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

Day 3

October 25, 2016 5:20am Photo of warning sign in bathroom.  The window does open but there are no screens so bugs have free access to the room. 6:15am I am sitting here watching Barbara pack.  I was up first, showered first and managed to finish my packing while Barbara was in the shower.  Now I get to watch her work. 6:30am Our bags are packed and sitting outside our room door ready for hotel staff to pick them up.  We are heading down to breakfast.  After eating we will return to the room for one last bathroom stop and teeth brushing before checking out. 7:40am Back in the room.  Suitcases were gone when we came back.  I just hope they are heading to the right place.  After we are done here we will grab our cameras and backpack and head to the lobby.  We are going to check out and then wait down there for our guides to tell us what to do. 8:40am We are on the bus heading for the airport.  We are taking a chartered flight from Winnipeg to Churchill, which means we don’t have to go thru security.  Got a few photos of the Hudson Bay Company Store.  I heard about the company in history classes and now I actually get to see it. 9:10am We are on the chartered plane that will take us to Churchill, Manitoba.  It is pretty good.  The bus pulls onto the tarmac and stops with its door just about 3 feet from the movable stairs to board the plane.  Step off the bus, onto the ground, take 2 or 3 steps, and you are on the stairs to the plane. 9:50am We are in the air on our way from Winnipeg to Churchill.  As we climb I am looking east towards Lake Winnipeg. 10:00am Looking out of the window I see nothing but clouds.  I usually try to get some photos from the airplane but I’m not sure if I will this time.  Looks like pretty thick cloud cover. 12:05pm We have landed in Churchill.  We are way up north.  We are about 500 miles south of the Artic Circle, near the tree line.  Pretty neat! 12:40pm We are on a bus heading from the airport to the ‘launch’ area for the Tundra Rovers of White Bear Tour Company. 1:20pm We are off the bus and on the Tundra Rover.  About to head out into the tundra. 1:50pm We are out on the tundra.  We are driving on some pretty rough trails.  About the Tundra Rovers - ~30,000 pounds - 210 - 250 hp diesel engine - ~50 – 55 feet long, ~14’ high & ~14’ wide. - Uses 12 – 15 gallons of diesel each day - Sits on 6 huge tires (5’ tall, 3’ wide @ 12 psi) - Can hold up to 50 people (we were smaller group) 1:45pm We are currently sitting at Halfway Point.  We are having a box lunch on the shore of Hudson Bay.  So far today we have seen a Red Fox, some Snow Buntings, Common Eider and Herring Gull. 2:20pm Just finishing our lunch of yam soup, salad, sandwiches (I had turkey & swiss, Barbara had a veggie wrap).  And so far…. No Polar Bears! 2:30pm We are seeing a flotilla of Black Scoters on Hudson Bay. 3:40pm Lunch long over, we are heading for the Tundra Lodge.  We have stopped for a photo op of the lodge.  It is very long so it would be tough to get photos from up close.  The Tundra Rovers are not only very good at navigating rough trails but also crossing shallow lakes.  We have to cross a small, shallow lake to get to the Tundra Lodge. 4:05pm Our first Polar Bear!  He is resting in the scrub across the clearing that the Lodge occupies.  We started calling him “Scar” because of a large open wound in the middle of his back.  It looks really painful.  (Justin told us later that he is called ‘John John’ from a J-shaped scar on his snout) 4:25pm I am in room 6 and Barbara is across the hall in room 5.  Barbara’s suitcase is in her room and mine is not.  Figures.  The ‘rooms’ are very small.  A bunk (either high or low), a cubby for storage and a hook or two to hang stuff up.  The bunk is a wooden platform with a thin mattress on it.  There is a small, thin blanket, a comforter and a couple of pillows.  Also a nice welcome card and a ‘Tundra Passport’:  A nice souvenir, a place to record information about the tour, animals seen, small map of area, journal and information about the Polar Rovers.  They also left a cookie in the shape of a Polar Bear. 4:45pm Bonnie (tour guide) just informed me that they are looking for my luggage but it is not on the Lodge.  Probably still in Winnipeg someplace.  All my clean clothes, vitamins, meds…  At least I keep all my camera equipment with me in my backpack.  Sad part is Barbara and I normally carry at least one change of clothes for the other in our suitcase.  We figured there was no way our luggage could get lost considering this was a charter flight just for NatHab tours.  Note to self… always keep one change of clothes in other suitcase. About the Tundra Lodge: - Consist of 6 units on wheels o 2 berthing units (with bathrooms in between) o Lounge car o Dining/kitchen car o Crew’s sleeping/storage o Propane tanks - Can walk from end to end in berthing cars without going outside - To get to any of the other cars there is an open outdoor space between them. - All heat is propane stoves - There is a generator for electricity. 5:30pm While waiting for dinner we saw:  Another view of Scar, some Willow Ptarmigans and Snow Bunting. 6:00pm I have just been told that they found my suitcase.  It was never put on the plane in Winnipeg.  It should be here ‘sometime’ tomorrow.  While waiting for dinner we were all hanging out in the lounge car.  There is free wine.  White or red, both very good.  Looks like they have their own wine bottled.  Cute photos of Polar Bears on the labels.  We are all gathered in the dining car for dinner.  They do everything with very minimal staffing.  They have a manager/worker (Robin). They have two dedicated cooks (Shane & Shelley) that cook all the meals and do clean up.  There is Jason who drives the Tundra Rover and also helps with serving food and cleaning up.  Then we have Bonnie and Justin, both are our guides on the rovers, they serve food and help clean up, give lectures and help with emergencies (like lost luggage).  Everyone else at the lodge is a paying guest. 7:15pm After dinner we all headed back into the lounge car for a talk by Justin.  He was going to talk about Polar Bears but he was having problems with the laptop computer so he switched to a lecture on photography and cameras.  Very helpful and informative.  He has many beautiful pictures. After the lecture Justin was kind enough to set the time on my GoPro because I totally forgot how. 8:15pm Shortly after the talk by Justin most of us headed back to the sleeper cars and cleaned up and headed for bed.
Polar Bear Adventure, October 23 - 31, 2016
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