370 Days Later…

Hi everyone! I’m still alive!

A lot has happened in the last year, and I stopped writing because of it. There were a few pretty significant life changes for me (which may be obvious with the new title of my blog!), and truthfully, posting here was bumped to the back burner… And then stayed there… For a year. For that, there’s no excuse! I can see now though how people just fall out of blogging, because once you’re gone for so long, it’s hard to work up to coming back.

My goal was to “never let it be over a year since I posted”. Today is April 22; my last post was April 17. D’oh!

So to summarize my last year, winter finally came to an end and we had another incredible, sunny, warm, amazing summer. I squeezed a trip home in there, as well as my first ever trip to Newfoundland. I’m now living in a beautiful house with a wonderful man. I bought my first car (so exciting!), and we took her on her (and my) first roadtrip to Edmonton in December. My mom came up to visit in February, followed by my sister and brother-in-law in March, and now it’s April again and the snow is melting! It’s been a big year, but I’m back, and it really does feel good.

Me and my mom, about to go dogsledding

Me and my mom, about to go dogsledding

Me, my sister and brother-in-law at Aurora Village

Me, my sister and brother-in-law at Aurora Village

Just about to slide down the ice slide! SO FUN!

Just about to slide down the ice slide! SO FUN!

Having my family visit me twice in one winter really helped break it up, since I didn’t go away anywhere. This winter was a very, very long and ridiculously cold winter. Too cold to do anything outside ever. I went for one winter run (when it warmed up to -17ºC one day), but through the winter I discovered the Racquet Club, which also helped break up the monotony of the dark and cold. Only last week did we see our first above-zero temperatures, which has created a lot of water and also a LOT of excitement. The only thing better than Yellowknife summers is the anticipation leading up to Yellowknife summers, which is happening now. More and more people outside, neighbours chatting, and just more happy smiling people in general. I think I had a touch of seasonal affective disorder this winter too, cos it was so brutal. I went a few weeks where, unless I was working, I would sleep until 11 or 12 and just be slow-moving and crabby. And I didn’t even realize it until the days started getting longer, and I started waking up earlier and earlier, and now it’s a miracle if I sleep until 9.

The sun is staying up longer and longer each day. Today, it rose at 5:49am and won’t set until 9:24pm. In contrast, in Halifax the sun came up at 6:18am and will set at 8:07pm. Our days are already about two hours longer than back home, which makes me very excited. I could talk for hours about the sun and the weather and the length of the days because, like I said before, the anticipation for summer is almost as good as summer itself!

I’ll keep this first post short and sweet. I need to update a few pages in this blog, which I’ll try to do tomorrow. And thank you to the people who have been commenting, telling me to get my butt into gear and post more! I appreciate your support and your motivation. Keep watching for new posts, I promise I’ll keep writing!

Ice Road Repairs

Happy spring!


Wherever you are, I’m sure it’s more like spring there than it is here. But that said, it’s only been minus-single-digits for the last few days and things are starting to melt! The snow on the roads is slowly disappearing, which I’m happy about except the fact that it’s muddy and messy and we have a white truck.. D’oh!

A week or so ago a friend of mine posted an epic picture to her Facebook of her sitting on an ice road on top of a huge crack in the ice. Naturally I immediately wanted to go see this cracked ice road (safe, right?) so Chris and I headed out to Prosperous Lake where she got the photo.

It’s easy to tell when the diamond mine ice roads open because the Ingraham Trail is suddenly extremely busy with enormous trucks just flying in and out of Yellowknife. There are two ice roads off the Ingraham Trail, the Tibbitt to Contwoyto winter road (way out at the end of the Ingraham Trail) and the Gibbs Lake to Prosperous Lake secondary road. The Tibbitt-Contwoyto winter road has 65 land portages and 85% of the road is built over frozen lakes. And thanks to this winter being the coldest in 20 years, the ice road opened at 34 inches thick, 6 inches more than what was expected. So, apparently there was one upside to this winter being so ridiculously freezing cold.

Ice Road Tanker

This year, according to Diavik, the goal of these ice roads was to “transport approximately 3,500 loads of fuel, cement, and other operations’ supplies”, mainly diesel fuel. The winter roads need to be 41 inches thick for the mines to use it at full tilt, which they say is four trucks dispatched at 20-minute intervals with a speed limit of 25km/hr, to keep the space between the trucks adequate to prevent scary things like, you know, trucks going through the ice. 

Tanker Down

This photo came from an article on the risks of “hard water highways”, found here.

The greatest thing about these winter roads which I just learned is that they employ around 800 people a season, 500 of those being drivers alone. Obviously building and maintaining a 400-km ice road is no easy task but I had no idea that it was THIS huge.

