It's always a little intimidating to blunder right into a group of people who don't know you and try to make friends. It's usually downright awkward when that group of people are corporate suits who all know each other, but don't know you. Add people whose accents I don't understand (I'm horrible with accents) and it's terrifying. Throw in trying to remember everyone's name... and I'm screwed.
So I was surprised when I spent the night before takeoff to Churchill with a group of about 20 people from Coca-Cola and the World Wildlife Fund and everyone was laughing and joking around before five minutes had gone by.
Perhaps it was everyone's adventurous spirit. Or the spirit in our drinks. Whatever.
The people I'm going to be travelling with include folks from Canada, the U.S., Switzerland, Australia and our Frontiers North guide Hayley, who will take us to see the polar bears, is from New Zealand. A mixed bunch, many of whom told me stories about making sure they were going to be dressed warm enough.
"I didn't even know shoes came in temperature ratings," said Shane, also a New Zealander, who elicited a peal of laughter from the Canadians with that statement. "And there were too many gloves in the store. I couldn't pick. It was confusing."
Hayley then told us that despite the fact we'll be inside a tundra buggy for most of the trip, it's still best to dress warm. "I've got a down coat, you'll need hats, mitts, scarves for sure."
As she continued on, I started to think maybe I should have bought a new coat after all. Too late now.
"And long johns are always a good idea," she added cheerfully, with an undertone of "Otherwise your legs may fall off." Dammit, where were my tights? Right, they're in the washing machine. My husband was doing the laundry, so they'd be dry when I got home. OK, legs will not fall off. Crisis solved.
Dinner at the Velvet Glove at the Fairmont continued, and during the time I was presented with a Coca-Cola jacket (unfortunately, not warm enough for Churchill) and my first polar bear of the trip - a stuffed one "adopted" from the WWF for my daughter.
I placed everything on the table when I finally got home last night, ready to finish packing. Then noticed my husband hadn't put my clothing in the dryer. "Sorry," he said before drifting up to bed.
T'was the night before Churchill, and all through the house, not a suitcase was packed up, thanks to my spouse.