Monday, October 22, 2007

Lift Off...

D-day, the starting line, whatever you want to call it. D-day is probably the best descriptor. It is called D-Day because it was the fourth choice for the Allied invasion.

The official day was last Sunday, October 28th. Just five days before, Canadian government-contracted moving men had loaded most of my worldly goods onto a moving van headed for their warehouse. The final destination? Iqaluit, Nunavut. The somewhat-surly packers (I have a lot of worldly goods) handed me a 40-page booklet detailing the rules governing the move of every Canadian Public Service and armed forces employee. It was a strange feeling imagining how the guys who packed my boxes marked "Iqaluit" might also have packed folks headed to CFB Kandahar. I am pretty sure those guys did not get to take as many books.

Absent from my 1980 lb. weight limit in the truck were one duffle bag, one large suitcase, and a large cardboard box that contained things I would need in the first couple weeks in Iqaluit until my weighty worldy goods arrived. I had carefully picked out my favorite kitchen knife, pot, and coffee mug. I packed all my warm clothes and winter gear. I made sure to pack the stovetop espresso maker and the latte whipper as well as some of my favorite cereals; however, I forgot to pack the coffee itself. It just goes to show that even the best-laid plans could use some extra planning.

So, Sunday morning, after kissing my mom and dad goodbye and paying my excess baggage fees, I boarded a 7:10 a.m. flight for Ottawa. As the cabin lights dimmed and the flight attendants prepared for lift off, I sat back and took a deep breath, preparing myself for what would be the first plane ride of many over the next few years. As I did so, the captain announced a jet fuel leak and asked everyone to exit the plane--quickly. As our wait stretched to an hour (making it almost certain I would miss my connection to Iqaluit in Ottawa), I scanned the room for the tall, red-headed woman in hiking boots I suspected was going my way. I had watched her check in a large rubbermaid container marked "Cape Dorset" at check-in: a good clue. Gita told me that we would likely have to stay in Ottawa until Monday to catch the next flight. I chalked it all up to the Far North experience. No doubt, this would be the first of many missed flights I would have over the next few years too.

Fortunately, the Far North is ready for these moments. I made a quick call to my miracle-worker office manager, Elayne, and I was booked into the Southway Inn in Ottawa. I also started to look forward to a day in Ottawa. My friends Jen Kay and James were just as efficient as Elayne. About 5 minutes after I had arrived at the Southway, they showed up to whisk me away to downtown Ottawa for a day of shopping, socializing, and eating. It was a perfect day, marred slightly by my bedtime discovery that my laptop monitor had decided, after three years and three countries of faithful service, to quit on me. Thank goodness for external hard drive back up (and David).

All things considered, it was a successful start to the journey.