So while we were out on the Prosperous ice road, we found the epic fractures with ease. In fact, the road was covered in enormous cracks as wide and as deep as your arm, or bigger. I guess you could say the fear of standing on frozen water has worn off when you’re staring down a huge chasm in the ice you’re standing on.

Arm deep

FractureOnce we got over the initial shock of the cracks, we kept driving and saw a water truck in the middle of the road pouring water into the huge openings to seal them shut. Again, this is something I never really thought about, the fact that the roads must be maintained in good condition to be driveable. So this guy literally just aims the valve in the general area of the crack and dumps tons of water inside it.

Water TruckWe watched him for a little while, and then once he passed us, we hopped out and I got a short little video of the ice popping and snapping. At one point the ice settled with a huge pop, which you’ll notice when you hear us yelping! The ice roads are so cool. Despite the novelty wearing off a little, when you’re driving over them and start to think about the fact that you’re driving on ice, you can’t help but feel a little humbled.

Also, a piece of the Prosperous ice road has made its way onto our patio. Makes for a great deck ornament! And now I can say I have lakefront property. :)

Lakefront Property

A week with my sister in Yellowknife

I’ve been busy the for the last week! My sister was here and we had such a great time with her. She lives back home in NS and was so excited to come here and experience our winter. She loves winter anyway and LOVES snow so she was beside herself in the days and weeks leading up to her trip. She arrived late at night and we took her straight to the ice road, and pretty much never stopped from there!

The day she left we were laughing because we can’t even remember everything we did with her; it was a total whirlwind. We took her to the galleries and shops around town. We introduced her to Dave Brosha at his studio, as this was an absolute must for her to do because she’s a huge fan of his. She also met Tara, who made her a print of one of Dave’s photos. We went to Buffalo Airways and managed to get a little tour of their hangar. We drove the ice road to Dettah and back along the highway, and we drove to Whati in the middle of a blizzard. We hiked Cameron Falls and cross country skied at the Ski Club. We squeezed in three sled trips (she was a natural!). She patiently sat through the Blue Jays first spring training game, and then we went to a pub and out dancing. She was here for my interview on CBC. We went dogsledding. And with a stroke of luck and some clear skies, she saw a stellar demonstration of the northern lights. While standing on an ice road. During a -30°C night. Doesn’t get much more northern than that!


One of Jaime’s shots of the aurora

My two favourite things that we did together were ice fishing and a workshop at Old Town Glassworks, because I had never done either before. My coworker Dan invited us out to his tent on Walsh Lake while Jaime was here to show her what ice fishing was like. I was excited about it too since I had never been, and it was a blast. He and his wife have an amazing setup with a big tent with a woodstove and everything. Jaime took his sled for a little rip, she and his wife went cross country skiing across the lake, had a beer, drilled some holes, and caught a trout!




Then on Jaime’s last day here we went to Old Town Glassworks for a workshop on how to make your own piece of art! Matthew, the owner, goes through the process with you and shows you how he selects his bottle, cleans it, scores it and breaks it to the height he wants. Then he grinds it down and softens the edges, chooses a stencil, sandblasts it, and it’s done! Then he lets you loose to make your own, from a piece he’s already pre-cut and sanded down. We both chose a short dark blue tumbler and had a time making our glasses. If you’re ever in Yellowknife (or if you live here) I seriously recommend doing this workshop! It was so great, inexpensive, and you walk away with a piece that you made yourself. Very cool!

My Glass

My glass!

So Jaime left yesterday and everything reminds me of her now. It’s not quite the same without her here, but she helped me see Yellowknife through new eyes and I so appreciate her taking the time and effort to make it up here to see us.

So the question remains… Who’s next?! :)

A few photos from her trip:

Yellowknife from Pilot’s Monument

Sledding on the ice road

Snowmobile master!!

Jaime collapsing into the fluffy powder at Cameron Falls

Wall of icicles we found while sledding!

It’s 2013!

Happy New Year from Yellowknife!

Happy New Year!

