Day Three: Radisson

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Our first day with “boots on the ground” in the far north was a holiday; Easter Monday.  We had planned on using this day to get settled, organized and recuperated, so the fact that most businesses were closed worked out just fine in that regard.

We got our room sorted out, putting together a makeshift kitchen by the window and figuring out a method for cooking that wouldn’t set off any alarms.  A fan in the open window worked great for evacuating the steam from our stove.  We had a late breakfast of eggs and bacon with green onions.

I spent most of the day on the computer, writing up blog entries about our trip north and getting photos together for the website.  It took a lot longer than I thought it would; there was a lot to digest and to condense into a palatable length.  Eric spent that time working with his camera, which was still quite new to him.  He pored through the manual and ran tests while I hacked away at the keyboard.  Outside, the weather had gotten decidedly worse.  It was very windy, and snowing lightly.

After a while, we decided to take a break and have a walk around town.  It was still blustery and cold, but nothing worse than we’d both experienced in Vermont.  The weather in Radisson that day was approximately the same as a January or February day in Vermont.  The only difference was that it was, in fact, April.

Radisson is a small town, home to approximately 500 people by the accounts I’ve seen.  During the construction phase of the James Bay hydroelectric projects, it had a population of several thousand.  Now, it’s a relatively quiet hamlet.  Most of the activity we saw was Hydro-Quebec vehicles heading in and out of town.  There’s a small gas station and convenience store, a couple of restaurants and a few small shops and businesses.

Strangely, the slushy pop stand was closed.

We stopped into the convenience store for a couple of things, and I noted that the stock on the shelves was instantly familiar, for the most part.  As we were walking back to the hotel, I mused on how no matter where you go in North America, you can generally find the same items in convenience stores, wherever you are.  Eric was recently in Mexico and confirmed that it was the case there, as well.  It is a little odd to drive one thousand miles into the northern wilderness and to then find a store that sells the same Snickers bars and M&Ms that you can buy at home.  In one sense, it’s a disconcerting reminder of the pervasiveness and relentless expansion of western culture.  On the other hand, it’s also a reminder that people everywhere aren’t so different, no matter where they may be, and everybody likes a tasty snack now and then.

Back at the hotel, we readied our gear for tomorrow’s adventures.  Our plan was to drive to Chisasibi in the morning.

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