Thursday 12 February 2009

Back once again

A lot of catching up to do. It will happen in no particular order.

There's a bit in the Lord of the Rings where Frodo recalls what Bilbo used to say about travelling. You have to be careful when you walk out of your front door, because one path leads to another and another and before you know where you are you're on the other side of the world, or something to that effect.

The great thing about living in Vancouver is that here on the westernmost edge of this enormous continent, I can walk out of my front door, turn right and keep walking for 6,142km and end up on the Atlantic coast in Halifax. Alternatively, we could jump in our car, head north through Pemberton, Lillooet, Williams Lake, Prince George and numerous other places either too small or too Albertan to remember and end up in the Northwest Territories, Canada's Arctic.

Although the former adventure remains but a dream for a far-off future free of the cares of work, we did do the latter in 2007. With our clapped out 1994 Volvo 850, a bargain $200 dual-screen DVD player and no air conditioning we headed north for Yellowknife.

One of the places we passed on our way was so small that had it been further south we probably would have forgotten about it. But Fort Providence, NWT, is so remote it is hard to forget. This is it's church - dedicated to Our Lady of Providence.

Fort Providence sits on the banks of the mighty Mackenzie River, just downstream from the Great Slave Lake. Just off the Mackenzie Highway, it is a staging post on this vital supply route from Yellowknife to Alberta and the South. We stopped here on the way up, and on the way back, visiting the general store, a small, windowless functional building and the café. One of the memorable things about this café was the pictures on the wall of various incidents that have occurred over the years on the Mackenzie River crossing. In particular, in the early 2000s when a semi-trailer pulling fuel tankers ignored the fact that the relatively new ice was only rated for up to 9 tons, and ended up falling through the ice. Thankfully the driver made it out and the risk of pollution was averted.

On the days we passed through, the weather was beautiful - 20 degrees and sunny. It was hard to imagine this place as it must look most of the year - frozen in a blanket of snow and ice.
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