Jasmine Ware

Joined September 2017
  • Day180

    I stepped out of my house Monday and saw a coworker standing outside his house with luggage. I moseyed on over and we were chatting about his work trip. As we were chatting, an Arctic fox bounded across the road in front of me (behind him) about 15 meters (yards) away. It scurried across the road and beelined straight toward a family of mom, dad, and 2 kids. It skirted them by what looked like 3 or so feet as it ran under the house. I remarked, "Probably rabies" cause that's what I hear. Foxes have rabies and then they act like friendly puppy dogs until they zombie bite your ass.

    I heard later that day that the Conservation officer popped that puffy little fox and sent it off for rabies testing. The results came back today. It was positive. Always have to be on your toes no matter where you live. Maybe it's a sewer truck that hits you or a rabid fox. You just never know.

    I myself almost turned rabid this week when I triumphantly set 3 Dr. Pepper cans on the checkout conveyor belt. The store has been without Dr. Pepper since December and so I was absolutely gleeful when I saw it on the shelves again. I even remarked to a total stranger how exciting this was---to which they stared blankly back at me. Clearly they didn't share my enthusiasm.

    Unfortunately, my enthusiasm came to a screeching halt when I happened to look up and see the price that these devil cans were ringing up to. Five dollars a can. 12 ounces, 355 ml. One can. 5 dollars. I may have audibly gasped; I can't be sure. I did, however, pull the ghetto cheapness right on out as I told the lady to please take all 3 of those cans off my bill. She too looked blankly at me, but I didn't care. I could NOT spend $15 on three cans of soda. If I did that, I'd have to ration my serving sizes through medicine droppers. At that moment, I realized my addiction to Dr. Pepper has a price and it's apparently 5 dollars a freaking can. It's good stuff but it's not heroin. Sheesh.

    Subsequently, I've been "enjoying" copious amounts of water which I have to make sure is fully marinated in ice cubes and flavored with lime juice in order to choke it down. The water here tastes like sweat. Coupled with the extreme dryness and my reluctance to take in water, I will likely be mummified by fall. Maybe I've stopped aging too? Wouldn't that be a nice side effect of desiccating oneself.
    Read more

  • Explore, what other travelers do in:
  • Day178

    Roads ridden by skidoos

    March 7 in Canada

    I've noticed an interesting phenomenon that I would have never realized happened before living in a place where the primary mode of winter motorized transport is snowmobile. The roads are so hard and cold that the front runners of the skidoos carve tracks into the packed ice/snow. These 'tracks' are like the amusement park rides where kids get to "drive" the vehicles. You are locked on a track and pulled this way and that. The same thing happens here....the snowmobile gets jerked into these etched tracks and you can't hardly get out of them. Who knew?

    Last weekend there was a community fundraiser via hockey games. Of course Canada, of course would do fundraising through hockey. ;) The premise was neat. Teams put together by community members for the fundraiser competed for bragging rights. However, the teams were made of anyone--young, old, played hockey, never played hockey. The spectators then paid money to effect certain acts by the players. For example, for $2, you could send a player to the penalty box for 1 minute. For $20 you could have a player of your choice take a mid-ice shot on an empty net. For $50, you could make a player of your choice have to dance at center ice by his/herself for 2 minutes. Things like that. Really fun for spectators. The problem for me was that the arena apparently forgot that those NOT playing were not immune to the fact that it felt like there was NO heat on in the building. It was COLD. I went in thinking it was going to be like other ice arenas I'd been in---chilly, but nothing to write home about. After 40 minutes, my toes were numb, my nose was red and running, and I was rocking back and forth. I didn't dress as if I were going skidooing out on the land. I should have!

    Unlike the ice arena here, the outside is becoming decidedly warmer. It feels quite nice. I never thought I'd say that about -27 or -29C but it's true. It has actually been in the low -20s (-10 to -15F) and every day I walk out I think, "Wow, it's warm!" Touching doorknobs without fear of being burned gives me a giddy feeling. Being able to tolerate the air without gloves long enough to, well, to do anything, is so freeing. It's so nice to not feel like your face is literally freezing off. I do not miss the burning sensation on my face that would linger after coming indoors for a good bit. I bet 0 degrees C (32 F) is going to feel so hot. I've even noticed that the power lines, chimneys, and metal railings have lost their frozen, snow-frost-coated appearances. It's now just cold, not frigid and my surroundings show that. The stop signs and telephone poles are not completely encased in snow-hoar frost anymore.

    Is spring coming??!!
    Read more

  • Day168

    What does the fox say?

    February 25 in Canada

    Welp, all good little vacations in the Arctic must come to end as they say. Never thought I'd be a bit disappointed to be leaving -25C (-13F), but when you compare that to a return to -40C (-40F) without the wind chill and you know you will be having to live in that, welp, 3200 people town with a road and balmy negative temps seems right delightful.

