Olympic Torch - an interesting detour

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The Olympic Torch is making its way around Canada in preparation for the 2010 Olympics. One stop is a bit unusual. From the Vancouver Sun:
For Alert's 'Frozen Chosen,' wolves are good company company
Northernmost inhabited settlement in the world hosts Olympic torch in 24-hour darkness

Here, on the top of the world, one's perspective is altered, drifting far from the minutiae of the everyday and into more ethereal contemplation about life's big picture.

It has something to do with the cold, and the isolation and the ice crystals that dance in the dark in this place where the sun doesn't shine for much of the year.

Ask 26-year-old Meaghan Harris of Kingston, Ont., why she can't stay away from the North Pole and she will tell you this: "I absolutely love it up here. There's something so majestic about it. It's barren. It's beautiful."

By "here" she means the Canadian Forces Station at Alert, where she is one of the 35 civilians who work as service support staff for six Environment Canada employees and the 21 permanent military personnel whose job is signal intelligence and who call this Arctic outpost on the Lincoln Sea on the northern tip of Ellesmere Island - 800 kilometres from the North Pole - home.

Alert is, rather famously, known as the northernmost inhabited settlement on the planet, an airstrip and a collection of five buildings and scattered outbuildings forever covered by snow and surrounded by ice pack, where when it's not totally dark outside, it's totally bright.

On Sunday, in the 24-hour blackness that now envelopes Alert through next February, the 2010 Olympic flame was carried into the base by a relay of torchbearers, where a celebration was held in the -31 C chill outside the gym, and where the final torchbearer, George Stewart, used his torch to ignite a propane-powered cauldron in the moonlight.

This is the farthest north any Olympic flame has ever been, and on Day 10 of the torch relay's northern Canada tour it was only fitting that Stewart carried it home, because although he is retired from the military he has been coming to this base off and on since 1957, and is considered by many to be its elder statesman.
Sounds like a gorgeous place. I have always been attracted to the ends of the Earth. Spent two months backpacking around Iceland, visited the Galapagos, Antarctica (the French station at Dumont d'Urville), Gary, Indiana (now THAT is the ends of the Earth), been through the Panama Canal, Costa Rica, spent three weeks sailing the Caribbean. If I was rich, I do not know that I would travel like this perpetually but I sure would take more trips like that. More on Alert and Ellesmere Island here, here, here and here. No news on airplane tickets though...

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This page contains a single entry by DaveH published on November 15, 2009 8:08 PM.

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