Sunday, August 29, 2010

It's the end where I begin

We have finally arrived at one of those place that dub themselves "the end of the world". And as of about a month ago, I would have believed them. However, after my fathers trip to Ellismere island, I have to concede that the end of the world is much, much, much gutter north than Inuvik in the north west territories. That being said we are pretty freaking far north!!! Currently we are roughly touching base with our form of civiliArion and stealing Internet from the Inuvik international airport, while we ponder whether it is worth 800$ to fly to Tuktoyuktok, a village located right on the arctic ocean itself.
While we ponder, I will update you on the last few days.
We left Whitehorse and headed north. And stuck on that direction for about 1200 or so kilometers.
The Dempster highway began about 500 or so km past Whitehorse. A "highway" is picking the term for a rugged dirt ad gravel road that stretches for 730km through the Canadian north. But Kumu took the challenge like she owned it and made us prouder than ever as we passed two moose at two moose lake and prancing caribou through the tundra and drove like a charm onto the two sketchy ferries over the mighty Peel and Mackenzie rivers. The variety of landscapes was truly a sight to behold, one now that I believe no Canadian should miss out on.
So as we stared in wonder at our so very Canadian landscapes, we did what any patrols canadiens would do and entertained ourselves with the droning, somewhat overdramatic, but enjoyable none the less stories of Stuart McLean and the vinyl cafe podcasts from the CBC. I think the one strange ad quiet German hitchhiker we picked up thought us very strange listening to talk radio, but he barely even said thank you for the 400km we drove him, so I won't worry myself with what he thought.
We also had a slight mishap with the computer and unfortunately this blog will yet again be without pictures. Which is a shame because I have some real doozies!
Now I shall go ponder some more on how much I am willing to pay to fly to stand in freezing cold water....
I also apologize for poor writing as I am on my iTouch and it's a bit finicky!!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Workin' On A Dream

Finally, I can upload some pictures. Yes there are quite a lot, so i will keep the writing to a minimum. From Grande Prairie to Whitehorse. The beauty of our amazing country.
Beaver Lodge just past Grande Prairie.
Our first real camp spot. Between Fort St John and Watson Lake. Our friendly hitchhikers tent in the background.
Checking out the Buffalo from the roof of Kumu. Looking badass with the jerry cans.
Liard River Hot Springs. They were HOT! Such a beautiful spot, hopefully the first of many hotsprings along our journey.
Enjoying the heat and the smell of eggs!
One of the hundred buffalo pictures I have. Glorified cows really....
Filling up with the jerry cans. Much better than spending 1.60$ on gas at the small stations along the way.
At another wicked camp spot with Ryan and Toni. Whirlpool Canyon.
We made it to the Yukon! Incredible!
No caption needed
Hahahaha. Does anyone need serviced?
The crazy signpost forest! A must see for anyone passing through Watson Lake, YT
What are the chances? Bizarre!
Great camp spot in the Yukon. Andrew caught our dinner!!! It was delicious over the fire. 
Our first bottle of wine on the trip. Courtesy of Sherry and Dave. Thank you!!
Carcross, just north of Skagway, enticing us to come back when the snow flies.
Carcross Desert. Apparently the 'Smallest desert in North America'. We say the jury is still out on whether it is truly a desert, but it was cool to see so far north none the less!
Camping on Lowes Lake. A friendly driver offered us directions to this great spot after we tried to check out his private driveway for a place to camp. A few minutes after getting there he came back with a bunch of wood so we could have a fire! A truly stunning area.

At the moment we are staying at Amanda and Chris's (friends of Andrew's from high school!) place just outside of Whitehorse while we do some experimental repairs on the van. Hopefully we can leave, although Whitehorse is really an amazing place. We have ran into some of the most helpful and friendly people here. They have left a great impression on me about the Territory of the Yukon. 
Another funny story, as we were in the Home Hardware in Whitehorse, we hear "Hey!", and as we turn around we see Tony! A guy that we met last summer at our friend Kristen's cabin in the Shushwap. He lives in Vancouver so it was definitely a surprise to run into him in Whitehorse of all places! Just makes you realize what a small world we live in. 
So far the trip has really been amazing, I cant believe that we have so much more to see and experience! Hopefully you can all send Kumu some loving vibes that we can get her back on the road today or tomorrow and we on our way to the top of the world!
Till next time.

