Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Fifty Years ago I Went to the Arctic (Inuvik)

    Fifty years ago this month I left for a six year stint in the Arctic. It was an adventure that changed my life forever. It fits in with my last post as I was moving to an isolated harsh area with unpredictable transportation.

    I had been teaching for four years. I was at a cross road. I knew that I was definitely leaving the position I had. After that I didn't know if I would quit teaching and go into another field , go back to university or find another teaching position. 

    One day I saw an ad in the paper entitled "Teach in Canada's North land." That caught my attention. I thought I would apply and see what happened. I got an interview and later they offered me a position. The position wasn't where I wanted to go but I accepted it anyway. 

   This was with the Federal Govt. and they gave many directions as to what we had to do to prepare ourselves. I had to get to Edmonton and from there they paid for my lodging and transportation. They sent me a ticket and told me that they would reserve a seat for me. All I had to do was phone ahead of time and confirm. 

    Now scheduled service had only begun the year before. It was almost an exaggeration to call it scheduled. It hardly ever flew on the day it was supposed to and sometimes didn't get in for two weeks.

    I went out to the airport and presented my ticket. I was told, "There are no reservations for you. There were about 40 of us in the same boat. A few got on the flight. They told the rest of us to come back tomorrow. We came back the next day and there was a long line up. They cut the line up off just in front of me and said the plane was full. What a shock! I went back to the counter and asked what would happen next. They asked me if I was alone. They said wait, "There might be one seat left." Sure enough there was one seat. They hurried me out to the airplane.

   Now I had never flown so this was a new experience for me. The aircraft was a dilapidated old DC 4 which was out of the thirties. Half way up we ran into violent thunder storms. Put on your seat belts. Then it started to leak right over my seat. I thought, "We're crashing. I'm a goner!"

   We made it to the location where all the new teachers were to be on a week orientation. That was a blast! We stayed in a dorm with one room and about twenty guys. We learned a lot.

   At the end of the week we were to be flown to Inuvik. Guess what? I didn't get on the flight. Tomorrow! 

    I left the next evening at nine PM on a freighter with five passengers. For much of the five hour flight I was in the cockpit. The four other passengers found the softest piece of freight and went to sleep. It was a beautiful clear evening. From 9:00 PM until 2 AM we  flew mostly north and I enjoyed a sunset all the way. When we landed it was dark on the ground.

    So this was my trip to the north. Nothing went as expected. I could roll with the punches and nothing bothered me. It was all an exciting adventure. 

    I was really ready to leave home and establish myself. I don't think Mom and Dad were too happy or confident about seeing me go away for a year.

    I can hardly believe this happened fifty years ago. It seems like yesterday.

35 comments:

  1. wow. what a daring soul you were! i'm afraid i'd have taken those as signs i shouldn't go and would have backed out! ;)

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    1. I was committed and I would never back out!

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  2. What an adventure! You say it changed your life forever, so it must have been that you decided to continue your teaching career. I hope you tell more about this time in your life, Red. :-)

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    1. I did continue teaching but it gave me a very different outlook on cultures.

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  3. It's just how we men feel at that age.

    I'am happy that in the UK the same opportunities were available to ladies. Lucky or unlucky for you; you managed to control the adrenalin flow.

    I never did and had to go hunting the next.

    Good on you.

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    1. Yes, young men are invincible! We had lots of the opposite sex as the community I was in had about 3000 people.

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  4. That is an amazing story. Those were the good old days??!! You have had such a great time of it!
    Cheers from Cottage Country Ontario

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    1. Yes, today something like that just wouldn't be acceptable.

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    1. I wouldn't have missed it for anything.

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    1. I have another story or too that may come out.

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  7. I don't think i would have had your courage to do something so extreme. But the experience has evidently lasted a lifetime so good for you.

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    1. I think most people do things that challenge them and this is their adventure.

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  8. That kind of adventure does not come often in a life and you were so wise to take it. You learned about yourself, your values, others and how to work independently. sounds like a good time.

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    1. It was a good time. My eyes were pried open. I learned that people from other jurisdictions were well qualified and taught me a lot. It was a pleasure working with them.

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  9. That is quite an adventure, great you did it.

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    1. It was something I wouldn't have missed.

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  10. What a wonderful story! You must have had an adventurous streak, and I bet you have many wonderful memories and stories to tell of your time up north.

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    1. Yes, numerous stories. they are quite often blog posts

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  11. Sounds like it was an exciting experience Red. A great adventurous step forward when you left home.

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    1. I had been out of my folks house for 6 yeras by this time but I hadn't learned very much.

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  12. That sounds like quite the adventure. There are times I wish I had done some things differently and pursued other paths. I guess in many ways I took the 'safe' predictable path. :)

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    1. The safe predictable path sometimes traps us as we're concentrating on other things.

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  13. Wow! What an experience to have and to look back on!

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  14. What an adventure you had. It must have been great to experience it, and great now to look back at it.

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    1. I participated in this life with enthusiasm. I had nothing to lose. I could take risks.

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  15. No doubt you would have regretted it if you had backed out. Great memories!

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    1. I would never have backed out. If I didn't like it I could go home after one year.

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  16. What a wonderful adventure to kick your first real "leaving of the nest". I have always believed Red, that challenge, adventure and continued learning are always available for us no matter how young or olde we are. I love a challenge and I love to learn - quite simple and I see the young people around me grabbing on to that trend again. Your flights sound exciting......just to get away. ha,ha I am sure your heart was in your mouth when the thunder started. I don't think you have changed much over the years - you're still learning too, Eh :)

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  17. What an amazing adventure! I still want to travel in the north.

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