Christopher took this photo on Frame Lake. We go out each year on our sleds with a big group of friends and sit on the lake to watch the fireworks, then go for a little rip and wind up at someone’s house with food and drinks and it’s always a really great time. This year though, we went on a little longer trip than expected and by the time we got home it was 11:40, and we were so busy rushing to get the food and everything ready that we missed the countdown!! It didn’t help that I had the TV on the wrong channel.. Whoops. We didn’t notice until 12:02! So that was a big fail, but the night itself was really fun and we had a blast. This photo got what I like to call the Dave Brosha bump: Dave loved it, shared it, and Chris saw an exponential boost in Flickr views, along with over 80 shares, 500 likes and 30 comments on Facebook. It sure helps to have friends in high places! :)

Chris and I drove out to Cameron Falls a couple weeks ago. I’ve posted about Cameron Falls before, it’s one of my favourite places here. It’s about 40 minutes outside of Yellowknife and it is a great hike that ends with a beautiful view of the waterfalls. It was about -25°C the day we went, which is a perfect temperature for a hike. But it also means you need to be fully geared up, which means you have to put on your extra layers when you arrive. Ever try putting on snow pants in the drivers seat? Not so easy, I learned. This took me about 5 minutes, which seems like an eternity when you’re struggling and fighting with snow pants.


We had never gone in the middle of winter before, and the day we went, everything was covered in an inch or two of fresh snow from the night before. Because of the snow, it was absolutely silent when we stopped walking. It’s so hard to describe total and complete silence, but that was the first time I had ever heard true silence in my entire life, and it was incredible. A pristine white world so quiet that your ears start ringing to fill the void. No wind, no birds, no cars, no nothing. Just total nothingness.

Cam Falls

As for the hike itself, this was pretty much our view the whole way. There aren’t enough synonyms for beautiful that can adequately describe this environment.


So, Christmas has come and gone, and aside from being away from my family, it was really nice. I got some really great and thoughtful gifts from my family, sent across Canada (expedited, in one case) and packaged with love. It’s pretty easy to get settled into your life and routine here, but once in a while something will jar you from that state and remind you what you’re missing back home. In this case, it was a framed photo of my niece that, when opened, made me start crying. But we Skyped with Chris’s family that night, and my family the next day. The kids love seeing us on the computer, especially my niece Gracie, who’s just about a year old and was sticking her tongue out at me when I stuck mine out at her. Then she’d laugh and do it again. And my nephew Andrew who ran to show me a selection of his favourite presents. SO cute. I got a few great gifts, two of them being my new Steger mukluks from Christopher (they’ve earned the reputation of being the best winter boot for the arctic, and have so far lived up to this reputation), and a custom Mizuno ball glove from my best friend Allan, who totally spoiled Chris too by getting him a Mizuno first baseman’s glove. Here’s mine:


And now that we both have new gloves, combined with Chris’s new bat, Allan’s new bat and a few pairs of batting gloves, we’re ready for softball season.. But softball season is still six months away!!! We were talking about how popular softball is here in Yellowknife just recently, and it really does blow me away how many people play it and how many teams there are in a town of 20,000. If you ever move here and you’re not on a team, chances are by the summertime you’ll be asked to play on at least one team.

And that’s another great thing about Yellowknife. If you open yourself to challenges and new things, you will meet more people and do more things than you ever thought possible. We have never run into any cliques here, and if they exist (which I’m sure they do), they’re not the kind of people you want to be friends with anyway. The people here will invite you out with their friends even if you know none of them. They’ll go out of their way to drive you home (not that anywhere in Yellowknife is really out of the way). They’ll bring you into their homes on Christmas and Thanksgiving because they know that you’re so far from your own family. They’ll laugh with you and cry with you and bond with you in ways you’ve never known. The people here are so great because, nine times out of then, they’ve been there. They’ve been alone on holidays, they’ve experienced the confusion of a new town, and they’ve felt the love and warm welcomes from those here before them. And then they pass it on. I write a lot about Yellowknife as a beautiful place, but Yellowknife is also full of beautiful people who make this town fun, alive, and bearable in the dark and cold winter.

Fall Has Come and Gone

Fall in Yellowknife is a mythical creature.

It comes around the middle of September and lasts mere weeks before the snow falls and is here for good. This is still one of the most noticeable differences between here and Nova Scotia. There, it seems like spring and fall last forever. Here, if you blink, you miss it. In the spring, the temperatures warm slowly, the snow melts, the ice melts, and then all of a sudden it’s 25°C and sunny. In the fall, the leaves start to change then fall off the trees, and just like that it’s -30°C. It’s really bizarre and I’m still getting used to it.

Softball season ended in September, and not long afterward we went into softball withdrawal and spent some afternoons at the ball field just throwing the ball and swinging the bat. Chris got a brand new bat in the mail a few days after the season ended. Talk about a tease! Now it will sit unused for 6 months until ball season comes along again, taunting us, making us miss softball that much more. Chris was so excited to get it in the mail he couldn’t wait to use it.

Take it out of the box first!

