Vote for Chris!

Weeks ago, Chris entered a contest on Spectacular NWT. It is a photo contest designed for people to share their favourite photo of the Northwest Territories, and to brag a little about why they love it here. When he entered, we were looking over the prize details, which includes a nine-day tour of different areas of the NWT, by plane, boat, car and foot. We got extremely excited about it, he entered a photo, and then I promptly forgot about it.

That is, until today. Turns out his photo was judged and is now a finalist, subject to public voting. This is where I come in. I’m going to ask you all a huge favour. Click on this link which will take you to the Facebook app, and vote for Chris’s photo!

I love the north, and even moreso, I love sharing it with others who can’t visit themselves. That is the very reason I started this blog, to share my adventures, photos and experiences with people back home – and, indeed, around the world. Having an opportunity to fly in a Buffalo DC-3, to see Wood Buffalo National Park, Alexander Falls, to hike the salt plains, to visit Hay River, Fort Smith, Fort Providence, Enterprise, Fort Simpson, and to fly via a twin otter to Nahanni National Park over Virginia Falls, land on Nahanni River and hike to a glacial lake, and to see the region on a boat tour… I mean, this would literally be a dream come true for us.

SO, enough pleading! Check out the Facebook page and VOTE for Chris’s photo!!

Edit: If you do vote, please comment and let me know you voted so we can THANK you!

Ram, Ice Roads, Bison and Behchoko

Would you like the good news or the bad news first?

The bad news.. No more posts about running errands on snowmobiles.

The good news.. We finally got a vehicle! FINALLY!!!

Say hello to our new-to-us 2010 Dodge Ram 1500 SLT 5.7L hemi! “Do you know what hemi even means?” says Chris. “Nope!” I say, as I keep typing. (Apparently it’s something to do with the cylinder heads having a hemispherical shape.. or something.) When Chris first moved to Yellowknife he bought a 1997 Grand Am off someone for $1300, and once we learned it didn’t work in the wintertime, we sold it and have been vehicleless ever since. In the summer it’s fine because we walk and bike everywhere. In the winter it’s kind of a different story. While using a sled as a primary vehicle has its perks, ours weren’t exactly reliable enough to be considered primary vehicles. I don’t know how many photos I have of Chris that look like this:

It saddens me to say that we sold my Bravo. She went to a good home, but I couldn’t help but feel a little pang of sadness as she was put into a truck and driven away. We also sold Chris’s sled, and the very next day, went to get a vehicle. We wanted a Jeep Wrangler for the longest time but after moving across town, we saw how useful and practical a truck would be. Plus, there’s a reason why at least 3/4 the vehicles on the road here are trucks. So, we picked her up on Wednesday and we couldn’t be happier. It’s so nice to be able to go places we want, even if it’s just WalMart. With the sleds we would wait until we had three or four things to get in town before we would go, whereas now, we don’t need to plan our trips so meticulously anymore. We can go where we want when we want, and that’s a great feeling.

We actually just got home from a trip to see the bison. There is a buffalo reserve along the MacKenzie Highway called the MacKenzie Bison Sanctuary, which is closer to Fort Providence, but the bison are pretty well viewable between Yellowknife and Fort Prov. I was so excited but, sigh, we didn’t see any. Unless you count this one.

We drove over 100km outside of town, but all was not lost, because we got to see Behchoko, a community of 2,000 northwest of Yellowknife. We also found another ice road from Behchoko to Whati across Marian Lake. This was NWT as I’ve never seen it before: wide open, barren, cold, windy and snowy. Classic arctic tundra; it was really neat. Chris got some great photos of the truck on the ice road.

The ice on this road was a little freaky. Chris was even nervous to step out of the truck onto it. The ice on the Dettah ice road is dark, almost black. This ice was bluish green and really pretty.. And also pretty scary.

I’m happy we got to see another one of NWT’s 33 communities today. The official list of 33 is on this Wiki page. (Apparently N’dilo counts, even though it’s technically in Yellowknife.) This visit to Behchoko puts my count at 4 (YK, N’dilo, Dettah, Behchoko) and Chris’s at 5 (all the same plus Lutsel’Ke). I’d love to be able to visit all of them, though that’s pretty far-fetched. So, despite not seeing any bison, it was worth the trip. Maybe next time we go, we’ll actually have to heed this warning.

Aurora Photography

Late last year, I was perusing Facebook when I saw a post from Dave Brosha Photography about an upcoming two-day workshop, Photographing the Night Skies.  Now, if you live in Yellowknife, you know about Dave Brosha. If you don’t live in Yellowknife, Dave is Yellowknife’s most notable photog, shooting freelance for National Geographic and the Canadian Press, winning awards, and having his photos printed in a bajillion newspapers and magazines. He has a great website which you should check out. I’ve never met the man but I follow him on Facebook and Twitter, always amazed at the images he produces, especially those of the aurora. So imagine my excitement when I see this post about his Photographing the Night Skies workshop. I emailed him right away, and got Chris his first Christmas present – a spot in Dave’s workshop.

Chris has loved photography for years, but as students with limited resources, we could only afford so much. I got him his first SLR, a second-hand Canon Rebel XT. He’s now had it for four years, as different lenses have come and gone. He’s shot models and landscapes and products, in-studio and out, and has won several contests and awards for his photos. Over the last few years, he grew tired of his limited equipment and photography slid onto the back burner. My hope was, if I could light that spark again, his potential could be reached and he would again start capturing more incredible images. His second Christmas present was a new wide-angle lens, which paired beautifully with the workshop gift. He could hardly wait until the end of February (it seemed so far away!).

So just last week, Chris came home excited and happy and full of new knowledge. Having only one day in, he learned enough to capture the aurora in ways that had already surpassed the photos on the NWT postcards. He went out a few days later on his own and captured photos that surprised even him. Then last night, he had his second workshop day, where he learned about Lightroom editing and took more incredible pictures.

Seeing the northern lights was on my bucket list and I feel lucky to say it’s been checked off. I’m treated almost nightly to the most spectacular display of nature imaginable, and I’ve so badly wanted to share these experiences with my family back home, but we’ve been unable to do so, until now. I could write about it all day, but the images speak for themselves. Expect to see many more photos of the northern lights in posts to come!