Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Old Man Winter Is On His Way

Since moving to Cambridge Bay six years ago this little town has been in a construction explosion.  We have a new hamlet building which is along the shores and there are plans to move all the older buildings in town in front of it to make a historical area.  A new Kitikmeot Inuit Association building also went up which has been fully occupied and the CHARS (Canadian High Arctic Research Station) will be completed by July 1st, 2017.  Along with these large buildings there has been an increase in housing, from single family homes to 10 plexes and of course new roads for these houses.

Below are a some pictures of the CHARS building that is still under construction.

View that is close to our house

The CHARS site also has their own housing

The front of the building - not quite finished

Another exciting thing that has happened recently is that the Norwegians have fully lifted The Maud and it's massive.  I never realized how large she is as she never looked that big when you only saw a piece of her sticking above the water.  The team removed a lot of mud that had accumulated in the rooms since she sank in 1930 and cleared out some broken wood pieces and fuel tanks.   The ship will stay above water for the winter to hopefully dry out before she is moved to her permanent home in Norway. 

This was all you saw of the Maud before they lifted her

How look at her!

You can see the metal supports on the hull for breaking ice

This cairn was built a few years back by the Norwegians

Speaking of big ships, the Sir Wilfrid Laurier is usually the 
first ship to arrive in the Bay and the last to leave.
Here she is with the helicopter heading to the airport for a shift change

Even though we are experiencing above normal temperatures you can be sure that Old Man Winter is on his way to the High Arctic.  These past few days have been cool, raining, snowing and last night the entire town had no electricity for about an hour.  Now the problem I have with cloudy skies is that the Aurora Borealis activity has been high and I can't get any pictures of them dancing in the skies.  Hopefully when the skies clear the activity will still be high.  Our sun is rising about 7:00am and setting at 6:30 and daylight has been decreasing about 2 minutes a day and soon we will be in our 24 darkness.

Blitz out for a sunset run along the beach

These two have become so close these past couple of years
and you will often find them cuddling up to each other

Enjoying a gorgeous evening on the tundra

Cool rainy days don't stop us from heading out

You know winter is on it's way when the Arctic hares 
and foxes turn white

We had some foggy days here this past week

We also had some amazing sunsets

On Sunday my little Princess Warrior and I will be flying out of Cambridge Bay and will be in Manitoba to spend some time with my mom (Granny) as she goes through her hip replacement surgery.  Craig and Blitz will join us at a later date, from there we can drive to our southern home in Arizona. I'm sure Blitz will be very lonely without his sister as he has never been alone and I am sure there will be a very happy reunion when they arrive.  At first we were going to take the fastest route to get to AZ but have decided on driving to Wyoming to spend the first night there and then to Page, AZ where we will spend an extra day exploring Monument Valley, UT.  I'm so excited to drive through the valley to take some pictures and of course to arrive in Arizona. 

Talk soon!

Monday, September 19, 2016

Party Like It's 1999

"To celebrate in a wild and crazy manner. Implies that you have nothing to else to do but give yourself up to your raw emotions." That's the definition that the Urban Dictionary gives  when  you look up Prince's 1982 song Party Like It's 1999 and that's what we did this past weekend.  There was lots to celebrate, my 6th year anniversary in Canada's High Arctic, my birthday and the Martin Bergmann crew discovery of Sir John Franklin's ship HMS Terror. 

It's sometimes hard to believe that I called Cambridge Bay, Nunavut home 6 years ago on September 16th.  I remember that day when I stepped off that First Air flight, it was a cool windy day with a light dusting of snow on the tundra. I knew that we were above the tree line but to actually see that there were no trees in sight was a huge eye opener to this tree-loving flatlander.  I've had so many experiences from living up in the high Arctic, from meeting Canada's Prime Minister, delegates and dignitaries from countries around the world, gaining friends from local Inuit, southerners that have also called Cambridge Bay home and people that come up for research.  I've learned about barge life and how a remote community relies on these barges for the year supplies from fuel to heat your home, vehicles, building supplies and of course basic things like food. I've seen landscape that goes on forever, wildlife up close and tasted food that I would of never had the opportunity down south.  I think the foods that stick out the most is eating polar bear with Craig's parents during their visit along with our DFO friends and freshly cut narwal that an elder hands you.  I would never change the past and we will see what else the future holds for this prairie girl living in the Arctic.

