By: Anthony Shustak
Other stuff from our Northern Neighbors:
Tuktoyaktuk is the northernmost community on the Canadian mainland and is perhaps best known for being featured in the second season of the TV show, Ice Road Truckers. During winter, the best way to reach Tuktoyaktuk, or “Tuk,” is via the ice road, which runs 187 km from Inuvik, over the frozen Mackenzie River and out onto the open Beaufort Sea. There are no regular tarmac roads leading to Tuk. In summertime, the only way to reach the community is by boat or plane.
Conditions on the ice road change on a daily basis depending on weather and tides. We encountered ice cracks that were several inches wide and running parallel with the road. We drove over glassy slick ice. Snow covered ice offered the best traction. A few patches of road were covered in several inches of slush and water. These sections gave reason to pause and consider the perils associated with driving on water – that sits on ice – that floats on a river!
During winter, temperatures plummet to -40° Celsius. There are no trees or hills to block the icy winds. Tuk is surrounded by the endless white expanse of the frozen Beaufort Sea.
The people of Tuk offer sharp contrast to the cold winters. They are very welcoming and friendly. One afternoon, we decided to go out onto the frozen sea and play with a kite. Several young children quickly joined us for a few hours of fun on the ice.
Sunset in the arctic lingers for hours. As dusk finally set in, we bid goodnight to the kids. They each ran off to their respective homes. Only then did we notice how late we had kept them out playing. Twilight had not entirely turned to pitch-black night, and already it was 11:30 p.m.!
In summer, I am told that everything comes alive. Transformation of the seasons must be breathtaking. We visited Tuk in late April. During this time of year, we gained 8 minutes of sunlight with each passing day. By summer solstice, there will be 24 hours of daylight. The vastness of the landscape and the sometimes-harsh environment make for a strikingly beautiful place that causes the fragility of life to become slightly more apparent.
By: Lydia Perr
Living in Oregon, I’ve been pretty satisfied with my moutain viewing options. There’s nothing like driving along I-5 and then – bam! There’s Mt. Hood looking all majestic, standing alone without any other craggy peaks competing for attention. Mt. St. Helen’s, Mt. Jefferson and the Three Sisters also strike up their fair share of awe. So, there’s definitely something validating about singling out the dramatic, single peaks along the northwest’s Cascade Range as some of the best views in our country. And, sure, Colorado’s Rockies can be impressive – the craggy peaks in Telluride are phenomenal lines of natural perfection. But, I didn’t experience true North American mountain majesty until I drove through the Canadian Rockies. I made my way through Banff National Park in Alberta, and as we entered the kingdom of the Canadian Alps, every view progressively flourished. The rivers and streams that lined Highway 93 (the main roadway) were pure, mineral mountain waters in chalky blue-greens. I had never seen fresh water like that! Big horn sheep were grazing on the shoulder of the road. And each mountain view ahead became more impressive than the last. Points of interest that I got to visit in the Canadian Lakes/Banff National Forest inlclude Radium Hot Springs, glassy Lake Louise, with it’s sister lakes, Mirror Lake and Moraine Lake, and the fabulous alpine town of Banff.
Once in the national park, we found our way to Radium Hot Springs. We were on a tight schedule and didn’t get to take a soak, but it’s on the list of things to do for the next trip. We drove straight to Lake Louise, “Canada’s Diamond in the Wilderness” – our main point of interest. Nestled beside the base of Lake Louise, and in the shadow of impressive Mt. Victoria, is the historic Chateau Fairmont Lake Louise. Continue reading
Whenever I find myself in Victoria, I always make it a point to drop by Legends Comics and Books. It is easily the best comic book store on a street crowded with comic book stores.
There are a few things that make Legends special. It has been around since 1992 and is locally owned and operated by two former customers, Lloyd Chesley and Gareth Gaudin. Both of them possess extensive product knowledge and a great sense of humour. They are also extremely friendly and helpful. I have spent many hours talking and laughing there. Unlike most stores these days, Legends focuses on selling just comics rather than toys, role-playing games or apparel. Continue reading