Working On A dream-Bruce Springsteen

Saturday, August 21, 2010

There Are Strange Things Done In The Midnight Sun By the Men Who Moil For Gold

We made it to the Yukon!!!
Unfortunately we cant find any wireless or Internet connection for our computer in Watson Lake, so pictures will have to wait.
The last few days have been pretty epic, driving through the wilderness of Northern B.C. In Fort Nelson we picked up two hitchhikers, Toni and Ryan and spent the last couple days with them scoping out sweet camping spots on the river banks. That's right, we were officially living in a van, down by the river. Amazing
We have seen a couple herds of wild buffalo, which at first were a completely novel sight for us, and we stopped to take tons of pictures... after the 100th buffalo however, the novelty wore off and now we just slow down and continue to drive through.
Today we checked out the world renowned Sign Post Forest in Watson Lake. People from far and wide come and nail their signs to posts and now there are thousands of signs from all over the world. It truly is an incredible sight!
Now we are heading north towards Whitehorse where hopefully we will get a chance to add pictures!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Oh The Places We'll Go!

The beginning count on our odometer. Soon to be clicking forward quite comfortably.

So we did it. We finally got out of town. Monday morning was spent running around getting all our last minute stuff packed and dealt with. Not to mention saying good bye to my parents and a few of our friends. We tried to make it a quick good-bye so everyone could stay happy and not get too emotional… okay maybe that was just me. We are both so excited for the trip, but that doesn’t mean that goodbyes are easy.

Last shot with the parents. Don’t worry, we will take care of each other!

After leaving our quaint little town in the mountains that we have both come to know and love as “home”, we headed east towards the big metropolis of Calgary to meet up with my old teammates Anna Goodman, Kelly Vanderbeek and Larisa Yurkiw. It was a fantastic coincidence that we managed to make them our first stop. They were all in town on a joint rehab dryland camp. They have all been working incredibly hard to come back from some serious knee injuries, but they seem to be at the point where they see the skis in the light at the end of the tunnel. It is amazing the friendships that are created from living in such an intense environment like travelling around the world with the White Circus. The bonds that are created are ones that will never be broken and I know I have friends for life in all of them.

From Left: Kelly, Larisa, Shona, Anna

After another good bye we took the road and headed towards Edmonton. Our first night was to be spent at a friends acreage just outside of Edmonton. Mike and Mel Chalmers were on Andrews ski team at Laurier University in Waterloo, Ontario. They recently had an addition to their family with their new son Kalem.  At 3 months old, he was pretty cute and a great baby, but I still didn’t want to hold him in case parenthood was contagious.
We had a great night making incredible home made pizzas and catching up on lost time. There is not much better than having a few drinks with awesome people and just shooting the breeze. It was great to hear stories from their time at University. Andrew was surprised that I still loved him after some of the stories that were told! Actually they weren’t that bad. Mike and Mel took off early to head to North Battleford, Saskatchewan, and we spent a lazy morning getting ready to hit the road.

Us with Mike and Mel (Thanks for everything guys!)

After jumping in the car we officially started the road trip together (Andrew drove the Golf to Mike and Mel’s to store for a few months). In honor of the beginning of our trip we threw in one of the two mix CD’s that our friend Helen made for us as our going away present. The Get Psyched Mixes are incredible and provide us endless hours of  stoke… which just add to the already dangerously high levels that we are experiencing. I am sure they will be useful for the 730 km of dirt road along the Dempster Highway where our natural levels may be dropping.

We are now hanging out in Grande Prairie, Alberta, home of the great chuckwagon driver Kelly Sutherland. If anyone knows the best way to add pictures to a blog with minimal internet time could you leave the info perhaps in a comment after this posting. It is hard when you are trying to find internet and you only have so much time to devote so much of it to uploading each individual picture. Thanks!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Born To Be Wild

My father finally returned home from his epic two month long excursion down the length of Ellesmere Island in Canada's basically unexplored north. Some of the things such as the huge ice bergs and ice sheets that covered much of the northern section of the island and the fjords were expected. Others, however, such as the gigantic fields of colorful wildflowers were not. We had the full run down in a slide show yesterday of all the trials and tribulations of the trip, and I realized "epic" is really putting it mildly. Look on to discover some of the breathtaking scenery and the incredible flora and fauna that is "Ellesmere Island".

