Thursday, July 31, 2008

The Dempster

Hello Everyone,
Please indulge me in briefly discussing the Dempster Highway, after all it is the lifeblood that allows a standard of living within this region that we currently enjoy.
It was named after William John Duncan Dempster, who was a RCMP officer who patrolled the area between Dawson City and Fort MacPherson during the Dawson gold rush, his first appearance in the area was in the year 1898. He patrolled the area between Dawson and Fort MacPherson year round, most of the year via dogsled in -40 degree weather. He would achieve a average of two trips a year and served with the Yukon detachment for the next 37 years. The distance between these two points is 471 miles. His job was to deliver news, mail and to enforce the laws upon the land he patrolled. He learned this route and how to survive these conditions through the Gwich'in elders.
The highway travels a total (at this point in time) of 735 km; it crosses the contential divide three times, contains two ferry crossings (Fort MacPherson with the Peel river, and Tsiigehtchic crossing the Red River and the MacKenzie rivers respectively). Work on the Highway was started in 1959 in a attempt to link the southern world to Eagle Plains where a recent oil discovery had prompted need for the road. That necessitated linking Dawson City to Eagle Plains, the best route to this location was to follow the route that William Dempster learned from the natives 70 years earlier. Three years and 72 miles later the effort was abandoned, the financial toll, the staggering difficulty of the task and the political climate had destroyed the will to complete the project. In 1968, a position very similar to todays, caused a renewed effort by Canadian politicians to finally finish the road to assert Canadian Sovernty in Northern Canada except now the road would go through to a newly designed northern community that would lead the way into northern community design, this community would be Aklavik. As usual plans change, political parties change and destinations change, in a effort to complete the seeming impossible task, the new end of the highway would be across the Mackenzie river from Tsiigehtchic where it would join the Mackenzie Highway to take it the final 67 km's to Inuvik. There the road ends, 148 km's from the Beaufort sea and a legitimate claim to finally reaching the Beaufort Sea. It was completed more than ten years after this renewed effort, and over twenty years from its initial ground breaking.
The highway is a two lane gravel road built upon a berm to protect the road integrity from the permafrost. The berm (or gravel bed) above the natural lay of the land averages about 7 feet. It boasts transmission destroying pothole's, tire shredding shale beds, and some of the most incredible scenery and wildlife that anyone travelling upon it will ever encountered. It is the only year round (relatively) road to cross the Arctic circle. It links many northern communities to the supply chains of the south allowing for (comparatively) cheap goods to be shipped north, as well as providing residents the chance to drive towards the south and everything that that entails. I personally see many ways that the road is a personal northern tragedy, seeing many of the young people making the trip south with dreams of MTV upon their minds, oddly making the reverse journey my family has chosen after being exposed to the joys of the south. Many of these young people are ill equipped for the challenges they will face in a large city.
This community has exposed me to many of the travellers of the Dempster, and they are a interesting group of people. It seems the German's love two things in life, David Hasselhoff (had to throw that in for Megan) and the Dempster highway. So far this year I'd estimate 80% of the travellers I've met have been German. Other people of note I've seen are: A Australian man who had rode a bicycle from San Francisco to Inuvik (5700 miles and 4 months of really tough time), kayaks travelling up the Red River with a final destination of the mouth of the Yukon River in Alaska, A 1 1/2 legged man who hiked from Hay River, and today two Swiss men kayaking from Hay River, one Parisian from Fort Providence, and one Japanese man from ...well... OK, I didn't understand that part. That is a lot of paddling. The one I missed today was someone from Buffalo, New York driving a solar powered car, like to see him try that sort of thing in December... guess what?, no sun till February, make yourself comfortable.
Take Care
PS One thing I take a sick personal amusement in is these all these southern people wandering around the north with absolutely no way of protecting themselves, travelling with food, sleeping in the bush, sweating profusely and never realizing one basic fact... You can die just going for a walk up here. In town alone this week we've had sightings of a cougar and one bear killed. Tomorrow Inuvik will hold funerals for five local people with more northern survival knowledge than anyone from the south will ever have. Those not paying attention, or respecting where they are up here will die eventually.

