Tuesday, June 30, 2015

So, What'ya Say We Go South for the Summer

Midnight in Inuvik. 
We spent four days and four nights in Inuvik, which, this time of year, look pretty much the same. After four nights, and days, and if you're out there mingling and talking with the locals, eating in their restaurants and cafes, shopping in their stores, touring their town... something changes. You start to feel, a little, like I know this place... I'm starting to fit in here... I like this place. It becomes a part of you... and you of it. That happened to me during four days and nights in Inuvik.

But we must move on. And where does anyone with a truck and camper go from Inuvik? South, of course. It's the only answer. You get on that one thin physical ribbon of connection with the outside world, the ONLY road that goes somewhere else from there, and head south on the Dempster. Four hundred and seventy miles of gravel road, a handful of bridges, and two ferrys. That is the only way to the rest of our days in this part of the world.

We feel we did a pretty darn near complete Dempster experience. We saw the best of the Dempster on warm sunny days, we had to change two tires (in fairness, only one was a traditional Dempster Flat), we drove through fresh road repairs, water and chloride mud, pot holes that could swallow a VW Beetle, and rain. But much of it is an amazingly smooth road that allows 50 or even 60 mph speeds in relative comfort. We saw a bunch of wildlife including moose and squirrel (what'ya say Rocky and Bullwinkle?), a family of dahl sheep, some playing baby fox, but no bear... not this time.

The Dempster becomes a different animal when it rains. And so it seems do the people driving it. On the way north we thought, for the most part, other drivers were relatively courteous. Most would move over and slow down as they pass going the other way. But during the last 120 miles or so today, during rain and with road turning into a slick muddy affair, we had a big dose of other drivers who, for whatever reason, didn't think it necessary to slow down when meeting other vehicles. By the time we reached Dawson, the truck was a total mud-ball, and so were our spirits.

But don't let that color our experience. It was a wonderful week of new experiences, meeting new people, and seeing new things.

After pressure washing the truck in Dawson, picking up a few provisions, perhaps a little laundry... we'll be back on the trail and heading into Alaska for the rest of our summer.

Ferry at the Peel River Crossing

How I'd like to remember the Dempster

The ugly side of the Dempster

It's just dirt. It washes off. But life-long memories.