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The Amazing Adventures of Larry and Mark 

(If you have received this from another source and would like to reply, you can send comments to:

auburndocreich@aol.com)

 
How did this vacation adventure end up in the rocks and
cold of the Arctic?  It's a long story.
 
 
The guy in the grey Amazon t-shirt is Mark Blazis, retired Middle School Science teacher, ornithologist, and tour guide. He's been taking middle school students to Ecuador for over fifteen years now.  Here he is with his native Indian bird guides. Our family was on this trip with him a number of years ago.
 
 
 
Here we are again with him, eight or ten thousand miles and a few years away
in the Okovango Delta of Botswana. Our whole family went on
safari with him.  Mark's in the black hat.
 
 
 
 
And no, that's not Mark in between my daughter Sarah and me but a giant tortoise at the Darwin research center in the Galapagos Islands.
 
So where am I going with this?  Over two years ago, Mark was saying to me how he'd like to go really far north and see the Inuit/Eskimo landscape and do some hunting up there.  I said to him that I'd love to do that sometime, and he took me up on it.  Two years later, we're on a plane.
 
 
 
Actually, we were on four planes.  At the end of August (still summer
here,) one took us from Boston to Minneapolis. 
We were late getting into Minneapolis, and we had officially only
about twenty minutes to get to our second plane to Edmonton, Alberta,
where we were to stay overnight.  We ran to that second plane, and
made it just as it was boarding.  The airline personnel were all really
polite and assured us that our luggage and Mark's rifle would make it
to our plane, but he didn't feel good til he saw it at the luggage counter
in Edmonton, Alberta.
 
Still with 1000 miles to go, the air was already cool and crisp.
We were up well before dawn for our flight to Yellowknife, Northwest Territories

 
We arrived in Yellowknife in the late morning.  The airport is small and very 
attractive, with a major display behind us of a polar bear chasing a seal
through the ice.  We had no time to check out town,  with our scheduled
flight to Cambridge Bay only a few hours away.  But that's where we
hit some problems............
 
More to come,
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 chasing
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 walked around
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 1PM. 
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.
 

 

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