On Saturday we had a combination of birthday celebrations and finding the HMS Terror.  The Bergmann crew rolled in early Saturday morning and when Captain Gerry contacted me later that day we were looking forward to getting together to hear the stories of them finding the Terror.  Randy, the ship's chef, brought over some freshly baked bread and this amazing coconut caramel ice cream cake that he made on the boat for me. All of us gobbled most of that cake up, going back for seconds and some of us even thirds.  The Bergmann Boys (my loving name for them) brought me back a large inuksuk that carver Lucas Aaluk from Gjoa Haven made.  Ryan, Terry and Greg brought their guitars and the rest of us brought our voices...not saying we were good singers but we all tried. Greg is not only a great guitar player he is also a fabulous artist who gave me a painting a couple years ago and again this year he gave me a painting of birch trees.  I wasn't expecting any gifts and I will treasure both.  It was a great evening of celebrating with good friends.

Craig, Terry (belting out a tune), Ryan and Greg

Captain Gerry, Kim and Randy

Greg and Clyde

I'm not sure what these two were talking about but it looked like trouble
Marg & Ryan

Craig and Captain Gerry singing

Craig, Captain Gerry, Clyde (playing the keys), Yves, Captain David and Randy

Craig and Greg teaching Yves a couple of notes

Doug and Molly chilling out

Darcy and Blitz

Daniel and Blitz
(Blitz made his rounds as per usual)

My birthday pic with the Bergmann Boys 
Back: Clyde, Darcy, Daniel, Matt
Front: Captain David, Captain Gerry, me, Randy, Yves
Matt, Randy and Yves are Navy men
Missing is Adrian as he was out visiting with his family

We have started our freeze and did have a few days of snow but nothing has really stuck...yet.  Temperatures are in the single digits and our sun is setting about 7:00pm and rising about 6:30am.  Here are some pics from this past week. 

Big skies over the tundra

Some of the smaller streams are freezing

Nature's Popsicle
Love it when the water washes up on the shore and 
freezes onto the grass

More freezing along a pond

Our final barge came in around 9:30pm on Sept 15th 
I just happened to be out with my camera, too bad I 
didn't have my tripod.

These Arctic swans better think about leaving soon

Same with this female king eider duck

Blitz and Miss Molly

Catching some afternoon rays

 I forgot to add this pano in my last posting.
Taken with my IPhone in a canyon in Kananaskis Country

Talk soon!

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Life, Love and Family

We've all heard the quotes, sayings and cliches about loosing someone you love and they sure hit home when you personally loose a close family member.  My sis-in-law Laura, my brother's wife, lost her fight and it's heart wrenching. Craig and I flew down to Alberta to spend some time with my brother, our niece and family members.  It was one of the most difficult flights I had ever done but was so glad to spend some time with them.  The things I will miss about Laura are our phone calls, text messages and our mutual love of dogs.   

We brought Molly & Blitz with us and Blitz constantly played with their 1 year old yellow lab, Harlow...and oh what fun they had. Craig, my mom, my oldest brother Mike and myself headed to Kananaskis Country and enjoyed an afternoon in the mountains.  We stayed for about a week and in the end it was very difficult to leave. 

Here are some pics from our Alberta trip.

Barrier Dam

Of course I had to get a picture of Molly and Blitz
in the mountains.
Yes the water was this colour - gorgeous!

Mom and Mike at Barrier Dam

Many water falls in the area

We stopped at this spot to take a walk in the canyon

We stopped on the side of the road to get a few pics 
This pano was taken with my iPhone

This was how Blitz was in the vehicle with mom,
you could say he loves his granny. 


Craig wanted to take a short drive to All-Star Telescope just outside of Carstairs to get a filter for his telescope so he could look at the sun so mom and I tagged along.  It's not your normal telescope store as it's out in the country and in a converted garage but it's the perfect spot for star gazing.  There were some older buildings on the property so I asked the owner to see if I can photograph a couple and he said sure.  

The next couple pics are from the plane heading home.

Long Point from the plane

It's been a bit of a crazy summer but we did manage to get together with Les, JS, Brendan and Matt while they were up here doing their Arctic char research.  I always try to cook them a good ole fashion Arctic dinner, this time it was bbq Arctic char, basil pesto bbq caribou and slow cooked muskox with all the fixings. Of course after dinner out came the guitars and music books.

The boys at dinner
L to R: Les, Matt, Brendan, JS and Craig

Then the guitars came out...

and the silliness begun

Brendan, Marg and Les

Sing it boys!

