Dear blog readers!
I see that the last time I wrote at all was on Father’s Day, over a month ago. I have not been idle, rest assured, but I agree an update is overdue.
The waiting, the waiting! It seems as if I waited forever for July to arrive. July is nearly over now: time flies for sure when you are busy. Here are some notes from my July days:
July 1- Canada Day. Going to visit friend Jen in her new home.
I spent the last of my Yellowknife days visiting friends, flying a little and sorting out paperwork and logistics for my return to the “real world” in September, including a long-awaited appointment with the US Consulate in Vancouver to get approval for my visa to live the United States.
July 4 – Smokey in Yellowknife again today. Independence Day for the U.S. Jesse leaves Juneau for Seward. He will be there to teach sailing for a few days.
If you haven’t followed news about the forest fire season in the Northwest Territories, a brief recap for you. On July 24th, 200 forest fires were burning across the territory. On July 4, “only” 140 fires were burning. Daily, across the territory, the summer mornings began with a layer of thick smoke. The fires spread and grew, eating up the sparse, dry boreal forest as they swelled. That day, the Fourth of July, stood out because that was the day my friends lost their beautiful home on the eastern edge of Great Slave Lake to a forest fire.
I spent some time ages going through and packing and storing and shipping and disposing of my “stuff”. I sorted my gear into 3 piles: stuff for the boat, stuff I need for the next week and stuff that will stay until my return in the fall. I remember thinking “Ack! These piles are too big, I have TOO MUCH STUFF! And how on earth do I know what I am going to need?” I made a last-minute decision to put my seldom-used hair dryer in the “stuff for boat” pile. Will Jesse laugh at this, I wonder? Probably – he thinks I’m really tough, and a hair dryer doesn’t exactly scream rugged. I just want to stay warm in the Arctic, and I know the boat has power enough to run the hair dryer so I can dry my hair quickly.
July 9 – my last day of work, and it’s a busy one. I hustle out of the dispatch office as soon as politely possible, say my goodbyes, and pick up Tico and my baggage to get on the plane to Edmonton.
Tico is my West Highland White Terrier. He is Mr. Popular with my nephews (more exciting than human relatives for sure). The ultimate travelling companion, he is compact, opinionated, cheerful and charming. Also a brilliant squirrel discoverer, conversation-starter, and schedule-keeper. (Tico likes to get up early, when the squirrels.) Tico visited in Edmonton with me and, a seasoned road warrior, relished the 17 hour drive back to Yellowknife with Jesse and me and all our stuff. Sadly, Tico is not joining me on the Northwest Passage sail, for a number of reasons, all very sound. He will stay in Yellowknife where he lives happily with Mike, who loves him as much as I do.
July 10 – Jesse flies into Edmonton. Naturally, I am excited to see him.
We spent about a week in Edmonton, visiting with my family there. It seems like a very long time ago now that I was sitting on the deck of my brother’s house, enjoying a frosty beer in my summer dress while the sun beat down cheerily on us.
Among those fires were ones that burned alongside the highway in and out of Yellowknife, closing it down due to reduced visibility in smoke and, well, fire. We managed to whistle up through the highway from Edmonton during a brief window when the highway opened July 17th.
Once in Yellowknife, we dropped off Tico with Mike, and did a little more visiting with friends excited to meet Jesse, the mystery man. We were then able to fly out to the homestead of my friends the Olesens, where the fire had taken their main home, and spent some long and happy days visiting and working with them.
On July 24th we FINALLY fly up to Cambridge Bay. It is cool and rainy here, foggy in the mornings and evenings. I check out the boat that will be my home for the next seven weeks. Last fall when I first met Jesse, I spent about two hours total on Empiricus, so I don’t really have any sense of how it will be to live on her. We get busy prepping the boat and ourselves for the journey-we’ll need everything to be in place and organized when we hit the water.
As of today, July 30, Empiricus has been my home for a week now, and I’m feeling comfortable with her and her amenities now. I can’t wait to get out on the ocean and start this journey! More on Empiricus in the next blog post. I promise it won’t be a long wait.