Friday, August 31, 2001

Still in Inuvik, Northwest Territory!


Start time: n/a

Start odometer: n/a

This morning started with the hopes dashed, but regained, with the assistance of Judy, who runs the B&B.  At breakfast, the two people from Environment Canada had more interesting stories, and discussed some small towns with a new guest, Bill.  He had lived in the southern part of Alaska, and knew many of the areas where the EC people worked and collected data.  We also learned that Bill now works at Microsoft, and was on a break from work.  I later learned that after they complete the release of a product, they get to take a couple to three weeks off, and Bill chose to take a trip north.  More on that later.

After breakfast, as the group was preparing to depart the table, the phone rang.  Judy gave me the phone, and I talked with the lady from the tour company that  I hoped would take me to Tuktoyaktuk (Tuktoyaktuk means "resembles a caribou,") and the Arctic Circle.  It seems not enough people signed up for the 1000 tour, so they were going to delay the departure in anticipation of more participants.  Bill wanted to go, but we still needed more people.  After hanging up, I mentioned to Judy that I may not get to Tuktoyaktuk, so she made a series of calls to check on scheduled flights, and gave Bill and I a card with the name of Maureen, the person responsible for the tour guides in the town.  If we waited for enough people to show, the tour might be cancelled, so we felt the best bet was to fly to over at 0930 and return at 1600 on the scheduled flight of Aklak Airlines.

We rushed to the airport and got tickets, then boarded the Bandit aircraft. 

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After a twenty-five minute flight, we arrived in Tuktoyaktuk, city code YUB, and a former DEW Line station.  I called Maureen, and she said they could not give tours to less than four people at a certain price.  Bill and I made an offer near that amount, and she was going to call her drivers to see if any were interested.  We were to call Maureen back when we got into town.

We began walking to town, which was only ten minutes away, and discussed our jobs.  He recently began working for Microsoft, in I believe the audio and home entertainment division.  They had just spent a lot of time getting the new operating system ready that Microsoft will be releasing in October.  Sounds like an interesting place to work, with many challenges.  And their resources sound equally remarkable.  

As we entered the town, a van stopped by us and asked if we were the two interested in the tour.  Simon was to be our guide, and we later learned we were one of his last tours.  He mentioned that later in the day, traveling by boat, he will be moving to Inuvik.  He had lived in Tuktoyaktuk all his life (thirty years,) and was ready to go to a larger city.

Simon showed us around the whole area, and we got to see a bit more than the original tour that was delayed.  It also helped that it was just the two of us, as it made it easier to get around the sights.  We got to see the cover shack of the community freezer.  This shack covers a thirty foot deep hole, with three hallways at the bottom, where members of the community can keep food frozen in the permafrost.  To get to their food, they need to crawl down a thirty foot ladder, but a dolly is provided to lift the food from the base.  The permafrost goes down in some areas over 600 meters, and the temperature the storage area is round -10 Celsius.  We also saw a turf house built in the early seventies for a visit by Queen Elizabeth, the local transport industry headquarters, the coastline that had ten feet eroded in a single storm last year, and many other sights.  I will have more to show when I get the pictures prepared.  Simon also took us to see some sled dogs, and the following pictures shows one of the dogs preparing to eat lunch:

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But the highlight was seeing the Arctic Ocean, and touching it.  It was a bit cool, but not as cold as I thought it would be.  The ice was not visible, as it was thirty miles away.  (Click on picture to get larger image, click on back button to return.)

arctic1.jpg (27517 bytes) Bill and me "in" the Arctic Ocean!

arctic2.jpg (16409 bytes) In honor of my sister Nina, who always touches water when visiting oceans and seas!

