Saturday, September 25, 2010

Snow and Skagway AND Skijoring in September!

So, in case you haven't heard, I'm kind of into this hockey thing lately. This new obsession required me to travel to Skagway to pick up some gear I had delivered there for hockey. Heather and I joined the local women's hockey league and it starts soon! I needed my stuff ASPA so there was no delaying the trip even though the conditions were freakin' HORRID!

Women's hockey love via the Northern California Women's Hockey League.

Hello winter in September!

My meadow after the first snowfall of the season! September 24th, are you kidding? This is easily a month early!

Snowy driveway

Stephanie joined me on the trip and got nominated (by moi) to head out into blizzard-like conditions to get a picture of just how crappy the blizzard-like conditions were. Which we really didn't realize the magnitude of until she got out there!!! It was FREEZING!!!!!!!

The Sarah Palin STORE!!! Yes, it is a real store with real Sarah Palin-y goodness inside. If you're into that sort of thing, that is. Magnets, books, keychains, and anything else you can think of is probably in there.

"You betcha!" *wink*

Rough night for someone. I need that something similar for a meadow ornament.

More crap roads. This is heading home after it had snowed for oh, FIVE hours or so. Nasty!

Pure crap conditions on the way back! We didn't see any plows until we got to the Alaska Highway, crazy.

What happens after wayyyyy too long on icy, crazy roads and border crossings. One tends to go a little batty.

Bove Island. Steph got some great shots as she was avoiding watching the harrowing drive!

We made it home after a 10+hr trip, much longer than we expected but Skagway also has some awesome deals at this time of year so we hit a few stores, and had to buy some Alaskan brew to bring home! (as well as some "Flamin' Hots" for you-know-who!)

And... the snow didn't stop there! It kept coming all night so I had to pull out my skis from the shed and go for a skijor. This rarely happens in September! I am soooo not ready for winter, but will embrace it, haha.

Ivy atacking one of the boys (Jack or Harris, I have no idea who), she LOVES the heck outta them.

Wanna go skijoring?!? I harnessed up J&H and let Ivy run along loose.

This is the response I get when I ask who wants to go skijoring:

They're excited, yet they run off without me!!???? Freaks.

So I was able to nab my trusty sidekick and skijorer lover, Harris. He was pretty excited and willing to lead the way!

"Stopping already?!?!" This was deep, wet snow! It was like skijoring through slush.

Jack and Harris work hard as Ivy and George frolic up ahead. George, true to form, snuck out of the pen and joined us halfway through the run. I love it when they sneak up on me from behind!!

It's supposed to go up to +9C tomorrow so this all may be gone soon. It IS snowing again now though!!! Haha, I laugh, until I have to make my next journey into town...

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

It's official - SNOW!!!

Sept. 22, wow. That's an early snowfall. Not that it'll stick, but welcome back WHITE STUFF!!! (ok, for those who are kicking and screaming as we head into WINTER, um...sorry??)

It's not a lot, but it's heeeeere!! Now it's: time to find the skis, time to buy straw for the dogs, time to wax said skis, time to find my GLOVES (immediately, 'cause damn it's cool in the mornings) and all my winter gear, time to move the summer stuff out to the shed, etc, etc, etc!!

Now if it could just get really cold and freeze the river, that'd be sweet! I'm not a big fan of these long transitions in between seasons... :)

Sunday, September 19, 2010

And we're off!!! (thanks for bugging me to get the next post up Amanda-J!)

So! When you were last here, we arrived in Inuvik. The Dempster Highway trip was a long one, but one that is completely unforgettable. It is a must see if you are in the "neighbourhood!" It was a huge relief to finally make it into Inuvik and have a few hours to sleep until we were supposed to hop on the plane. Our flight was due to leave around noon, and we had some shopping to do (Stephanie never quite thought we had enough food! haha!!) and we wanted to see a bit of Inuvik.

Inuvik is 2 degrees above the Arctic Circle so when they say "Land of the Midnight Sun" - this is the real deal. As darkness had set in Whitehorse around 10:30pm in mid-August, in Inuvik it was still twilight all night. SO awesome, but it really messes with you. On Herschel, which is even further north, our internal clocks were completely wacky. We often went to bed at 3am, had dinner at 10pm, went out beachcombing at midnight... heck, one time we even had breakfast at 5pm!! I have to say, it was pretty great to have zero schedule.

So Inuvik! This was my first time in this 3000 person town, and the weather was beautiful. Herschel Island flights are notorious for delays due to crazy weather so we were quite elated and optimistic to see sun. However, that meant nothing because the weather on the island could be completely different... so we just hoped for the best!

Starting off on the day planned to fly out - my trusty traveling companions were up wayyyy too early for my liking after we went to bed at 3:00am, but hey, excitement will do that to you (I still could have slept another hour you bastards!!)

Normal people have coffee with their bagel for breakfast. Heather prefers bagels and... Red Bull! And boy, does it work. It's a wonder drug I tell ya. I should switch from coffee one of these days... if only it didn't smell like floor cleaner...

We hit the streets of Inuvik

and observed the water/sewage Utilidor system in Inuvik. Permafrost is a bitch!