    Before returning to reality, I got to stopover in Yellowknife again and visit with my friend. She hooked me up by toting both me and my boss around to do shopping. I had brought an extra bag which had been stuffed in my single bag on the way over. I have become quite a light traveler over the years. In fact, I'd pride myself on being able to take a carry on backpack for a multi-weeks trip. (Granted, no computer was taken so work trips require a little more bulk). Didn't matter where I was going or for how long, a carry-on was all I needed. After moving here, the more luggage you can take with you, the better! I still have all my things in a carry on amount, but now it's held in a giant checked bag with another empty bag checked and my backpack. In fact, I think I may become so desperate that I'll simply bring a toothbrush and the clothes on my back so both giant checked bags can be empty. Why you ask? I do this (and everyone else too) so that we can stock up on things we cannot get or are too cost prohibitive to get shipped. So, while in Yellowknife, my friend took us to the grocery store where we got such crazy items as coriander, dried cilantro, and rice noodles. Then, on to Walmart where I stood dazed and overwhelmed. Such exotic items as a dish drain pan, a $15 watch, batteries (that don't cost the equivalent of a kidney), contact lens solution, a mirror for cutting my hair, scissors for cutting my hair, a thimble.....and the list goes on of really exciting purchases. I'm kicking myself that I didn't pick up a wireless mouse. I mean how often do you have access to such luxuries? bahahaha!! Thankfully, many of my friends and family have stocked me for many staples. But, what happens when you need a new sports bra?

    The final stop was the liquor store. The problem with liquids is that they're heavy!! But, an overage weight fee for a bag is totally worth it.

    Following the large haul, my boss and I had to set out all our bags and clothes and begin the meticulous process of wrapping all delicate, breakable items in our clothes, then packing them strategically so as to distribute weight properly. It was a team effort. We had plenty of room but were at weight limits on almost every bag. And, we actually ran out of clothes to wrap the items in. We literally had more purchased good than crap we brought with us for a week. lolol.

    The most exciting purchase was a hook up by my friend. In the Northwest Territories, there is an exchange where the public can go in and purchase furs and pelts. So, at my request, she went there while I was in Inuvik and got me a sweet fox pelt. I need to add some fur to my small parka and my other big parka. My Canada Goose parka has coyote fur and it's been great for me. However, my little parka that becomes frozen and crunchy at -30 has thin fake fur that is useless for breaking the wind to my soft, southern cheeks. So, I asked for a dead carcass skin to save my cheeks. My friend came through! The best part is that right now it's a whole pelt so you can put your hand up its butt and make it into a puppet....which I'd never dream of doing. My friend showed me how to cut it and evaluate the skin thickness to determine the best parts for sewing on my parkas. She also provided some sinew for attaching it and a heavy duty needle. Again, things I never thought I'd be learning or feeling the need to do. "What did you do on the weekend?" asked the Nashvillian. "Oh me? Well, I cut up a fox pelt and sewed its fur on my hood because I didn't want my face to literally freeze off when I wear my other coats. You know, the uush". If I ever get taken on a seal hunt and they make me shoot a seal in the face, I'm gonna be over it......until I get that sweet seal skin and make an awesome parka!! Perspectives change very quickly when you feel your face freezing off. It's like the cartoons where hungry characters see their cohorts or pets as steaks or other food items. I see a fluffy fox and think, "mmmmm, I want to WEAR you!!" A cute seal? "I don't want to shoot you in the face, but I want to WEAR you as MITTENS!"
    Read more

  • Day159


    February 16 in Canada

    After 3 days, I made it to Inuvik and I was not disappointed. Recently, an extension of the road, which is partly on ice, was finished to Tuktoyaktuk (yep, it's as fun to say as it is to read!) so Inuvik sees tourism in the summer and now winter.

    As I mentioned before, the town has about 3200 people. Unlike Nunavut communities, there is road access to Inuvik. The difference that makes is profound. Whether it's a 'good' or 'bad' difference is debatable.

    There are many clear effects of being "accessible" for so many years. There is a lot of diversity. The Aboriginal/Native/Inuit/Inupiat people do not make up a majority of the inhabitants. There are people from everywhere up there. Everyone speaks very good English. Again, it depends on your end goal as to whether this is positive or negative.

    Personally, I was having a ball walking on sidewalks and having a library to wander into. I enjoyed such conveniences as a convenience store. Yes, those little entities that have nearly anything you'd want and need for your convenience at any time of the day. I stood around like the Clampett's on their first foray into Beverly Hills. There was cinnamon spice tea, black beans, whipped cream and other such luxuries. Coriander spice. A bit overwhelming actually. I dragged myself out with only about $30 of "conveniences". lol

    The town also boasted some of the creepiest friendly people I've ever met. I was starting to expect to be ushered into the famous church and invited to drink the KoolAid or something. I do not think I passed one person on the street that did not either smile or vocally say hello. Again, a little overwhelming. I mean, I'm kinda used to that stuff from growing up in the famously hospitable U.S. south, and even I was freaked out. However, it did have a great side effect....I smiled in return and thought, "Wow, what a fun little town." lol.

