I’ve been on the phone off and on for the past three years with the extremely kind staff at Canadian North Airlines to plan for our expedition. They’ve been extremely helpful and very nice – advancing the pleasant reputation of Canadians over and above. I must tell you, even when delivering not-so-great news, the staff at Canadian North have been truly some of the best people and quite understanding.
Our plan is to drive from Texas to Ottawa, where we’ll load our three sea kayaks onto a cargo plane for shipping up to Pond Inlet, where we’ll access Baffin Bay to begin our expedition. After loading the kayaks, the team will board a passenger flight to Pond Inlet. It’s pretty straightforward to ship from Ottawa to Iqaluit; however, this is where the glitches start – or as I like to call them “opportunities for personal growth”. Once in Iqaluit (pronounced: ee-kaw-loo-it), the cargo is moved to a smaller prop plane for the final leg to Pond Inlet. This plane was too small for our three kayaks, so two weeks ago Annie and her team at Canadian North made arrangements for a larger jet to be available for the kayaks. YAAAY, ANNIE!
While on the phone with Annie this morning to make arrangements for our hazardous goods (shotgun shells, bear-banger flares, camp stove fuel, bear spray, compressed air horns) to be shipped, Annie notified me that while they’ve got a big honkin’ plane to haul our kayaks, there may be a problem re-fueling the monster airship in Pond Inlet for its return flight to Iqaluit. Not only is there a shortage of fuel, but getting the fuel to Pond Inlet on a barge though the drift ice might be an issue. Without an assurance of re-fueling, the plane won’t depart from Iqaluit, which makes perfect sense but is a damper on our parade (aka: an opportunity for personal growth).
So, the current plan is go forward as planned, but schedule a layover in Iqaluit with our passenger flight and be “on hold” there until we’re assured the kayaks and dangerous goods are on their way to Pond Inlet. Given the variables of weather, ice and available fuel, Annie couldn’t give any assurances (though quite nicely, I might add) of a timeline. It could be the same day, one day or whenever.
(Go to your happy place. Go to your happy place. Go to your happy place.)
Now, I’m going to research affordable (?) lodging in Iqaluit for the team and visit the Canadian North Airline Cargo counter each day with a crate of fresh donuts and coffee each morning and perhaps a bottle of whiskey to check on the availability of gas in Pond Inlet – with high hopes that it will all work more sooner than later.
Still on schedule to drive out of Texas on July 15th!