Final Episode of Our Polar Bear Adventure

Sunday, December 11, 2022

Wednesday morning (November 16th) we awoke in Churchill to a heavy overnight snow.  It was cold and windy.  Very cold and very windy.  When we met Barry and Donna in the lobby for breakfast we met some local construction workers who were working on our hotel roof.  We don’t know how they were up on that roof in the extreme temperatures.  When Max said something to one of the men he said, “It’s ok.  We have gloves.”  When we looked up on the tin roof when we returned from breakfast – he didn’t have any gloves on his hands.  The people of Churchill are certainly hardier than the two of us.

The schedule for our last day was busy.  We toured a little more of the town, first visiting Churchill Rocket Research Range.  While no longer active this was the location from which rockets were launched to study the upper atmosphere off and on from 1954 to 1985, including studies of the aurora. It is now a National Historic Site of Canada.

We also visited the Itsanitaq Museum, a museum dedicated to the Inuit culture.  It was very well done and very informative on the people, animals, region and culture. It’s in a small space but is packed with displays and information.  We weren’t expecting to see wildlife this day but saw another fox perched on a large pile of snow.  Next we went to the Parks Canada Visitor’s Center where there were other great displays.  We were also very glad to find two geocaches located at the Visitor’s center.  The multicache was buried in the snow outside the visitor’s center.  The ranger offered us a snow shovel and then went outside with us and dug it out for us.  He was so excited we were looking for the cache because he had hidden it.  We had a good conversation with the young ranger.  We asked him about working in such a remote and isolated place.  He had only been assigned to Churchill a few months but said it was his dream location.  He was so excited to be there. 

Our big event for the way was dog sledding.  We visited the kennels, got to pet the dogs and then go sledding – so much fun and a very different experience sledding out through the woods.  Very different from the tundra and ice. 

We had lunch and time for a little souvenir shopping and then were supposed to head to the airport for our flight back to Winnipeg.  However, the weather took over and changed our plans.  It began snowing very hard during lunch.  Our original flight was cancelled and we had a later charter flight which meant we remained in Churchill for supper.  The snow was very heavy when we finally arrived at the airport.  It took a long time to deice the plane and then we headed to Winnipeg.  It probably wasn’t a blizzard but it sure was to these Alabama natives.  It was still snowing when we landed in Winnipeg a few hours later.  We turned in all our -40° gear, got a good night’s sleep and returned to Birmingham on Thursday.  The polar bear photography tour was a wonderful, exciting, beautiful experience.  A once in a lifetime adventure that we feel so blessed to have been able to experience. 

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