Last Days on the Tundra

Friday, December 2, 2022

The continuing saga of our experiences on the tundra north of Churchill, Manitoba.  In case you are interested, today, 12/2/2022, at 7:30pm EST, it is -19 degrees with a wind chill of -39 in Churchill.  Weather Bug cautions that it is “very cold”.  So glad we had the opportunity to visit this almost magical place, but very, very glad we do not live there.

Now back to our story of this cold far north area.  We forgot to mention in our last post, for Sunday, that the northern lights were out again late Sunday night.  The sky was not as bright as Saturday and there was some cloud cover but you could definitely see the lights. We were so blessed to see them both nights because the rest of our nights we had lots of clouds.

Monday and Tuesday began as Sunday with another great breakfast and then a full day on the tundra.  After the spectacular viewing day Sunday, we really didn’t know what to expect.  The next two days, we did have time to get to know our fellow travelers better.  As we quit totally concentrating on wildlife, we began to appreciate all the different cultures and backgrounds in our buggy – people from Canada, USA, Germany, Holland, and Japan and maybe elsewhere.  We also learned more about the tundra, the environmental concerns with the melting of the polar ice, and we noticed more of the plant life in the tundra, and the smaller things we had missed on Sunday.  We met Tundra Buggy One while we were roaming the tundra Monday and Tuesday.  It is the research vehicle our tour company (Frontiers North Adventures) provides to the Polar Bear Institute for their research.  Buggy 1 is equipped with some great camera gear and web cams anyone can watch.  The look and feel of our surroundings became more real as we spent more time there and began to take more in than just the wildlife.  Not that we were not still looking for and photographing wildlife both days.  But we began to notice other things too.  We saw more bears, fox, ptarmigan, and seals, but the big thrill for the day Monday was spotting an arctic hare – a rare find.  Our guide has only photographed one arctic hare in all his time on the tundra.  The hare is so beautiful and so very fast.  Most of the time all you get is pictures from behind as they run away.  They are very difficult to spot because they blend in perfectly with the snow, as do the arctic fox and ptarmigan.  Until they move, they go unnoticed even when they are right in view.   We had a gorgeous sunset Monday and then a very peaceful evening drive back to the lodge for another amazing dinner – our last dinner at the lodge.  Tuesday was another wonderful sunset but instead of heading to the lodge we went back to the buggy dock for our bus ride back to Churchill and our own hotel room and bathroom.  The lodge was actually very nice but it’s been a long time since we slept in bunk beds like at church camp and shared 3 bath rooms, 2 with showers, for 20 people.  We really enjoyed our long hot showers back in Churchill. Check back in for our final day of this adventure.  There was lots of fun on the final day.

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