Wednesday, October 26, 2011

ᑕᕝᕙᐅᕗᑎᑦ - tavvauvutit - good-bye

It has been nearly a month since Josh and I flew out of Iqaluit. I have thought long and hard about what to write in this final blog entry. As I look back on our time there, I find myself at loss for words to sum up our experience.

Iqaluit is such a unique place, filled with one of a kind Canadian adventures. I've tried hard to capture what we have seen and done to share the beauty of Nunavut and the Inuit culture with our family and friends down south. What I love most about the Inuit people is that they still have an excellent grasp of their identity and history.There are individuals and groups working very hard to maintain this and pass it on to future generations. It is exciting to see the benefits of this work. My hope for the people of Nunavut is that they can overcome their challenges and continue to develop as a distinct part of the Canadian culture mosaic.

Joshua and I are now in Yellowknife, reunited with our morkie, Teeka. Josh continues to work at Summit and build flight time. I'm hoping and waiting for a nursing job at the hospital here. We are looking forward to getting involved in a church and the community here. We are enjoying the small town feel in this city. We are surrounded by trees, rocks, lakes and wildlife! The northern lights are beautiful, and it is so nice to pay only $4 for milk. We are not sure what else the Lord has for us in the NWT, but we are always up for an adventure! 

So, until next time ... ... ... Taima.

Goodbye Iqaluit...taken from our Dornier 228

From Baffin Island...which was snow covered

To the beautiful fall colors of Yellowknife

Loving all the trees on the drive from Edmonton to Yellowknife

Thanks to all our helpers and movers!

Black bear on the side of the highway

Bison everywhere

We are home!

Friday, September 23, 2011

ᐊᐱᔪᖅ - apijuq - snow (falls and covers)

It snowed! The first Iqaluit snow that I saw was on September 4, but it didn't stick around for long. This second snow on Sunday almost lasted for 24 hours...and we were happy to see it gone. We're not quite ready for winter yet, so Josh and I are happy to be Yellowknife bound to enjoy some warm fall weather.

Kim and Joc enjoying the snowflakes after work

Over an inch of snow...fortunately it melted the next afternoon
September snowangel
The snow is building up
Brrr! Break out the mittens and down jackets
The snow signals our exit from Iqaluit

Monday, September 19, 2011

ᐅᑭᐊᖅ - ukiaq - autumn

As summer ended, the fall season has turned the tundra into a mix of browns, yellows, oranges and reds. I did not expect these vibrant fall colors. The flowers seeded into various shapes of fluff balls so the wind can spread them across rocky ground. The ocean seemed to change colors from blue to a steely grey. The wind carries an icy reminder, sending us scrambling for our toques. The berries have softened and sweetened. Berry pickers go out for hours a day and are selling their produce for about $50 per large ziploc bag. Yum yum yum! Our first snow was September 4, but the snowflakes melted almost as fast as they hit the ground. It has been a quiet and beautiful transition from summer to fall and winter is fast approaching.

Arctic cotton blowing in the breeze

Even the grass shares in fall colors

The nonstop wind spreads these plants all over the tundra

This one is huge!

Berries nestled under the foliage

Brilliant reds

An Arctic blueberry

Reindeer lichen

Tundra by the Sylvia Grinnell River

Friday, September 16, 2011

ᓱᓕᕆᕙ? - suliriva? - What is he up to?

Last I wrote, I had just finished training on the Dornier at the end of June and the snow on Baffin Island had for the most part melted. Now as of August 30th we have received our first snow. The summer has been full of new experiences and I have had some incredible opportunities. Airports like Pond Inlet, Clyde River and Arctic Bay are home to some of the most amazing scenery I’ve ever seen. Scenery I have not been able to capture on my 8MPEG camera. Flying into Pond Inlet your surroundings change from tundra, to rolling hills, to plateaus and valleys that speak volumes to the beauty of God’s creation.

