Entering the Northwest Territories of Canada: Fort Chipewyan to Fort Smith.
Entering the Northwest Territories: Fort Chipewyan to Fort Smith.
13 January 2018 (continued. Click here for dog sledding first part).
Fort Chipewyan, Alberta, Canada.
At 13:00, after some convincing from everyone in the community, Julie and I left Barbara and Robert Grandjambe’s house, gassed up the car up in Fort Chipewayn for $1.60/liter, and drove north. It would be a 3.5 hour trip from Fort Chipewyan, Alberta to Fort Smith, Northwest Territories.
Neither Julie nor I had been to any of the Canadian Territories before, and we could not pass up the opportunity when it was such a short drive away.
The first 50km from Fort Chipewayn to Fort Smith is driven on a small and narrow ice-road. The trail is beautiful with trees making something of an archway above the path. It is 50km to Moose Island and then the next 180km of ice-road is essentially a highway that we traveled 120km/h on.
The ice-road was actually better than the highway that leads north of Fort McMurray because there were no pot-holes on the ice-road-smooth journey. A quick singing-along drive-shortening trip later, we were there!
Julie and I stopped to take a photo of the sign. Moments later, we arrived in Fort Smith.
North of 60!
Fort Smith is a much larger center than Fort Chipewayn, and being that it is connected to permanent highways west means that is it not isolated and prices are a little more reasonable. Julie and I stopped at the bar in town to have a beer and find information about where to stay as bartenders always know things. It was only $4.50 for a beer at happy hour! …In the Northwest Territories… Amazing! That is a better beer price than most bigger centers in Alberta! Heck, that is a better beer price than most places in Canada!
However, the sleeping was quite dear and the cheapest hotel we could find in town was attached to the bar…for $180/night. That particular room at the Pelican Rapids Inn came with toilet accompanied by a broken flush-handle, heat that was stuck on ‘full blast’ and doorstops made from hockey pucks. Julie and I tested the bed to see if it was good for sex and it turned out to be just right, so all was not lost in the price!
At 22:00 it was clear that Julie and I needed a party-kick-start, so we had a shot of the moonshine I brought with us and then we ventured out of the hotel.
We came across a skating rink that we darted into for heat refuge. A temperature of -31° Celsius is face-nipping misery. And wouldn’t you know it, there was a hockey-tournament party taking place inside of the rink! Perfect. So, Julie and I made ourselves welcome, bought some drinks and had a free meal from the pot-luck dinner that was still set up. Thanks…whoever. We made friends inside and we were given shots. A slight food fight broke out between some girls and then everyone headed back to the bar as the party in the rink wrapped up.
Fort Smith is not an indigenous community like Fort Chipewyan. Fort Smith is mixed and that took some of the shine away for Julie and I. We really only wanted to hang out with indigenous locals. Fort Smith is a college town and it did not have the charm of the elders that Fort Chipewayn had offered the night before. Instead, it had drunk college students. I know all about them. I was one just like them for five years and had my technique down pretty well.
Julie happened to be the prettiest girl in the bar, so that got us a lot of attention. Well, it got her a lot of attention and I got secondary attention because we were the outlanders there together. She told me that I get a little territorial when other guys grab her ass. I had not noticed that about myself before…
A local named Flora asked us if we were drug dealers because the only strangers who come to Fort Smith are drug dealers who have come to supply those in need. We assured her that we were not drug dealers and that we were actually undercover agents who had come to town to bust the irreputables.
Flora seemed glad that we were in town…
When the bar closed, Julie and I figured that we did not need to find an all-night house-party because of a seven-hour drive back to Fort McMurray in the morning. So, we went to our room for a get-to-know-you-better session. That was probably a lot more fun than any old house-party could have ever been anyhow, drive or no-drive back in the morning!