Labor Day, USA. It was summer still in New England. We got up early in
Edmonton Alberta to get an early plane to Yellowknife, Northwest
Territories. Our flight out of Edmonton arrived with a half hour before our
plane to Cambridge Bay was supposed to leave at 9:45. Yellowknife is a
small, modern airport.
It is a beautiful place to pick up your luggage, where stuffed polar bear is
a stuffed seal. It turns out, we had plenty of time to admire the airport
because we had a 1 1/2 hour delay. Not enough time to go anywhere, we
the terminal, and spotted a sign concerning medical assistance:
How many languages to you recognize? And can pronounce? It turns out there
are many native nations in the Canadian North, many of which we might lump
together as "Eskimo", and in Nunavut there are about ten official languages,
two of which being English and French, and the rest are native. They were
here long before the white man started exploring north in the 1700's.
The town is called Yellowknife because of the early native
groups which had lived around the large open copper mine and made knives and
other tools out of copper.
Nothing to do, we sat around, and found ourselves put off again to about
The airline gave us a voucher for lunch - probably the worst meal we had up
north. With more time on our hands, we took a walk out of the airport
It felt like a breezy mid October day. We bundled up for a walk. You see
the grass? It's the last real grass we saw for a week.
After a nice walk, we got back to the airport to find the flight delayed
again til 3PM. We were getting worried. They finally told us that the
airplane to Cambridge Bay hadn't made it back from there the previous
night. The runway is made of dirt, and in the wet weather the front landing
gear had crumpled. So they had sent a repair crew up there and had fixed
the plane, and it was now on its way back to Yellowknife. At 4:15, we filed
into the departure room. They were reallllllly sorry about making us all
wait, and had a special "gift" for us. A $200 voucher for our next flight
on (Canadian) First Air - wow - when are we ever going to be up here again?
Finally we got up in the air around 4:30, and we traveled the last 500 miles
in 100% cloud cover. Nothing to see. We felt the plane starting its
descent, and I was watching closely. Down and down we went, and we're still
in the clouds. Finally, we broke through the cloud cover - 100 feet above
the ground! Within seconds, we hit another wall of fog, which is just more
low clouds, and the plane abruptly rose again. The pilot told us he was
going to make another try after a little while, and if he wasn't successful,
would return to Yellowknife. NO!!!
Ten minutes later, we banked into the descent, with the same low clouds.
But this time, the pilot safely landed the plane in the fog, to the
applause of all the passengers who didn't want to go back!
Our reception committee was Kathy, and in two inches of mud, she took us in
her pickup truck to the one hotel in Cambridge Bay. There were about a
dozen hunters, in small groups, which had their own plans. At the hotel, we
were told we had fifteen minutes - til 7PM - to have supper in the one
"restaurant" in town, before it closed for the night. We chose to bag the
restaurant and take a walk instead.
Here is beautiful downtown Cambridge Bay.
The Inuit name is IKALUKTUTIAK.
The street is wide, and made of mud.
So we went off to explore the town.