Thursday, September 28, 2006

Headed West

Bearskin Airlines into the setting sun… Yup, headed west to Winnipeg for the night then an early morning Calm Air flight to Chesterfield Inlet, Nunavut. That particular run will take me through Churchill, Arviat, Whale Cove and then Rankin Inlet before depositing me in the land of the sik-sik in the early afternoon. For anyone not familiar with a sik-sik it is the arctic version of the prairie dog and similar but smaller than our Ontario woodchucks. Check out the Scary Squirrel web site for photos and videos of these varmints. Oops, landing in Thunder Bay, got to hang up now. Talk at 'ya later!

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

A Manitoulin Autumn

Leaves falling, changing, evolving. The cycle of life... or limb?

Monday, September 25, 2006

September 23 Travel

It’s 6:00 a.m. and dawn in Montreal. Traffic, traffic, traffic. Ahh, but tonight I’ll be sitting on the deck of our Manitoulin Haven with a good cigar, a glass of Madeira and catching up on everything that’s happened while I was away this time. A haven indeed, and one I don’t fully appreciate until I’m away up north for a few weeks. It’s great to be home!

September 22 Travel

Left Salluit at 2:30 p.m. today. We took off late because of heavy snow. Most of the five of us on the Montreal bound Air Inuit flight didn't expect to get off the ground at all. Salluit is notorious for bad weather at any time of the year but spring and fall seem to be the worst as thick fog can roll in off Hudson's straight at any time. The flight took us to Puvirnituq where one passenger left us but we gained twelve new ones. Maybe I should mention that this aircraft was a Dash 8 which holds about 30 people, give or take a couple. We lost about 6 seats on this particular run as we also picked up a stretcher patient from the hospital in PUV.

Many patients still travel from the north to see specialists in Montreal hospitals. Not that very many years ago the hospital in Moose Factory used to receive many of the TB cases from settlements farther north. In those days it used to be an all day flight, sometimes more, as we rattled up and down the coast in Beavers, Otters, Cansos and even the occasional Norseman. Somehow it was more fun then and I miss it.

We make a half-hour stop in La Grande to pick up a couple more passengers and clear security before heading off to Montreal. As usual a few passengers are as confused as I was the first time I headed south after security tightened up a few years ago. There are no facilities in the far northern communities to x-ray luggage or passengers so when you near the south the aircraft will stop at a convenient airport. All the passengers get off, you claim your luggage and take it through a security checkpoint where it is examined and tagged as being cleared. You then go back to the airline and "check-in" your luggage again. Curiously enough we are trusted at this point while strolling across an "insecure" terminal not to slip contraband into the suitcase. I have actually stopped to chat with people on my way over to check in again and could easily take something nasty from them and put it into my "secure" suitcase. Anyway, after this you then go back through security yourself and get the standard carry-on and personal search. This seems to get more complicated every day and it's just one more reason that I take the train whenever I can. But I've digressed...

Today I'm leaving Salluit and in about 7 hours I'll be sipping a 12-year-old scotch at the Holiday Inn. Life sure is rough these days. What's your travel story?