The Long Journey Home

After a few days of hunting, Dax and Geoff packed up to head home. Their first stop: nearby Atikokan to gas up. But the clouds started to drop fast, and so they headed to their alternate: Thunder Bay International airport.

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After a quick fill-up at YQT, the guys headed out over the Sleeping Giant that is Thunder Bay (below), back towards Marathon.

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A half-hour later, over Lake Superior, above some scattered clouds, the electrics on the plane – radio, GPS and more – started to go out, one by one. With his trusty handheld radio, Dax turned around and headed back to a seaplane base in Thunder Bay. The flaps crept down, using the tiny bit of battery power that remained, and the landing was smooth.

On land, Dax had a technician look at the plane. With the help of several local pilots (and the helpful folks at Wilderness North), they determined the plane was safe to fly, but Dax would have to charge up for the night – and conserve energy on the journey home.

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The fellows now found themselves, unexpectedly, with a night to kill in T-Bay. And so they did what anyone in that situation would do. They headed to Prospectors Steak House. And then, a dodgy motel (above).

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The next morning, Dax visited the legendary Finnish Hoito restaurant for the first time; a crucial rite of passage for Dax, whose mom is Finnish.

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What does one eat at the Hoito? Finnish pancakes and bacon, of course.

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Dax’s early-morning ambitions were thwarted, sadly, by a thin layer of frost.

Once the frost disappeared, the day turned downright beautiful. Above, a view of the oceanic Lake Superior.

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After a smooth take-off and a stop in Wawa to recharge, Dax continued south, following a pole line – and then the little lakes on the map. Below, a familiar sight: Dax flies over a colourful Aird island, where the Wilkinsons have their family camp.

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That’s some good old-fashioned navigating. And it worked like a charm: Dax landed later that day at the Toronto Island Airport without a problem.

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