Sunday, June 24, 2018

Wednesday June 24, 1998 - Inuvik

Sign on the road into Inuvik
Chuk Camp - cloudy and cold

I slept in, had a nice hot shower in the camp washroom and a late breakfast of oatmeal. I paid for a second night (still $10!) and drove into town in the afternoon. At the Inuvik Visitor Centre I learned that the Dempster Highway was closed until at least Saturday or Sunday, maybe longer. I visited the Cafe Gallery and the Library where I sent a bunch of "Stranded in Inuvik" emails to friends in the south. At the front door of the library was a sign asking you to take your shoes off before entering. Apparently so many people track in gravel stuck in the treads of their boots or runners that it was making a mess of the floor. You get one hour free per day of internet time, but it was a slack time so the librarian seemed amenable to bending the rules. I could stay on the computer until someone showed up wanting to get on.

There are two campgrounds in Inuvik, Chuk Camp on a hill overlooking the town and Happy Valley camp right in the town. I was told that I picked the right camp because Happy Valley is very buggy, Like Caribou Camp that I visited yesterday. Because Chuk Camp is on a hill it catches the breeze and that keeps the bugs down.

Yohan is unwell. He doesn't want to eat and just doesn't look healthy. I left him in the truck all day. When I returned to camp I spoke to Liz and Clem about Yohan, Clem wanted to examine him. Clem is a retired gastro-enterological surgical assistant (GSA) with, as he puts it, a 'psycho' knack, which among other things apparently means he understands sick animals (and humans). I brought Yohan to their campsite (I drove over) and Clem 'examined' Yohan. He was extremely gentle, Yohan appeared to pour his heart out to him and said that Yohan was very sad, very anxious, but the worst thing wrong with him was his age. Clem's wife Liz thinks Yohan is just having a bad arthritis day. Clem thought that as long as Yohan was drinking water he would probably be okay.

As a consolation to all of us who are "stranded" in Inuvik, the town invited us to a special dinner theatre production. The play was called East Three, it was about the history of Inuvik which was originally called East Three. Inuvik was created to replace Aklavik which was prone to flooding. Engineers surveyed six potential townsites, three on the west side of the Mackenzie delta and three on the east side. East Three was the final choice. Kind of symbolic because this area is the meeting place of three races: Indian (Gwich'in), Inuit (Inuvialuit) and European-descent.

I went to it with Liz and Clem, there were people there from both campgrounds. The play was very good and there was also a skit using members of the audience as the characters in the skit.  Liz got to play "Pearl", the man in the next campsite to me played "Bubbles" and a guy from San Diego played "Greasy Stick".

Liz hammed it up something fierce. In fact at one point she took the story line in the opposite direction than was intended, leaving the narrator speechless. Had everyone in hysterics. "Bubbles" told me later that he was going on a 2-week canoe trip with several other people who were in the audience that night, and that he was probably stuck with that name for the duration.

Dinner included caribou meat balls, roast musk ox, white fish and arctic char, I saved a bit of chicken for Yohan. All in all a great evening of local culture and meeting people.

We are all signing up for various tours and activities, a favourite at Chuk is the trip to Tuktoyaktuk. I would have liked to go but you have to fly in and I didn't want to leave Yohan at the camp that long. Instead I asked around about getting a guide to take me fishing on the Mackenzie. You have to have a guide because it is a huge delta with many channels and you can very easily get lost. I figured leaving Yohan for a couple of hours would be okay, just not all day. He could sleep in the truck.

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