|The Hamlet of Arviat, the modern town hall|
The morning has broken. The cycle of darkness into light continues this morning with a spectacular sunrise. With the temperature hovering around -26 and the winds being light, the swirling of the snow often seen here is non-existent this morning at sunrise. That may change later...as it often does in the Arctic.
|Looking down the street, after the re-freeze on Saturday|
|Wednesday message from the GN regarding tuesday's weather|
That Wednesday morning when I signed into a terminal in the Arviat Health Centre, the GN (Government of Nunavut) Outlook page showed the results of the storm that had started Tuesday and had moved around. I didn't have to read each notice...as the topics were descriptive enough and we've been through more than a few of these notices, since my first arrival in January 2008.
|Tuesday after heading home after work|
That year, I learned some valuable northern traditions. These are non-Inuit but provide good advice for all travellers..in all countries. I was scheduled to fly out after lunch that Monday in January....it never happened...to quote the Rankin Inlet page on Wikipedia “Beginning on January 16, 2008, Rankin Inlet endured the longest recorded blizzard in Canada. Wind speed was 74 km/h (46 mph) or above, with gusts to 90 km/h (56 mph), and wind chill values were as low as -58C. The blizzard lasted 7 days 5 hours.” AND I was there.
|Blue Jay Hot Dogs...season premonition??? We hope not!!!|
Traditions are a large part of life and community in the north. The valuable lessons learned that day included don't expect your flight to go out, don't use up all your fresh clothes, AND don't give away all your food. That tradition continued this week when I returned from Arviat. In my bin, I still had some slices of cheese...some packets of dried soup, a package of mashed potatoes and the remnants of a pack of Schneiders All Beef Hotdogs...official snack food of the TORONTO BLUE JAYS...(currently 1-8...cue the tears...sob,sob).
|The ATR 24 was sitting on the concrete pad awaiting crew and passengers.|
The Calm Air flight MO563 was scheduled for 0915. Boarding would begin at 0845, according to my boarding pass. No seats were assigned in this 22 passenger plane. I had arrived early to confirm, relax and look at the interesting signs posted inside the terminal. You can learn so much from a notice board any place you go.
|Aerial view of ARVIAT...taken a few years ago|
On the walls of the freshly painted terminal, the old photos showing the Inuit traditions, the aerial map made years ago when this settlement was so much smaller...Old Town and New Town were terms I had heard, but this trip I didn't have the time or strength to explore due to workload...and the weather was certainly not cooperative, as well.
|Overnight heated engine warmers in place on the Calm Air ATR|
By 0810, I was already third in line. I was processed efficiently, got my boarding pass, my bin checked and my carry on weighed. I watched them prepare the plane that had sat on its concrete pad amid the gravelled runway overnight. The engine warmer covers were stripped away. The plugs blocking the engine exhaust and intake were removed. The props were rotated to ensure their smooth operation would occur. As they were rotated a visual inspection occurred. The steps were raised and lowered as the airplane crew arrived to begin their preflight.
|Hunting is a tradition in this community. This house fairly successful !!!|
Finally, the extension cord that ran from the terminal over to the ATR turbo prop was disconnected and dragged across the gravel to the back of a support vehicle. That cable had kept the plane partially heated overnight since its arrival the previous evening. The cargo was transferred and loaded.
Two things excite air travellers, in the north. The arrival of their aircraft, or the sight of it resting on the airfield when you drive up, brings joy since you've got a reasonable expectation of flight...of course, this is always subject to a mechanical postponement or a weather forecast at your destination.
|The main mode of transport for many|
The other thing that delights many is an increasing barometric pressure in the weather forecast. If the air pressure trend is rising, you are probably going to have clear skies and good weather. A falling barometer indicates a low pressure gradient will soon arrive and with it storms, clouds and who knows what.
|The luggage "belt" in Arviat airport terminal|
The terminal became congested as more arrived. It was the thursday before Good Friday. Families were heading off to visit families. People were heading to Winnipeg through Rankin's airport. Others were off to other destinations. They were heading to Repulse Bay to visit family, they were taking their dog to Whale Cove, their cat to Baker Lake and some (like me) were heading back to Rankin to continue their contract!
|One of our fellow passengers dressed to visit her aunt in Repulse Bay.|
All manner of cargo and baggage arrived. Gun cases, bins, cardboard boxes reinforced with tape...the addresses clearly visible for all to see. The dog and cat remained crated and were calm and quiet. The dog was a Cocker Spaniel/Golden Retriever mix. People were following the sign clearly above the luggage slide telling them the rules.
|Cocker/Golden Mixed Cargo to Whale Cove|
They announced the flight. I could hear the voice directly in the waiting room, the PA was silent throughout her talk even though her hand held the mike to her mouth. I stood up, got my gloves and hat in place for the march across the gravel as she counted heads. No photo ID needed here as the count was less than 15 and she had remembered everyone that had checked in. I showed my boarding pass, and was though the door down the metal steps.
People were embracing and probably shedding tears behind me as I strolled towards our plane. I turned and looked back as well walked single file towards the blue and cream coloured ATR. Explore the north was emblazened near the door to the left of the stairs. I climbed aboard tried to stow my carry on on above my head and sat down on the leather seats. They were cool but not cold. The heaters overnight had done their work.
|The white frozen tundra with "open water" visible|
The door was sealed, the engines warmed and soon after we were taxiing out, making the turn and lifting off. Below the arctic tundra...white...frozen...with a hand full of lakes that appeared open...possibly spring fed the passenger next to me stated. The ATR's don't fly as high as the jets so you can see the beauty beneath you.
In less than 90 minutes touched down in Whale Cove, exchanged passengers and cargo and continued on to Rankin Inlet. We were home. We were the second plane to land as another ATR was parked and the people were exiting when we approached the terminal building. As we exited towards that familiar green shelter, another ATR had landed and was approaching us. As I waited for my luggage bin to arrive on the luggage belt I noticed them towing out the stairs for the 737. Within moments it came into view and gracefully touched down...Four planes within a half hour.
“Welcome to Rankin Inlet” they had said a few moments before we had descended the steps of the ATR. Was only yesterday and I was home...for now!