Monday, September 28, 2009

It's winter!

Yep it started snowing last night and while it's quite nice temperature wise I have discovered despite my new soles my hiking boots are quite slippery.

Anyway....the boat trip was all right. I wouldn't call it 'absolutely amazing' like the other person on the trip did but it was okay. Luckily the boat was enclosed although still on the chilly side - we went up the east channel of the MacKenzie stopping at the Reindeer station to get out and walk around. Which is a place where a herd of reindeer resided and were looked after - then "harvested". The guide was good and had lived there all his life - he and the other fellow talked about how sad it was that the northern way of life of hunting and trapping and living off the land has ended. I won't say what I thought. Anyway the station was there in the 70's for about ten years and is now deserted. There are still the cabins but they have been trashed by the bears. Guess there are grizzly bear dens up in the Caribou Hills behind the station. Once we got up to that area the snow started falling and followed us back to Inuvik. We then went onto the main part of the MacKenzie River for a bit but everything starts to look the same after a while.

We didn't see any animals besides a beaver and some rabbits so that was disappointing. It was pretty interesting to see such a remote area - probably one of the most remote areas I've ever been in if not the most remote. I am glad I wore my hiking boots as we were walking through mud and puddles.

I found out that one of the hotels l here charges less than what I am paying for my hovel...I mean bed and breakfast place...but of course he is getting government rates plus staying for six weeks. When I did my research every place charged way more than what I am paying. Anyway if my flight gets cancelled and I am stuck here for another night (I want to run screaming out of here at the thought) I will splurge and stay at a decent place. One thing though...my place is cozy and warm and at least the TV works.

One embarasssing thing...I had been leaving my glasses, mugs, plates, etc. to do one big wash as the dish detergent is nearly gone...well yesterday they came in and washed everything up for me.

I haven't seen the sun since I got here so I guess I am not meant to live in British Columbia...I am going crazy without the sun! At least in Saskatchewan even when it's -40 the sun will be shining. I can't even begin to imagine what it would like to live here in the winter especially in December when there is about two hours of daylight a day - you have to be a special sort of person (crazy?) to live here then.

Oh well hopefully tomorrow morning I will be back in Yellowknife watching the incredible sunrise over Great Slave Lake and seeing the float planes taking off.....PLEASE!!!!!!

After I have my alloted time on the computer I will cross the street, finish packing up and start thinking of heading to the airport. My flight leaves at 1:43 p.m. and I will get into Yellowknife at 4:15. Then I fly home the next day.

All high school classes were cancelled today due to diesel fumes in the school so it was a race to beat kids onto a computer. (I discovered this after I got here right after the library opened) The library is well used that is for sure and of course being quiet in a library is a thing of the past.... I am seriously thinking of getting one of those netbooks to have in time for my next trip. Then I can happily surf or blog wherever and whenever I darn well please.

So this will definitely be my last post...unless my flight gets cancelled.

I will update this with pictures later in the week.

Cheerio from the north!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

I am nuts

I am going on a boat trip along the Mackenzie river today at 5 p.m. That's the only time he can do it - not sure how many of us are going but it won't be a full load apparently. It is going to be cold I am sure so will put on every bit of clothing I have brought up here with me. :) It stays light quite late here. It is really on the wrong time zone the taxi driver told me and so it is dark until about 9:30 in the morning and doesn't get dark until about 10 p.m. We will be out until about 9 apparently.

It is cool out there but not windy at least. I guess we will stop at a Reindeer station whatever that is. Maybe where Rudolph hangs out?

I walked along to the Igloo church today and was able to pop in before the service and have a look at it - very interesting. I then slithered out before the service started.

I will have to find a place to eat this afternoon - had planned to treat myself to a meal at the MacKenzie Inn tonight but they don't open for dinner until 6 p.m. By the time we are done with the boat trip I am sure all I will want is a cup of hot chocolate and a hot bath! It should be fun though she said hopefully.

I ended up picking up a veggie wrap last night and taking it back to the B & B. I may try the pizza thing this afternoon - I just have to be brave enough to walk into the restaurant and check it out. Like I mentioned they all look a bit dodgy from the outside. I guess if I am really desparate I can get a personal pan pizza from the little Pizza Hut place in the Northmart store. A bit of a local hang out.

