Monday, September 21, 2015

Coming up for air

I've been away, both literally and figuratively.  It has been over a month since I wrote a blog post.  This is in part because I've been busy with my startup, and in part because I've been on a trip to the Northwest Passage.  I would have written a travelogue, but we were so far out in the middle of nowhere that we had no internet connection for two weeks.  It was an interesting experience to be off the grid for that long.  People were starting to get a little antsy.  Personally, I thought it was kind of refreshing to be unplugged for a while.

The Northwest Passage is at once amazing and terrifying.  Amazing because it's the furthest I've ever felt from civilization.  At one point we were visiting a little Innuit village well north of the arctic circle and I decided to go for a walk out of town to see the world's most northerly golf course.  When I got there I realized I was probably, at just over a mile, further from another human being than I had ever been in my entire life.

The greens are made of astroturf.  There are no fairways.  The whole course is basically one giant super-gnarly sand trap.

The scary bit was that the Northwest Passage is now almost entirely free of ice. We did manage to find some (complete with polar bears) but we had to go out of our way.

So for two weeks we navigated one of the most notoriously treacherous and ice-bound waterways on the planet on completely calm and ice-free waters, under clear blue skies.  At one point in the trip I was actually comfortable taking my shoes and socks off and walking around barefoot and in a T-shirt.

It was beautiful, but it was creepy.  The arctic is supposed to be cold, dammit!

I don't have near enough time to do a full writeup right now, but I do want to share two more images.

No, that is not a watercolor, it's a photograph.  Of actual scenery.  No photoshopping.  It really did look like that.  And then on the other side of the boat it looked like this:

That's a moonrise.  Again, completely unaltered.


ErnestO said...

Ron, those last two pictures are amazing! What an experience you must have had.

Publius said...

Great photographs. The first one really does look like a painting. I could swear I've seen a painting of those mountains before. I first thought it might be Conrad Buff, but nope, that's not the artist. Likely many artists have painted something similar, so the image feels familiar.

What time of day was it? Likely after 8 PM?

Nothing quite like the long shadows of the North in summertime . . ..

Ron said...

The "watercolor photo" was taken at about 9:30PM local time. The sun is just below the horizon on the left, so the light is a combination of back-light and reflected sunset light off a thin cloud layer. That's what gives it the water-color-like quality. It's all diffused light, which is why there are no shadows. I'm pretty sure it's Bylot Island, but it could be Sirmilik National Park on Baffin Island (but then the sun would be on the right, so I'm pretty sure it's Bylot. I wasn't paying that much attention to the lay of the land at the time.)