Churchill, Manitoba, Canada
Polar Bear Sow & 2 cubs walking across a frozen lake.
“Leave only footprints, take only memories” (…and maybe some pictures)

Day 2

October 24, 2016 5:30am I took a few photos of the Canadian money.  I think it is something new and feels like plastic instead of paper. 5:45am I’m showered and dressed, waiting for Barbara.  Only real complaint about the hotel is the room temperature.  It was 74ºF all night and putting the thermostat on the lowest setting had absolutely no affect.  We should have opened the bathroom window but there is a sign warning that the window has no screens and opening it could let in bugs.  I think it is cold enough that there isn’t much risk from insects. 6:00am Breakfast is included with the room so we are down in a restaurant off the hotel lobby to eat.  They have an omelet station manned (personned?) by very good cooks.  Lots of fillings to pick from and cooked to order.  They also had a table with pastries and breads and another table with cereals and fruits. 8:15am Meeting local NatHab guide in lobby for a tour of Winnipeg. 8:50am We opted for the extra day in Winnipeg.  We arrived in town a day ahead of most of the rest of the group.  We decided to for this option in case of travel delays getting here, and also, to see a little of the city.  We are on a small bus for a full day’s tour of Winnipeg and the surrounding area.  Our local guide for the day is Marian.  The bus driver was Dave (same driver from airport to hotel yesterday). 9:00am First stop on the tour is, for us, another look at The Forks (where we had dinner last night). 9:15am We walked across a footbridge that started life as a railway bridge, as it crosses the Assiniboine River just as it meets the Red River.  The tour guide informed us that Winnipeg tries to enjoy the cold, northern climate as much as possible.  In the colder months the city floods the trail near The Forks and allows them to freeze and they even smooth out the ice daily with a Zamboni. Not just the trails but apparently you can ice skate over the bridge we are standing on. We also viewed the Oodena Center.  It started as an archaeological dig finding evidence that people had been coming here for thousands of years.  Once the digging was done the city built a park on the site with statues and artwork commemorating past history and civilizations. 9:20am Statue of Gandhi in the middle of a sidewalk near the Canadian Museum for Human Rights. We are at a park with the gravesite of Louis Riel and the Saint Boniface Cathedral. Louis Riel:  1844 – 1885, Canadian politician and leader of Metis People (mixed-race of First Nation [indigenous] people and European Settlers).  Led resistance movements against the early Canadian government. Saint Boniface Cathedral:  Roman catholic.  The visible façade seen is the remains of a cathedral that was built in 1906.  In 1968 the structure was damaged by fire.  In 1972 a smaller cathedral was built behind the walls of the 1906 remains. 9:40am Sign on car: Novice Driver.  What a good idea! 9:50am We are now in the Manitoba Museum.  This is a Monday and the museum is closed on Mondays.  Because we are on a tour with NatHab, not only are we allowed in today, but we get a guided tour by one of the museum staff, Robert. 10:05am Mural on the museum wall, painted in 1972 by local native artist, Daphne Odjig (died Oct 1, 2016 aged 97) is called “the Creation of the World.  The mural depicts the local tribal story of creation. 12:15pm The museum tour is over.  They opened the museum shop for us and we are just waiting for everyone to finish shopping and before moving on to the next stop. 12:30pm We are at the Manitoba Legislative Building.  The building was open for use in 1920 and is made of Tyndall Stone or Manitoba Limestone.  Tyndall Stone is a registered name for a particular type of dolomitic limestone quarried nearby.  The stone is noted for mottling and a large number of fossils. 12:50pm We are outside the Manitoba Legislative Building taking photos of a golden statue on top of the dome.  The statue is called the “Golden Boy”.  It was modelled after the Roman god Mercury. 1:50pm We just arrived at Fort Whyte Alive Nature Preserve. 2:00pm We just finished lunch (homemade soup, salad, sandwich) at Fort Whyte Alive.  Originally the land was used to mine for clay and gravel.  After the mining stopped reclamation work was started to create habitat for wildlife.  Eventually the use shifted from wildlife to environmental education. 3:00pm We just finished a bison safari.  Fort Whyte Alive had a herd of bison that is managed in a fenced and protected area.  We got on one of their buses and were driven out across the muddy fields, by Kaylin, to where the bison were.  We weren’t allowed out of the bus but the driver opened the door and we all took turns taking photos out of it. In the area is a town of Black-tailed Prairie Dogs. 3:05pm On the birding tour, led by docent Barbara (not my Barbara) we are informed that the trees we see that look like White Birch are Trembling Aspen.  The trees Trembling (or Quaking) Aspen reproduce mainly by sending out root sprouts that will become a new, clone, tree. 4:20pm Just finished our birding tour of Fort Whyte Alive.  A walk around part of a lake.  We saw:  Canada Geese, Bald Eagle, Mallard Ducks, Black-capped Chickadees, Red-breasted Nuthatch, White-breasted Nuthatch, Downy Woodpecker, Hairy Woodpecker, Dark-eyed Juncos.  Inside the building they have a display of (live) Burrowing Owls and Black-tailed Prairie Dogs (we saw the Owls but not the Prairie Dogs). As we were waiting for everyone to get on the bus and depart some of us ran down the road for a few pictures of the small prairie dog town. 4:30pm Took photos of some very nice houses on the outskirts of the city on the way back to the hotel. 4:40pm Learned a lot about Winnie-the-Pooh.  There is a statue in Winnipeg because the real story of Winnie- the-Pooh actually starts in pre-WWI Winnipeg.  Hint:  Winnie is named after the city. 5:10pm Tour of Winnipeg is done and we are back at the Fort Garry Hotel. 6:10pm We are back in our room, showering and changing, after our day’s activities.  We are all to meet in the La Verendrye meeting room for dinner and a talk about the Tundra Lodge and our trip to Churchill and Polar Bear country. 6:45pm We are the first in the La Verendrye Room.  We met Bonnie and Justin, our tour guides for the Tundra Lodge Adventure.  This is our first  chance to get together with the guides and guests that will be staying on the Tundra Lodge.  The guides handed out buttons with 3 or 4 different Polar Bear photos that we all got to pick one to write our name on it and wear to as name tags. 8:40pm We just got back to our room from the dinner/talk.  On the way back to our room from the La Verendrye Room we were looking for window that would afford us a nice view of the city and I was hoping to get a few night time city scenes.  While wandering around aimlessly we ran into a hotel employee, Ryan, in the elevator.  We explained that we were heading to the lobby to ask about possible city photos.  He informed us that there are some nice views but they are all behind locked doors.  And he just happened to have the key that would get us in. He took us up to the 7th floor of the hotel and opened doors for ballrooms and meeting rooms that we would never have been able to get into.  There were some very nice views of the city from these windows.  I wish I had had a tripod but I had to freehand all the photos. We could see: the cathedral that we visited on the tour, Human Rights Museum, The Forks. Our suitcases have to be outside our door by 6:45am packed, locked with our red tour tags on them.  We are heading for sleepy land very soon.
Polar Bear Adventure, October 23 - 31, 2016
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