the

Sunset near Kingman, Arizona.
Where are Kevin and Ruth right now? Petrified Forest National Park, Arizona.

Where are they going next? South east towards Roswell, New Mexico.

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Way up up up up up in Tuktoyaktuk

As they forecast, things got cloudy and cooler up here in "Tuk" as it's often called. But, we still managed to get out for some exercise to explore the town a little bit.

We stopped in the grocery store and even bought a couple of things! Then, we tried to look up a friend's cousin who happens to live here!

Tuktoyaktuk and the Arctic Ocean were a major goal of our current two year motorhome adventure and it feels good to just hang around up here and contemplate this turning point in the journey.

About 17,000 kms (10,500 miles) since we left Ottawa last November.

We will now head south into British Columbia for August and September and then down the Pacific Coast during October and over to Texas for the end of  November, and then another RV tour of Mexico this winter. Then next summer, up to Newfoundland and Labrador!

But in the meantime, we will spend the month of July getting back to the southern part of Yukon. We've still got some things to see there, and we're going to make the little side trip into Alaska doing the Top of the World highway (which will be nothing after having done this Tuktoyaktuk road!) through to Chicken., Alaska.

Here are some photos from our walk around Tuk...

There are three small churches here.

Church #2

Church #3.

Ruth, looking in an old style sod house.

Inside the sod house.

There are lots of benches and picnic tables to use around town.

We went into the Northern Grocery Store. Yikes! Fortunately, we didn't need very much but we bought a bag of carrots for $4.50 CAD ($3.50 USD) and a 2 liter carton of lactose free milk for $8.85 ($7.00 USD). You gotta eat! We really want to know how the locals make enough money. I know that most of them still hunt and fish to provide for their families, but you still have to buy some things, don't you? And many people look like they're driving newish 4x4 trucks, and it seems everybody has ATV's and snowmobiles. 

But obviously wages are high too. We saw an advertisement for a summer student office worker for the town office and it was paying $18 CAD ($14 USD) per hour.

We had been given a name and phone number of a friend's cousin who happens to live here in Tuk. We tried calling, but there was no answer so we went looking for the house. Everybody knows everybody here, and we asked the girls working the cash in the store if they knew where Maureen lived, and sure enough they got us a map and marked off the house for us.

As we were walking over there, another local lady was walking the same way and she asked "So, what do you think of Tuk?"

And I didn't know quite what to say!

It's interesting, but it's kind of run down looking in a lot of places. On an overall basis, the houses are not very attractive and there's a lot of "junk" lying around. But, we also understand why this is the case. Up until this year, the only way to get anything in or out of here was by air. You can't just run to Home Depot and buy something to fix up your house. So stuff gets used, and re-used. And when something stops working, there's nowhere to take it except the town dump. So here's a lot of junk just lying around people's homes. Even saw an old aluminum fishing boat where someone had cut pieces of the sheet metal from it to use for something else.

So like I said, it's interesting.

And it was interesting speaking to this lady. She said that she was one of the ones who was against the new highway being built. It will change things, and although she recognizes the benefits, she also says she worries about things like the children. Because everybody knows everybody, the kids as young as two or three years old are simply able to go out and play and nobody would worry about them. Now, she says, there are a lot of strangers in town. Still, she was welcoming, and smiling with us and was happy to chat.

The town cemetery.

 Way up up up up up in Tuktoyaktuk!

She pointed us down another side street towards Maureen's house and we said goodbye. Unfortunately, there was no answer to our knocks on the door so we will try again today.

They still do lots of caribou hunting.

This one had huge antlers!

More caribou antlers.

Scenery in Tuktoyaktuk.

We were back at the motorhome playing some backgammon when a guy drove up on an ATV and motioned for me to come outside. He was selling fresh fish! So to support the local economy, we paid $20 CAD ($15.50 USD) for a bag of fresh fish fillets already cut up and ready to cook.

We'll get a few meals out of this!

