21 November 2012

Checking In from "Check Point"

Hello from the Dehcho! 

The opportunity recently arose for my partner Pam & I to help out some friends who live "off grid" outside of Fort Simpson about 45 minutes at a place known by the locals as Check Point.  You can search out our location at Check Point (where the Mackenzie Hwy. (#1) meets the Liard Hwy (#7)) through the following tourism websites:  NWT Explorer's Map (2009) or Dehcho Travel Interactive Map

We agreed to help Lynn & Wayne Mckay take care of their business in this "remote" location while they got away for a break with their family down South. Yesterday was the beginning of this adventure, as we took care of final preparations in the office and around town before we hit the road after work. The ice crossing over the Liard River was in excellent shape, no problem for my little Honda Fit "Zorro" to drive across. 

It's quite amazing that major waterways can be turned into such functional ice crossings up here. Large chunks of ice and snow getting smoothed out and shaped with additional water that is pumped from the Liard River below, to even out the hummocky, icy terrain!  As well, the Liard Ice Road was open at least 2 weeks earlier than it has been over the past few years.  So, we were actually able to drive across, instead of having to be shuttled over the river by Great Slave Helicopters to a vehicle that Wayne & Lynn would have left waiting for us on the east side.  The drive out on the Mackenzie Hwy. was smooth and helped along by the bright light shining from the half moon overhead in the clear night sky.

We arrived last night, to a warm welcome from Lynn & Wayne, the owners/operators here at Check Point. It didn't take long to get into a variety of discussions over dinner with Wayne & Lynn to help us start getting oriented to the "in's & out's" of living "off grid"  ~45 minutes down the Mackenzie Hwy. from Fort Simpson. 

After enjoying a dinner that included rice/quinoa and elk meatballs, salad, and steamed veggies, we got a tour of the main building to get us familiar with the layout and the heating/ventilation systems that require regular attention and maintenance. This building includes the dorm style accommodations that are maintained for work crews who stay at Check Point when they are working in the area. The older, original log house building (I believe it was built in the late 1980's) contains the commercial kitchen, dining hall, and private living quarters for the owners and their small menagerie of "livestock." Our new four-legged canine friends include Nieko & Max, plus "Mouser" the short-haired black cat. 

Details for maintaining the wood pellet stove and wood pellet boiler systems would wait until the morning, along with a variety of other instructions for living and operating this "remote camp" facility. On that note, we headed off to our dorm room and settled in for a good night's sleep, while the wood pellet stove & boiler did their thing and the ventilation system moved that pellet generated heat throughout the building. 

Looking forward to seeing what adventures and learnings abound as we embark on this "off grid" living experience out here at Check Point.  It's a unique "remote" experience in that we are right on the main highway, only 45 minutes from Ft. Simpson, but there are no power lines or built-in water lines.  The power & heat that supply the buildings here, operate on either diesel fuel (electricity) or wood pellets (heat) and the water supply originates near the Jean Marie River in a well that is drilled deep in the Earth.  Plus, we have the ability to plug into cyberspace to post updates on this Blog through the "not-so-high-speed" Internet access available here at Check Point! 

Alas, there's a few more things to tend to in this unique "remote" situation that we'll be exploring and sharing with folks through this webpage ... I'll be trying to post a daily update on this blog to share some of the highlights & challenges that we experience to help folks understand what it takes to live in a remote northern location in the NWT.

"Mahsi cho!"  (thank you very much in the Dene language) 
... for tuning in to this Blog & for the comments and questions you share with us along the way :)


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