Tomorrow I'm off on my Arctic vacation. En route to Montreal on Tuesday, and then Kuujjuaq on Wednesday. From Kuujjuaq, we board the vessel -- a Soviet-built, Russian-crewed ice-rated ship and take a trip through the Hudson Strait and the Foxe Basin, making landfall at national parks and Innuit villages for nine days. A co-worker (who is Ukrainian) approved of the Russian vessel -- he noted that if you're going to take a trip through ice and stuff, then the Russians are the people to do it for you. They've got experience, and all.
I went on a similar trip two years ago, that time we went even further north, starting at Resolute, which is pretty darn close to the magnetic North Pole. It was so far off the beaten track that my GPS unit ran out of map and just said, "Here be Dragons." Or rather, the map ended and it only displayed hash marks. Sweet!
So -- why? As I've gotten older I've realized that a) I don't like hot weather and b) I really like getting away from people, pollution and asphalt and concrete poured over every possible surface. I love the idea of a vacation to somewhere that hardly anyone ever goes.
So what's there? It is in the middle of nowhere, why go? As I mentioned above, the middle of nowhere is kind of appealing to me on its own. Aside from that, it's like no place on earth. The arctic is beautiful, but not in the conventional sense. It's rugged and life is hard, but it's also teeming with life. At first you see desolation, but then you see the majesty in it. Northern fulmars follow the ship, scanning the wake for churned up food. Seals bob in and out of the water, frustrating tourists with cameras, polar bears prowl the beach below sheer cliffs teeming with nesting birds -- waiting for a choice morsel to slip and fall onto the menu.
Anyway - I'm so ready to go! Beyond ready. Last Friday I gleefully set my work email to: "Out of office, call someone else for your problems." And now I've got my gear strewn across my floor, trying to figure out how to fit it all in my suitcase.
Wish me luck! When I return to Montreal on the 12th, I'll post a journal and upload photos. And find out how the Who cliffhanger was resolved!