    Compounding all these great little hellos and conveniences was the fact that it was WARM! I didn't wear my parka, ski pants, mitts, or neck gaiter once the whole week. I was able to move freely and happily about in my hiking boots and fleece with down zip up. This is big yall!! I felt so free and light! To be able to just walk out the door without making a federal project of getting protected (I don't think the work "dressed" fits here---it's really much more about protection).

    Each morning I made my way to a nearby restaurant. Yes, RESTAURANT! With like, real glasses and menu options. I had the eggs benedict basically every single day. One day even with fruit! I made myself sick on the cherry tomatoes brought in for our afternoon snack during the meetings. They were so good that after putting a normal reasonable amount on my plate, I slunk back to the back of the room and proceeded to gorge myself on them like a starving chipmunk. Apparently, they are acidic. Apparently, pH balance of your stomach is a thing. Ouch. But so YUM.

    Stuck in Inuvik an extra day because of lack of flights, I explored their interpretive walking tour and met more friendly people, had lunch with the elders and got invited into a cribbage tournament.
    Read more

  • Day149

    To the top of the world

    February 6 in Canada

    For work, I'm heading to the Top of the World, or as it's also known, Inuvik. I'm not sure how it named itself this, but that is the slogan for this little city on the edge of the Arctic Ocean in the Northwest Territories. It was a planned community built in the 1950s. Now, it boasts over 3000 permanent inhabitants and has a famous church that people come to see.

    To get here from Nunavut, well Igloolik specifically, is a journey. I'm on day 3 and should be landing in about an hour. The remoteness of all the towns in between mean there isn't much choice in flights. One gets canceled and you're not moving for the rest of the day. Try again tomorrow.

    I have gotten to see things I didn't know I was missing. Like trees. I have not seen a shrub or tree in 5 months. Growing up in a place where people came as tourist FOR the trees, being in barrenground surroundings is different. I saw buildings over 4 stories tall. I saw a semi truck.

    All of this was in Yellowknife, the capital of the Northwest Territories. It's HUGE. Around 30,000 people. There are roads that lead to Yellowknife so goods and services are much more readily available. There are even car dealerships there! Real highways and speed limit signs. So much pavement everywhere. I did not know I had become so used to life in Igloolik. What would someone think who had lived entirely in Igloolik to move and live in, say, Ottawa? It's one thing to know something. It's another to experience it. I knew what real markets in Asia or Africa consisted of, but there is no way to understand until you've experienced it.

    The internet! Oh god the internet!! It was so fast in Yellowknife. So incredibly fast. Pictures just popped up. Webpages loaded instantly. And this was with me just on the 4G mobile network. I cannot even remember the speed of a cable network. Faster than you can click!

    I met a friend at the hotel lounge last night and I reveled in sharing a drink with her. I reveled in seeing the menu items that had words like, "pecan", "jalapeno", "sweet potato fries".

    I also reveled in the soft soft bristles of my toothbrush this morning. In Igloolik, the mineral content (really, I don't know what it is, I just tell myself this so I don't freak out) of the water is so great that every time I go to brush my teeth, the bristles have hardened into little pillars of concrete so that you have to break them on your teeth. It is not a comforting feeling. At first I thought that somehow I'd become a failure at rinsing my toothbrush after years of managing to do a pretty good job. Only after several days of deliberate, thorough, obsessive rinsing, did I realize it was the water and not me. So, to wake up in Yellowknife and brush my teeth without first having to overcome the "crunchiness" was a lovely, appreciate pleasure.

    I've also quite enjoyed the mild -25C weather in Yellowknife. It feels great. Coming from -40C (which is also-40 F because that is where the two measures meet) with a brutal wind, -25 feels downright tolerable and nice. To be able to have my hands out for more than 30 seconds without intense pain is wonderful. To not feel as if my cheeks are being burned by a hot poker is just relaxing. In Inuvik, it's supposed to be even milder in the -teens. In Fahrenheit, that equates to about 0 or even +2/3 degrees. I have brought my bathing suit.

    So, my message to you, my friends, as I finalize day 3 of travel to the top of the world, is to look around and be thankful for that soft toothbrush, internet, and the fact you can get to Africa faster than I can get to a city in the same country as I live.
    Read more

  • Day135

    Do you have the baculum?

    January 23 in Canada

    "Do you have the baculum?" and other assorted things I never thought I'd hear.

