2017 marks the 4th year of my 1 year trip that I began in the beginning of January in 2014. While I have had to stop and work along the way, it’s been constant movement for my backpack and I. Luckily, being a traveling chef, contract work for short stints has been enough to fund my lifestyle and this is how I spent the majority of the year above the Arctic Circle on wildlife expeditions. Away from the world, where few get to tread and in turn my writing took a hit. No internet connection for much of it and long working days left me little time. Now I’m making up for it, but much of the year has yet to be put into words.
Back in the beginning of the year 2017, I was on the opposite side of the world from the Arctic. I had just finished my rural work in Australia and made a dash for Cairns. My main goal here was to skydive. This had been on my list for a long time. Once I developed my addiction for bungee and ultimately freefalling, this was a must. Anything that gets the adrenaline pumping, that natural high that leaves you buzzing for hours. This definitely fits that category as I flipped through the sky and looked at the world from a new perspective. A bucket list item checked off, but this wouldn’t be a onetime thing. Can you re-add things to your bucket list?
Before I knew it I was back in the cold white winter of Canada and being shipped up to the Arctic once again. My third floe edge trip and my second time working out of Pond Inlet with Arctic Kingdom. For some brain lapsed reason I’ve always wanted to dive off the edge into the near frozen dark waters of the Arctic Ocean. Against all better judgement and the advice of the Inuit, don’t get wet in the Arctic, common sense really, I dove in in my underwear. Not once, but twice. As soon as I surfaced, it was a delusional scramble for the sharp ice edge scraping my arms and legs as I pulled myself out and ran for the heated tent. Polar Bear Plunge… check.
Visiting Axel Heiberg was truly a once in a lifetime experience… well, probably anyways. Camping and cooking for clients I am still unable to reveal on the 80th parallel was one of the most unique experiences in my career as a chef. Landing in a twin otter airplane in a polar desert on this uninhabited island was like stepping back into the land before time. In between feeding the camp 3 meals a day at sporadic times, I would venture off hiking the mountains. With each step it truly felt like I was the first to take them in thousands of years.
My last expedition of the year with Arctic Kingdom was one I had wanted to do since my first trip in 2015. The Polar Bear Migration Fly-In Safari took me to a private camp in between Churchill, Manitoba and Arviat, Nunavut. Here with the safety of a bear fence and local guides, the guests and us staff are able to have some of the most intimate encounters with the wildlife of the Arctic. Observing polar bears within meters is an experience like no other, but for me the kicker was having an Arctic fox get so close to sniff my lens and kitchen clogs. I must smell good as the chef!
Visiting Montreal is something I’ve wanted to do for some time now, but local travel within my own country as with most people never took precedence. I feel as I get older, it is more important to discover my own backyard. So, with the incentive of a small work project I headed to Montreal and ate my way through the city as much as I could in a week. Montreal smoked meat, bagels, poutine. The cities food scene was loaded with good eats. For me, I was most excited to finally go to two restaurants in particular. Au Pied de Cochon, a restaurant that pays homage to Quebec and French classics and Garde Manger. This was a city, I feel I could possibly move to one day. Modern, but full of old world charm.
Squeaking in at the end of December, I made it to South America finally. A new continent and new countries to explore, but more on this in the coming months.