Sunday, July 13, 2008

into a different time continuum

after pecking out my last post, i had a few hours to poke around town. we were initially going to leave at 6:00pm, but it was now looking like 8:00pm was more realistic. no problem - with 24 hours of daylight, i would still get to see everything. i walked down to the boat launch, where there was a free bbq to celebrate oceans day. i was too late for the muk tuk (beluga whale), but i was glad to be there for sure. i grabbed a hot dog with a guy named tony. he just started a three month placement with the coast guard on a research vessel that just came down from tuktoyaktuk. tony used to work on yachts, but started this job for a bit of a change and to get certified. he enjoys it so much that he's been doing it for six years now. he's been on a number of different ships around canada - typically working one month on and one month off. after we ate, he gave me a tour of the ship and introduced me to a number of the crew. we hung out on deck for a while with the other first mate, ryan, who's been doing this for twelve years. his dad was a ships captain - seems like it's in his blood.
i cut the conversation short to make sure i was not holding up the group for our 8:00pm departure, but i was quickly reminded that schedules operate a bit differently here. by 10:00pm we were finally ready to go. we stopped at the gas station to fill the boat - almost $600 worth - and headed out.
the boat is a 22foot ocean craft with a 250 horse power motor. for someone like me, that means it goes fast and can accommodate 10 people and their camping gear - if you are creative, which we were. we cruised up the mackenzie, watching the trees grow gradually shorter and sparser, until there were no more. we saw an eagle. the shores are lined with driftwood, making them very pretty. navigating the channel took some skill and attention because it is very shallow in places and unpredictable from year to year as the river pushes the sediment and logs out during breakup. we hit a few sandbars, which i'm sure wasn't pleasant for the owner of the boat, but was interesting for me.
i spent most of my time talking to a girl named teresa and her dad. teresa is from viking alberta originally, but has been working at the youth centre in inuvik for the last year. she previously has lived and worked in india, salt spring island and morley. her dad has come up here to visit. he's in to birds like my brother in law, todd. he knows all the different species and carries a book an binoculars wherever he goes. it definitely added to the tour for me because i probably wouldn't have noticed the variety of birds or the significance of some of them had it not been for the enthusiasm with which he pointed them out.
we arrived at a place called whitefish around 1:30am and set up a fire to start cooking dinner. whitefish is a small island located approximately where the mackenzie delta transitions into the beaufort sea. the family of three of the inuvaluit people on the boat has set up a whaling camp at whitefish. they have whaled in this area for almost 20 years. the camp consists of a handful of wood platform/frame structures that have a canvas cover over top. looks like there are two other families with camps in eyesight. we noticed one of the people at the other camps was up and walking around. my first reaction was that it was strange for this person to be walking around at this time, but then i realized that time takes on a new meaning when you are camping in 24 hour daylight.
up the shore from our camp was the remains of a beluga whale that had been caught. it was decomposing, but you could see that part of the head had been removed. turns out that the lady at the camp next to us monitors the whaling season and sends the jaw bone of each of the whales that is caught into the government for analysis. incidentally, each family is entitled to catch one whale and that is enough beluga meat/fat to keep them happy for a year.
i'm normally a good 4 hours into my r.e.m. by 1:30am, but i decided to make an exception. plus, with it being light out, tricking my body wasn't too difficult. the guys went hunting for the best 'gandalf stick'. we stayed up until 5:00 or 6:00am i think. i dont know, i dont wear a watch and the sun certainly wasn't helpful in ascertaining the time. the initial plan had been to head back to inuvik in the morning, but, as my head hit the pillow, i sensed that our plans might have changed a bit.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sounds like an amazing trip so far Tori...

Part of me hopes that you post again soon so that we can follow the adventure and part of me hopes that you are so totally off the grid that you can't post again for a number of days.

There are so few opportunities to truly get away from it all that it might be nice to be without technology for a while...

July 15, 2008 at 12:28:00 PM MDT  
Blogger Devin said...

I think that your self proclaimed lack of organization will add to this already cool adventure!

July 15, 2008 at 4:50:00 PM MDT  
Blogger BikingBakke said...

tori my comment the other day on the phone about "don't feel obligated to call" is probably embodied better by Hoop's comment.

although I've had some pretty good present ideas for you while you've been gone!

July 16, 2008 at 1:44:00 PM MDT  
Blogger Tone said...

Glad to see I made the edit. Looks like a great trip...Lost your card but remembered your website. Keep on Truckin'.....T

September 26, 2008 at 11:40:00 PM MDT  

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