    The setting: I was relaying my excitement at finally getting a package from my husband that was several days overdue to my boss. He looks dead at me and goes, "Do you have the baculum?" That was my boss's response to me saying, "Yay! The post office finally had my parcel today!" Blink. Blink. Now, those of you that have been following this blog have learned that 'baculum' is the technical term for a penis bone. In this case, we'd be referring to polar bear penis bone. So, yeah, I was a more than a little confused. To alleviate the confusion, my boss then repeats the exact same question, just louder and slower, as if I did not hear him ask if I had the baculum. Blink. Blink. Blink. My mind is racing to try and make polar bear penis bone and "yay, mail!" somehow fit together. What do these two things have in common? It's like I'm on a game show trying to figure out the common thread. My brain is failing me. I wonder if my boss is being really weird and somehow asking if my husband has included some sort of penis thing in my "package". I nixed that idea--I wasn't willing to go there and even ask if that's what he was talking about. Was someone shipping us baculums? Why would they do that; our polar bear samples come frozen by air...not in general mail with your electric bill and Zulily magazine----you know, polar bear penis meat isn't exactly great to send through snail mail. Everyone loses in that scenario. Finally, when none of my mental confabulations could construct anything remotely sensical, I gave up and said, "What in the ever loving world are you talking about penis bones?!!?" To which he replies, "I guess you don't have the baculum." lololol. Now the situation was just silly. "Nope, no I do not have the baculum. Care to enlighten me?" He then goes on to explain (as if this should have been stunningly obvious) that our work's post office box key is attached to a baculum. You know, so we don't lose it. Kinda like restaurants putting cute flowers on their pens to dissuade accidental (or purposeful) theft. We, apparently, attach penis bones to things we don't want to disappear.

    About one to two weeks ago, it was frigid. I know, I know, it's always frigid. But, this was the coldest it's been all year. Real cold. Real windchill. So, I felt as if I had enough, shall we say, "arctic" on my plate. Then, as if things could not be any more inhospitable, our office manager comes in and delivers a warning: "Be careful walking home. There are reports of rabid dogs in town." And she walks out. That's it. As I sit there, mouth still gaping, I switch from shock to hilarity. Of COURSE, there'd be rabid dogs. I mean, why not? Why wouldn't there be?? I mean, life is just too cushy and easy here anyways. We need a little excitement to top up the day. What better way than throw in a pack of rabid dogs in the mix??!! It's not enough to have to endure the extreme cold. Noooooo, we gotta make it actually tough by adding in "avoid rabid dogs". When 5 pm rolled around, I put on all my gear, and because it was so cold, I had to have my hood up and pulled forward to protect from the wind. For those of you that have not been in an Arctic parka, the hood, fully on and pulled up, creates a tunnel of vision that allows a field of view of approximately 37.8 degrees (I made that up). The point is, you can't see shit. Not the person standing next to you, not the person standing slightly in front of you. You can't hear either. So you damn sure can't see a "friendly" rabid dog racing up to bite your ass. And, it's not like you can carry a stick for defense cause there are NO trees----yep, just like we learned about the tundra. I stood outside my work and did a 360 to see what I could see. No dogs. Oh well, gotta get home. Mama is hungry! And off I set, swoosh, swoosh, swooshing in all my ski pant, parka glory. I rationalized that if a dog did, in fact, try to bite me, it wouldn't get through the outerwear....like one of those police dog training suits. I made it safely home and now just keep an eye out for rabid foxes or whatever other creature, like a polar bear, might be wandering about. But hey! --at least the sun's come back so I'll hopefully be able to see the monsters before they get me!

    Next story: After a wind storm and power outage, our work servers were fried in Igloolik. We did not have internet, at all, for 4 days. Think about that. A lot of organizing, cleaning, and editing documents got done in those days. And we all feared when the internet would return to bombard us with piled up emails full of crap that we'd been so happily oblivious to for 4 work days. But, the inevitable happened...a server was flown in and a tech flown in and a mere 4 days later, we had internet. The best part is that when I saw the first email envelope ping into my inbox, I ran out into the center atrium area and asked if anyone else had internet. At that moment, someone yelled, "I have internet!" and we all smiled and hurrahed. Before the smiles could even fade, a coworker came out of the bathroom and said, "the toilets aren't working properly." Cue instant smile-fade. I turned to the manager and quipped, "Welp, we got working internet but no toilets. Guess you can't have it all!" and flounced away to my office to hold my pee.

    Next story: Today, the guy from housing came back from my house, to my work, to show me what he'd pulled out of my tub drain. I live on the other side of town from work. He drove over to work with that nasty drain ooze in the vehicle. Then, he brought it into my work, walked past everyone's offices to show. me. a. drain. clog. Not in a bag, not in a container. Just out there for all to enjoy. If I had any pride, I'd be embarrassed. However, I just told him, "wow, that's wonderful. No thank you, I do not want to keep it." (he asked if I wanted to keep it).

    Every day folks. If seems that every single day something happens or is said that I never thought I'd hear or have to deal with. I am not sure I can go back to working in a place where the internet is fast and reliable, the toilets work, there isn't the constant fear of frostbite and rabid dogs, and people don't randomly ask me about polar bear penis bones.
    Read more

  • Day132

    Okay, I'm a sucker for the sun

    January 20 in Canada

    I know I already wrote about the sun, but seriously, have you guys seen it?! It's really cool! In 6 days, we went from 0 hrs of daylight to 3 HOURS. In SIX DAYS! Some places don't have a 3 hour difference in daylength for the entire YEAR!

