‘Road trip’: as its name suggests, it is the perfect gateway to experiencing nature and landscapes while roaming hundreds of miles with your car or your flowered-van, depending on how much of a 70’s-nostalgic you are! As our airborne NLC research campaign drew to an end in High Level, Alberta with the project PoSSUM (find more information at www.projectpossum.org) I took two weeks off in Canada to visit some of my friends I made from a few years back, but virtually without any solid plans. As it turned out, Post-doc and citizen astronaut candidate Aaron Persad was going to return his car in Edmonton after taking a four-day road trip, and honestly I did not know how on Earth I was going to get back anywhere because my all rides had departed the research site days before. Aaron was the only tangible possibility for me to get back south, and hey, in total honesty, how bad is it to take on a road trip?
On July 9th, after leaving the PoSSUM den at High Level, we decided to hit the road and to start our journey by making our way north. Jason and Chris- the main PoSSUM executive staff, were flying there anyways, and we set up a meeting there, only we would be driving 8 hours and they would be there in one and a half! From High Level to about Enterprise in the North West Territories, it was just flat out boreal forest with no view and millions of bugs waiting to devour you as soon as you step out of your vehicle. However the road circling the Great Slave lake, NT, is way more scenic, and the possibilities of viewing wildlife are endless. We stopped several times trying to get a clean picture of sandhill cranes or huge bisons. We stopped in the remote town of Fort Providence, just off the road, to visit an old church overlooking a the winding arms of the Mackenzie River.
At the northernmost point of our road trip (62.87 deg N), we took a picture at a small lake (among thousands of them) featured in the second scene of the movie, where the 11:00pm sun was just starting to set. The area towards Yellowknife is now strewed with granit prominences and trees get considerably smaller as a consequence of the lack of soil, and probably the acidity of it. After braving about three hours of gravel, bumps and potholes, our car survived all the way to the beautiful town of Yellowknife, secluded on the eastern shore of Great Slave lake. As we were trying to desperately find a place to sleep, the moon was just rising on top of floating houses (to avoid paying taxes) and we met Jason and Chris coming back from downtown and and gave them a ride to their hotel situated in the old town. I took advantage of the scenery to take a timelapse of noctilceunt clouds (we thought it would be too bright to see them) evolving on the shore, featured at 2’08’’.