Inuvik is more anticlimax. A "new" city built by the Canadian government to expedite oil exploration in the MacKenzie Delta and offshore in the Beaufort Sea, it has shops, bars, hotels, elegant restaurants, an Alcohol Information and Rehabilitation Center—along with plenty of reeling drunks to justify its existence—and a church built like an igloo. Now and then a striptease artist from Edmonton flies in to liven things up of an evening. Eppridge and I decide to spend just one night here and then push back south. That empty country is calling. We'll camp along the Ogilvie for a few days, try some new flies on those grayling, perhaps prowl the dry mountains in search of sheep sign. The ferries across the MacKenzie and the Peel will be open until freeze-up, sometime in mid-October. There's plenty of time, and plenty of country.
"So you're off to do some welding," I say to Marco as we go our separate ways.
"Yes. Dahv-son is getting too crowded," he says. "I earn some money, enough to buy me a ketch. I go and sail in the South Sea for a while, I think. Like Jack London."
Some days—and only one more flat—later, having caught our fill of grayling and seen our fill of country, which has a sprinkling of snow on it as we ease down out of the Ogilvies, we drive back into Dawson City through a sun-shower. I stop the truck in the midst of the tailing piles that flank the town and—sure enough—there's a rainbow. The boulders of the tailing piles are glistening in the late light like dark gold. The rainbow arcs up from Bonanza Creek, out toward the Ogilvies and the Richardsons, up toward Inuvik. It is an apt symbol: a link between the riches of the past—gold—and the Eldorado of the present—oil. But it is the link itself, the nowhere in between, that is truly beautiful.