A couple of years ago I won a day cruise on the Martin Bergmann and we finally connected this year. I was allowed to invite some friends so it was Craig, Kim, Marg, Matilde, Ryan and myself plus the Bergmann crew. We sailed off around 11:00pm a couple of weeks ago...yes 11:00pm and our destination was Melbourne Island, about a 5 hour trip there. We stayed up with the crew until 1:00am then we headed to our quarters to get some sleep.  I think most of us didn't get much sleep that night and I think it was just the excitement of being on the ship.  We woke to the smell of breakfast cooking thanks to Randy the Bergmann chef.  

Once we arrived at Melbourne Island there was work to do, the crew needed to set up a weather station and Craig helped out.  Marg, Matilde and Ryan went for a walk on the island while Kim and I stayed on the boat.  I was feeling a bit woozy and tired so I headed back to bed for a rest and Kim hung out with the remaining of the crew.  I felt so much better after a catnap and again Randy had lunch ready for everyone.  

All of us really enjoyed our cruise and the Bergmann crew were so accommodating.  We arrived back  in the bay around 8:00pm exhausted but so so happy.  I would like to thank Adrian and crew for such a great day...thanks for the great time and memories.

Here's some pictures of our cruise on the Martin Bergmann.

Here's our route to Melbourne Island

In case you don't know what she looks like here are
a couple pics of the research vessel, the Martin Bergmann

Leaving Cambridge Bay for Melbourne Island

Our sleeping quarters
Craig and I were on the left and Matilde & Ryan were on the right
with no one in the middle

Randy cooking up a storm for breakfast

Our morning views

If you look closely you can see Melbourne Island
in the distance

Marg and Craig checking out the view

Getting close to Melbourne Island

Kim checking things out as well

You wouldn't know we were in the High Arctic, beautiful 
blue colour

Adrian, Yves, Daniel and Matt heading to Melbourne Island
with the weather station on board

The Captain wheel

Here's Matilde, Marg, Ryan and Craig heading to the island
with Matt and Daniel

Girl Power!
Matilde starting the motor

Adrian asked Craig and Ryan to bring their guitars 
for entertainment on the way back

Adrian and Yves checking out a new instrument for the boat

Marg, at everyone's favourite place to be

Kim catching a little shut-eye

Daniel is Captain David's son

Our friend Adrian (a fellow Manitoban) with Craig

Captain David and Craig

Captain David, Matilde and Ryan checking out the 
boat's instruments

Early next month I will be flying again, this time with Molly to help out Granny (my mom) as she is getting a full hip replacement.  We will stay with her for a bit, wait of Craig and Blitz to arrive and then hit the road to Arizona.  We will spend a good month in our southern home and looking forward to seeing our friends Norma, Debbie and Art there and of course enjoying the warm temperatures.

Since I have been not working I have been doing a lot of photography.  My newspaper work has been mostly with Nunatsiaq News but a couple of weeks ago I was approached by Nunavut News North as they wanted to use one of my pictures of the Maud.  I was so pleased to see my picture on the front page of that paper as I wasn't expecting that.

You can see how big the Maud is

The tugboat was hauling items of the Maud

A couple of days after that I received a message from Jeff, the photography editor from the National Post and he wanted me to photograph the Crystal Serenity cruise ship!  We were leaving for Alberta early that afternoon so I had to rush to get out to gravel pit, take some pictures, drive home, edit them and email them to Jeff.  I was so excited I could hardly think and thankfully I was already packed.  While in Alberta Craig really wanted to get a hardcopy of the paper and much to my surprise one of the pictures was on the front page!  I couldn't believe it.  Online they used all the pictures I sent, here's the link and below are 4 of the 5 pics that I sent.

The Crystal Serenity is the largest cruise ship to 
enter the Northwest Passage

It will only cost you a mere $21,000.00 to set sail on her

Passengers kayaking along the shores of the 
Northwest Passage

Setting off back to the ship

The skies had been gorgeous up here, I really enjoy this time of year.  There is so much colour but since we've been back home it has been cloudy and snowy...yes snowy.  Thankfully nothing has stuck yet but Old Man Winter is just around the corner.  Here's some pics of what the skies have looked like.

One of the lakes close to The DEW Line

A komatik along the shoreline of the bay

One of my favourite buildings to photograph in CamBay 
The sunset was behind me but it made for some pretty skies

Gorgeous sunsets

This inuksuk looks huge but it's only a couple feet high

And as always I must include a picture of Miss Molly & Blitz

Talk soon!