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

Day 4

October 26, 2016 6:00am I had a bad sleep night. I should explain that each room is a small bunk for one and some area for your stuff.  Not much room, but it is one person to a room.  Some have top bunks and some have bottom bunks.  There is a little overlap ie, the feet of the person in a top bunk are over the feet of the person in the adjoining bottom bunk.  Hard to explain and I only have photos of top bunks as that is what Barbara and I had. All the heat in the berthing cars comes from propane heater in the open hallway.  The hall is heated the little rooms are not.  If needed, open your door to allow in some warmth.  The bunk is a wood base with a thin mattress on it.  Each unit also gets a comforter and a thin blanket. The mattress is comfortable enough.  My main problem was temperature.  I couldn’t cool down.  Not once in the whole time at the Lodge did I get under the comforter.  I slept on top of it every night.  I did sleep under the blanket but barely.  At time it was only covering my feet.  I sleep best with a room temperature of about 60ºF and my sleeping area was probably mid 70’s or higher. I woke up early and got dressed.  Took my kindle into the Lounge car and sat watching some courses I had downloaded while waiting for 6:30am when I can get some coffee. 6:15am Other people are starting to show up and are also hovering near the door to the dinning car waiting for that first morning cup of coffee. 6:30am Mad dash (not really, actually a very civilized slow mosey… I just really wanted a cup of coffee) to the coffee pot.  7:00am Breakfast.  They do a very nice job with the food.  Nice selection of breads & pastries and a main dish of scrambled eggs, sausage and bacon. 7:30am Took some photos of a pretty sunrise. 7:45am Barbara and I are in the lounge car waiting for our first tundra safari looking for Polar Bears.  Last night they ask everyone to sign up for either a morning tour or an afternoon tour for today.  They take half the group out in the morning, return for lunch, then take the other half of the people out in the afternoon, then the groups swap shifts each day.  We signed up for the morning today, then tomorrow we will be the afternoon and the third day is scheduled for the morning again.  (Didn’t work out quite that way but I will explain later.) 8:00am On Tundra Rover on our first tundra safari. 8:45am We are in the rover, with Bonnie as our guide, with our half of the group wandering the tundra looking for wildlife.  This whole area was used, during the cold war with Russia, for cold weather training and monitoring of the USSR across the Artic.  When the US military pulled out they left many signs of their past activities.  We just passed something from the US military times.  A wooden tower, about 25 feet tall, that was used to watch over this section of tundra.  The terrain is so flat, that even from the rovers, we can see miles around us.  We were just told that until recently the tower was still standing, but a wind storm blew it over not that long ago.  So our photos don’t show a tower but a wooden debris field. Apparently most of the trails/roads we are using are left over from the US Military days. fyi: female bear-sow, male bear-boar, young bear-cub & group of bears-sloth 9:10am Polar Bear sleeping on edge of frozen lake. 9:28am Sow and cubs sleeping in the scrub willows, then walking right towards and past us. 10:25am We are sitting watching a sow and two cubs (one male & one female) eating kelp that washed up on shore.  The thought is that they do this to enlarge their stomachs after having eaten so little over the warm, summer months. 11:00am We are heading back to the lodge.  In miles we don’t have far to go, but in time it will take about an hour to get back.  The trails are rough and the Rovers don’t move real fast. 11:55pm Back in the lodge waiting for lunch.  When we returned from our morning safari my suitcase was waiting for me in my room.  YEAH!!!  Clean clothes.  Probably better for the rest of the group.  I doubt I would have noticed my smell after a day or two, but they would. 12:55pm Lunch is done.  I backed up my camera card from this morning.  I bought an external hard drive designed just for that before the trip. The other half the group is out for the afternoon tundra safari and I am about to head for the shower and some clean clothes. 1:45pm Photos of Lazy Bear Lodge vehicles and two Polar Bears (taken from the Lodge). 2:20pm Some Snow Buntings were kind enough to forage very close to the Lodge so I could get a few pictures. 2:30pm Bonnie gave a talk about the British Artic explorer Sir John Franklin.  He attempted to navigate the Northwest Passage through Canadian waters in 1845 - 1846.  He commanded two ships, the HMS Erebus & HMS Terror.  The expedition failed, all hands perished and the ships were lost.  Many expeditions were sent to find the men and/or the ships but all failed until 2014.  In September 2014 it was announced that the wreck of the HMS Erebus was found.  And about the month before we went to Churchill (September 2016) another announcement was made, this time the HMS Terror was located.  It was on the minds of the locals because it is their history and was very recently in the news. 3:05pm I wandered around and tried to get photos of everything Tundra Lodge related. 3:35pm More Snow Buntings. 3:40pm It is snowing, normally I hate snow, but this is supposed to help with the bear sightings.  From the Tundra Lodge we could see about 6 Tundra Rovers/Buggies parked in the distance.  We could also see a Polar Bear going from vehicle to vehicle.  I hope the other half of our group is in one of the Rovers getting a good look at the bear.  It all happened pretty far off and I just hope it is visible in our photos.  Also saw some Willow Ptarmigans near the Lodge. 4:00pm Very overcast.  Got interesting photo of hazy sun to prove it. 4:40pm The other half of our group is back from the afternoon safari.  They managed to see the same sow and 2 cubs we saw, but only in the distance. We saw a group of Willow Ptarmigan behind the Lodge. 5:00pm We saw a Silver Fox (color variant of the Red Fox). 5:15pm Haven’t seen many Polar Bears, up-close-and-personal, near the lodge like all the ads show, so I took some scenery shots. 6:00pm Dinner time. 7:10pm Photos of the blowing snow and a portrait by the light of a tablet. 8:20pm After dinner Bonnie (a Churchill native) gave a presentation about birds, butterflies and other wildlife in the Churchill area.  She told some stories about Polar Bears.  We are now released until the morning. 9:25pm The day is done.  Almost bedtime.
Polar Bear Adventure, October 23 - 31, 2016
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