    The increase is slowing down. The first day that we had sun, it was above the horizon for an hour. So in 1 day, we went from nothing to a full hour. Now, it's about 15 minutes more per day. That is fast! So bizarre. I can't help but be fascinated. And, it's so big all the time because it's still so low on the horizon. In that first week, it went from not being fully above the horizon to now, when I look at it, there is about 2 inches of sky below it!

    The Return of the Sun big celebration was cancelled because the city was suffering some tragedy. A family suffered the loss of one family member with natural/health causes and then the deceased person's nephew took his own life later that night. Since the town is so small, things like affect everyone and having a celebration would be inappropriate given the circumstances. And, this bears mentioning. Nunavut's suicide rate is unbelievable. Since the territory was established in 1999, the number of suicides mean that every single person of the territories ~35,000 people have been directly touched by suicide. I took this from an article I'm going to link here. "Canada's average annual suicide rate is 11 per 100,000 people, but Nunavut's rate is 117. For Inuit males between 15 and 29, the rate is almost 40 times the national figure." Let that sink in. Think about the suicides you know.....that have affected you or been someone you knew, however remotely or removed. Now, multiply that by TEN! That is the pain Nunavummiat carry here. Since November, Igloolik has had 2 suicides. In three months. In a town of 1500-2000 people. Both suicides were young people. Here are the two (Short, I promise) articles about suicide in Nunavut.


    I hate to be a downer, but that is life here and it is something that touches everyone. My coworkers have left several times from work to go to funerals. You can see in their faces the sadness. We all know sadness, but suicide sadness has that added layer, like I suspect murder has, of sheer pointlessness and powerlessness.

    Anyhow, if you've made it this far, then I'll reward you with stories of happier things...like the elementary school's Return of the Sun assembly. My coworker told me about it so I walked down to the school to check it out. I worried that they wouldn't let me come in because I was a stranger and probably a pedophile. But, nope. Just walked straight in and followed the lines of children to the auditorium. No signing in or locked doors here. lol. The ceremony was perfect---short and sweet. The emcee explained that the return of the sun was a period of celebration because although the coldest, most difficult part of the winter lays ahead of us (February), the sun promises warmer temps and return of some animal----couldn't hear what he was saying. A stone lamp is lit using traditional methods of seal fat, cotton grass and flint. Like the Olympic torch kind of. Then, there was drum dancing, a little throat singing (for those of you that know I went to Mongolia and became fascinated with the throat singers there, you know this was really cool for me!! ---two different cultures' throat singing!), a few performances by the kids and then we were donzo!

    The sun is bringing back all sorts of things I forgot....like shadows. Did you ever think about the fact that in order to have shadows, you have to have sun? It's like we've all been vampires here for months....casting no shadows! Today, I found myself staring at the wall in my house as I write this because the sun is SHINING on my walls! At 9:30 this morning, it was already way brighter than any of the days without sun and the sun wasn't actually rising for another 2ish hours! But, it doesn't mean that it's warmer. Still hangin in the -30s C with windchills staying at the -42 to -45 point. So far, no frostbite for me. I see quite a few people with frostbitten cheeks----they are dark red/black patches on their faces. They have literally frozen their skin cells and killed them. The skin will slough off, but what grows back is apparently more sensitive to the cold for a long time. And, you'll be more prone to getting frostbitten if you've actually killed your cells. I've actually had to start wearing my goggles to/from work because my eyes have been exhibiting some pretty strong dry eye symptoms. Last week, it was so bad, I took some Scotch tape and taped one of my eyes shut at work to alleviate the pain. Turns out that's not a great solution. So, I ordered a better, bigger humidifier for my house---the one I bought is small and only lasts a couple of hours so my mucus membranes are sad. Then, drops in my eyes, wearing glasses, and goggles to prevent the wind drying them out. It's been better and I'm snug as a bug in a rug in my goggles, gaiter, and hat. I can hang my head off the back of the snowmobile like a dog out the window with that gear. It's all good.
    Read more

  • Day128

    Return of the Sun!

    January 16 in Canada

    It happened folks! The sun came back! It is stunning and shockingly bright! I think I forgot how bright that boiling orb was.

    The first two days that it was supposed to be here were cloudy and so I couldn't tell if it was above the horizon or not. Then, yesterday, on Monday, I actually stopped working to look out the window around 11am because the brightness caught my attention. The whole sky was just so light and the sun wasn't even showing yet! Then, BOOM! There it was....almost 1/2 to 3/4 of the way showing on the horizon.

    Then, I stared at it. Over and over again. I seemingly forgot that you're not supposed to stare at the sun. I couldn't help it. I guess I didn't realize how captivating it is.

