Arrived at the Ottawa airport at 06:30 hours for an 08:00 flight to Edmonton and met assistant expedition leader David Reid, checking in. We are the only two staff from Ottawa on this flight. We compare our plane snacks. I have home-baked banana muffins made with bran and whole wheat. He has trail mix made of nibs and chocolate covered blueberries. Healthy vs. yummy.
My in-flight entertainment is reading Arctic Labrinth, a good way to brush up on those British expeditions looking for Franklin. The search is now on in a serious way for the sunken Franklin ships. The Victoria Strait Expedition is happening in the very waters we will be traversing.
We met a couple of folks on our trip while waiting for the hotel shuttle outside the Edmonton airport terminal. Turns out, we needed to phone the hotel to request the shuttle. We figured this out after waiting 45 minutes. The shuttle came five minutes after calling. Checked into the Executive Royal Inn at Leduc, which was about 10 minutes from the airport. Probably could’ve walked.
In the lobby I met Stefan Kindberg the expedition leader, and picked up my envelope, containing one black Adventure Canada (AC) golf shirt, an official AC nametag, and baggage tags with ‘327’ marked on them. This is the number of my shipboard cabin. I trundled up to my room with my two duffle bags, backpack, laptop, and four foot cardboard poster tube with maps rolled in it.
My room/cabin mate, Cathie Hickson, was there working on her laptop. We hit it off right away. Cathie is the geologist on the trip. She is a trained volcanologist, who studies volcanoes and thermal activity. She was at Mount St. Helens when it erupted in 1980. How cool is that?!
At 16:00, dressed in our black AC golf shirts, we headed down to the conference room to meet the other staff. There are 16 staff members. We pulled the chairs into a circle and went around introducing ourselves and what we do. Everyone had worked together before. (Cathie is an AC newbie like me.) I was awed by the expertise in the room – a printmaker, marine biologist, filmmaker, botanist, archaeologist, photographer, musician, culturalists, two ornithologists, and two expedition leaders – all these impressively talented and knowledgeable people. I am so honoured and privileged to be a member of this team.
At 18:00, passengers crowded into the conference room. There are 83 passengers from across Canada, the U.S., Europe, New Zealand and Australia. Everyone took seats and staff members introduced themselves at the podium.
Expedition leaders David and Stefan talked about what to expect on the trip, such as how to grab a guide’s arm, rather than taking their hand, when getting into or out of a zodiac. One woman asked what a zodiac was. I wondered if she had seen the trip brochure. (Zodiacs are basically inflatable black rubber dingys with outboard motors, which will be our form of transportation between the ship and the shore.) However, even knowing what a zodiac is doesn’t exactly prepare a person for being in one. This trip is going to be a huge learning experience for all of us.