PPS. All information contained here is strictly from memory (except for a couple of things I googled) as such it is probably all wrong. Deal with it. I also never as a rule write this type of article, so forgive me.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Manufacturing Hysteria

Hello Everyone,
This week marked a landmark for myself, I believe I read my 1000th article relating to the organized execution by our law enforcement personnel of the masses they were hired to protect. It seems that they have designed a new weapon, The "taser", a weapon that's lethality far exceeds that of any conventional weapon and they are systematically marching through our streets electrocuting thousands of innocent people just for kicks and giggles.
If I read one more statement from a relative of the deceased, explaining to me just how poor Johnny was gunned down with this weapon of mass destruction while on his way to help orphans out of burning buildings, I will once again lose all faith in humanity.
If police officers are truly the bastards the media is portraying them as, then they are also as stupid as a bag of hammers. Important note to all police officers reading this: If it is your intention to kill that innocent drugged out angel wielding a knife and breaking into someones else car.... use your gun and save the electricity, someone in the city needs it for their air conditioner. The media and the police force themselves have admitted the abuse that these weapons appear to caused among some officers, but if they are using these weapons so damn much, where are the rest of the bodies, would you prefer they just shoot you? We all know where this is leading, to a flurry of huge lawsuits against all the police forces by relatives trying to make a buck, and don't dare quote me that altruistic BS. Donate all that money to helping intercity youth and you can tell me how jaded I am, until then, don't lecture me about the choices police officers have to make every day when some jackass with a knife fails to respect your position or your right to life. I don't want to be tasered, I think its dangerous and is going to hurt like all get out. That is why I live my life in a manner that respects our laws, and I have no fear when I walk down the streets, the police are there to protect me and my property. Everyone can make a mistake, our bodies all have they're own personal weaknesses and the police have a right to use a weapon that has a huge ratio of safety to protect themselves and if it takes 7 hits to make sure they feel safe approaching the situation, I say give them eight and make sure. If I am confronted in the street and a officer feels threatened by me, I would beg him to use the taser and take my chances versus the other alternative they have.
It also makes me wonder if the EU would support our sealing friends if we gave them all supercharged tasers, would that make everyone happy, I know the CBC would be freaking ecstatic.
Take care,
P.S. The police should be able to file countersuits against they parents of poor Johnny who allowed him to drop out of school, did absolutely nothing to discourage his drug and alcohol abuse and also knew he was stealing and jacking cars to continue these habits. Where is our outrage at these "parents"? We have none, they are the victims, lets just write them a cheque.

Friday, July 11, 2008

A island and lake between fort MacPherson and Tsiigehtchic.

The one thing you never want to happen on the Dempster in the middle of no where. Our vehicle failed to start after we stopped for some photos. 2 hours later a kind soul from Whitehorse stopped to give us a boost, otherwise it was going to be a long night. To the complete A*&$#^e who wouldn't help (who was driving a rig for Mid-Arctic Transportation) I hope you encounter the same level of helpfulness throughout your life that you offered to three woman, a five year old and I in the middle of the night along side of the most desolute highway in the world. PHOTO BY TRACI

I believe this is a Red-Throated Loon.

Christopher killin' time aside the Dempster.

Some sort of flower, I think Tina said it was a fire... something. I found it hard to listen while surrounded by three women carrying on three conversations to three imaginary audiences.

The action shot.

Beavers apparently aren't the worlds most couragous animals, this game of chicken ended without the huge KaBlam I was expecting.

Hello everyone,
Our visitors have come and gone and hopefully a good time was had by all. Tonight is a night for rest, the last week has been short on sleep for everyone involved. The week didn't go exactly as planned as we missed a couple of opportunities due to weather, and my carver failed to come through with anything in time for their visit. Christopher and Melissa have both been "grumpy monkeys" all day with the departure of our friends, but better to think of the time together than the time apart. Now off to bed with us all.

Take Care