We had quite a bit of rain overnight, but today has been cloudy with sunny breaks so far. It looks like some of the other travelers are heading back to Inuvik today, which we would normally do as well to take advantage of the break in the weather. But, we don't feel like we're done here yet! The next decent weather may not be until Saturday or Sunday, so I guess we're going to be stuck in Tuk!

Happy 4th of July to our American readers!
I put this t-shirt on today just for you guys!

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The popular Coleman ComfortSmart Camp Cot is back at the low end of the pricing scale...





48 comments:

  1. Another great posting. Thanks!

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  2. Like the shirt , thank you . I see some wood stacked by some homes but where did they get it. I didn't see any trees around . ( maybe that's why ) Great pictures .

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    1. Kevin loves to wear that shirt on the 4th of July! :-)

      There is a ton of logs that get washed up every spring on the shores here so they just have to go down and grab some. The wood gets taken down the Mackenzie River every spring and once it reaches the ocean, the ocean then pushes it up on the shores. They will have a lasting supply of wood and it is free other than having to haul it up to their houses and then cut it up. There are no trees around this area because it is tundra and the tundra can't support a tree growing on it, the roots can't go down far enough before they hit the permafrost (solid ice that never thaws) for it to stand up, this is why only short and hardy plants survive here.

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  3. Happy touristing! We'd stay stuck too if given the opportunity! Enjoy your days up there.

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    1. We don't mind being stuck here either. I am sure we can find something to keep us occupied, like maybe going for a swim with the locals at the Hamlet pool.

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  4. What a long strange trip it's been, as some folks who would know once said!

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    1. Yep, it is definitely a different trip but one that we are enjoying even with the rough roads. We are certainly learning more about an area of Canada that we weren't familiar with before and it is giving us a better understanding of the people and the culture up here.

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  5. Love today's header photo. what a fascinating trip … thanks for letting us tag along.

    Do you read the LiveWorkDream blog ? they weren't as lucky as you dealing with road conditions.

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    1. Travel trailers and fifth wheels don't seem to do as well in rough road conditions. Having said that, Sherman broke a ball joint down in Mexico due to exactly that! All we can do is cross our fingers that Sherman holds up well during the trip back to better roads.

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  6. I can’t believe I missed taking this trip this year. You two are wonderful!

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    1. I think most people would miss this trip, especially if they are headed to Alaska. Also I think it takes a fairly adventurous person to want to tackle this road at least in an RV, not so much if they are driving just a truck then it would be a fairly easy drive, all things considered.

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  7. Glad you're staying a while. Your narration is awesome.

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    1. We are glad we are staying longer too! It will give us more time to see locals and get their take on things and hopefully learn more about the culture and how they live up here.

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  8. Thanks for another great post. I agree with Peter, you are such a talented writer.

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    1. Thanks and you are welcome, we are glad that you enjoyed it. :-)

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  9. Do you have an idea what the water temperature is in the Arctic Ocean?

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    1. Nope we have no idea but when we were talking with a local yesterday he explained that the water is slightly warmer around this area because of the water that comes out of the Mackenzie River in the spring, it also has less salt in the water for the same reason. He did mention though that the deeper the water the colder it will get because the fresh water sits on top of the salt water because it is lighter.

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  10. Amazing journey so far. My guess in how the locals can afford to eat is the man that came around and sold you that fish. Lots of bartering and trading. Maybe you could fill the freezer before you leave.

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    1. Nope, that wouldn't be the reason because this is only the first year that they have been able to do that with tourists, up until now there was no road here so tourists came in by plane and then usually left the same day. We were talking to some locals yesterday and all their meat supply comes from hunting and fishing and in the late summer they pick lots and lots of fresh berries that they then freeze or preserve for the winter months. Kevin will talk more about this and other things on today's blog post.