A friend of mine from our softball team, Lisa, invited Chris and me along for a boat trip to her parents cabin in September. We happily obliged and it was an awesome day. We met up with Lisa and her husband, two boys and her parents at their house in Dettah. The trip was about a half an hour on Great Slave Lake, and their cabin is so well-hidden it’s really only visible from one part of the water. Being in a boat again was awesome enough (I spent my childhood summers in Cape Breton either in the ocean or in a boat on the ocean)! Her dad started a fire, and me, Lisa and the boys started cranberry picking. This was my first time ever going cranberry picking and I was so surprised at how many cranberries there were! I got a whole Ziploc bag full. We were laughing as we were grunting and complaining about our knees being sore, and Lisa told me some elders will go berry picking for hours and hours… I can’t even imagine, because 45 minutes of it nearly did me in! It was great though and felt so good to be outdoors and on the lake.


Chris, of course, was wandering around getting photos. He got a lot of the boys fishing, cooking our lunch over the fire, and of course cranberry picking, and this great one of Lisa’s dad. It was such a great time and I really appreciate them taking us along with them to see a side of the north that we’d never seen before. Thanks guys!!


I used the cranberries I picked at Lisa’s at Thanksgiving. Chris and I made a feast. We always go all out on Thanksgiving because we both love to cook, so it’s a really fun day for us. This year was even better because Chris has been experimenting with different photography skills and wanted to try a time-lapse video. He set up his camera in the kitchen and, simply as a test, had the camera take one photo every 3 seconds for the whole time we were cooking. I’m talking hours. Eventually the click of the shutter was tuned out and we carried on cooking. After we stuffed ourselves, Chris put the video together and it was hilarious. You can see the video here on Chris’s YouTube channel!

And as quick as it came, it left. Fall has come and gone. Winter is here.

This was actually our first snowfall. I came off a nighshift and went to bed with no snow on the ground, and woke up three hours later to THAT. I was ecstatic! I love winter and I love snow and I LOVE snowmobiling so I was pretty excited to see all that snow.

Speaking of sleds, we finally found used sleds to buy. Mine is a 1994 Arctic Cat 580 EXT, and his is a 1997 Yamaha V-Max. It’s pretty tough to find a good used sled in this town. You have to consider price, age, use, kilometres, and what shape the sled is in. If it’s a good sled at a good price, it gets snatched up right away so it’s nearly impossible. But we lucked out twice and managed to get decent sleds at great prices. We have yet to drive them yet though, so the jury is still out on whether or not my 580 will be better than my old Bravo. Once we take them out for their first run (once Chris gets the right gaskets for my exhaust) I’ll post some photos.

I had a brief trip home to see my Mom at the end of October, because the planets aligned and everything worked out. My friend Jenn offered me flight passes to get home super cheap with WestJet. My coworkers did trades with me and freed up an entire week. And despite flying standby, I made it on all of my flights and arrived as scheduled. My mom had just had surgery and had no idea I was coming, and when I walked into her hospital room she was so happy that all she could do was cry. So then I cried. And then my sisters cried. It was a great moment and I was so happy to be able to be home with her while she recovered. And now she’s doing great! That trip home puts my Annual Nova Scotia Trip Counter up to 4, which is completely unheard of. I feel very lucky to have been able to go home that many times in one year. Now I’m starting an aggressive campaign to get my family to come see ME in Yellowknife!

No bait more effective than our beautiful aurora, as captured by Chris!


Is it spring yet?

To us Southerners, April means spring. Spring means warm weather, which means patios and barbecues. So, logically, Chris and I set out to find a barbecue and a patio set that would both fit on our 60-square-foot patio. We managed to find a little two seater bistro set, and a small Coleman propane barbecue. It’s intended purpose is for easy portability for camping and road trips, but it was small enough, and hey, it’s bright red. What’s not to love?

So, as far as we’re concerned, spring is here, because our deck is ready. I even barbecued some veggie cheeseburgers, orange peppers and asparagus last night, despite it being -10ºC.

It was still too cold to eat outside, but I can’t wait until we can. Drinking coffee on the patio enjoying the morning sun.. Ahhh, bliss.

Speaking of morning sun, our days are getting longer and longer every day. “Obviously”, you may be thinking. But the sunlight hours increase so rapidly here, we gain about an hour of sunlight a week around this time. The sun is coming up at 6:15am and setting at 9:00pm, which already puts our days about an hour and fifteen minutes longer than Nova Scotia’s. (Nova Scotia is always my reference point because it’s where I grew up and I have no other sunrise/sunset/season/temperature/weather reference.)

There’s only nine weeks until the longest day of the year, and even better: the Midnight Sun Festival! There’s so much to look forward to in Yellowknife as the temperatures grow warmer. In the meantime, we’ll continue to wish it was warmer than it is, and keep barbecuing in winter coats.