This is the first day off! It has been a particularly intense week, and my first order of the day was to sleep in. But I failed. Full blown daylight made me wake up at 3, 5, 6, and 7am, feeling well rested every time. By then I gave up and got ready for breakfast.
By now, we started getting used to the Northern hospitality. Local sailors whom we met last night at the Legion, invited us on their boat for a tour and lunch. So we headed their way soon. We were totally expecting some small river cruiser, so to find the actual huge vessel took us a moment.
Here the calculations of fuel are not made in gallons per hour anymore. This 1973 ship’s four engines burn 6 gallons per mile! It can go on the river, and some “light icing”, but is not certified to breaking tick ocean ice. Therefore the sailing season in these waters is only about 4 months per year.
We also learned that the tug boat hard working right nearby, can push up to eight barges on the river. But once in the ocean, there’s towing only.
But more importantly – the boat has its own chef. The seafood soup, sub and desert were absolutely delicious.
Janet helps in the kitchen and sails 6 months every year. Which in a wonderful way leaves her the other 6 months to travel the world. Last year, she visited 6 countries, incl. Asia and South America.
Now it’s time for retail therapy! Tanya and I were interested in local arts, and collected information for the last couple of days. The most well known items to bring and souvenirs and gifts from Inuvik area are:
1. Shoes: mukluks and moccasins. There’s a huge variety of those. There are indoors and outdoors versions. The moose hide sole seems fragile, but it’s totally appropriate on the supercooled snow powder of Inuvik’s winter. Besides, soles can be changed, keeping the rest of the artwork of the item intact. Both can be custom made. If you are buying pre-made ones, if in doubt – go for the smallest size you can squeeze in. They will soften and become bigger.
The design varies between stitching, embroidery and beading. Or a combination!
Most used materials are moose hide for the sole, wool or fur for the top. Fur can be beaver, rabbit, racoon, wolf. The warmest items are made of seal.
2. Everything else furry. Shoes come with matching scarves, hats, mittens etc. Many of them are died in bright colors, others are left in beautiful natural combinations. +��`�wC
3. Jewelry. There are a few main themes: beading, carving and other natural materials eg feathers.
The choice is vast, so it’s good if you decide ahead what exactly you want. Carvings are most of the time made out of caribou (lighter color, more transparent) or moose (more ivory color) or muskox (grey-ish color) antler or mammoth ivory (solid ivory color, very beautiful and very solid – and most expensive).
I was first surprised to hear about mammoth, but it is in fact the most ecological option in a way – we can’t extinct them anymore :) But in these frozen lands, there’s apparently a number of them found. And following the local tradition of never wasting any part of the animal, all parts are used.
Beading is another beautiful jewelry option, especially if you are on a budget.
4. Carvings. Continuing the jewelry tradition, there’s a big number of traditional animals and entire life scenes (hunting, fishing etc.) carved out of antlers, rocks or ivory.
5. Knives. If you are into knives, look for an ulu (ulut). Ulu is a local traditional meat and fish knife. It has a weird shape, but once you take it in your hand, it makes so much practical sense. Best handles are made of a moose or caribou antler, sometimes engraved. Check the quality of steel.
6. Reindeer meat. Although it’s not exactly a souvenir, it’s another special thing to bring for the loved ones home if your travel is short. Meat is usually sold frozen. Best recommended way of cooking is roast: 300 degrees for 4 hours. If your path home is longer, you can order the meat to be shipped to you later.
7. You name it! In the research process we came by pretty much everything: from custom made parkas, to drums, baby belts, snow goggles, etc. Keep your mind open!
Shopping experience is another big part of it. We started “traditionally” in one of the local touristic stores “Originals”. We found there a couple of standard items, and lots of industrial made “stuff”. Another store not much bigger selection (although more authentic) of what we were looking for. But the manager Janet was extremely helpful – she gave us hints to the local “Inuvik buy and sell” facebook page, and gave a few hints about what to look for quality-wise. She even made a post on our behalf, mentioning what we are looking for.
We also heard several times the name of Mavis Jacobson who sells a lot of art out of her house.
Back at the hotel, I went on the facebook page, and one of the first items there was our “catch of the day” (ulus). I messaged the seller, Beverly Amos, and shortly after we met. She asked if we were driving. So if not, she could come our way. I said that we were on our way to Mavis, but we were still looking where she was. Beverly said, not a problem, we’ll pick you up and bring to Mavis. Now, this is totally NOT big city. Tanya and I are jumping on the street in the truck of a person we just met through facebook, so that she brings us to another person’s home, unannounced, while we buy an ulu from her on the way there! Totally not weird! But Beverly was super nice, and shared that the ulus are made by her son-in-law. And Mavis had her door and arms open to the uninvited guests. I’m loving the North!
Half an hour later Tanya had her new seal and beaver hat, and a drum on the way. Mavis made a couple of calls to friends to get a necklace I was looking for, and the “reindeer guy” was just at the kitty-corner! Everything was with a smile and a big Northern heart, while learning more stories and culture.
So for those interested, here is our little contact book for local Northern Arts:
- Variety of arts and souvenirs store: “Originals” https://www.facebook.com/Originals-on-Mackenzie-304309749616658/
- Another variety store:
- Beading: Shirley Kakfwi (Old Crow) – can be found through facebook
- All arts and lots of local connections: Mavis Jacobson (also found on facebook). If cannot find anything else or have questions – just FB message Mavis!
- Drums and sewing: Elizabeth Drescher (Inuvik) – can be found on facebook
- Reindeer and cariboo meat: Lloyd Binder 867 777 6340
Most artists are willing to put your package on Air North and have it delivered to you. So you don’t need to travel up North to enjoy the art – although you should to really get a feel for it. Many people here are also willing to trade. Simple civilization items like coffee are extremely expensive here, so instead of cash, you can send your preferred art supplier a package from Walmart, and you will both end up richer than you were.
Ok, let’s get back to why we are here:
After this relaxed day off, we were all excited to fly what now felt already a “home” show for us. Morning was typical low overcast, but by the show time 1 o’clock, we had pretty much clear skies. After deconflicting a few scheduled airline arrivals, we had lots of fun in the Inuvik skies and the excited spectators!
With some of the team members also having flown Paulatuk airshow, Canadian Arctic Aviation Tour so far:
Distance flown: 2344 nm (4341 km)
Airshows flown: 22