Steven and Sean on the Polar Bear Cam
Steven and Sean on the Polar Bear Cam

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Polar Bear Adventure Day 3: A Tour Of Churchill

Finally, by popular demand, the continuation of the story of our polar bear trip.

From the last installment, "We arrived in Churchill around 9:30 am, got off the train and onto a bus, and began our adventure..."

Eskimo sled dogs in Churchill

Our first stop was the gift shop operated by Frontiers North, the tour company, where our luggage had been delivered after it was flown to Churchill. We brought our luggage onto the bus, where we were able to swap our Value Village jackets and tennis shoes for our own parkas and boots.

We stopped then just outside of town where the Eskimos keep their sled dogs. The adult dogs sleep outside without cover, the little lean-to's in the photo are for the puppies.

Then on to the Hudson Bay. You can see the area where we were here. Churchill is located to the right of where the Churchill River flows into the Hudson Bay.

Steven (under duress) touching the waters of the Hudson Bay

The bus stopped and we walked across the rocky shoreline to the bay.

We were in one of the Polar Bear Alert areas, but the bus driver, armed with a shotgun, kept watch for us.

Steven and Doug on the shore of the Hudson Bay

It was lightly snowing but not too terribly cold (except for taking our gloves off). Then back to the bus.

Sean with "Miss Piggy" in the background

Our next stop was an area known as the Churchill Rocks. In the photo behind Sean is a plane, a wrecked Lambair C-46 which crashed without fatalities in 1979 in a botched attempt to land at the airport. The locals call it "Miss Piggy" and in the summer its a party spot.

Polar Bear trap

Next was the polar bear jail. Bears in Churchill that hang out at the dump or that enter the town are put in jail, and kept there for varying lengths of time. People aren't allowed to enter the jail because they don't want the bears to become habituated to human contact, and so as not to upset them.

Sometimes traps are used to entice problem bears into captivity, the bear traps are baited with ringed seals, then the bears are either brought to jail or released away from the town.

Doug and I in front of the jail

Bears in jail aren't fed, they are only given water, so as not to encourage them to want to return. The bears are kept in jail for varying lengths of time, up to a month, after which they are helicoptered out to the tundra and released.

Sean walking along the banks of the Churchill River

The kids quickly discovered that the funnest thing about traveling thousands of miles to the north was that there was snow on the ground, snowballs to be made, and snowfights to be had. Although California has lots of snow, they acted like they'd never seen the white stuff before.

Steven, armed with two snowballs to be thrown at his dad

It was a beautiful day, sunny and not too cold. After many snowball fights, we got back on the bus and went to lunch.

Stuffed polar bear in the Eskimo Museum

After lunch we went to the Eskimo Museum, to learn something of the native people and the history of the area. Then dinner with out tour group at a local restaurant. Then off to bed in anticipation of what we'd come there for, boarding the buggy to go see some real bears ...

To Be Continued...

- Kathleen


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