My flight leaves around 1 p.m. tomorrow - I think I've had enough of Inuvik. My feet have been bothering me quite a bit so long hikes haven't been on the agenda and there's really nowhere to go. I was going to walk out on the highway to get a picture of the Welcome to Inuvik sign but did manage to get a postcard of it plus I can always get the taxi driver to stop on the way to the airport tomorrow. I guess if I wasn't so cheap I would go out to the white husky kennels but I think she is a bit of a rip off artist. Still hoping that Beck's kennels in Yellowknife will come through for me but oh well it sounds like dog sledding will have to wait for another trip north. (still have to do Whitehorse and Churchhill) The dogs here aren't training yet which seems strange as winter is fast approaching.

I think I will treat myself to another fish and chips dinner at Bullock's Bistro tomorrow night in Yellowknife - unless I am out with the dogs....

Unless flights get delayed (heaven forbid) this will be my last post until I get back home.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Saturday in Inuvik

Well am sitting in the Inuvik library again...they sure don't believe in disciplining their kids here..yikes. They are literally running all over the library. Of course mom and dad drop them off and I gather the library are their baby sitters.

It's snowing out there today...just lightly and it's not too cold out. I went for a short walk(almost one hour) this afternoon and explored a few streets - was going to go on the Boot Lake Trail but I saw a bear proof garbage completely pulled over with ripped bags and trash everywhere. It was probably the two legged type of animal that did the damage but it made me very uneasy. So I didn't go far on the trail at all as no one else was around..

This morning I supported the local economy and did a bit of shopping...got myself an original print and also a piece of Inuit art - not soapstone this time but something to hang on the wall. I love it.

Inuvik is very different from Iqaluit - Iqaluit was much more what I expected a town in the far north to be like. This is almost too civilized..although I would still rather bite my whole arm off than live here. One good thing....prices here are much cheaper due to being able to ship by truck - thanks to the Dempster highway which comes all the way from Dawson City, Yukon. Some of the items in the grocery store are double what you'd pay at home - not triple or quadruple like in Iqaluit. However restaurant meals are not much more expensive than at home. However I can't seem to find a place that serves local fare such as Arctic Char or locally caught fish. Instead tonight might be take out pizza....although not the local Pizza Hut thank you. Yes they have Pizza Hut and KFC here in the local Northmart. Because the buildings are so strange here - minimal windows (if any at all) and on blocks - due to permafrost you can't really judge a restaurant from how it looks on the outside. All the buildings look grim! I had a meal yesterday at the Eskimo Inn which was recommended by two people and it was all right. I am going to ask my B & B hosts about the place that says it serves pizza and pasta....

I may be going out on a boat trip tomorrow afternoon on the MacKenzie River - if I can connect with the tour operator and the other person doesn't cancel. I can only imagine how cold it will be on the river but the trip sounds like fun. There is cell phone service up here but my cell phone isn't working. Other than that no tours avaiilable at this time of year. I decided not to bother going out to see the White Huskies as they charge rip off prices. $85 to go on a hike with the huskies....we walked with Sheena in Hay River for free!!!

One good thing...I have a TV! So in the evenings I sit and read or watch TV. Not an action packed time here but that's okay. I will hit the ground running once I get home so it is nice to be able to relax and recharge my batteries and just observe life up here.

The bed and breakfast is....unique.....yes I will use that word. It is much cheaper than staying in a hotel but not a place I'd stay again.

Monday it's back to Yellowknife....if the weather behaves and then home on Tuesday. I still have a chance Monday evening to see the Northern lights and go out on a training run but it doesn't look good. I did see the Northern lights on Thursday night however it was just a shimmering white light in the sky - pretty but not the coloured lights you see on postcards.

This will probably be my last entry until I get home again. I will update the blog with pictures once I am home. It's been a real adventure and I've enjoyed the trip so much.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Hi from the Arctic

Yep above the Arctic Circle in Inuvik and got my certificate to prove it! The flight was good - Canadian North is the best. Stopped in Norman Wells so got off the plane and had a break - state of the art airport - well they all are being as people have to fly around here to get most places.

My B & B is more like an apartment - I have the place to myself right now and unless someone turns up unexpectedly I will continue to have it to myself.

When I got my certificate one of the city managers took me for a tour around town and drove me down to the mighty MacKenzie river. Beautiful. There is a great hiking trail there around a small lake and NO BEARS so will try that out this weekend. Three nights here - my my I was insane - but oh well I will get to know the place well. Hell I am even going to go to RC church on Sunday morning - just so I can see the inside of the Igloo church. I hope the roof doesn't cave in.

