Monday, April 13, 2015

Amazon, School Continues, & ATV Recovery

Source: Huffington Post.
The month of April began with bad news from the American internet-based retailer Amazon.  The company, well-known for selling a huge variety of products online, announced that it would no longer offer free shipping to remote communities in Canada's north. - "Due to the economic and shipping complexities in remote locations of Canada, on April 8, offers Standard Shipping to Remote Locations for customers shipping to remote locations." - Basically, customers living in these towns will have to pay a flat shipping fee of $29, plus an additional $22 per kilogram.  Only Iqaluit was lucky to be exempt from this change.
Many people, including yours truly, came to rely on Amazon for ordering products because of cheaper prices and free shipping.  Sure, you had to wait around 2 weeks for the order(s) to arrive, but it was better than paying high mark up prices at the local stores.  Plus, Amazon sold items that you couldn't find at your local stores.  There was a rumour going around that the Facebook group, Helping Our Northern Neighbours, excessively used the option when sending food parcels up north, thus instigating the cancellation of the option.  (I don't know if this rumour is true, so don't quote me on it). 
(Helping Our Northern Neighbours (HONN) was created as a spinoff of the Facebook group Feeding My Family (FMF).  Whereas FMF draws attention to the high food prices in Nunavut by posting photos on its group page, members of HONN collect food & clothing donations, and sends them to northern communities).
With the end of free shipping, I won't be ordering as many items as I used to in the past.  I could do several large orders across the year but I'm not sure if it'll save me money in the long term.  The other option is to buy the desired items whenever I'm down south.  We'll see what happens in the near future.
The remaining days of spring break were spent taking it easy, doing as little as possible, attending a few social gatherings, watching movies, and preparing lessons for the following week. 
School reconvened on Tuesday, April 7th after Easter Monday.  At the beginning of each class, my students & I shared a few stories about what we did over spring break.  True to their words, my students did go out on the land, sleep all day, and hung out the community hall.  They couldn't believe that there was such an activity as extreme ironing.  The looks on their faces when I showed them several photographs of my antics were priceless. 
My English students finished reading the novel The Boy in the Striped Pajamas and watched the film adaptation before spring break.  Since it was now the month of April, I decided to introduce the poetry unit.  After all, April is Poetry Month.  We spent the first week reviewing the basics of poetry and looked at a few poetry forms (acrostic, haiku, tanka, & cinquain).
In Grade 11 Social Studies, we continued our study of the First World War, studying the battles of Vimy Ridge & Passchendaele, and Germany's last great offensive on the Western Front. 
My guitarists reviewed power chords and learned several new musical symbols, such as, the Fermata and Staccato.
On Sunday, April 12th, I was called upon to provide polar bear protection for an ATV recovery operation.  The vehicle had been stuck on the road to Nansivik since April 3rd and the owners were determined to rescue it.  The ATV belonged to Stephen & Kaitlynd.  Kaitlynd is the student support teacher at Inuujaq School and Stephen is her common-law partner.  He supply teaches on occasion and works as a guard at the RCMP station. 
On April 3rd, Stephen, Kaitlynd, and her sister, Linsday headed out to Nanisivik to place a Pembroke distance sign on the directions post at the former Nanisivik town site.  The post stands next to the GN garage, the only remaining building at the town site.  They were also accompanied by Sarah and Tom.  All five travelled on two skidoos and an ATV.  On the way back to Arctic Bay, the ATV started making weird noises.  The machine stopped working several minutes later.  After checking the machine, Stephen deduced that the problem was the drive belt.  It needed to be replaced.  The group was forced to abandon the vehicle because no one had a spare drive belt and there wasn't a tow truck to call.  Kaitlynd rode back with Tom & Sarah on their skidoo, and Lindsay and Stephen drove back on the other.
The road conditions had made it unfeasible to tow the ATV using a rope and skidoo.  During the winter months, the road to Nanisivik is not plowed.  There is no need because the mine & Nanisivik airport are no longer in operation.  At the time, there was too much snow on the road for the ATV to be pulled through - it would have gotten stuck.  There were also parts of the road that were too bare for the skidoos to drive on because the gravel rocks would damage the skis.  The only solution: replace the drive belt onsite and then drive the ATV back to town.
Stephen purchased the required drive belt and borrowed some tools from Tom.  He recruited Greg, the Grade 6 teacher, to drive his skidoo back to town when the ATV was fixed.  All that was left was to get someone with a gun to provide wildlife protection.  That's where I come in.
We left on the morning of April 12th on two skidoos.  Stephen & Greg led the way.  My backpack was full of the usual essential items that I take with me on a land trip.  My Maverick 88 shotgun rested inside the Cabela's carrying case that sat across my lap as I drove.  The carrying case wouldn't fall off because the attached sling went around my body.  This was my first time driving my skidoo beyond the town airport and along the road to Nanisivik.  We drove across the frozen ice in the bay, then followed the road passed the airport, and the first & second bridges.  The abandoned blue ATV came in sight when we drove onto the Long Stretch - a 5km straightaway.  The vehicle hadn't moved an inch.

