14 Aug, 2007 ONTO QIKIQTARJUAQ

Back in Pangnirtung and wrapping up the first leg of this month-long journey to the eastern arctic, it was time to pack up and head to the coastal community of Qikiqtarjuaq further north. There, with the help of Billy Arnaquq’ of Nunavut Experience Outfitting, I planned to access some amazing scenery along the coast, including icebergs, fiords and glaciers. But first I had to get there, with all my stuff.

On this learning curve of traveling the north, I’ve been encountering my first lesson: I carry too much stuff. I mean it’s all necessary: easel, paints, canvases, camera, tripods, filming gear, food for a month and so on. It turns out that it can pose a problem when trying to jump from community to community. Planes only have so much room. So for the second time on our trip, Marten and I scoured through our gear planeside in an attempt to sort and select only the necessary items to come with us, the balance to come on the next flight. Having done so, we hopped aboard for a flight that would take us over the dramatic glacial landscape that we had just been exploring. What a chance to get some aerial footage from the plane to show the big picture! But, it was not to be. It was overcast again.

We did make it to Qik though, met Billy and got set up for the evening with his sweet mother who lived next door. She didn’t speak a word of English, but her smile communicated everything, and her warm hospitality came through in her actions and gestures.

Set for the night, Marten and I sat down for a tea to relax a bit.

Then came the call from the door: did we want to see a polar bear?!

We were back on our feet in a flash and in the back of Billy’s pickup truck with camera and video gear in hand on our way to the edge of town. Neither of us had seen one before, and being the first one near the community this season, it was drawing folks out of their houses to come check it out. There wound up being 2 of them, and although a fair distance away, they were impressive beasts to behold: beauty and power. Returning to the house afterwards, we succeeded in relaxing once again, this time for the night.

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