So this last week I have been adventuring with Man up in Yellowknife, NWT, Canada. The trip got off to a fine start when my initial flight out of LA was delayed by two hours due to problems with the fuel guage and leaking water. Admittedly these are the type of things I’m rather happy they do take care of before we depart, yet at the same time leaves you rather wishing you could swap to a wholly new plane. All that aside we finally took off with a planned landing time in Calgary 20 minutes ahead of my planned onward departure to Yellowknife.
Those who know me and many others who know themselves will appreciate this was a stressful situation; though not one i was going to freak out at anyone else over, since it was hardly done on purpose. As a result due to kind questioning of the air steward I got free wine in recompense. So not all bad. Although despite the wine relaxant the fact remained this was my vacation and my connecting flight was the last one to Yellowknife that night; I was on edge.
The trip really took its first monumentally upward turn when as attempting to rush off to plane I heard the onward flight was also slightly delayed. Yippee! Then we all got off the flight to discover we were literally locked into the gangway and couldn’t gain access to the airport. This remained for 10 whole minutes. On the bright side of course I was in Canada and Canadians are super lovely, ensuring the potentially stressful was instead companiable which raised spirits. I finally arrived at the gate, out of breath and a little cranky following some mild sprinting with clunky hand luggage conveniently beating me in the back. I sat down and took a deep breath when a disconcertingly creepy hand tickled along my right shoulder. Of the many ‘friends’ I had just made through our joint Olympic sprints and slalom dodge through security to get to our next flight, there were none I felt had progressed to making this acceptable. Turning around cautiously I was blown away to see that my wonderful Man had surprised me by booking himself onto the same flight. I’m not sure in my life I’ve ever been so overwhelmed with happiness. What a beaut! I was suitably trashy and kissed and hugged him repeatedly until everyone around me, Man included and potentially even myself had started to feel a little awkward.
When we finally made it to Yellowknife we were starving and also extremely tired. So we did nothing save for order some questionable take-away to our room, eat it in bed and sleep.
Day one of the vacation we relaxed around town and I got to know the place via my personal tour guide. A highlight for me was simply driving out on the Dettah Ice Road! Amazing. The whole lake was frozen solid and it was a road. I mean I know this stuff happens but I’ve never seen it in person! We cleared snow off top and you could look down into the dark grey, mixed with ice blue and see the deep cracks showing the depth of the freeze. Driving out and parking up away from town you could start to appreciate the sheer silence that the area could offer which quite simply was music to my ears. After some touristy photo snaps (of me as an Ice trucker – f*%k ya bud! That’s Canadian by the way) we got planning for our night time activity – catching the aurora.
We loaded up with snacks and warm clothes, having checked there was favourable chance to see the Aurora Borealis and that skies were clear, and we drove out into the night.
We found a secluded spot out on Vee lake, purposely selected to be away from the madding crowd of tourists that flock to Yellowknife at this time of year. We sat for an hour or so before a gentle swirling green mist started to spread across the skies.
This first part of the Aurora wasn’t necessarily what I envisaged it may be. It was slow moving, eerie perhaps is the word but not quite. You knew it had moved but never quite saw when or how. Then it was gone. Back in our truck my hawk like eyes spotted movement ahead – not quite as dramatic as a wolf but we saw a small black fox going about his nighttime routine, which made me happy.
A few more times the green glow of the North crept in and out of the sky and each time we’d head out of truck to admire it, until my delicate English sensitivities to the cold could take no more. I had to note how tough it must be for wildlife and nature photographers and film crews – they must have a lot of patience to do their jobs, waiting for hours for what might be. Conscious it was now gone 1am we agreed to give it half an hour then head back. It was a critical 30 minutes.
Within minutes again it started as the familiar soft green glow expanding out of the sky. However this time we noticed its movements change; It started to dance left to right before suddenly a canopy of soft dancing diamonds dropped like around us. Greens and pinks danced left to right, up and down along the base of the curtain. It was beyond magical as it lept around us. Turning around to take it all in as my eyes drew up they met a swirling green and white mist that held the centre of the canopy, mixing the light together like a secret recipe ready to drop down to earth.
There simply are no words to describe what we saw. To render me speechless is quite a thing. I always thought I might see the Aurora and then drop dead. Thankfully that did not happen, but it is certainly one thing off the bucket list; one I truly hope to see again.
The following evening the subtle beauty of Yellowknife lived on. As we walked into town to meet friends for drinks the snow on the ground was literally twinkling in the lights and as it began to softly snow down on us, it was like diamond dust sprinkling down to earth, as each perfectly formed snowflake caught the soft glow of the street lamps.
It therefore comes as now surprise to find that the area does have quite the supply of actual diamonds and an interesting fact for y’all is that genuine NWT diamonds apparently have tiny polar bears carved into them. Not something I can confirm from actual viewing, I merely at this stage choose to believe my reliable source.
As for Yellowknife the land of spingly spangly sparkles in the sky. I will be back to update about the many other adventures including my personal helicopter tour.