Starting Place. The small research base of Eureka located at almost 80 degrees north
Typical Arctic Hare searching for food
Common crack through the ice that caused many detours attempting to find crossible sections.

Floorless tent. Trying to dry out clothing after a long crossing of Greely fjord
Typical landscapes while travelling across the ever melting sea ice.
Iceberg or LION?!
Cracks in the ice were sometimes too large to easily cross, so boat crossings were delicate and time consuming.
Camping spots were expensive and had to be reserved months in advance... oh wait, that was Alberta on the August long weekend.
Camping with the sled converted into a buggy.
Pulling the buggy
Wolves scope out John and Clive's camp.
Not sure which is more incredible, the massive Muskox or the field of vibrant fire weed.
Sometimes the going was tough and they had to disassemble the buggy and make multiple trips over high passes!
Another okay campsite... if you are into things like stunning scenery and pure nature.
Enjoying hot cocoa after a big day.
Another day of rough going in the rain and cold.
Yes! What you have all been waiting for. This Polar bear showed up in Grise Fiord on the last day. A perfect ending to an incredible journey.

Picture from Grise Fjord.

Grise Fjord was the final stage of their journey and from there began the arduous journey back to real civilization. Grise Fjord is the most northern civilian settlement in North America and one of the coldest inhabited place on earth with an average temperature of -16.5 degrees Celsius. In Inuktitut it is called Aujuittuq and literally means the "place that never thaws". All in all it looked truly like a one of a kind trip. One that I may never journey on, but am deeply proud of my father for completing.

As for us, we have been informed that Kumu is healthy again. We are all holding our breaths till we get it back on the road tomorrow. We have a few days left of final prep before our launch date on Monday. It seems as though everything is falling into place and we are looking forward to leaving with great anticipation!

Born To Be Wild-Steppenwolf

Monday, August 2, 2010

Every Rose Has Its Thorn

This time 8 days ago, things were shaping up quite nicely. However, as the old adage goes, "It never rains but it pours"...Or something along those lines anyway. Needless to say, this week was a bit of a tropical storm in terms of trip planning and more specifically: Van  maintenance. We had taken in Kumu for some routine maintenance to an unnamed place in Canmore. Brakes were good, engine was good, all we needed was some TLC, a new filter here, a new filter there, just to make sure everything was in tip-top shape. After a week of waiting, not hearing a peep from the garage, I decided to head down and see what the deal was. I would like to think that the owner just had a terrible day and was taking it out on me, but it was one of the worst experiences I have had in quite some time. Apparently the brakes were a disaster and we had just about started a fire trying to install our stereo. (He never bothered to ask what the wiring was like BEFORE we installed our stereo (basically a melted mess)). Long story short, I got into Kumu and discovered... Yes, indeed, the breaks WERE a disaster and certainly noticeably worse than when we took the car in. As we had great long weekend plans, I scrambled around to get someone to fix the all of a sudden ruined breaks, and thankfully Reese at Midas in Calgary was incredibly helpful and got them done in just a few hours. So big thank you to Reese.

It gets better... On the way home from the breaks  debacle, Kumu starts to get hiccoughs. Now all of a sudden, (again coincidentally close to taking it to douchebag Canmore garage) Kumu is drinking fuel like its going out of style and she's trying to be a trendsetter.
Once again, long story short we have a rather big problem of fuel consumption. Trying to make it to Argentina while filling up every 100km, is not my idea of fun, and we would have to sacrifice our bikes, clothes and food for Jerry cans.
So, before the trip has even begun our Kumu (teacher-Hawaiian) is teaching us many things. Patience probably being top of the list.
As our proposed departure date looms closer and closer, I feel like we should hire a film crew just to document this impending climax. Will they make it on time? Will they even make it at all? Stay tuned for the next dramatic stage of these epic events.

And on a much more positive note, despite being ruined by eclectic vans and somebody adamantly refusing that we head west, we managed to salvage what was left of the August long weekend.
At Takakaw Falls in Yoho
A must see attraction for all tourists to the Rockies!
Tui looking cute as we work on the van
We had to take the whole roof off to put in the new canvas! Talk about a big job!
Kumu looking fine with the new, finely installed canvas and the gravel guard paint job on the bottom. (painted by me!!!)

So the next two weeks will be filled with hectic running around and stress but I look forward to it all as part of the greatest adventure ever!

Every Rose Has Its Thorn-Poison