Iceberg in August

Ship bringing in the summer's sea lift to Milne
Steep cliffs plummet into the frigid water
The wind keeps the ice bergs moving all over the northern waters
Brilliant hues of blue reveal the ice below the surface

Pond itself sits on the northern edge of Baffin Island overlooking a span of the ocean. Across this span is a range of Mountains as threatening as the Rockies with two glacier passes. Through the valleys of Baffin are many ice bergs that last the summer. Their brilliance of white and blue is incredible. The portion sticking out of the water on many of these ice bergs is bigger than the Dornier itself.  The cenrtal to north eastern end of Baffin is home to the Barnes Ice Cap. This ice is over 20 000 years old covering 6000 square km.  It is here where we have followed polar bear tracks from above

Milne Inlet is another privately owned gravel strip we fly into regularly. This inlet of water has a narwhal breeding ground nearby. Flying here, I can now attest to having seen many narwhal; mothers with their young as well as whales with the tooth. Something that before seemed so foreign to me now seems natural as dozens of narwhal call this home.

This seemingly brown rock is full of tiny flora, insects and creatures

The cliff face reveals the different rock layers

Sand cranes
Mary River camp from Deposit #1 - Can you see the runway?

Terrain surrounding many of the airports on Baffin requires special consideration when taking off or landing. Attention is given to surrounding valleys or high ridges that you must consider before picking up the runway centerline.  A standard approach for passenger comfort is a great challenge in a non-standard environment. On freight runs we can truly take advantage of the short field take-off and landing performance of the Dornier. Flying into Mary River’s mining camp has also been a great experience. The contract is ideal at this stage in my career. Mary River has contracted two of our Dorniers, 7 days a week, for around 8 hours of flying a day as well as four helicopters.  A typical day starts around 0800 in the morning and finishes around 1800, five to six days of the week. It logs flight hours in a hurry. Did I mention the food in camp is amazing? Throughout the week the camp spares no expense serving steak, prime rib, prawns, crab, turkey, pasta, char, halibut, salmon, chicken, all varieties of potatoes or rice, fresh salad bars, cheese platters, dessert bars and the list goes on. Mary river camp itself is a testament to the plethora of untouched minerals on Baffin Island. Geologists from around the world have come to study the varieties of minerals in this area.  It’s literally a playground for geologists as usually they find one or two separate minerals. However, up in Mary they are finding groups of minerals all together. This is a phenomenon that is rare and unheard of.  With the initial deposit discovered in the 1960’s, Mary River Camp is now in a preparing phase to excavate over ten deposits of iron with more to be discovered.  These deposits are mountains composed almost completely of ore with some of the rock having 78-80% pure iron.  Although the scale of this project is massive with an even bigger price tag being in the high arctic it is said the project will pay for itself in five years with the excavation producing for over 100 years.
Sea ice struggling to survive the warm summer days

Stunning scenery flying into Pond Inlet

Mirror image

This is Joshua's "office"

Huge cracks in the earth's surface

A glacier
This is Nunavut

An Arctic hare (in the middle of the shot)

Wolf skull

On one occasion this summer we were done the day quite early in the afternoon and hiked to the top of Deposit 1. The trek to the top took about an hour and a half at a good pace. Along the way we found a wolf skull, arctic hare and some pretty cool water falls. Upon reaching the top the Captain I was hiking with jokingly radioed back for a helicopter to come pick us up. To our surprise an A-Star landed moments later and we had the opportunity to explore the landscape from about 20 feet above the ground and 120 knots (~222km/h). More recently we hiked through Deposit 2 and 3. Here we saw falcons, owls, sand cranes, Canada geese and more arctic hares. Experiences like these are opportunities truly unique to the North. Something I would say a large percentage of the world has no idea is up here. I truly wish more people had the chance to see how our Creator’s beauty extends north. Joc and I wouldn’t trade this experience for the world.

Begining of Barnes Ice Cap

20 000 year old ice being crushed and pounded together as the seasons change

Flying over the Barnes Ice Cap

Glaciers spilling over the hills

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

ᓄᓇᑦᓯᐊᖅ - Nunatsiaq - Northwest Territories

I’m currently sitting on my Canadian North flight en route to Iqaluit after a relaxing and productive weekend in Yellowknife. I had to go meet with our realor, lawyer and see the house we've purchased in Yellowknife. My mom flew up for the weekend to explore with me. It has been very interesting visiting a true city – with roads, streetlights, traffic laws (that you have to obey), and people. The differences between Yellowknife and Iqaluit have me smiling and thankful for our time in the north.

When I first landed in Yellowknife, my first impression was “look at all the green trees!” I had to laugh when my mom landed and she was astounded at all the rock and lakes. Rock and water is something that I’m very accustomed to now. The nature in this part of the north is very different than Baffin. Each territory has its own beauty and uniqueness that I love. Yellowknife has cleverly built itself around, within and through the natural rock faces, hills, lakes and forests. The entire city is connected by walking trails that remind me of Edmonton’s river valley. We enjoyed exploring the lakes in town and venturing down the Ingraham trail to see the Cameron falls. 