Anyway I am off exploring the town. This library is a wonderful little place and across from my B & B so will be in here a lot and hopefully can keep everyone updated on my northern adventure. Not much to report yet except to say I am here and in one piece. People seem very friendly here.

Snowing a bit here but nothing much - it sounds like I won't see the sun all weekend but oh well.

I brought books with me to read, am opposite the library and am living above a book shop so shouldn't run short of reading material if I get bored.

Cheerio and I hopefully will check in tomorrow.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Bummer

Well here I sit in the Yellowknife library again....at this moment I should be heading out with some sled dogs on a training run but it's been cancelled due to the weather - cold and wet. Apparently the dogs don't like running in the rain...what a bunch of wooses!!! :) She told me if the weather is good I could go out MOnday evening or Tuesday morning before I fly home. It doesn't make me feel better though.....if the cell phone service hadn't been done yesterday maybe I'd have connected as yesterday was gorgeous here.

No northern lights last night...it clouded up.....

On the bright side the fish and chips at Bullocks Bistro last night were awesome - on the down side I think I left my ATM card there last night. Oh well luckily there is a branch of my bank here and I managed to get a new one. First time I've ever lost my ATM card....So as you can tell it's not my day.....

The B & B is pretty good and I love the location - in Old Town and by the lake so I can watch the float planes fly in and out. I'd love to go on one of those but the northern prices for that are beyond my budget plus not in the rain....the owner is nice but man he is uptight and nervous. I think to be a B & B owner you need to be a bit more relaxed. I've had the place to myself but another room will be occupied tonight.

Man sitting in the midst of a bunch of teenagers here...don't they go to school? Yellowknife is fun to visit but to live here....I'd rather knaw my right hand off.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Blue skies in Yellowknife


Frame Lake, Yellowknife







View from Pilot's Monument over Yellowknife Bay - my B & B is right in the middle (pink)

Well here I am at the Yellowknife Public Library with a nutso computer trying to update my blog.

The trip up here yesterday from Hay River was great - the "bus" was a ten person van with three of us originally - one got out at Fort Providence which I was happy about. (he kept leaning over my shoulder with his beery breath and being my personal tour guide until I put my ear phones on and he took the hint) I met a fellow from our Greyhound trip up in Fields in Hay River and he told me the bus trip was horrific and bumpy, etc. and the worst of his life. Well I kept wondering when the bad part was going to start...I didn't find it bad at all - yeah a bit bumpy in places but I've had way worse. I loved the trip and am so glad I did it. The ferry over the MacKenzie river to Providence was short but fun and seeing Bison on the side of the road was even better. The driver was so nice and stopped so I could get some shots although it was getting dark out so they didn't turn out the greatest. However it was awesome to see these huge beasts. Two potty stops as well which made me happy being as I have the bladder of a 95 year old woman.

My taxi driver got a bit lost finding the B & B but we located it - I had been here three years before but at night I did not recognize the place - esp. as there has been major renovations going on. Anyway luckily the owner came up and got me and my luggage up to my room. I am in the Midnight Sun room.

This morning I had breakfast at 7:30 and watched float planes take off into the rising sun - it was awesome. That's one thing I remember...their huge windows overlooking Yellowknife Bay - last time I was here in May 06 the lake was mostly frozen. Not now.

I started off on the 10km walk enjoying the gorgeous day - blue skies and lovely fall foilage. It has been raining here for days and the forecast did not look good so I was happy. On my way to Ragged Ass street I asked a young lady which way to go and not only did she tell me but she also told me about her favourite view. In amongst a bunch of shacks (she lives in one) and along a scraggly old boardwalk was a gorgeous view of the lake. It was beautiful. She is from Quebec and has lived here since May - no indoor toilets or plumbing..not for me but I admire those that can do it and live a simpler life. I can't even imagine living there in the winter.

After walking around the Old Town I walked around Frame Lake which was beautiful. Warning about bears posted although rarely seen - didn't stop me nearly crapping my pants every time I saw a black dog though. :) Hey, I admit it I am a city girl (and proud of it) - not brave at all when it comes to wild animals. I had heard you could go for dog training runs with Beck Kennels. The lady at the visitor centre said I should go out to the Kennels being as I could not reach them as got their voicemail (she did and was able to go out) and the cell phone service is down. So I did...$30 later all I got was a view of the dogs in the kennels. Noisy little buggers. Luckily the taxi driver waited and drove me back. I have left a voice mail so hopefully can connect for tomorrow and go out on a training run. (on wheels) We shall see. Me thinks I will be helping to support the local taxi cab employees while I am here.

