17-20 August 2012
It is Monday evening. I have just said goodbye to my new friends and find myself alone at Ottawa International Airport, waiting for the check-in counter to open in a few hours. My newly-acquired book “Dangerous Passage” by Gerard Kennedy, bought at Iqaluit airport, turns out to be a great read. The book tells the stories of Roald Amundsen, the first to transit the Northwest Passage, and Henry Larsen, the first Canadian citizen (although Norwegian by birth) to do so. It is the latter after whom the coastguard vessel is named that we have travelled on the past two and a half weeks. I recognize the names of places that we too have been to and can only imagine what it must have been like without all the comforts of a modern icebreaker.
Ever since we left the ship in Resolute on Friday, travel plans have changed continuously. When we were about to be airlifted from the ship to the shore and we tried to say goodbye to the crew, one of the stewards simply said “Yous ain’t left yet…!”, which has since become our motto. Ron and Jo, who will do the science on the Des Groseillier instead of Dave Spear and Pete Davis (see Pete’s blog post from August 15) were unable to get to Eureka because of bad weather conditions. The rest of the party, except for myself and Barbara, a coastguard radar specialist who had joined the Henry Larsen to test a new system she was developing, left to Iqaluit on Saturday (although rolling-in fog jeopardized their timely departure). Barb and myself would take the Sunday morning flight to Iqaluit, and join the others on the Sunday afternoon flight to Ottawa. We did meet up in Iqaluit, even boarded the flight and made it to the runway, but then returned to the gate with a mechanical problem. The result was another 24-hour delay. Déjà-vu…
The delay had one advantage: We got to have a proper goodbye dinner! It was slim pickings, as half the items on the menu were not actually available. Further inquiry revealed that this was the result of the icebreaker that had so kindly held the waterway open, allowing resupplying of the town, being called away to do science up north. Our science… we realized. We dearly felt the consequence of our science now: no Riesling with dinner.
Today is really the last day. I made it through security in Ottawa and all my new friends have left on other airplanes to their own home towns and families. My plane will leave in an hour. Although, yous ain’t left yet…!