Mom's first time north!

One thing Josh and I have come to love about Iqaluit is the relaxed pace of life, the lack of hustle and bustle. We call it “living simply.” Our adjustment to this has been an easy one, since we left everything behind in Edmonton and came to Iqaluit with the bare minimum. It has been an experience we wouldn’t trade for anything. And I would dare say that my husband has even learned to relax after an intense six years of school and flying. 

Compared to Edmonton, Yellowknife is a small city. Compared to Iqaluit, it's huge! As I drove to explore it, I had to remind myself to keep my eyes on the road despite the fact there was so much to see! I even got mild car sickness at driving “so fast” (45km/hr). But having lived a pedestrian lifestyle this summer, it felt like highway speeds. Driving downtown made me feel claustrophobic due to all the people, cars, signs and streetlights. I know I’ll miss the quiet of Iqaluit.
Medical Travel - facilitating patients from the small communities for their health needs

 I expected the Northwest Territories to have more Inuit people. What I did not expect was the large number of different types of indigenous people here! This sign at the airport made my eyes grow wide at all the different people groups that are represented in this territory. I suppose the climate is (slightly) less extreme and the environment lends itself to more animals, which in turn supports more human life. At least, that’s what I think….I’ll have lots to learn about the culture here and I'll miss being saturated in the Inuit culture.

At the Bush Pilot's monument admiring all the GREEN trees!
Houseboats in the lake - people live on them year round
Eclectic little homes proudly displaying Yellowknife's history

When Josh first moved here, I remember him telling me that Yellowknife is the perfect place for him because it is centered around flying. He then quickly assured me that it was the perfect for me too, because it is surrounded by water. Mom and I so enjoyed watching all the float planes come and go from the lake. The sound of airplane engines brings back childhood memories of my Dad flying in Botswana and now it makes me think of my airborne husband. Yellowknife is a city built for aviation, and we intend to enjoy it to the fullest.
Pilot's paradise
Float planes were everywhere...we love watching them take off and land
Enjoying our sunny walk
"Walking" the dogs across the lake - one in the canoe and one in the water
Guess who's arm is who's! I don't think I've ever been so pale. Sigh.

If I am to talk about my trip out of Iqaluit, then I am obliged to talk about food. I have never been so excited to go grocery shopping in my life! The rows and rows of vibrant fruits and veggies, the rich cuts of meat, the endless selection of any type of product you can imagine. I bought 74 kilograms of groceries for less than $300. In Iqaluit, a basket of groceries will easily cost over $100. Oh, and the freshness of the food made my mouth tingle. I could individually taste each layer of my Tim Horton's B.E.L.T. breakfast sandwich - the bacon so crisp, the tomato so sweet, the lettuce so crisp. Food tasted like food again...without the heavy price tag. My definition of "expensive" has been forever altered.

Quirky, odd little restaurant in Old Town that serves amazing food
Arctic char (from Nunavut), salad with feta dill dressing, home made fries....yum!

Nature never ceases to amaze me. From the rugged beauty of Iqaluit's tundra to the luscious forests of Yellowknife, I can't help but agree with the Psalmist that "the heavens declare the glory of God, the skies proclaim the work of His hands" (Psalm 19). Each terrain is unique and stunning in its own way. To say I like one more than the other would be a lie. I'm learning to be content and enjoy what the Lord has in front of me one day at a time, rather than wishing for something different. As I do so, I feel content in the place God has me. Whether it be here, there or somewhere else. 

Before coming to Iqaluit, God was teaching me to REST - rely, exalt, surrender and trust. (Learn more...)This summer has served to refine that lesson. In lonely, fun, anxious, exciting, peaceful or boring times, I am learning to place my focus on my Lord and claim His promise in Jeremiah 29: 11-14. " For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you."

Niven lake - I think I took pictures of every single blade of green!
Cameron Falls - exquisite hiking trail over the Canadian Shield

Despite her close encounters with hippos, elephants, cheetahs, water buffalo, hyenas, lions, crocodiles and cobras, Mom was very reluctant to meet a Canadian black bear face to face!
After only seeing a few birds and fish this summer, I'm ready for wildlife!