My Adventure Story
Sunday, August 1, 2010. 775 nautical miles. Today we started our homeward bound trip. Long days of flying.
This was a significant journey - we flew along the MacKenzie River to its source at Great Slave Lake. Between yesterday and today we have travelled Canada’s longest river its entire length (1,700 km). The river is a majestic ribbon of silted brown water that winds its way down the MacKenzie valley, with the occasional village hundreds of miles apart as the only civilization.
We landed at Norman Wells for fuel. A river town, with land access only by river in the summer and ice road in the winter, Norman Wells is the site of oil wells developed during World War II. The wells are on islands in the river, and the oil is transported out by the MacKenzie valley pipeline to the south for refining. The airport staff were very helpful and friendly. The gate agent for one of the local airlines was a woman who had grown up in the village, left for the south, but returned because she loves living here.
We continued on up the river past Wrigley and Fort Smith, where the river curves eastward toward Great Slave Lake. Nearing Hay River we were met by a line of heavy rain showers, which we circumnavigated to the south.
Hay River airport is a main terminal for the storied Buffalo Airways. The airport apron held three DC-3's and behind the terminal was a veritable boneyard of mothballed old piston airliners. The McBryans, who we had met in Barbados in the winter, were not home for us to visit; they were in Oshkosh, Wisconsin with a DC-3 for a DC-3 reunion at AirVenture.
Hay River is a busy port town. It is the end of the rail line, where cargo is offloaded onto barges for travel down the MacKenzie River. We were there on the Sunday of a long weekend, and the town was very quiet.
Tomorrow - Southward bound.