The flight from Yellowknife to Norman Wells was very surreal. Not only the view – the huge, flat expanse of land, dotted with frozen lakes and speckled with snow – but the emotional roller-coaster we rode. Overwhelmed with excitement to be fulfilling a long-awaited dream, yet so unsure as to what would behold us on arrival, and throughout the next few years.
Fortunately the flight was smooth and the plane provided us with some fantastic art…
…and, would you believe it, hot cinnamon buns with cream cheese icing! Who would’ve thought you’d have to head to the arctic to get good aeroplane food!
These suspicious, piping hot bundles wrapped in foil arrived and we tentatively unwrapped them to find the most wonderful treat. We pondered who the lucky baker is who gets the pleasure in baking delights for passengers… We also pondered how I might be able to incorporate such a job into my career plan while up here..
Overhead Norman Wells, we gulped. It’s even smaller than we imagined! Then we realised the ‘town’ we were looking at was just a large oil company a little way out of town.
Ok, Norman Wells is pretty small, but it’s not that small. We didn’t explore the whole town in our first day, and you can get a decent 10km jog by running the outer main roads. I’ll admit, I did worry that I would be running around the block 20 times. I was so wrong. There are hiking tracks for miles, heading up into the mountains. There are snow mobile tracks that line the roads providing wonderful skiing or jogging trails. In the winter there are dozens of ski trails in the back mountains, and although the roads don’t lead to any big cities, they do lead to lakes, communities, mountains and camping areas.
Our house is one street back from the river, with views of the river from the lounge, and the mountains from the kitchen. The surroundings are beautiful. The sun streams in all windows at different times of the day, moving around the house as it circles the sky (I am aware that we are actually circling the sun…). Unfortunately it happens to be at the bedroom window right about when we want to sleep. Didn’t plan that so well – we might have to rearrange our house if the sunlight bothers us but in the meantime it’s not a problem, even if our blinds do little to block it out.
When we arrived, the river was totally frozen, with Skidoo’s lining the banks. Only a few days later, the edges are melted and starting to flow. In the next few days as it rapidly heats up we expect it to break. This is meant to be a pretty spectacular event here and everyone swarms the riverside for the 24hours or so that the ice is noisily cracking and mounding up. We look forward to that.
And they say there is no fruit here.. The lettuces may be wilted but there are plenty of apples, mangoes, oranges and vegetables. In fact, there is almost everything (foodwise) here. It’s just expensive, so expensive that one of the marts didn’t even have prices. I assume that isn’t normal.
It’s wonderful to know that everything we really need is within walking distance (bank, cafe, library, health center, groceries and work) yet recognize how far away the rest of the world is. We really are isolated. And that’s a strange, but beautiful feeling.