Inuvik Part 2

When I left for Inuvik I had to temper my expectations. I've read far too much Farley Mowat, Pierre Burton, and anthropology texts about the Arctic. I had romantic expectations, for sure. The North was going to change me, that I knew for sure. But I told myself to calm down, that I was setting myself up for something that was likely not going to happen. I was, after all, only going up there to teach quilting. It's not like I was on some dog sled through the cold Arctic adventure. Or paddling the MacKenzie. Or hunting a seal. I was flying on a plane to sew. Let's be realistic.

But it did change me. The class itself inspired me as a teacher. The community infected me with a spirit I've never seen before in a community. The cold did not feel all that cold, well, except for one day. The sun shone in a way I've never experienced. And I heard snow unlike the crunch or swish I'm used to. Seriously, that hollow sound of the snow in that one spot in Tuktoyaktuk will haunt me. It's all a part of me me now. I'm not a different person, but I am a changed person.

It's subtle. I feel a quiet. I look for a quiet. At the same time I find the laughter, even when it doesn't seem to be evident. I seek friendship and the joy of people because they do make life brighter. Oh, and I will never look at a river the same way again. And do you realize just how many shades of white there really are in the world?

This greenhouse allows residents to have a normal growing season for everything from herbs to berries to veggies. It's converted from the old hockey rink. Yarn bombing awesomeness too.

Nothing slows down Inuvik residents. The paddling team at the rec centre, prepping for some summer races and endurance events. (Including my host, Shona.)

So many buildings in Inuvik are painted bright colours. These are known as the Smartie houses. But the day care, the arena, and many other public buildings are in so many colours. In a landscape of white, with few trees, these are a welcome respite for the eyes.

Ice Road Adventures! Seriously, a road plowed on a frozen river. Then, eventually, the frozen ocean. Absolutely wild when you think about it. Then again, it might be better not to think about it. 

Pingos. Hills made of permafrost thrust upwards by underground water. In the winter they looked like random bumps on the otherwise barren landscape.

The end of the Trans Canada Trail. There is a marker at the tip of the hamlet of Tuktoyaktuk. It is weathered and looks about four times as old as it is. My husband's grandparents once bought sections of the trail for the whole family, so this was rather special to see.

That's me, standing on the edge of the Arctic Ocean. In the past year I've now been to all three coasts of Canada. That kind of blew my mind. And all for quilting too.

One of the more unique experiences I ever had. At the bottom of that hole and frozen ladder is a community freezer. Residents of Tuk dug it out back in the 50s. Before the electric deep freeze this is where the community would keep it's haul of fish, seal, whale, and caribou hunted to keep the families and dogs fed throughout the winter.

Ever seen Ice Road Truckers? This was the only transport truck we saw on our 5 hours on the Ice Road.

Sunset, back below the tree line. Our trip up and down the Ice Road was surely an adventure as the truck nearly lost a wheel to cracks in the road. So being back where the trees were was a relief, for sure. That was a welcome beer that night as we finished watching the sunset.

The northernmost mosque in the world. This makes me love Canada so much.

During the trip I kept thinking about my friends around the world. Those who would have had their breath taken away by the cold. Those who might have been uncomfortable with the amount of fur people wear. Those who would do anything for a trip to this part of the world. I'm sharing these pics with you. I never thought I'd get this far north in my lifetime, so live vicariously through me, if you like. And from this point I will too, in case I never get back there again.

Again, thank-you to the Inuvik Quilt Guild and the NWT Arts Council for this opportunity.