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SEPT. 30th, 2006 – DAY 535

First snow

the first snow
On September 15, 2006, we taste the first snowflakes that are accumulating on the ground to form winter’s first white coat. Here, on the 55th parallel, it’s as if Mother Nature had forgotten a season. Hey ho! Ma’am, what did you do with autumn? In two days only, we passed from 24°C to the freezing point. Nights are getting longer and longer. Wow! Winter is already making its way.

We are located right in the heart of the forest, kilometres from the closest city. What attracts us in this Nordic region? Well… it’s work. Since mid-June, we work as rescuers on oil drilling sites. It’s a job that pleases us, but it isolates us from the rest of the world. Here’s a page of our dairy which tells you about moments lived in the middle of this wild nature, disturbed by oil exploitation.

A woods reindeer


on the oilfield
On call 24h / 24h, we always remain on the field where we stay most of the time in our rustic mobile home. The electricity, provided by three big generators, is principally used to power the drilling field, where dozens of men endeavour each day digging a hole 4,5 meters deep. Drinking water is delivered each three days by tank truck. The two hours separating us from the closest hospital can become a stress factor for us. Fortunately, emergency cases requiring fast transportation towards specialized cares are rare.


If one of these cases should happen, the patient would be transported by helicopter to Fort St. John’s Hospital in order to save precious minutes. Until today, we only had to deal with minor injuries, like strained ankles or cracked ribs. One case only needed an evacuation by ambulance; when a man, in a wood cutting field, received a block right in the stomach.

Men at Work

Internet access and television via satellite embellishes our conditions. We take advantage of that time to abandon ourselves to our favourite hobbies. Caroline takes a university class by distance about the biology of behaviour, while Patrick improves his photographical technique. We also start planning the next step of our adventure, Africa. We plan on teaching French, Sciences and Photography to children in Senegal and on the island of Madagascar. That continent is still a big mystery to us, and we are extremely impatient to go in search of it.

Patrick in his camp


Patrick and Caroline

a little rest
At the moment of our last days off, we went wandering along Alaska’s highway, up to 200km from Yukon. A safari of 1600 km, lasting 3 days, during which we observed around thirty reindeers, about fifty buffaloes, mountain goats, moose, black bears, wapitis, and a dozen of deers. This part of the country is hardly populated.


As soon as possible, we gas up and make food provisions because it’s not rare to see closed restaurants and service stations on our way. We stop on the side of the road to bathe in hot springs in Liard River’s Provincial Park. The basin is at 49°C. People come here all year round to have a dip. It’s the spot the most up North that we ever set foot on.

Northern lights

And after work?

Meeting up with our families for Christmas is a step that always makes us very impatient. We plan on staying a month in Quebec before leaving at the end of January 2007 for a year in Africa. It will have been 9 months without us seeing our families.

If a rescuer job interests you, don’t miss our article First aid worker in British Columbia.

To see all the road diaries  To see all the corresponding pictures