The tour ended just before 1300, as Simon had to do one more tour.  It seems the tour company in Inuvik had some people call for a tour, and would be having it in the afternoon.  But we were happy to get the personal tour from Simon.  He dropped us off at a restaurant, and we waited for a while.  The cook had just left to see his dentist, and the aid did not know when he would return.  We then decided to try the other restaurant in town, but when we arrived, we learned they closed just before we got there!  Our final option was to go to the grocery store for a snack lunch, which we had outside in front of the Northern grocery store.  Bill brought up a good observation...All the satellite dishes are angled very low to the horizon as expected to acquire their signal.

After walking back to the airport, we checked in, then boarded our Beech 1400 back to Inuvik.

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After returning to the B&B, I drove into Inuvik to do a little more shopping (T-shirts for my Anchorage friends, the Pelletiers,) and had a delicious dinner at the Finto Hotel.  Had my first taste of Caribou, and it was deliciously prepared.

Back at the B&B, I met Bill and Joanne from Freeport, Michigan, my new cabin neighbors.  After we talked for a while, I finished packing the car, and decided at 2330, I wanted to try the canoe provided by the B&B.  There is a small lake behind the property, and enough light to see, so I grabbed an oar and launched the canoe.  It was a very peaceful evening, and the water was like glass.  In one area of the lake, there was some fog forming creating a beautiful scene.  I was not out long, but was able to paddle around the lake.  It was very nice, and I hope to get more canoeing in on this trip.

Click on picture for larger image, hit back button to return to this page.

The check-in counter for Aklak Air.

This is a view of the town of Tuktoyaktuk.

Hotel Tuk Inn.

Interesting structures along the water.

This panel describes the community freezer located thirty feet in the ground!

This is the entrance to the community freezer.

The M/V Our Lady of Lourdes.

This panel describes the ship in the previous picture.

A church in town.

Another church in Tuktoyaktuk.

A cemetery in town.

The Beaufort Sea in the Arctic Ocean!  The ice shelf is approximately thirty miles away.

Simon, our tour guide.

More of the town.

This is a community hall.

In this dome is the community swimming pool, though it was not open during my visit.

With the dew line in the background, Simon took us to see some sled dogs.

Bill and Simon posing by a sled.

Max. the sled dog.

Simon shows a harpoon used for whaling.

This boat belongs to Simon.

The mound in this picture is known as a pingo.  Pingos form in a permafrost environment, and there are about 1350 pingos in the Tuktoyaktuk area.  Please see this pingo link for more information.

A marsh area near the pingo viewed in the previous picture.

This is an abandoned rig base in one of the bays next to Tuktoyaktuk.

The two pipes sticking out of the wall are used to take in water and pump out sewage.  Everything is stored in above ground tanks so that the permafrost is not disturbed.

This house was where the richest person in town lived.  He owned the wharf and shipping area.

Another view of Tuk.

Time to return to the airport, YUB.

This is the reservoir where the town water was stored.

Boarding our return flight to Inuvik, Bill is seen on the right.

A view of the Mackenzie delta from the aircraft.

After arriving in Inuvik and riding back to the B&B with Bill, I drove into town.  First, I visited the Western Arctic Regional Visitor Centre and read this panel describing winding ridges, like the one seen on the next picture.

The winding ridge at the visitor centre.

The Inuvik Hospital was located across he street from the visitor centre.

This was an interesting statue in front of the visitor centre.

My car with the "smarties" row houses in the background.

The Mackenzie Hotel.  Make reservations for their prime rib dinner on Thursday nights!

The sun setting next to the home of Judy and Olaf.


Tomorrow I head back southward on the Dempster Highway.  I am a little worried about the shale used on several portions of the road, as most everyone I speak with has had at least one flat.  Bill, who I met tonight, had a flat, not caused by shale, but by a nail along the road.  I will take it slow, as there is so much to see.  It will be a good drive.  Thanks for stopping by! 


Routes traveled today: Around Inuvik

Hotel: Arctic Chalet Bed and Breakfast -

I am in the room on the right.


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Copyright 2001 Igor N. Nikishin

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