In my previous posts I wrote about my journey up the Dempster Highway and the road to Tuktoyaktuk(Tuk). On the afternoon of my 4th day, after an absolutely spectacular drive, I pulled into Tuk.
It was cold and raining. I drove slowly through town towards the point. After getting a picture at the Arctic Ocean sign, I sat in the Jeep for a bit, wondering what the next step was. Tuk seemed to be a place worth exploring, but there wasn’t any sun in the immediate forecast.
Tuk is only just getting used to the tourism business, so there isn’t much here. There are a few designated camping spots by the point, but they are right by the water and out in the open. On a windy day that wouldn’t work well for a tent. Any other spots around town that could work are also out in the open. I’ve learned that tenting in the open in bad weather just isn’t a good idea…
It was 7 degrees and raining. I knew that would be miserable in a tent. There are a few small places to stay, so I splurged and got a room at the inn for 2 nights so I could properly explore. I’m glad I did. That evening the wind picked up and was howling all night.
The next morning the wind was still howling and it was 4 degrees…at least it wasn’t raining. So I bundled up and went for a walk through town. It’s a friendly place. Most people wave or say hi and are quite talkative. The buildings are simple. Some are run down, others just look very weathered. It’s not exactly a tidy place, but for living at the end of the road, I can understand that.
My walk brought me back to the point. By now it was raining again…or maybe it was the chilling wind blowing ocean spray sideways through the air. It was hard to tell. Either way it was freezing. A fitting day for visiting a place like this. If it had been sunny and warm, it just wouldn’t have been as epic.
I ended up under the pavilion by the point with a few others. There was a guy from Quebec who drove up, guy from England who flew into Whitehorse and rented a truck and a guy who came all the way from Costa Rica on a motorcycle. These type of destinations bring all the true adventure seekers. It was great to hang out with these guys and swap stories of our adventures while we sipped some warm coffee. What a great way to spend time at the end of the road!
Every now and then a vehicle would come to the point then leave. I met a few people that I had met further back. I gather a lot of people make Tuk a day trip from Inuvik and don’t stay long. There are also a number of people who fly into Inuvik and drive a rental the last bit. I guess that’s one way to do it…but they are missing the real adventure.
The weather was getting worse and the pavilion wasn’t helping much, so we parted ways. I snapped a few pictures of the waterfront, then started the cold walk back to the inn.
Back at the inn, I spent some time writing blog entries. A few hours later it looked like the rain had let up, so I went out exploring again. This time in my Jeep. The rain came and went a few times, but never got bad. Oh, and a sign that the wind and rain are kind of crazy: when you open the passenger door and the inside of the driver side door gets wet. Epic weather for an epic place!
It’s actually a bigger town than I thought. It has a school, arena, 2 grocery stores, a gas station, and a couple of small churches.
As in Inuvik, things are a bit different because of the permafrost. All the buildings are built on stilts. Rather than pumping utilities around above ground, every house has a water tank, propane tank, and septic tank and there are trucks that go around filling or removing.
Despite the lack of trees, there was plenty of driftwood along the shore. Apparently it comes from the Mackenzie river or possibly from far far away across the oceans. The driftwood is important as it allowed the people here to build more permanent shelters. Tuk has been around for a long time and originally the people lived in sod houses with wooden frames.
It’s crazy that I made it this far. The road was rough, but I never had any issues. What a blessing from God to be allowed to simply enjoy His wonders without any fear or worry. Somehow my trials either happen in places were it doesn’t matter as much, or they add to the experience. Either way I’ve been learning to take the bad things in stride, because I know that God will never leave me stranded without reason and without help.
I still have to drive all the way back down the road to Dawson, but I’m looking forward to simply enjoying that.
Oh and by the way, here’s a map with Tuk on it. In case you weren’t aware of just how far up that is. I used the flattened mercator map type to show that Tuk is even further north than Iceland!