I am going to walk around Old Town again next and then treat myself to a nice white fish and chips dinner at Bullocks Bistro - this time I will expect the high price - last time I nearly fainted. It is a crazy place that has to be experienced to be believed yet one of the best places to eat in town. However the food is GOOD. Sure there is A & W, MacDonalds (shudder...), KFC,(or Kentucky Fried Maggots as I like to call it) etc. but I intend to enjoy the local food here even if it costs more money.

If it's clear tonight dare I hope for a show of the Northern Lights. It's all a matter of weather and luck....I guess the view of the lights is magnificent from the windows of the B & B. Keep your fingers crossed for me!!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Last day in Hay River

Later today I will head off on the bus to Yellowknife - not arriving until about 11:30 p.m. I wish it was earlier but what can you do....the bus goes to Enterprise and meets the folks that have come from Edmonton.

Yesterday Eilleen and I did the 10 km town walk. We did it in two parts - the 5 km part that goes out to Great Slave Lake - well to the ice road into the lake actually. Which is not an ice road right now! The actual path goes by the river but it is frequented by bears and Nancy herself won't even go down there. I think she referred to it as "bear alley". So we walked on the road. Not as pretty but much safer. Eilleen said if she had done the walk by herself she would have done the path - not me - I am not very brave when there are animals around that could at the very least make me drop dead with fear. This time of year they are foraging for berries and other things to get fat for their winter hibernation so are out there. Nancy only walks that route in the winter when they are hibernating. I figure if a local avoids that route so will I.

Anyway we came back here and had some lunch then headed out again to do the town walk. We popped in to say hi to Nancy at the library and stamp our walking books. We then walked past the trailer court I used to live in when I first moved to Hay River...I would hope the trailer is long gone as it was ancient then. Then past the Singles apartments (all bachelor apartments) where I lived for two months....walls like paper.....party central back in 1973. Oh well it was an adventure back then and I don't regret my brief stay in Hay River one little bit.

Last night we took Nancy and Tom out for supper to Back Eddy's - we all ordered the white fish (from Great Slave Lake) which was delicious with a spicy sauce on it. We all indulged in dessert as well as beer/wine so it was a great meal and we were all full when we came back here.

I did laundry last night so this morning will see me totally repacking my suitcase and then I will take another walk downtown for old time's sake. I hope to take Sheena for a short walk too - what a sweet dog she is. I want to take her home!

Nancy and Tom have been such wonderful hosts - I sure hope they can get some people to join the club as Nancy has worked so hard to create some beautiful walks. People don't realize how lucky they are to have a Volkssport club up here.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Walking in the driftwood



Walking along the driftwood Tom cooking the "dogs"

Just back from a spectacular walk on one of the Great Slave Lake beaches. It was wonderful. Quite windy today and the wind was "bracing". But what fun! It was called "Last of the Summer Walks" and was a Volkssport Event with the local club here. There were 9 of us - 10 including Sheena. I am a bit driftwood challenged so wasn't exactly hopping from log to log but managed to get around without breaking anything! (it wasn't pretty but luckily no one was behind me!) Mostly it was just walking along the beach - a bit too cold today to walk barefoot though! Afterwards we settled into chairs sheltered from the wind by a couple of the vehicles and had Spruce tea (made from Spruce branches - delish) and a weiner roast over an open fire. Kudos to Tom for the "dogs" and Bruce for the tea! People who walked by got tea and hot dogs as well - everyone here is so laid back and friendly. What a wonderful afternoon!!!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Waterfalls and fish


Sheena by a beaver pond on the path between the two waterfalls

Alexandra Falls

This morning we relaxed while Nancy attended a staff meeting. At noon she came back and got us and we went to fisherman's wharf in Old Town. They have a farmer's market there on Saturdays and we had some delicious home made fish and chips - with fish caught in the lake. It was great. Then we headed off to Enterprise which is about a 25 minute drive from here to walk at Alexandra and Louise falls. When I traveled there in 1973 it was a horrible gravel road but it is paved now and a great drive. I kept looking for bears as it's not unusual to see them in the ditches but no luck.

