and a great selection of microbrew beers at the Discovery Bar by the lake.
Atlin locals are probably sick to death of people gawking at their lovely homes and colourful flower gardens, but that's what they get for having such picturesque homes and green thumbs! Most green spaces are sprinkled with wild flowers, most notably orange, yellow, and cream coloured poppies and white daisies. As a delighted friend exclaimed this past weekend "the daisies grow like weeds here!" The roses were still in bloom and you could smell them all over town, making me nostalgic for the Dawson roadsides of two weeks ago.
Sprinkled among the historical buildings are artifacts, paintings, information, and curios; I notice something new and interesting every time I visit.
I finally made it into The Garret Store, which has not been open on any of my other visits. I was pleased to find a variety of antiques and vintage items, neatly displayed at very reasonable prices. I picked up a new pair of earrings and a silver spoon (only $1!).
The festival is a great event with lots of good music, food, and interesting things to buy, but I can't help but wish I had time to visit on a less busy weekend and maybe take in some of the natural offerings. There are many recreational sites in the area that are probably well worth exploring. Oh well, maybe next summer?