Wednesday, May 7, 2014

It's Not You, It's Me.

I'm beginning to think that I'm cursed when it comes to traveling. Specifically trying to get home. This past week I was in Iqaluit for work and the travel woes that came with the trip were indeed, woeful.

There was a group of 14 of us traveling from Baker to Iqaluit and they decided to charter a plane for us all. Don't worry, it sounds way more exciting than it was. I was hoping it would be a cool jet and we'd be high-rollers in the skies, but it was...the complete opposite. There wasn't even a washroom on board, boohoo. I'm not tall by any means, and I couldn't stand straight up in it...so imagine the fun that everyone else had trying to maneuver themselves on.

Load up your own luggage!
I was awkwardly leaning against the back - it was cozy in there!

The fuel tank wasn't very large, so we were originally going to make 2 stops before we got into Iqaluit. However, the wind was kind to us so we were able to make it with only 1 stop. I had never been in the Coral Harbour airport before, so chalk that up to a new experience too!

Airports in the north are small!

Welcome to Coral Harbour!

Anyhoo, we got into Iqaluit earlier than expected and the week was full of training, food and frivolity.

I love this view.

Our way back was where the adventure kicked in. We were supposed to leave on Thursday and be home for dinner in Baker. When we got to the airport, we were told that the weather in the region didn't look good - lots of fog was rolling in and we weren't sure we were going to be able to land. Shame, since the weather in Iqaluit was beautiful and we weren't prepared for the wrench in our plans.

Long story short, we waited for a few hours and decided that we were going to attempt to go but with a different fuel stop en route. The kicker was that 1 person had to stay back to lighten the load and get us further (eek?). We eventually got on the plane, less 1 passenger + his luggage, and we were off to Rankin Inlet!

Unfortunately, when we got to Rankin, the fog was pretty thick. The pilots tried to land but when we broke through the fog, I could see that we were on one side the runway was to the far right of us...we pulled back up and went to Churchill, Manitoba instead. We fueled up there and the pilots decided that we were going to go straight to Baker Lake from Churchill (about 1.5 hours).

Churchill is known for polar bears. There are a lot of polar bear things. Everywhere.

We flew to Baker and attempted to land - this time, we didn't even break through the fog before we pulled up again...and headed back to Churchill. There was no way we were going to get into Baker with the thick fog, so we would try in the morning. But! Once we got to Churchill, we kept flying in circles. No really, we circled like an air-shark for 30 minutes. The pilots didn't mention anything for the first bit, so we were all worried that something was wrong. Turns out they were waiting to land because a Medevac had priority and was getting ready to take off with a patient. By the time we landed, it was after 12am and we had been traveling for about 12 hours (on a trip that was supposed to take about 4 hours). Scrambling, we found a hotel that could accommodate us and called it a night.

It was getting to this point...


The next morning, we returned to the airport and waited. And waited. And waited some more. The fog still wasn't lifting much in Baker according to the forecast, so they weren't sure they wanted to make the attempt. The kicker was that if we didn't make it, we would have to turn around and possibly go even further south into Manitoba since the fog in the region was pretty nasty. The call was finally made to attempt it, and we were off to Baker. Thankfully, the ceiling had risen while we were on our way, and we made it home shortly after lunch on Friday....we all broke out into applause when we landed because we were so excited!

Someone said that traveling in the spring (April-May ish) is actually tougher in the north because of the unpredictable fog. Snow and storms can be forecast somewhat in advance, but fog can just show up.

Hrmmm, so the last 2 times I've tried to get back to Baker, I've had some pretty terrible delays...maybe Baker is trying to tell me something! So the moral of the story is, it's probably my fault you're going to be delayed on your flight home. Just call it the "Lily Lag"  ;)

-L

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