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  11. Hmmm why did you go up & what was your expectations. I’m sure you looked at photos to indicate people ‘s lifestyle at the tip of world. Do they even have a landfill? It seemed like a typical backwoods village. We have a lot of those in US. We also have too many junk yards filled with old vehicles. I guess you run across junky areas anywhere. Wow I bet people traveling there thought they’d find hotels, restaurants, rv parks with hook ups etc. I even thought the highway was paved. Google images are from 2011. What a surprise to find you driving on dirt road. I’m amazed they have what the village does have. The ocean is beautiful

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    1. We went for several reasons. One because of the adventure, it was the first time in Canada that it was possible to drive to the Arctic Ocean and we wanted the chance to do that and to be able to say we did it, like many others are doing as well. The second reason is that we wanted to learn more about the people here and their culture, it is very different from the populated parts of Canada and we like to learn about this, just like we do when we visit other countries. What were our expections? I'm not sure, we really didn't know what to expect! Pictures on the internet aren't always true to form, as you will have noticed yourself, seeing that you thought the road was paved when it wasn't.

      Anyone that travels the road up here will have done their research and known that the road is long and that it is gravel with very little in the way of services, that is why you come prepared for it. As for Tuktoyaktuk, they will have known that there weren't any campgrounds and certainly none with hook ups. The visitor's centres both in Dawson City and in Inuvik, are very explicit in what to expect once you are up here, I don't think anyone goes there thinking that is some beautiful resort town!

      As for the junk lying around, Kevin explained why this is the case in many situations, up until this year there was no all season road, so the only way to get rid of stuff is to haul it out in the winter or ship it out which just doesn't make sense logistically. They do have a landfill and unfortunately it is right at the start of town and because of the tundra is all above ground and is unsightly but again, because of where they live there really isn't much they can do about it and we totally realize this. They burn whatever garbage that they can and the rest goes to the landfill. I am sure that now this new road is opened they will eventually come up with a solution this this issue. One thing we have noticed is that the town is very clean, there is hardly any actual litter around and everyone we have met has been extremely friendly and helpful.

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    2. Because you're travelers, not tourists. Interested in the adventure, differing cultures, and all-around-learning. We consider ourselves the same. Aren't we the lucky ones? :-)

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    3. Yep, you nailed it Nickie Jim! :-)

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  12. Great story of the town. I suspect that you have to be born there to really appreciate the lifestyle. I can understand how that woman would be a bit concerned about the road. A lot is likely to change and not all of that for the better. Of course, that also depends on what you think better is.

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    1. We totally agree with you, people that live here have lived here all their lives and this is the life they know. There are certainly few outsiders that are here for work or because they want to be here but it certainly isn't a place Kevin or I would chose to live, the winter would kill us. It is funny though because the lady that we talked to on the street said her favourite time of year was the winter and the spring, partly because there aren't any bugs around then! ;-)

      We also agree with you on things changing, they aren't always for the better.

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  13. Kevin, thank you for wearing the tee shirt. It helps as today, US Independence Day, protesters are holding hostage the Statue of Liberty in New York!!

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    1. Kevin wore the t-shirt to say Happy 4th of July to our neighbours south of us, that is all!

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  14. Ummm... thanks for the shirt! But what are we supposed to wear, to celebrate Canada's official day??
    You and Ruth have singlehandedly inspired a need for us to visit Tuk in our truck/fifth wheeler combo. Maybe next summer. THANK YOU SO MUCH for all of the details. I need to ask a favor. Could you do a post on how you handle dumping/filling tanks, how often you need to do it, are there any special tricks you use for extending the time needed to do it (one blogger I read suggested using a trash can for used toilet paper, like it's often done in Mexico -- what do you think), etc. etc. Do you keep showers to a minimum? Wash dishes in a different way that saves water?
    We are getting ready to live in our fifth-wheeler, and I am certain these are going to be important issues for us. Thanks so much for any advice you can give.

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    1. You wear a red and white t-shirt with Canada written on it and a picture of a maple leaf of course! :-)

      We are so happy that we have inspired you to do this route. The two biggest pieces of advice that we can give you is keep your speed down A LOT, and to give yourself lots of time. We are already just over a week and a half on this "highway" and we are only half way done, we still have to come back.

