Sadly bidding farewell to Inuvik

Eagle Plains Travel Blog

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We sadly bid farewell to Inuvik today.  Something about Inuvik struck our hearts unexpectedly.  Perhaps it was the people with their genuine kindness, ready waves, and sincere smiles.  Maybe it was the walking size of the town or the community spirit exemplified in the community cleanup, the small-town parade, and volunteerism for the festival and anniversary celebrations with welcoming speeches, and a community cake, band and barbeque for all. 


Real honest discussions with people like Ruby and Tom, who shared their reality of living in the Arctic, created a personalized experience of real friends.  I loved seeing little kids of about 3 or 4-years-old bike alone down the streets of town because people would look out for them. 


Maybe it was the camaraderie of those who’d made the difficult, dusty, and long journey by Dempster or by plane- nobody got there by accident- nobody was heading onward – everyone intended to arrive and enjoy Inuvik. 


Regardless of the source, the spirit of the town makes us yearn to return – I’d love to spend a year and experience the winter, the skidoos and dogsled teams, the community cleanup, ice break competitions, the ice road to Tuk at the Arctic Ocean, the wildlife, the summer camps, and the Winter and Summer Solstice celebrations.  It is no wonder that people came to the homecoming- people return to places in which they loved and were loved.


And so we took care of final preparations for a return journey down the Dempster- laundry, library book return, blog update with library internet access, and a quick swim at the wonderful Midnight Sun Recreation Complex community indoor pool. 


Our teacher friends from Switzerland arrived in their RV, after taking a more leisurely pace up the Dempster.  We were excited that they’d not yet checked into the Campground as we’d paid for 2 nights in our reservations which we would not be refunded, so we were glad they can use our site for a few nights (we cleared this thru mangmt).  Michel gave us his card if we are in Biernne (sp?), Switzerland in the spring so we can look him up.  We had a good time talking with them- very funny and they teach 5th and 6th grades, so the kids really related.


What a thrill to see my new friend, Ruby, and her terrific son, Jas, show up to swim at the same time.  We had met a few days ago when the kids were swimming – what a neat person she is! 


The Visitor’s Center closed half an hour before we got there, so although we’d heard a rumor that the Dempster was closed, we headed down figuring we’d find out as part of our adventure.  So far, so good.


We crossed on the first ferry and stopped a few minutes after 9pm for gas in Ft. McPherson.  They’d just closed the door for the night.  I sadly hopped back into the RV to leave, hopping we’d make it to Eagle Plains far down the Dempster when the cashier opened the door to tell me I could go ahead.  What a nice person!  We enjoyed chatting when I paid, but that is the type of helpful friendliness that makes a difference in one’s day.


Ruby was very kind too and had contacted her Uncle, who still lives in Ft. McPherson, where she grew up.  Remember the book Charles is reading about the Mad Trapper and how disappointed he was to miss the sites related that history?  Well she said that if we took the first dirt road to the left past the gas station, there’d be a shack.  We swung through the small town, feeling very obvious.  Then Charles asked me to go again and circle left this time- TA DA!  There was the log shack with a big sign describing it (which you cannot see from the road).  Yeah Ruby!


Then!  While we were admiring it all, who walks by on his way up the hill but our Ferry driver from our very first ferry crossing!  He asked if we recognized him, which I did of course, especially since I just uploaded his picture on the blog today.  He kindly pointed to the nearby cemetery and said that the four officers of the “Lost Patrol” were buried there and he escorted us to their grave, pointing out the Gwich’in Chief’s grave and that of some of his dear relatives.  It was a sad jaunt for him, so we were particularly appreciative of his guidance.  Upon parking tonight, I found some reading material on the Dempster and it mentions the graves.  Of course, I wouldn’t have found that info in time had he not reached out like that.  Again, there are just so many friendly, helpful, kind people. 


We continued down to the Gwich’in Visitor’s Center, to the campground here.  There is one other tent here and the Center was closed, but we found a spot and will pay up in the morning.  It is beautiful here and I’m hoping to see wildlife.  It is near midnight and clear as twilight.  I wish the sun were out today instead of overcast because I want my own picture of the midnight sun, not just a picture of Rob’s picture from a few days ago!


Speaking of wildlife, we saw 3 red foxes tonight on the Dempster, one of which had a large bird in its mouth and had just crossed the road.  Then I saw a HUGE moose jumping through the bushes about 15’ from the highway, going away from us on the passenger’s side.  It was so big and close that I could barely yell out to the kids, I was so surprised.  In the 3 hours on the highway tonight, I think we saw 6 other vehicles total.  Mr. Robert, at the Gwich’in Visitor’s Center, said that on a couple occasions he has driven the Dempster and not seen anyone at all on the road.  He’s seen them at the rest stops, like Eagle Plains, but not while driving.  Wow.


We love Canada!  We are learning so much about the Territories.  The kids and I learned the Provinces and their locations before we left and tonight we’re learning the capitals of each Province.  It is an enormous country and we wish we had more time to explore throughout.  Visiting Alberta, British Columbia, the Yukon, and the Northwest Territories has wet our appetite for learning more.  We once heard a U.S. comedian describe Canada as a place like your attic:  it’s up there; you just cannot remember what’s in it.  That is such a shame because it is a stunning and amazing country.  Hearing “Oh Canada!” yesterday at the celebration gave me chill bumps because you just could feel the pride.

onegr8horsewoman says:
I think I am getting the hang (somewhat) of blogs. You write in a beautiful way and it truly makes me want to visit. I look forward to your next adventure to follow along with thanks to your writings.

Love, jessica
Posted on: Jul 22, 2008
proller says:
And don't forget that you have a soft spot in your heart for Canada because of those "crazy Canadians" we met our summer in Europe! I remember them singing "Oh Canada" at the top of their lungs outside our dreary first flat in the RBOK - hilarious!

Love keeping up with your adventures - seeing the beauty, meeting the people, learning about the land and cultures - that's the joy of traveling. ENJOY!!!!
Posted on: Jul 20, 2008
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