So, let me tell you more about this lovely village I live in. I drove up from High Level, a distance of 660 km, two days after a big snowstorm had come through. Up until the NWT border, it was all good, and I have a new personal record for price-of-gas purchased — $1.389/L at Indian Cabins — it felt like highway robbery!! After crossing into the NWT, the roads were not the greatest, and it was sketchy going for 40 km or so before Enterprise. I stopped at Alexandra Falls, which was amazing and looked other-worldly with the ice formations all around it. Around Enterprise, it was still snowing and the snowplows weren’t keeping up terribly well. I stopped to ask a trucker his opinion of the roads I was heading onto and it didn’t sound too bad.
After the turnoff to Yellowknife, the road was quite a bit narrower and there was just two tracks down it for the whole way – nothing like driving down the middle of the road!
It was like this for about 400 km, with varying amounts of snow and ice and compacted snow. At long last, I got to the ice bridge across the Liard River!
The river looked quite a bit narrower than the Peace River crossing at Tompkin’s, but looking at maps, I can see that this is a pretty narrow spot in the Liard.
The airport, where I work, is really nice! They have a small-ish terminal building, but it’s quite nice and the CARS station is very spacious. Our equipment is similar to what I used at the Flight Service Station in High Level. So far, I only have a picture of the terminal:
The airport has a 6000′ runway, which is longer than High Level’s, and the Mandatory Frequency (MF) area (the zone in which pilots have to talk to me on the radio) is a radius of 15 nautical miles. Most airports of this size have only a 5 mile MF, but because we have helipads, float planes in summer, and a second airport nearby, we talk to everybody. The second airport is an unpaved strip just on the edge of town, and the town itself is on an island in the Mackenzie River! I love it. It’s so picturesque! And I love being here in spring, so I can see the transition into summer. Plus, the days are getting longer every day by about 5-6 minutes. I live in a spot with a beautiful view of the confluence of the Liard and Mackenzie, overlooking a snye (dried up channel between the island and the main bank).
The sun rising over the Mackenzie (view out my living room window)
When I had a day off, I took a walk around town. Fort Simpson has a population of about 1200 people, so it’s pretty small. There is a low-lying flat near the Liard River where there is a ceremonial circle and a large tee pee. I gather this area is used for Canada Day celebrations and the like. Locals call it the papal ground, because the Pope John Paul II visited Fort Simpson here in 1987.
More to come!