Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Change of Seasons

Fall in the high arctic does not last, I wished it did as the ground cover in places turn a bright red colour and the crispness in the air is refreshing. It's not unusual to see snow on the ground in September and  this year was no exception.  It came and melted and came and melted and repeated this a couple of times but now I think it's here to stay.  At least I hope so as the ground hardens and there is no more mud and snow makes everything look so much cleaner. Our days are getting shorter also with the sun rising today at 7:37am and setting at 5:57pm with temperatures sitting around -5'c during the day and dipping around -10'c at night.  

Late August we had some amazing sunsets and temperatures which was great for the sailboats, ships and barges that arrived.  Last year we had a few boats that were stranded here due to the ice floats on the Northwest Passage but this year was totally opposite as every one got out safely. Here are some photos of some of the visitors and weather/skies during the fall.

These 4 sailboats lined up to watch the Norwegians work 
on trying to raise the Maud.

They moved the barge closer to the Maud

There are balloons in place to help to raise the Maud

We even had smoky evenings from the forest fires down south
It made for some interesting colours 

Canadian Coast Guard Sir Wilfred Laurier fueling up
beside a tanker - it was the meeting of the big guns

Sweet ride! The Super Yacht Equanimity

One of the barges all lit up at night

Where's the traffic signals - fuel tank and barge on your right,
fishing boat on your left, three planes over head and 
a komatik

One of the cruise ships on the bay with a komatik in the forefront

Some amazing skies along the bay

This perfect rainbow graced us one evening

The arctic cotton again some dramatic skies

Even the moon was pretty spectacular some nights.

In August I stumbled upon a peregrine falcon nest and watched them grow into these majestic raptors.  My first visit with them there were 4 and the following week when I checked on them there were only 3 with the eaten remains of the 4th one close by.  It broke my heart to see that one not only lost it's life but that he was devoured by his siblings.  I know it's 'only the strong survive' but after doing much research and reading on peregrine falcons I made the decision to help them along.  Every day I visited them with a kilogram of ground chicken or turkey, during all this week I did not hear or see the parents and saw no remains of birds or other animals that the parents may have dropped for them.  On my 5th day of feeding I finally saw one parent so I started to check on them every 2nd or 3rd day.  They became bigger and stronger and as I sat back at a distance I watched them test their wings with a smile on my face.  One of them always watched my every move and wasn't scared of me at all. One was very leery of me and would bounce further away and the other one didn't really care one way or another  It was an opportunity that I will never forget and I hope that one day they will return to the place and have babies of their own.  Here are some pics of them.

This little guy was the one that watched my every move

So fuzzy looking

It was cool this evening and they all huddled together
in the tall grasses

Getting a little more brave but kept an eye on me

Eating some of the ground meat I threw to them

Showing off

Protecting his 'catch'

This guy always had something to say to me

Here she is again watching me during my last visit

At work we had another successful arctic char harvest bringing in a little over 86,000 lbs of whole dressed char.  For those of you who do not know, whole dressed is the fish that is gutting and cleaned with the head and tail on.  Our fishers gut and clean the fish at the camps, place them in large red tubs that hold about 100 lbs of fish with ice and then call us when they have a full plane load of fish to be picked up.  Since our fish camps are a distance away we have a contract with DAL Aviation who have 2 Beavers and 1 Cessna.  This year was not a great year for DAL with an engine failure, cylinders that needed replaced and then this....

No worries the pilot was not injured but the plane was disassemble and 
put on a barge to send south

Before our harvest begins in August we have a staff bar-b-que and they can invite their family.  We had the final muskox burgers of the season cooked on a open fire with all the fixings.  We all piled in two vehicles and headed to Mt. Pelly.  It was a great afternoon spent with the staff and their children.  Here's a couple of the kids.

Alice's little one, Elaine having a drink from the river as the 
day was very hot.  I did a colour select for this photo and chose
the colour pink, everything else is black & white

Two of my favorite little people! 

The dogs enjoyed getting out with us after work and on the weekends.  Either playing ball or swimming or hunting for lemmings and birds...or all the above.

Then the snow and winds came and the coats come out.

We have some amazing light shows and the one night that I headed out I forgot that I had the Nikon set at 1000 ISO (refer to above pic).  The pics below are grainy but it gives you an idea how fantastic the aurora borealis were.  There is a lot of sun storms lately but our skies have been too cloudy to see anything.  We also missed the moon eclipse due to bad weather.

The Arctic Research Foundation and Parks Canada have been out to the HMS Erebus site this year recovering some artifacts from the sunken Franklin ship.  Four days after their return to Cambridge Bay they held an information evening at our community hall and showcased some of the artifacts and showed some underwater video.  Very cool stuff.

One of the plates that they found upside down on the ship without a crack or chip.
Pretty amazing as the ship sank in 1845 during Franklin's Expedition through 
the Northwest Passage 

This artifact was used to tie on the rope from the sails

Ryan Harris showing off one of the pulleys

Speaking of the Arctic Research Foundation, I have been busy taking pictures for them while they set up the mobile labs on the DEW Line Site.  There are three labs which will be taken to different locations once everything freezes up.  They will be powered by solar and wind - some very cool stuff that Adrian Schimnowski,  the operations director of  ARF has initiated.  They arrived by barge and had to be lifted and hauled about 2 miles away to the DEW Line and then set up there. I was very thrilled and honored to do this work for them. 

Adrian in front of the first lab as it heads down the 
street backwards

Driving up the DEW Line road

Putting it in place

Teamwork - installing the solar panels

Kurt, catching some rays

Kurt on top, Mark on the solar panel and Adrian on the side

Adrian and Mark measuring to make sure the panel will fit

Hauling up the 4th wind generator

The labs are finally complete

Another view of the labs

I also had the pleasure of getting on the Martin Bergmann to take some pics as Adrian, Gerry and Daniel tested the ROV - remotely operated underwater vehicle. 

Adrian handing the ROV to Gerry

Gerry (in red) and Daniel with the ROV

If you look closely at the green screen you can see the arm of the ROV

Concentration at it's best

Since my busy season is now over we will be heading to our second home in Yuma at the end of this month.  We will be gone until the end of November so Craig, Molly, Blitz and I will be making a road trip.  We plan on spending a full day with my brother Bob, his wife Laura and our niece Kristen before heading out.  We will try to make the trip in two days, Salt Lake City will be our first stop for the night and then we will swing over to the west and hit Vegas then down to Yuma.  Craig's parents will be meeting us down there and staying with us, hope they bring their paint brushes. haha  We will also see our friend Norma who used to live up here, her sister Debbie and her husband Art who all own a home in Yuma.  We are also hoping to spend a weekend in California to visit some dear friends Teri and John and spend some time on Forrest's Beach with our pack and theirs.  My next posting will likely be somewhere on our road trip.  Until then...

Talk soon!

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