Sunday, October 15, 2006

Twenty-Four Hours on the Bear

This is the first fish I caught on my September trip to Great Bear Lake. We hadn’t been on the water for an hour when Ron Oe (pronounced exactly as it’s spelled: ohh-eee) stopped his boat. We were about halfway to our destination for that night. The sun was getting low but Ron just had to try for a few grayling. This, he assured me, was the best spot on the river. Ron got a bite on his second cast. My line got tangled on my second cast. Within minutes, Ron had two small grayling in the boat (each about two pounds). He took my crappy fishing rod from me and gave me one of his spares. Within a few more minutes, we each had a fish on our lines. But while Ron was having little trouble reeling his in, my rod was doubled over.

“I must have a snag!” I said. And then I felt the fish pull away. The brake on the reel allows line to come off rather than snapping. The fish was pulling the line off almost as fast as I could wind it on. Ron got his grayling in the boat and then came to assist me. We had no dip net, so I maneuvered the fish to the side of the boat, and Ron hooked his fingers under the gills and pulled it into the boat. I was swearing like a sailor and Ron, through his laughter, mumbled “language.” I later found out Ron is a Christian. So I felt a bit guilty after that. But it was still an amazing experience. I was later told that it is very, very unusual to catch a bull trout on the river. It weighed in at 13 pounds, in case you were wondering.

Later that night we went to stay at Ron's friend's cabin. During World War Two, the Americans mined uranium for one of the atomic bombs from the far eastern side of Great Bear Lake. They used a barge to carry the ore across the lake, down Great Bear River, and down the Mackenzie. But one section of Great Bear River is too shallow for a barge. So the Americans built a road around that section. Bennie’s cabin is on the western end of that road. You can still see a couple of run-down buildings from the camp. Bennie has written “Jesus Loves You” on the roof of one of them. Bennie’s cabin is where the mess-hall used to be. Ron and I stayed in his guest cabin: a small building I assume was left by the Americans which Bennie has fixed up.

Bennie was our guide through the rapids the next day. It wasn’t really rapids per say. Just water that is about three and four feet deep on average, with the occasional rock jutting above the surface. The water is crystal clear, and sometimes the bottom seemed dangerously close.
When we came to the lake, it was like glass. The wake from our boat was no match for the stillness. I thought we would stir up the whole area, but the wake just petered out to be replaced by stillness that stretched to the horizon.
Bennie and Ron warned me it would be cold on the lake. I had been expecting huge swells. Eventually I had to take off my coat. The sky was completely clear, as was the water. I could easily see bottom ten feet eblow us. We would see schools of five and six trout swimming past us as we were trolling. A minute later, all three of our rods would double over with ten pound trout. I caught four all together that day, but lost many, many more.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Peace on Earth

There was a light dusting of snow on the ground when I got up this morning. More than frost. The knid of snow that completely covers dirt roads and roofs, but still looks patchy on grass. It made the whole world seem peaceful, dispite the fact that:

a. North Korea now has the bomb.

b. All the pepsi, water, and milk in our last two barge containers may already be frozen solid.

c. I have to be at work in 15 minutes to finish counting all the general merchandise (anything that isn't food) in the store.

d. The boss and his wife are coming over for Thanksgiving dinner and our carpet is polka-dotted with pee-stains from the dog (who I swear is now housebroken).

Happy Thanksgiving!

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Nicole's Sprained Ankle

It has been far too long since I have posted. I think I've had writer's block since my fishing trip to Great Bear Lake. Recording the story is too monumental a task, but expect an abridged version soon.

Last Sunday, Nicole, Macky and I set out for our weekly walk. When I brought Macky home, I invisioned taking her for a walk every night. At that time, I was getting off work around seven, and the puppy could barely walk across the room without falling asleep. Now Nicole takes her for a walk every night. I'm the one who can't walk across the room without falling asleep. Sunday is about the only day I get to take her out for a walk

The Northern Store's property, once the property of the Hudson's Bay Company since God knows when, is at the top of a hill looking out over the river. There is a steep bank with a well worn path that runs down to the road. We usually run down this path to get to the beach. Only last Sunday, as Nicole was going down the hill, she rolled her ankle at the bottom.

It was clear within a few mninutes that she had sprained her anke. I got her shoe off and we sood there by the side of the road debating what to do. I was going to get the truck when someone passed by and offered us a lift.

We didn't get to the health center until the next morning. We could have gone and got the nurses to look at it, but there wasn't much they could do anyway. Monday morning they took a few x-rays (which didn't turn out), gave Nicole some crutches and something to wrap her ankle with, and sent her home. Now, a week later, she can still barely get around. A nasty green coloured bruise is forming on her still-swolen ankle. There is no word from Yellowknife on the second set of x-rays taken on Wednesday.

The nurses have been good. They said if there was a problem, someone from Yellowknife would have contacted them immediately. Unfortunately, a sprained ankle is worse than a break or a fracture. It takes longer to heal, and because there is no cast, it is easier to bump or reinjure the ankle.

So the house is a state right now. I've been doing my best to get meals and keep things clean, but it isn't easy. Mackey finally chewed into the stuffing of her favorite toy: a stuffed bone with a smiley face I have dubbed "boner." So right now there's a sink full of dirty dishes, and the living room floor is covered with balls of fluff.

Work isn't much better. The new guy the company sent to work with us quit after a month, and the part-time produce guy is off work for a month because of surgery to his wrist. But life goes on. We're plodding along, and still meeting all our budgeted sales figures. I have to go over for a few minutes today to get the freezers ready for Thanksgiving turkeys. MMMMMM. Turkeys.

But it's all worth it becuase tomorrow I'm ready to pay off my line of credit in one fell swoop, and possibly a large chunk of my student loan as well. Once we're out of debt, we can tell the whole world to kiss our aaa....ankles.