    It has not yet made it completely above the horizon, but the days are very much brighter and there is even a lightening in the sky around 9am! By 2:30-3pm, it's not pitch black anymore. Over Christmas, it was pitch black by 2pm. Things are changing rapidly. I think it's going to feel so surreal to have a normal daylength. It's like boiling a frog. You gotta put that sucker in there while the water isn't hot and slowly crank the heat. That's how I feel this winter went.....while fast and quick changes occurred, you adapt. And, you don't realize you're adapting until it goes back the other way----like the sun showing up.

    Even today, as I was riding home I thought, "What it would feel like to walk outside with just regular clothes on?" How easy and lovely would that be? Having a nice climate controlled car that works and carries you to and fro. Being able to step outside in just a coat and hat. Yesterday, I forgot my neck gaiter and had a VERY cold ride into work. That -30 degree air just slips right down and freezes you out. You could not safely go without a hat or gloves. Today, I was helping my boss do a very quick inventory of a freezer we have in the cold warehouse. The cold warehouse has no heat. We were wearing rubber gloves and the clipboard I was holding was so cold, it was burning my hands. So. Cold. My boss had to take a break to warm his hands because he was the one reaching into the freezer (which is actually warmer than the warehouse) and touching the frozen things. He took off his gloves to warm his hands in his pockets. After a couple of minutes, he reaches for his discarded gloves only to discover they're completely frozen. Just bizarre. And, again, you just adapt.....duly noted....anything with any moisture at all will freeze in less time than it takes to peel an orange.
    Read more

  • Day118

    New Years in Igloolik

    January 6 in Canada

    New Years was to be celebrated in Igloolik just like any other town...fireworks at midnight down by the beach followed by a parade and dancing at the community hall. Except in Igloolik, the beach is frozen and the parade includes drawing out the year 2018 on the ice with Skidoos.

    The whole town turned out. I've never seen so many folks gathered. The chilly temps of -36C (windchill -49C) didn't seem to keep anyone away. New Years is exciting! I didn't arrive early enough to see the setting up of the fireworks and to be able to poke my nose around. This has worked for me in the past actually. I got the opportunity to help out with a pyrotechnic show at WSU by simply loitering at the fence and looking interested. Next thing I know, I'm helping load 8" shells and check the detonator boards. Being that close to exploding shells turned out to be a lot scarier than I anticipated, but it was definitely exhilarating. So, I wanted to check out Igloolik's set up too! Alas, I arrived just as they started going off. They were great. We were all lined up no more than 50-100m from them going off so it was like a backyard, front-row show!

    Right after, skidoos began racing out on the ice and lining up in what seemed like a hundred snowmobiles. They were facing the town so all we saw were a line of bright white headlights out on the bay. Then, somehow, a leader began to draw out the giant 2-0-1-8 with his skidoo and everyone followed. It was really neat. After finishing the 8, they raced, single-file, in a line back to town. There they joined the dozen or so vehicles and firetruck driving around town, sirens and lights blazing with everyone yelling "Happy New Year!" Pickup trucks were full up of people in the beds hollering Happy New Year. It was all quite infectious and exciting. However, I noticed that basically the whole town was IN the parade so there weren't too many people to wave and yell to. lol.

    Whole families were on the skidoos. Kiddos in the back of the trucks. I can't imagine how you'd keep your kid out of all the excitement on a night like that. But, damn cold! There was no damn way I'd be out there drawing 2018 on the back of a skidoo. YiKeS!

    I also had a business idea----next year, I need to get there early, and set up a hot chocolate and apple cider table! I'd make bank!! And, it would only take about an hour of my actual time to do it. Awesome!! Folks come in and sell soft drinks at the community hall for $3 a can.....folks will pay!!

    Happy New Year!
    Read more

  • Day116

    When Jonathan was visiting, one his major goals was to see the Northern Lights. And, I must admit, I've been mighty remiss in seeking them out. There is something about double-digit minus temperatures and pitch blackness that really takes the motivation out of a person. Meh, some green stuff in the sky. Nah, I'm good. That has apparently been my mentality for the months I've been up here.

    And, to be fair, I did see them out at Allen Island field camp. So, I'm really good now. No need to freeze my face off. But, in the spirit of being a good hostess, I obliged to look up the Aurora forecast and that's when Jonathan and I learned that you can, apparently, live TOO far North to see the best Lights. Are you shitting me??!! I moved to the Arctic and I moved TOO far??!! How is that even possible? It's like the Earth is a freakin big ole jokester.

    We were cracking up. That's life though right? We were laughing that he will have spent a small fortune on a plane ticket, spent two weeks up here, in the Arctic, during the winter when the Northern Lights are most active, only to see nada.

    The forecast was not looking good. The best lights center along the Arctic Circle, which I am well above. We were pretty dismayed. However, out of the blue, I get a text one night from my boss that the Northern Lights were out and great. And, voila! We're donning inadequate clothing, racing out to find these elusive Northern Lights!

    We break out the door and I basically skid into the back of Jonathan because we need not go any further. The lights are literally dancing in the sky in front of my house. Had we not been complete lazy asses for the last week, we probably could have seen more by simply peeling back the curtain for a cursory look. lol.

