We were not quite sure what to expect in Inuvik. We found some very welcoming people and an igloo church. We stopped in at the visitors center. After a little bit of conversation with the woman working at the vistor center about the cologne G was wearing, I saw a twinkle in her eye that ended with us trading one of G’s cologne for a whole Arctic Char. She was also kind enough to welcome us into her home for a dinner of homemade char chowder and fresh bannock. We talked a lot about the people and politics of northern Canada.
On September 3rd, after 1 month of slowly travelling North we finally reached the Arctic Circle. The Arctic Circle is the parallel of latitude that runs 66° 33′ 44″ north of the Equator. North of the Arctic Circle, the sun does not set for 24 hours at least once per year and does not rise for 24 hours at least once per year.
G had his heart set on getting to the Arctic Circle. I wasn’t as convinced about hundreds of miles of dirt roads. Originally we planned to drive the Dalton highway up to Prudhoe Bay in Alaska, but listened to several recommendations to take Yukon’s Dempster instead. It was the perfect time of year to do the drive. The fall colors in Tombstone Park were beautiful beyond words. We camped on a panoramic lookout point along the highway that night. Luckily, there were ample rock fire rings to choose from. After a beautiful sunset, G went to work cutting down a dead tree. We had ourselves a big fire and some lentils (G’s mother’s recipe – mmm). After some fun with giant marshmallows the sky was unexpectedly awash with the northern lights. Incredible.
You should know from this post that we were set on making it to the arctic ocean. Driving the some 457 miles on dirt road to Inuvik was not enough. We had to get in a prop plane and fly over the Mackenzie River Delta to Tuktoyaktuk otherwise known as Tuk where we would finally dip our toes in the arctic ocean.
Before the dip, we climbed down into a traditional freezer used for storing fish and big game. Our bodies now adjusted to frigid temperatures, it was time for the much anticipated dip. And you know what? The water wasn’t that cold. I mean, it was cold, but it was a sunny day. It felt like the Puget Sound in winter.
Dog food for the winter
I’ve tried to block out what followed the ocean dipping. Our guide, a local Inuvialuk woman, took us into her home. First her husband showed us skins from the animals they had trapped. Did I mention I was a pescatarian (veggie + seafood)? We were then offered a sampling of Inuvialuit cooking and I did something I will forever be ashamed of. I ate whale…and it tasted like shit. Good. Whale shouldn’t taste good.