We are at the top of the world. On our way today we took it slow but still didn’t see any animals. We did see amazing tundra landscapes and inexplicably beautiful views.
We stopped to top up gas tanks in Fort McPherson, which is considered a town, but was depressing. I think before Canadians came along it was just a small indigenous town on the river. Now it has a gas station, a scary grocery store, a restaurant that isn’t open, and a lot of people milling about their run down houses. And some weird drunk dudes (we were there at midday). At the gas pump, I set my kickstand down on slightly high terrain and when I went to get off the other side of the bike, it started tipping towards me. I couldn’t get the center of gravity back up and it just kept falling as I slowly struggled to keep it off the ground. I failed. And after I scrambled out from under it, I calmly asked Chris to come help me lift it up. While he walked over a man jumped out of the back seat of a truck and ran over to help also. After righting the bike, he beamed at us and said the following: “They call me Chanuti, man of many wives.” Seriously, direct quote.
After Fort McPherson there are two points where the road ends in a river and there is a free ferry to take you across to the other side. In the winter the rivers freeze and you just drive across the ice. I can’t imagine people going anywhere in the winter. The mean high in January is -11F. The mean low is -30F.
Chris chatting with local while waiting for the second ferry (much bigger river):
So we kept driving up to the town of Inuvik, which is where the road ends. The town, while supporting over 3000 people, is tiny with very little to offer. There are very few restaurants, and they’re not open very often, especially not on Sunday, probably because there are seven churches in town and everyone’s busy going to those instead of providing for tourists. There’s the North Mart, which is like Walmart, but along with KFC and Pizza Hutt, they sell Carhartt, Honda EU2000 generators, and Ski Doo snowmobiles. And there’s a liquor store. It’s surprisingly open until 10pm. Very reasonable.
We ate at the only restaurant we could find open when we arrived in town. They had a Canadian beer, Kokanee, and Budweiser and Bud Light. They were out of Molson. We each had a Kokanee to start and then this happened.
We are staying at the Arctic Chalet, in a rustic little cabin, which is quite nice. There are a bunch of white huskies and in the winter they offer sled dog tours. Tomorrow we are going to Tuk, a small town further north, only accessible by boat or plane (we’re taking a plane). It is inhabited by the aboriginal people who still live the same way of life that they have been for thousands of years. It is actually on the Arctic Ocean, unlike Inuvik, which is a on the Mackenzie River Delta. So toes in the ocean tomorrow.