Days 19 and 20 Leaving Inuvik





I had a hard time leaving Inuvik

 I was invited to Donald and Myra’s home for lunch…. well.. not really…..  During the event at the Greenhouse, Myra had invited me for a picnic the next day.  Without thinking about details, we agreed to meet at the JÀK campground for a picnic.  What we didn’t think about was 1. the weather and 2. what we’d do if the weather were bad (i.e.:  we never exchanged phone numbers).  The next morning I woke up to cold dreary rain.  To my great surprise, Don and his almost-3 year old grandson found me and whisked me away to their home.  Myra had prepared a yummy indoor picnic complete with hamburgers (Myra… was that really hamburger?…hee hee), slaw, salad and wine.  While Myra finished up on the cooking, Don and I  sat in the living room talking about music and health.  Donald is a nutritional adviser and has an impressive library of books.  Of course my ‘expertise’ is in Poodle dietary health rather than Peoples’ so we compared notes… it’s not too different… I must say!  I learned, sadly,  that my poodles eat a healthier diet than I do.

If you’d like to check out his blog please click here ⇒



It was a wonderful visit and I felt like I’d known these two open and generous people for a lifetime.  Myra asked if I was going to be in town for a while as she wanted to show me around.  Apparently there is a woman who has imported a herd of Reindeer and this was one person she wanted me to meet.  I don’t’ know why I didn’t just say an emphatical “YES.”  Instead I declined.  I was still battling that feeling that I had to ‘get somewhere’ and if I hung around it wouldn’t be productive.  I’m happy to relate that I’ve gotten beyond that traveling barrier.

Just before leaving Inuvik,  I stopped in the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation gift shop to see if there was anything that I needed. I like the idea of the shop because there’s little mark up and most of the proceeds go back to the artists.   I ended up with two things.

Just when I thought it was too late, I found my pair of antlers.  They’re made by a local artist from Iqaluit, Nunavut Territory, Matthew Nuqingaq

 CLICK HERE to see his bio  ⇒


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IMG_4525  They have a beautiful 3D quality to them and each is different just like real caribou antlers.  Unlike deer, elk and goats their antlers grow disproportionately.IMG_4526

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THEN I found this necklace.  It’s whimsical and exquisite.  Unfortunately, I forgot to get the name of the artist.  Surprisingly it’s not something given out readily nor do the artist always sign their work.

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I certainly didn’t have enough time to develop a full understanding of Inuvik or it’s people.  I’m sure one needs to spend time and probably a winter here to even begin to scratch its icy surface.  On top of that, the people I befriended were all transplants to the area, not of them of Inuvialuit and Gwich’in decent.  In an odd but strong way, I was reminded of Ladakh, India.  Despite the fact that the background of these people is entirely opposite:  Inuvik is at sea level with its native people surviving 100’s of years on hunting while Ladakhis were a nomadic people of the Himalaya, living at 11,000 feet and surviving on small wheat crops and goat herds, they were some how similar.  Perhaps it’s the hard- close-to-the-earth existence they share or perhaps a common ancient ancestry.  Maybe it’s that they are both somewhat displaced people making a life for themselves in an environment foreign to their historic past but maintaining a strong bond to culture, language and foundation.  They’ve both been placed in their somewhat artificial villages by a government trying to make them fit in.  I’m not saying this in a critical way.  I think it’s a fact of modernization, globalization and technology.  I don’t know why, but Inuvik had some feeling of familiarity to me.  It was comfortable and I felt in tuned with its  environment.  In any case,  when I left Inuvik, I left with a little tiny part of myself still there.

And So It Goes……

On my way out of town

I saw a scruffy looking guy by the side of the road.  He had a huge backpack and was wearing a very beat up jacket and huge rubber boots.  I just “took it in,” as you do anything you see around ‘these parts.’    Many miles down the road, as the poodles and I wandered around waiting for the ferry to arrive, I saw the same man getting out of a local’s pickup.  Since we were practically standing next to each other I said, “Hey,  I saw you down by the airport,”  and he (Gordon) told me that he was hitching a ride down to Eagle Plains (about 100 miles south).  So I offered him a ride.  We had a fascinating couple hours talking about things.  It turned out that he was in his early 80’s and had just finished a month-long canoe trip down the Porcupine River…. alone (as in by himself).  He had ‘put in’ at Eagle Plains and ended in a hunting and whaling village west of Inuvik called, Old Crowe.  His hope had been to see the Porcupine Caribou herd migrating across the river.  There are over 175,000 caribou that make a trip from the North Slope of Alaska to the Inuvik area every fall.  Alas, he didn’t see any.

It was evening by the time we arrived at the Eagle Plain’s hotel and Gordon offered to buy me dinner.  The ‘hotel’ is basically an extra large prefab building with dorm rooms, a dining hall and a store.  The store is a 10 x 10 room with a few magazines, candy bars and sodas.  This is the ONLY accommodations between where we caught the ferry in McPherson and Dawson City, so it’s really quite an oasis.


Local (and only) gas station

The “shape” Gordon was in reminded me of how Phil and I looked after we’d gotten down from spending 28 days on Mt McKinley.  Skinny, sun burned, disheveled and very hungry for ‘real’ food.  You can see him in the very back of the room in the picture below.  He’s roughly between the dead caribou and the bodiless moose.


Very typical dining atmosphere in Alaska, NWT or Yukon

We said our good byes, he picked up his truck and headed, immediately, home to Salmon Arm, BC where his wife awaited his return.  I decided to camp in Eagle Plains for the night.  As Gordon and I drove south on the Dempster, I couldn’t help but pine away for all the tundra we were passing.  I needed another Tundra Hike Fix.
So the poodle and I spent the night at the extremely nondescript campground in Eagle Plains and dreamt about hunting caribou antlers and dodging bears.


More on THIS Photo LATER……