Roman Catholic Church, aka: the Igloo Church - apparently there are tours here, but we had shopping to do!

Gwich'in Road!

We headed to the Parks Office, where we were rendezvousing and would hear from the air charter company, Aklak Air on whether we would be heading out at noon or not. Turns out, the weather on Herschel was crap so we were to wait for a couple hours.

OMG we're headed right THERE!!! Eek! (needless to say we were very freakin' excited at this point!)

Some exciting artifacts from Herschel in the Parks office.

Soon after - the word came in: Get to the airport, like... NOW! We had to move so damned fast, Heather forgot her brand new totally unused thermos mug she bought in Carmacks(because she forgot her own, haha!). Doh!

We motored over to the airport (luckily it was only 10mins away or so) and loaded up our stuff onto the giant scale to be weighed for the flight. We were hoping our food n' booze wouldn't put us over the limit!

Nah, we didn't even come close to the 3,000lb limit!

Our crap = an even 400lbs! Who knew??

Waiting and watching as they haul our stuff to the plane - the wine and champagne bottles for our birthday celebrations were of utmost importance!

Off it goes! Luckily these guys have this moving thing down.

So I was looking at this sweet fancy plane, thinking "ooh! Is that our ride???"

Um, nope. This was our ride.

It's quite a lovely looking Twin Otter.

However, the interior could have used a bit of work, ha! And it certainly did not have your usual in-flight service , you'll see why momentarily... but we could have been lifted off on a freakin' balloon ride to the island and we would have rolled with it - "just get us there!!!"

It's not everyday you can say you were part of the cargo load! The pink insulation had the best seats. No room for flight attendants to walk the aisles with giganto carts in this plane.

Steph is tasked with writing names of passengers should the plane... y'know... go down or something.

Steph and Heather await for final boarding call...

And we get it!

Heather got to be co-pilot! Ok, or just our "communication expert" as she conversed with the pilots during the flight. She took on this job with much excitement! I think it shows in her facial expression... perhaps she's missing her calling in life??

Um... what a view. Thank god for windows.

Here is our take off. As you can tell by the audio, I'm quite fascinated by the fact that we got off the ground so quick!

Yes, this hillbilly hadn't been on a Twin Otter before... so what!! :)

The Mackenzie Delta - freakin' beautiful, amazing, raw nature, etc, etc! I was in awe for the whole flight.

First, a stop off at the tiny 600 person hamlet of Aklavik

Aklavik is also the home of the remains of the Mad Trapper.

Pilots Jim n' Tim, making room for another passenger and gear. As you will see in my future post on the flight home, these guys did something that makes them the best two pilots EVER. But you'll have to wait for that one! :)

We pick up one more person and away we go! Here, we say goodbye to the mainland as we see nothing but sea and blue sky ahead, woohoo!

Hello Beaufort Sea!!!

We were the silly tourists at one point when we squealed "ooh, belugas!!" then there was another, then another, the a whole bunch more... turns out belugas and whitecaps look alike from thousands of feet above the water! Well, to us boneheads anyways.

Then the evil fog rolled in and we dropped to almost sea level to get under that fog. Oh my goodness we were low. We all thought the island was coming up but.... nope. We were getting worried about whether we'd be able to land or not. I kept looking back to Heather to see what the pilots were talking about and if we'd land... she gave us the thumbs up, sorta. I didn't really know what was going on. She seemed to think we'd make it to the island though It all looked good. We hoped.

15-20mins of this and then...

More fog!

Ok, yep this ain't a float plane. Let's get to land now eh?? I mean, this was fun and all... but I'm pretty ready to land at this point. Seriously. Ok, it was fun. :)

Here is a great video Heather shot to show just how low we were:

Then.... Herschel Island!!!! Woo FREAKIN' HOO!!!!!

Heather got some great pics of the island - this is one as we're about to land. We're right over the runway here. The landing was nice and smooth and VERYshort! The "runway" is pretty much the beach that is also rapidly washing away into the ocean. But for now, we made it.

I did ask the pilot as we were unloading if that was common, flying that damned low... to which he replied "Only when necessary!" Awesome.

We step off the plane and say "yay!!! we made it, only a few hours late!" You can see the "locals" came to greet the plane. There is one family from Alaska who returns to Herschel in the summers, but until pretty recently spent time here year round. I tell ya, after being there for a mere few days, it WAS exciting when the planes came in. This is really "being away from it all" - no internet or tv, only satellite phones, it was a nice break!

Heather finds a buddy immediately after stepping off the plane! Blinker couldn't look more... enthused... haha. He didn't get too excited about much!

Even delivers to the far north!

The runway...

Might have been nice to read this "this beach is not a designated airstrip" sign BEFORE we landed... :)

And here's a video by Heather of the plane taking off into that fog we just came through. Heather didn't quite capture it, but as it rose into the fog, it was cool to see the plane disappear.

And so with that we finally arrived! We had to get moving quick - we had 3(but found out it was actually FOUR) birthdays to celebrate over the next few days, and island to explore, animals to see, history to learn about... gah! So much to do, so little time.

But, then something weird started to happen to us... something we would later refer to as the "Herschel Island High" kicked in. Here's a few pics that illustrate that:

More on that strange phenomenon next time...