    The lights this night truly were dancing. They were bright and squiggly (technical term). Of course, fully enjoying them was hampered by the aforementioned hasty, improper dressing. So, after mentally powering through the pain in my hands to take some pics(all with cell phone actually--impressed with the cell phone performance!), we called 'er good and fled back to the toasty warm house.

    Northern Experience points unlocked: 100pts.
    Read more

  • Day112

    Fresh polar bear tracks

    December 31, 2017 in Canada

    The last day of Jonathan's visit was a good one. We had a bit of an adventure, though, it was probably a little ill-advised given that the temps were pretty low (in my boss's words, "stupid day to go out").

    Before Jonathan arrived, a friend had offered to take Jonathan and me out for a skidoo ride. Of course, this was when temps were significantly warmer and not all 4 machines he had access to were broken down. But, when push came to shove, he made it happen. We decided to turn the ride into a "business" trip so that we could legitimately use work machines. Then, my friend used a machine with a broken choke cord so we brought pliers and were cognizant not to shut the machines off (which you don't really do anyway cause it's too cold). Finally, my boss rounded out our little soiree. He decided to come and test his machine to again make sure the clutch was holding up and it was running on both cylinders. Knowing this, my friend made sure to have a tow rope in case any of the machines crapped out.

    It was chilly that day. Around -45 to -50 with the wind chill. Just the perfect temps to be hauling ass across the ice. My boss chose to wear a complete ringed seal skin ensemble. No seal skin mitts though. Parka replete with wolverine fur around the collar. My friend had his trusty wolf mitts. Taking no chances, I layered my legs so much that I could not physically bend my knee enough to get my leg over the seat of the skidoo.

    For the curious ones, this is my outfit (scintillating i know---but hey, this may be useful in the future for my swarm of visitors that I know are just racing to book their flights up!). First, full 100% wool heavy long underwear. Cross country ski windproof pants. Mid-weight 800 gram fill down-filled pants. Windproof, waterproof insulated ski pants. Insulated Carhartt bibs on top. That's right. Five layers on my legs. On top was the long underwear I mentioned, then a fleece zip up, then an 800-gram down-filled zip up jacket, then the Canada Goose Wildlife Officer-issued parka. On my head was a wool hat then a windproof balaclava and beaver hat. Goggles of course. On my feet were two pair of socks and Arctic boots by Baffin. On my hands, I only was able to wear -20C rated mitts with a liner mitt inside because my -40C rated mitts are too restricting for me to operate the skidoo throttle. So, dressing is simple and quick---just throw on a small fortune worth of clothes, make sure not one millimeter of skin is exposed, and you're done. Easy peasy. Jonathan was decidedly less dressed, but he is like a one-man nuclear reactor. He had his fur lined hooded coat on under his fur-lined parka. Neck gaiter and goggles. He wore my -40C mitts and insulated boots (though my toes would have been done for in the boots he was wearing--they were NOT true winter boots--but he powered through). All in all, I was toasty warm. His goggles drove him nuts because he couldn't get them to stop fogging up. There's not many things more annoying than not being able to see when you're out on the ice in polar bear country. lol. Thankfully, mine worked great. Unfortunately, that meant that he never got to drive.

    We headed out and drove for about 30 min....I guess....who knows...I kept missing the mile markers on the ice you know. They just really lack good signage. My boss brought a gun. And, we all were doing head sweeps to look for bears. I imagine running up on a polar bear isn't the desired goal. Opening up the skidoos on the ice was fun! (For anyone that maybe knows me a little might say that i have a bit of a speed demon side to me....I'm not admitting anything of course). I think we hit somewhere between 40-50km/hr and we could have gone WAY faster, but the ice was not super smooth so there was a lot of movement. Kinda tiring actually.

    We made it out to the electric fences where locals cache walrus meat and let it ferment for months. Cameras were deployed to determine if polar bears are deterred by them or not. We picked up the exact same type of cameras I spent the whole summer deploying in North Idaho. I thought it hilarious that I drug Jonathan out to Idaho and made him traipse through the woods, much to his sweaty chagrin, putting up those cameras while avoiding fresh bear scat, much to his life-fearing chagrin. And, now, here we are again, fooling with cameras. This time, in -40C in the Arctic while inspecting fresh polar bear tracks. Dying laughing. I have a very easy-going husband I think! Bless his heart!

    We got our cameras and got outta there. Toes started to get cold. My hands were SO cold. Turns out having to use your thumb on that trigger really exposes that little nubbin of a finger to the cold. I had to use my palm to operate the throttle.

    There were nice big polar bear tracks ALL around the fences. We came across pretty fresh mom and cub tracks on our way out. Pretty cool to be skidooing across the ice and come across polar bear sign.

    On the way back, my balaclava froze completely solid. I thought that it was a plastic piece of my parka. I couldn't even tell what was on my face. No wind was hitting me so I figured it was all good----keep that thumb on the throttle and get home!

