Saturday, August 09, 2008

More Dempster Doodles

Before getting to Inuvik stories... more pics from the journey to the end of the road... the one above is a tiny bit of a huge burn on the eagle plains... who knows how long ago. Those little trees worked darn hard to grow and poof!

And back to the space theme... holy vista batman!!!

Driving up a rise, we saw a beast with horns on the side of the road. It walked across the road and disappeared into the forest. When we topped the rise these two caribou were in the road. A little less bright than their friend, they ran down the road in front of us for a while. Their gait makes me think of bow-legged cowboys very well lubricated with cheap whiskey.

And through the wilderness and up another pass, this one doubled as the border to NWT.

Then down and down....

... more from Brian
Eating has figured prominently in our time in Inuvik. Last night Leanna concocted a fabulous caribou roast cooked in beer and birch syrup, served with a sauce of wild blueberries, more birch syrup, lemon juice and honey. Yummmm!!!! And in the oven right now is a hunter and gatherer pie (no shepherd's involved in this one) made with ground muskox. Again cooked with beer. What a fabulous woman!!

And from Leanna...
And NOW I feel like I'm on holiday! Three full days without driving - wooohooo!
We took a boat cruise in the Mackenzie delta today. Have we mentioned that we're sitting at a balmy 5 degrees and rain?? WOW it's not very summer like. (weather wise, at least!)

We were just outside learning to spin Poi in the've just got to picture this: 10:30pm (still light out), Brian patiently coaching Janet (Mom) and Leanna in how to spin this fabric gracefully. Hah! I beaned myself in the head a few times. It's really fun!

Tomorrow we're going to do something fun, I'm sure! Hopefully we'll meet some more local folk. Everyone's so friendly here. I walked into the gas station after having washed the truck, and the other guy in line struck up conversation - young guy...just wondering if I'm from outta town...if I came up here for the Music Festival...wished me a great trip.
We're in talking-to-strangers MECCA! YESSSS!

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Up the Dempster. The muddy muddy Dempster.

Note the spoons. FINALLY, a place to practice! (sorry bears...and all humans within earshot)

Just a taste of the kind of space we're dealing with...

Tombstone Territorial Park (and foxtail - I think - along much of the roadside...along with the fireweed)

At the Arctic circle - about 500km into the Dempster

At the start of the Dempster

Well the past few days have been beautiful. Despite the rain, and the harrowing drive along the slick, muddy Dempster Highway, we made it here (Inuvik) in good time and in high spirits.
(I just checked in with Brian, who's sitting next to me, playing mom's guitar..."I'd say we're in high spirits at any rate - would you agree?" He says yes. phew!)

I got a bout of destination-itis today (this is the phenomena where I feel like we just have to keep pressing on until we get THERE...funny, because any other day I feel like the journey IS the there) . But we made it through.

After Gwen left us, we dallied around Whitehorse getting supplies and Midnight Sun beer and Coffee for Mom. I joked with the brewery clerk that this roadtrip was just an exaggerated Beer Run for the mother figure.

Tombstone Territorial Park in the Yukon is worth a longer visit than the two nights we spent. This is where we first noticed the extended light. Not dark before midnight, that's for sure. And probably dusky until the wee hours. We hiked around quite a bit - through the sphagnum plains, picking blueberries and playing the spoons to ward off grizzlies.

For the next few days we'll be wandering about enjoying this space and Mom. We have a choice to make between the End of the Road Music Festival this weekend, and a canoeing overnight...the festival starts tomorrow afternoon...any bets on what my druthers are?

(canoeing. that's what I case that wasn't clear)

Brian now:
I sorta parachuted into this adventure. L and G had done long hauls to whitehorse. Air North and I arrived from Vancouver in a couple of hours. I tell ya, those ladies were quite the traveling machine when I met up with them at the Gold Pan Saloon. Thanks, Gwen, fer ridin' shotgun and keepin ma honey safe through the wilds o British Columbia.

Yukon is BIG. I don't hectares or square miles - it's got those sure enough - I mean big like five million trees to each person big. On the whole Dempster highway on the Yukon side, we passed maybe 50 permanent residents, if you count the highway crews who are always dragging the gravel into shape. We drove hour after hour looking out the widow at mountains and rivers and great rolling hills of tough little trees. And then again, and again, and more. Hiking around Tombstone campground I could feel my spirit sigh and breathe free in all that space. I'm just now starting to contemplate the even greater expanse of the high plains.

We looked at the scenery when not at the potholes or trails of mud approaching. Seems some sections of the highway don't have much gravel at hand. Add water, of which there's been way more than normal, and you get goop that grabs your tires and pulls you toward the trees. Today, a bit north of Eagle Plain a semi came toward us in our lane. The driver shrugged, flustered and apologetic as he passed, having reclaimed his path from the mud none too soon.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Whatever you bring with you is all you've got

Well, that's the truth!
We're in Whitehorse after a two day bum-numbing haul. BEAUTIFUL landscapes, let me tell YOU.
And one or two adventures. Namely running out of gas 120km out of the nearest town at dusk on the highway to/from the Lava beds (which we did NOT catch, unfortunately, due to taking chances with those so-called 'directions').
It was one of those earth shaking feelings - 'WHAT will we do' feelings. Wanted to throw up, actually!
Fortunately for us, we were only on the road 10 minutes before a couple trucks pulled over to help! Anything I've heard about northern people has been shaken up. Now, I've been told here that while people are friendly, they're squirrely...or that people in the north have a hate-on for South-ers. I am now convinced that people here look out for you in a way that you won't see in the city.
The men who stopped for us went back to camp, filled up the gas canister and gave it to us...cause actually - the 5 litre gas can that I had in the back REALLY won't do it. Go figure.

We also later heard that this happens to everyone - even locals! Hurray for us not being the only ones dumb enough to think that the next town on the map will have an open gas station...or even be a town.

I'm loving it loving it loving it here and ESPECIALLY happy to be here for a full afternoon and to have my Brian with me AND with my Gwen. How lucky can one human be?! Frankly.

Until next time...(when I will be able to post photos...)

Gwen now:

Annnnnnnnd Whitehorse. We made it! There were a few moments of ah-crap-maybe we'll have to set up camp and LIVE by this roadside and grow some kind of vegetables and learn to make fireweed soup, but no. Let me tell you, there have been moments where I would have happily made a tiny memorial bonfire out of this joke of a map that suggested all these small towns (apparently, to these mapmakers, TOWNS and BRIDGES are much the same thing . . . ?) but the map-anger has passed and this is one of the most lovely campsites I've ever seen. I now feel a sense of aunt-like kindness towards the map, like it's a well-meaning but bumbling neice.

Watson Lake has a forest of signs. Literally - you've never seen so many signs nail-gunned to posts in your life. Will have to wait for photo posting before the amazing quantity of signs can sink in. We camped there last night and hit the road later this morning than intended, but, that has been our MO for this whole trip. At least we're getting good sleeps! I love the air out here! And the space . . . you just can't imagine how much room there is in B.C. until you do this drive. Incredible.

Tomorrow I leave Leanna and Brian to their journey further North, in their love-bubble that is, frankly, heartwarming. So tonight will be my last night - which means - Leanna and I spent 42 hours in a car together and I still think she's high among the greatest people to grace my life. All goals accomplished. Also we saw a grizzly bear, and had breakfast beside a glacier. Amazing.

I think it's beer-by-the-campfire time. I'll add my photos when I get home - my last comment to anyone reading this is that if you ever get the chance to take this drive, do it!!

- But buy a better map!


Found a photo: