We've arrived in Churchill

Trip Start Nov 09, 2006
Trip End Nov 18, 2006

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Flag of Canada  , Manitoba,
Saturday, November 11, 2006

I'm sitting in a brightly lit room with five computers in it at the Churchill Northern Studies Center. I'm not feeling up to great compositions right now, but here are some highlights.

Our trip up was uneventful. I thought the train ride might give me some interesting stories, but not really. I thought it would be scenic, but it wasn't really. We boarded on Thursday at 8 pm in Winnipeg, and it was already too dark to see out (exacerbated by the fact they never turned off the lights in the train, ever). The next day, the landscape really wasn't too different from what you'd see in Minnesota. No giant herds of caribou, no black bears or moose hanging around. In fact, the only wildlife I saw that day were two ravens. I read a lot.

We spent two nights and a day on the train. We were in coach class because that was only $300 or so vs. $2000 to take a sleeper or fly. The seats were more comfortably sized and spaced than in an airplane, but sleeping in the seat was still painful to my aging knees. Many of our fellow travelers were older--late fifties and up--I don't know how they did it. The bathroom was about twice the size of an airplane's water closet, which means it wasn't very big at all. Forget changing your clothes in there. A smooth ride on the train is like major turbulence on the plane. So no change of underwear for us.

Today has been more interesting already. First thing this morning, looking out the window shortly after dawn, I saw a fox chasing something in the snow. It must have gotten away because the fox bounced and turned in frustrated circles. Just a few minutes out from Churchill, a man shouted, "Polar bear to the left!" We all plastered ourselves to the windows to see. It was running away from the train, in great wobbly leaps. It looked comic, not dangerous.

Here at the CNSC, we were given a whole safety lecture about the polar bears. Do not go outside alone. When you go outside, check the parking lot for bears. If you must go outside, go in a group. If you're outside with a guide and that person tells you to get inside right now, then get inside right now. Don't stop to take a picture and block the door.

Scary stuff.
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