To say the trip to Deline was an adventure would be an understatement.
First off, the visit with Trent was great. There isn't much to do in Deline at this time of year but it was nice to see where he lives & works. We had a wonderful Thanksgiving dinner at the local RCMP officer's house and I got to meet many of his friends and collegues who were all very welcoming.
Now back to the adventure. I left Van on Thursday evening and spent the night with Trent's uncle in Edmonton as my flight to Norman Wells left at 7:45 AM from there Friday morning. From Norman Wells (NW) I was to catch my flight to Deline at 4:30 PM. The flight into NW went fine. I had about 6 hours to kill so I walked into town, visited the museum and then grabbed lunch at the MacKenzie Hotel as Jane's Friday Chinese buffet is infamous. Once I was done my lunch I wandered back to the airport and sat around for the remaining 3.5 hours.
Through out the afternoon several flights out of Deline were delayed due to poor weather conditions at the destination airports. I was assured everything looked good in Deline, the bad fog was in the other direction. At 4:30 PM we loaded the 12 seater twin otter and set off for Deline, stopping in Tulita on route. On the short flight to Tulita (25 minutes) I chatted away with the man next to me and filled him in on my plans. We were in row 1, right behind the pilots so that they could turn around and speak with us too. At Tulita we all got off the plane and I chose to just wait outside the office while they unloaded luggage and supplies staying in Tulita. About 10 minutes later the pilot comes up to me and tells me that we have to head back to NW as the weather has turned in Deline. I laughed and said that he was very funny. He said no really, we have to head back. At this point I develop a huge pit in my stomach when I realize he isn't kidding. He then asked if I want to stay in Tulita or head back to NW. I had no clue so I asked him what he would do and he said he would go back to NW. And so I did after a paniced call to Trent's answering machine saying we were turning around and going back to NW. Its a good thing I decided to go back as all of my luggage, along with my napsac/wallet weren't on my plane, they were loaded on the second plane that had never left the ground.
The picture here illustrates where Norman Wells is to Deline
I got back on the plane and as one can imagine I was devastated. A guy on the plane actually asked if I was ok..I looked at him and said "No...I'm really sad." It was all I could manage to say, I can only imagine how I must have looked. When we got back to NW I somehow made my way to pay phone and called Trent. He was back from the Deline airport by this time and miraculously had contacted the local hotel (The Mackenzie River Hotel) to arrange a room for me and by the time we got off the phone they were there to pick me up. (Not that I needed anything to prove to me how great he is but his actions that afternoon really proved to me what a lucky girl I am to have him in my life). The North Wright boys assured me that they would get me to Deline the next day and that I would be the first one on the flight scheduled for 9:00 AM. Having spent half the day at the airport (2 airlines) I had spent a lot of time talking with the guys at North Wright so they were sympathic to my situation.
Friday morning I was back to the airport for 8:30 AM only to be confronted with fog, thick thick fog everywhere. The boys kept telling me it was very uncommon for it to last too long and that they rarely had to cancel flights two days in a row. At noon one of the boys finally said maybe I should head back to the hotel and that they would call me when the flight could go. At this point I was prepping myself for another night in NW as it really didn't look good. Distraught I walked back to the hotel and had myself a birthday lunch of french fries and Diet Coke. Jane, the owner, was kind enough to let me go back to my room where I tried to relax and wait out the weather.
At about 1:45 PM the sun finally started to be visible through the thick fog and minute by minute the conditions improved. The boys had told me that once I could see across the river (outside of my trailer/bedroom window) then I was to wait until 15 minutes past the next hour and then call to see what was going on. At 2:00 PM after a cautiously optimistic call to Trent I was delerious with excitement as I was now able to see across the river I could also see trees in the distance. I packed up my napsac and ran out to the diner planning to have a DC to kill the time until I could call and check the flight status. Jane asked if I had called and I explained what they had said about calling at 15 minutes past the hour. Before I could say anything else she was on the phone with North Wright and the next thing know I was in a van being whisked back to the airport.
By 3:00 PM the plane was loaded and we were finally on the route to Deline. By this point everyone at the Norman Wells airport,the Mackenzie River Hotel and from the sounds of everyone at the Deline airport knew of our situation. I had all 11 of my co-passengers cheering as we approached Deline and they were all trying to see Trent out the windows as we taxied in. So finally at about 4:00 PM on Saturday I was in Deline. We still had the birthday breakfast of french toast and bacon that we had planned just for dinner.
So there you have it. It was quite an adventure getting to Deline but once there none of it matttered. I'm hoping for quiet birthdays in the future, that was enough excitement for a lifetime.
Street signs in Norman Wells and the Mackenzie in the background