Saturday, July 08, 2006

A Miracle!

I was finally able to fly out yesterday. The cloud had lifted just enough to allow the plane to land, the first one in over a week. Following a bit of confusion where First Air had my luggage going to Ottawa but me only going as far as Iqaluit, the trip went pretty smoothly. They held the plane for me in Iqaluit while I got the mess with my bags straightened out. Finally, I got to be one of those people...THOSE PEOPLE!.....that made everyone else wait. At any rate I'm sure I set a speed record for going through security screening at Iqaluit airport.

So now I am home to the heat and humidity, adjusting back to things. I plan to keep up my blog over the next 5-6 weeks that I am home and post as often as I am able to.
In the meantime, I relax, do some shopping, chuckle at the complexion of my pasty skin and enjoy some really nice red wines. Cheers!

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Groundhog Day

The last couple of days have reminded me very much of the movie Groundhog Day with Bill Murray - wake up, make coffee, check weather forecast, call airport, re-check weather forecast, get more coffee, discover plane is cancelled, sob and drink more coffee.

The only break from this pattern this morning was that I made as far as the taxi cab stage. I was 90% of the way to the airport out in Nanisivik along with 7-8 other unfortunates when we ran into (figuratively) an airport worker coming in the opposite direction. Turns out the flight still couldn't make it in from Resolute. The last few kilometers were just like driving up into a cloud.

The amusing irony was that as we were rounding the bay back into the community we could see patches of blue sky above Arctic Bay. Just a few kilometers back up the road it was a foggy nightmare for landing a plane. Now, the cloud cover here in town is just the same as it was the past couple days. I felt better when my seatmate told me he was once stuck in Resolute Bay for 11 days. So, I guess I certainly can't complain about 2-3 days.

The airport is only located out near Nanisivik because it was originally built to service the now defunct mine there. So apparently, a bunch of mining execs were intelligent enough to discover a base metal mine in the mountains way above the Arctic Circle. I wonder why they would fail to realize its not really a smart idea to have an airstrip on the side of a mountain.

Hmmmmm...if I started walking now.........

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Snow in July and Lead Boots

The weather was still pretty dreary yesterday and it didn't look too promising this morning either so the plane will try again tomorrow morning. There have been a few times this past year when we've gone small stretches without planes so, though a tad inconvenient, its nothing new to me. One transplanted Ontarian who has live here 20 years told me that the first year he was here 60% of scheduled flights were cancelled due to weather.

I can say yesterday that we did have a bit of snow, not that much, more like flurries. We did pick up a light dusting of snow on the slopes behind town. It was something unique to see in July. I knew it would only be a matter of time before I could say I've seen snow in every month of the year. And now I can.

I have to say I've really grown fond of Arctic Bay over the past year. It appears that Arctic Bay may have grown attached to me too since it's not letting go of me. I felt yesterday I must be wearing lead boots and living too close to the magnetic North Pole. Yeah that must be it.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

And The Streak Comes To An End

I thought I may have been tempting fate for writing my last post and turns out I was right. One look out the window this morning told me no plane would be landing this morning. It looked promising for a plane last night but the cloud cover then became steadily thicker, obscuring my view of King George V Mountain on the other side of that bay. As if to hammer the point home, it began a sold rain shortly after my plane would have taken off.

So I sit and wait, listening to the rain outside. Well, I had a good streak going. This is the first time I've had a flight cancellation due to weather in almost 18 months, which is a pretty good run when I think about it. If Mother Nature wills it, I may get out on an evening flight.

I would have made it all the way back to Campbellford tonight to enjoy a nice Australian Shiraz. But I know I'll enjoy it now all the more once I do get there.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Weather Paranoia

While I generally check the weather forecast as a matter of course, I find myself paying even closer attention to them when I know I will be traveling. My plan is to fly out of here in a couple days to Ontario and I'm hoping the weather cooperates.

The runway out at the now decommissioned Nanisivik mine has no fancy control tower as would a major airport. Take offs and landings are all visual. Therefore if the weather is not behaving the plane doesn't land. The other thing that makes landing up here interesting is that the airport is 25-30km away and sits at 1700-1800 feet of altitude. So there have been days where it is bright and clear in Arctic Bay but overcast at the airport with little chance of a plane landing.

Considering the amount of flying I've done I have to count myself as pretty lucky so far. There have only been 2 occasions when I didn't take off as planned. The first was for the start of my Christmas break trying to fly out during my first year in Broughton Island.

The second time this happened. I was stuck in Iqaluit trying to get back to Broughton. Actually that time I got a two-for-one deal as I was stuck 2 extra nights. The first cancellation wasn't too bad as I didn't mind the extra shopping day in the territory's capital. When the flight was delayed a second day, however, things got a bit more dicey. I assumed I would get out that morning and failed to hold a hotel room for me again that night just in case. Turns out by the time I realized this, my flight was cancelled and all hotel rooms in the city were booked. Yikes! What to do? Fortunately, the second night there were a couple other teachers from my school who were also stuck (ah collective misery). We contacted our principal who put us in touch with a lady he knew in Iqaluit who put us up for the night.

Needless to say this second experience taught me a lot about patience, preparedness and the quirks of Mother Nature. I recall my university days in Windsor, Ontario where people would get upset over a city bus being 5 minutes late and I chuckle now.

In the meantime, I watch the sky and wait.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Canada 139

Canada Day up in Arctic Bay has turned out to be a bit on the dreary and rainy side. This never seems to dull my enthusiasm for this day though. The town has really cleared out as many people are off camping at Victor Bay and narwhal hunting out at the flow-edge.

Back in my home town of Campbellford, Ontario, no doubt there is a nice crowd of people celebrating at the local park along the canal. The day has started off in past years with a big pancake breakfast in the park, served up the past few years by the local Rotary Club. Unfortunately, I will miss it this year, but I will be home soon enough.

What makes this day special for me and fills me with Canadian pride is how Canada gets involved in the world as a global citizen. I have a soft spot for our Canadians in uniform with an uncle who has served with the Canadian Forces in Germany, Cyprus, Bosnia, Turkey and now Belgium. As a social studies teacher and a history buff, I shake my head and roll my eyes whenever I hear that Canada is a nation solely of peacekeepers. Apparently these people missed their history classes on our involvement in two world wars, Korea, Bosnia and Afghanistan. Peacekeepers yes but also soldiers, sailors and airmen ready and able to take to battle if necessary. Our hard-working men and women currently serving in Afghanistan are not far from my mind today.

I have another uncle in the RCMP who was involved in training civilian police in Croatia and Bosnia following the civil war there. He once sent the family an amazing post card from the port city of Dubrovnik and I resolved myself to visiting there one day to have tea and bask in the turquoise water and gentle Mediterranean breezes.

I have been fortunate through my career and personal travels to have traveled quite extensively around this big land of ours - from Pelee Island in the south, to Resolute Bay, Nunavut in the north and from Halifax to Vancouver Island and many interesting places in between. One of the few provinces I have yet to visit is Newfoundland, which is unfortunate since I have my fair share of relatives from my mother's side of the family living on "The Rock". I hope to visit soon and look forward to visiting a Water Street pub for a nice Guinness. Cheers! Happy 139 Canada from coast to coast to coast!


*** Just minutes after originally publishing my post we are greeted to the siren of the local fire truck as it makes its way around the community drapped in Canadian flags. Happy Birthday Canada!