Stephen & Greg were the first to arrive at the broken ATV.  I arrived a minute or two later because I was driving slower to enjoy the scenery.  (I couldn't take my time though because I was transporting the toolkit).  I parked behind Stephen's skidoo and stretched my legs.  A silent, white, mountainous landscape surrounded us on the ground while an endless blue sky enveloped us from above.  Stephen & Greg got to work on the ATV while I removed the safety locks on my shotgun.  I kept the gun inside the case so that it wouldn't freeze.  The temperature that day was around -20ÂșC.  I scanned the horizons with my binoculars as Stephen removed screws and the side panels to reveal the damaged drive belt.
Stephen looks for the right tools.
The old tattered drive belt.
The condition of the old drive belt was worse than we thought.  It was completely torn.  It took some time to carefully remove it.  With the old drive belt out of the way, Greg & Stephen got to work putting on the new drive belt.  They immediately encountered a problem.  They could only put the drive belt on the clutch assembly.  The drive pulley's large disk was preventing them from looping the drive belt around it.  If they had a rivet gun, Stephen and Greg could have removed the drive pulley and easily place the belt on both parts without any difficulty.

The new drive belt is finally on.
We took turns using our hands and muscles to loop the new drive belt around both parts but it didn't work.  Thankfully, the belt didn't break.  After much thinking and pondering, Stephen came up with the idea of using a screw driver as a wedge and a hammer to pound the drive belt around the drive pulley disk.  The idea worked!  Stephen fueled up the ATV and started the engine.  When the drive belt moved after Stephen lightly pushed the throttle, we all knew that the ATV was fixed.  To celebrate the occasion, I fired two slugs from my shotgun.  I pointed the gun in a safe direction and wore noise cancelling headphones.  The kickback isn't that bad. 
My awesome skidoo: Expedition 550f.
Road to Nansivik covered in snow.
Stephen drove the ATV on the road while Greg & I drove the skidoos on the trails next to the road.  Everything was going fine until the skidoo Greg was driving decided to stall near the Second Bridge.  Stephen hopped on my skidoo and drove to where Greg was stuck and got the skidoo started again.  When they came down the hill, Stephen got back on the ATV and I got on my skidoo.  We continued our drive home. 
A picture of "snow grass".
Greg & I drove off the main road near the first bridge and cut across a frozen lake.  We hopped over a strip of land and then continued driving over the sea ice.  I led the way.  It would have be more tedious and time consuming if we followed the road all the way back to town.  Stephen didn't have the option because he was driving an ATV on wheels.  And wheels travel best on roads.  Naturally, Greg & I arrived home first.  Stephen arrived some time later to pick up the tools he borrowed from Tom.  Overall it was a fun and interesting outing.  


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