      Yes, Kevin can probably do that! It doesn't look like we are going anywhere for a few days and the weather is absolutely crappy out that we probably won't do much exploring today so it may just give him something to do while it is all fresh in his memory.

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  15. You look great in that T-shirt. The U.S. would be glad to adopt you. :cD

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    1. Thanks Paul and Marti but to be honest he would love to have Mexico adopt him instead. :-)

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  16. Gas prices on Vancouver Island:In Duncan the average price is 148.9, Port Alberni is 143.9, Comox 141.9, Campbell River 145.9, and Tofino at 146.9.

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  17. Loving the shirt, Kevin! It was a great day in Delaware!!

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    1. Thanks Connie and Barry! Glad you had a great day celebrating. :-)

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  18. Guessing rpad wouldnt be open in winter anyways due to snow. Interesting read thanks for sharing.

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    1. They've had an ice road in the winter that's been open for years. The new road is all season.

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  19. Tuk and the Arctic Ocean is what I imagined it to be! Thanks for another informative blog and pictures. Safe travels back to Dawson City.

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    1. We have found Tuktoyaktuk to be very interesting and we have been enjoying our time here, at least until during the night when the wind pick up really badly and the temperature plummeted.

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  20. Been Catching Up.
    Looks like you are still having an enjoyable trip.
    That's a lot of Fish for that price.
    Be Safe and Enjoy!

    It's about time.

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    1. We are having a great trip, and learning a lot about the north that we had only learned a little about in school so many years ago.

      I cooked up some of the fish last night and it was delicious. I think there is enough fish there for us to have three meals off of so we think that is pretty good value for fresh fish. :-)

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  21. We just did the Top of the World Highway, the Yukon part is beautiful, the gravel road is like asphalt. If you intend on turning around in Chicken.... I would turn around just before the border, on the american side the road is rough, narrow and Chicken , well nothing worth the drive. We are now heading to North Pole then Fairbanks.

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    1. Thanks for the update Daniel. We will be going all the way on the Top of the World Highway and making the loop back to the Alaska Highway then back into the Yukon via Beaver Creek. Have fun and enjoy your trip. :-)

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  22. Love the update and history... it's a different life without a doubt and yes, like the lady said, change is not always a welcomed thing is it.. but inevitable...

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    1. It is a different life and I hope as being outsiders that we don't change their way of doing things, after all this is their land and the way they have passed down their heritage and traditions. Many times change can be both good and bad!

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  23. Hi, I have been following you for about a month now, love your writing style, and picture's, as others have said, you make us feel like we're right there with you! I'm so envious, we have a 24 ft travel trailer, and go for months at a time, living in Florida make's you want to do that during the summer months ! This summer is a first staying here, hip surgery, but your making up for the missed trip! Thank you for a Happy July 4th, which brought me out of the stalking mode! LOL ! I doubt we'll ever get that far north, I'm in my 60's and my sweet hubby is in his 70"s, but thanks to you 2, I feel like I've been there ! Safe travels, and watch out for the rains, you said you have a good haul on some nasty roads before getting back on pavement on your way south ! (btw, my user name is usually jamibad, it shows I'm commenting as badlilgirl, lol ! thought I could change it, but can't! I'm not use to the format you use, but it's a good one for sure!)

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    1. Thank you so much for taking the time to comment and for the nice compliment that you have given us. We are very happy that you are enjoying our blog and that you will find it helpful as well.

      We can't imagine having to live in Florida during the summer, it would be hot and humid I would expect so we can totally understand you wanting to get away during the summer. With us in Canada it works the other way around we go to the warmth in the south to get away from the cold in Canada during the winter. We hope everything goes well or has gone well with your surgery and that your recovery time is quick.

      Trust us, we will be making sure the road is good condition before setting out back south on it, if we have to wait then we will and we will be traveling slowly, it is certainly a road for the adventurous. :-)

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