Anyway we walked the short distance to Alexandra Falls (accompanied by Sheena, the husky mix) and then on to Louise Falls. They are both beautiful - Alexandra Falls is higher than Niagara Falls. It was a fantastic walk through the forest with the sound of the falls in the background. By then the weather had clouded up but luckily the rain stayed away until after we got back in the van.

Back to Nancy's for a delicious supper of home made potato salad and roast chicken followed by cake and ice cream. We spent the evening chatting.

What a fun weekend it is - I can't wait until tomorrow!

Flashback to the 70's




I am here in the north now. I flew up to Edmonton on Wednesday and had about 40 hours there - had a great visit with Colleen (my sister) and we even went for a walk together (and she outwalked me - shame on me!). Had a couple of wonderful meals. It was fun. Then I met Eilleen at the bus depot at midnight on Thursday night and off we headed north. The ride up got more beautiful the further north we got with golden trees amongst the green pines. At Indian Cabins (right before the NWT border) we stopped for a break and the fellow in the shop was so excited that we were from Regina (he lived there for a while) that he gave Eilleen a free hot chocolate and gave me a great deal on some note cards I had bought. People up here are so friendly. The driver stopped at the NWT border and let us get out and take photographs.


Nancy was there to meet us upon our arrival in Hay River. She brought us back to her home where we met her husband Tom and their husky cross Sheena. (so goodie...I get a doggie fix all weekend long) After a delicious stew for supper we headed out for a tour of Hay River. It was a trip down memory lane for me as I lived here in the early 70's - I worked as a telephone operator at Canadian National Telephones (CNT). We saw the remains of the "Zoo" - a bar that us young ladies only went to accompanied by the male of the species - as well as the old telephone office (no longer used, technology eliminated that). Of course 36 years later there have been massive changes and in most ways I barely remember the place but memories are flooding back. After a tour of Old Town we dipped our toes into Great Slave Lake and walked barefoot along the beach as we watched the sun fade into the west. After viewing a spectacular sunset we drove throught the West Channel area of Old Town (Hay River has an Old Town and New Town) which is unique - and back to Nancy and Tom's house. What a wonderful evening - I saw places I had forgotten about (like the purple high school - how you could forget something like that...once I saw it I remembered instantly) and it brought back memories of people I had met here. (good & bad!) Not only memories of friends & boyfriends past but sweet memories of my parents' visit to see me here in September 1973. It was a glorious day as well with blue sunny skies.

This morning it is cloudy but hopefully the rain will hold off. After going to Fisherman's wharf for a fish lunch we are going to Louise & Alexandra Falls this afternoon to do a hike.

It's going to be a wonderful weekend I can tell!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

I'm back!




It's been a busy summer of working (have to pay for my adventures somehow!), dog sitting, and walking. I did a couple of short two day walking trips in June but other than day trips was pretty well confined to home. However things are changing!!!

Last weekend a friend and I headed to Medicine Hat, Alberta for a walking weekend put on by the Albert Volkssport Association. It was so much fun. We walked the coulees in Medicine Hat which were beautiful. I have only ever cruised through Medicine Hat by car or hound and never stopped to explore. What a pretty city! I am thinking it would be a good place to go train for a few days when I finally book that elusive trip to Nepal I've been dreaming about for years. We also walked in Elkwater in the Cypress Hills for a day. We stuck to the low level walks which were 6 km each. Enough for me at this point. I got some great shots. My friend Dorothy shocked some Cypress Hills rangers I am sure - they have cameras up in the forest - there have been cougar sightings so that could be why? Not sure. Anyway let's just say they will see more than cougars when they check that tape! Crazy woman! Anyway the Medicine Hat group put on a great weekend including a mealfter the first walk of the weekend. About 8 different kinds of chili con carne, rolls, veggie and dip and desset incuding a huge cake celebrating the 25th anniversary of the Mountain Majesty weekends. All in all a great time.

After a busy weekend of walking and taking part in Marathon events here (I am a volunteer this year again) four more sleeps and I am off on an adventure in Canada's north. The North West Territories this time. I will be traveling by bus from Edmonton (after crashing with my sister for a night and having a visit with her) to Hay River (old stomping ground of the early 70's - let's just say that was the wild time of my life..) for a weekend of walking - the president of the local walking club has graciously offered to put me up, on to Yellowknife for a couple of days and then a weekend in Inuvik. I have wanted to visit Inuvik since I lived in Hay River so I decided why not. I will be gone nearly two weeks. It should be lots of fun. Stay tuned!