    After returning, we had a big delicious brunch with Belgian waffles, bacon and hashbrown casserole. Mimosas and cinnamon whiskey warmed our bellies as well. Then, we all left and promptly crashed hard asleep. Turns out driving skidoos in -50 will wear your ass out! lol.
    Read more

  • Day110

    First Visitor and Vacation!

    December 29, 2017 in Canada

    I've fallen off the radar because I was busy entertaining my first visitor. So many things to do like walk to the store, check the post office (which is in the store so it's a two-fer), watch holiday movies, cook, carry boxes back from post office, borrow ATV for ride around town (and another post office run), play games like Boggle, Battleship, Bananagrams, Blink....see, I mean, just no time for anything. Oh and did I mention eating? I am in dire straits in terms of fitting into the only pair of snow pants I have up here. No scale or worry about looking good. No. My motivation is making sure I can fit into my 'survival' gear. lolol!!

    We had a very nice visit. I think my husband was able to relax from a hectic past 3 months at work as well as figuring out life on his own. I think he enjoyed that the most taxing thing he had to do for two weeks was break down cardboard from the lovely, amazing packages we received.

    Speaking of packages, the mail ladies (There are two of them), know me by name. We chat. I spend some time there...picking up the xmas packages from my mom and friends. I tell ya what, I am freaking SPOILED. I am eating better snacks and goodies, and toys, games, puzzles than I ever did in Vancouver area! lololol!!

    During the holidays, the various groups in the community host 'games' every night at the community hall followed by hukki until the wee hours of the morning. It's incredible. The groups hosting include the local circus, daycare, alcohol education committee, high school, the co-op store, etc. So, groups in the community host these 'games'. I thought they were competitive athletic games, but they're actually group games that anyone over 16 (if they're giving away money or prizes) can participate in. Really neat way to get the community involved and fun. Folks get serious about winning these games!! The games we went to were preceded by a community feast. I thought it was key for Jonathan to really see the town and the events. We were the only two non-natives there to start. Yep, didn't stick out like sore thumbs with Jonathan's 6'2" frame and our clearly, non-Inuit faces. The food is called 'country food', which I find funnily ironic since I grew up in a place in the States considered "country" and full of foods that the rest of the States, let alone Canada, are aware of....."country food" so to speak. Somehow, I end up in a place in the Arctic that eats "country food". lol. For the feast, the food is laid out in the center of the community hall on large piecemeal pieces of cardboard. This feast consisted of the immediately recognizable and pungent igunaq. Igunaq is fermented walrus meat. It has been cached in the rocks for months and then dug up. It's considered a delicacy. It has the distinct green glaze of very ripe food. There wasn't a chance I was going to try it. The odor was enough for me. Inuit know that us newcomers are wimps and don't handle a lot of the food very well. So, I wasn't worried about being disrespectful---we are not necessarily expected to eat it. I should mention everything was frozen. The other items were (frozen of course), raw Arctic char, raw caribou, beluga and narwhal muktuk (the skin/blubber pieces). You are supposed to bring your own knife or ulu (a specialty knife that is used for cutting) and a piece of cardboard if you want to eat the country food. They brought out pots of caribou stew and that thankfully masked the igunaq smell quite nicely. It smelled delicious! After prayer, people rushed, and I use that term literally, to the center to get a sampling of the foods. I quickly lined up for the stew! I knew my priorities. It was yummy with potatoes, tomatoes, corn, and caribou pieces served with rice.

    I got up the nerve to ask my coworker who was there if she would help me try some country food. I figured it was time. And, I trust her. I knew she'd properly prep me. As an aside, when the TV show Fear Factor was in its heyday, I never thought about applying because I knew I'd gag and throw up on the gross food things they had to do. I even looked at a semi-fresh cow placenta replete with flies one time at the dairy farm where I was doing some work....I imagined myself having to eat that placenta and whether I could do if for 50k. The answer was a resounding, yakking, "NO!". My coworker generously cut up some narwhal muktuk and gave me a tiny tiny piece. Her father-in-law also slid in to give me advice. That was really sweet. Everyone nearby was watching the white lady to see what happened. So much pressure. I put it in my mouth and lo and behold, it tasted like......nothing. Well, tasted like some soy sauce I doused it in...but no real strong flavor at all! I was so relieved! It wasn't bad at all. The skin was a bit chewy. Go figure. Raw whale skin, chewy. Who would have thought?? lolol. Then, she offered me a thin slice of caribou. I thought, well, if I did the muktuk, I can do raw carbou. WRONG. Ugh! It was fine.....just tasted like a hunk of blood. So much blood taste. (my face is scrunched up now with the memory). After I rubbed my tongue vigorously on the roof of my mouth and got my wits back about me, I asked my coworker what her favorite country food was......to which she replied, "caribou". Of course. Glad I just acted like an ass eating it. Perfect. Insert foot Jasmine. Jonathan declined to try anything. lol.
    Read more

Never miss updates of Jasmine Ware with our app:

FindPenguins for iOS FindPenguins for Android