Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Yukon Trip 2009 - Day 16 - Inuvik

It rained off and on all night, although at 2:30 am I had looked out and the sun was shining. While we ate breakfast, it was 11c and pouring but changed to just rain by the time we hit the road at 9:30 am. At least the dust would be settled, but we had been warned that the road can really deteriorate quickly if you get heavy rain and it is best to pull over and wait it out...for days if necessary!
Fort McPherson was only 10 km down the road from the campground. We drove in for a quick look but the weather wasn't conducive to doing anything more.

This lake was right near the junction of the road to Fort McPherson and the highway, there was actually a cabin on the south shore of it. What made it interesting was the fact that a number of Mew Gulls were nesting here.

One of the Mew Gulls on it's nest.

The road from Fort McPherson to Inuvik was, without a doubt, the most boring of the entire trip. Due to the warmer climate, caused by the MacKenzie River delta, the vegetation is all taiga
(small trees - mainly spruce), the terrain is completely flat and so is the road, with only the occasional slight curve to break the monotony. There were numerous small lakes at the sides of the road to check out for birds and we were back to having Snow-shoe Hares bounding across the highway in front of us.

This was one of the larger lakes beside the highway. It was dark and raining quite heavily at the time.

These Bank Swallows were there (didn't see any 'banks'), also saw Spotted Sandpiper and Lesser Yellowlegs Sandpiper. Also got a quick look at what had to be a Rusty Blackbird - because Brewer's aren't any wheres near this far north.

Eventually we reached the 2nd ferry crossing. This one across the MacKenzie River.

I'm posting this sequence to show the landing mechanism....remember no docks in this country!

run up to the shore, and lower.....

and there you have it! Just drive off.

The ferry route here was 'triangular'. We were sitting on the Dempster, this is the Gwich'in community of Tsiigehtchic (formerly called Arctic Red River). The water you see is the Arctic Red River which joins the MacKenzie at this point, so the ferry crosses the Arctic Red River (if any one is waiting) and then heads across the MacKenzie to the rest of the Dempster Highway.

The rains weren't heavy enough to cause any problems with the road and they did get rid of the dust. This was the sight that greeted us when we stopped to make some lunch. Not dust but mud!


We reached Inuvik mid-afternoon on June 7th. The first thing you see is pavement (rougher than the gravel you've spent the last few days on) and a very large modern airport. We headed to the Visitor Centre, but being Sunday, it was closed. Ernie had to get a picture of this weather vane that is situated beside the visitor center. This is for you Dave, this is a real full size Cessna 170 - not a model.

This sculpture is in front of the Visitor Center (we'll have more pictures tomorrow) and that primary colored building is the Hospital! I guess when you live where the sun never rises between Dec. 6 and Jan. 6 - you need all the color you can get as many of the buildings and houses were painted in 'smarties' colors. Inuvik apparently gets an average of 4 inches of rain and 69 inches of snow a year. The average summer temperature is 19 c and the average winter temperature is -35c.

By this time we needed a dump station, some water, and some headed to Happy Valley Campground that offered all of this, plus showers and laundry facilities. Paid our fee, dumped, and then headed to a car wash. There are two in town. The one we used was simply a pressure washer that you paid for by the minute. Ten minutes and you could at least touch the door to get in the camper. Shantz is watching because there was a walking path below the bank from our campsite and people were using it quite regularly. That pipe you see was sewer infrastructure. The town of Inuvik is on permafrost so all of the buildings are built up on pilings so as not to melt the permafrost, and they are all connected by these metal pipes. It is no different than our cities down here, except our infrastructure is all under the ground 'out of sight - out of mind' - there it is all above ground.....and yes, there was a bit of an odor noticeable.

Bird wise - here is an Inuvik White-crowned Sparrow.

and a rather brightly colored Orange crowned Warbler

there was a 'lake' directly below us - probably a back water of the river itself - this was the best I managed of the Red Neck Loons that were on it.

In the evening, Ernie took Shantz for a walk and managed this photo of a pair of Pacific Loon. All in all, we had seen that day, besides those already mentioned, Am. Widgeon, Scaups, Mallard, Northern Pintails, Willow Ptarmigan, Surf Scoter, White Wing Scoter, Red Neck Phalarope and Northern Shoveler. In Inuvik itself, Robins, Am. Widgeon, Common Redpoll, Junco and Raven.
Now I have to share the 'uncomfortable' encountered on this trip as well as the good. We had wondered why the campgrounds close to town advertised '24 hr. security' - that isn't something that you normally see with any campground as they are usually pretty safe places. A few completely trashed cars on the way in had given us a bit of a clue. When we reached this campground, right across the road from it, very professionally done, was a sign that read 'Oh Canada, your homes on Native Land' - and that pretty much summed it up. It appears not everyone is as welcoming as the staff at the Visitor Centre and in the stores. I had read on a blog that I had been following previous to our taking this trip - that unless you have a local license plate - don't even think about leaving your RV or vehicle unattended for any length of time. They had been referring to the Yukon and not the N.W.T. but my guess is that there is a small element, and not just in these two areas, that don't welcome 'outsiders'.
So this day came to a close. By 9 pm the sun was shining, it was 9c and there were kids on bikes and dirt bikes tearing around all over the place. Make hay while the sun shines I guess!

Campground fee: $28.00 (with power) Total distance traveled to date: 4, 064 km.

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