Our last night in Churchill, we have dinner at the Trader’s Table then head to the bar. As far as I can tell, there are two bars in Churchill, and a band called The Afterparty flew in with our group to play at one bar Friday night, and the other bar Saturday night.
We plan to see the group at the Seaport bar (I had no idea, by the way, that this was a bar. I had walked past it earlier that day and figured it was a sporting goods store) but when Pete, scientist on the trip, checks the bar out, there are four people inside. We head to the Tundra, where there’s a pool table and Winnipeg beer.
I decide now is the perfect time to interview Pete about his involvement in climate change research. Interviewing someone in a bar is not my usual method of information-gathering, but it’s highly relaxing.
Afterwards, I partner up with Shane to play pool, where I help him lose, then we all head back to the hotel because it’s 10:30 and it’s past our bedtime, apparently. Bear-watching is exhausting!
The second day in the buggy is much like the first, except for one thing – the weather. There are gorgeous cloudy vistas all around us, but above is nothing but blue sky. Freelance photographer Jacquie and I are beside ourselves – the light is a photographer’s dream. The bears show up yellow against the snow, with rich blue shadows and impossible backgrounds. Colours pop, details are sharper. And while we don’t see as many bears as the first day, we’re all thrilled. There are many jokes about Christmas card photos.
The bear highlight of the trip is absolutely one male bear lounging in a bed of seaweed and kelp. For a good hour, he stretches, yawning, putting his paws in the air, scratching himself in various places. Like every guy I know! Pat remarks that the bear looks like he should be in a reclining chair with a beer. Someone else pipes up the beer should be a Coca-Cola, eliciting laughter from the group.
Things get quiet on the buggy as we head back. Someone from Frontiers North guards us with a shotgun while we take a group picture in front of Tundra Buggy 9, then we pile onto the bus to go to the airport. Compared to driving on the buggy, it’s like flying on an airplane.
We eventually pile onto a real airplane and a couple of people try to convince me to stay for dinner when we get to the Fairmont Hotel, but I turn down a free dinner at the posh Velvet Glove so I can get home. I have 2,000 photos to go through, and I miss my family. We land in worse weather than we took off in.
My arctic adventure is over. The writing is just beginning!
– Managing Editor Elisha Dacey is currently wearing a polar bear necklace that she bought from an artisan in Churchill. Read Friday’s Metro online and in paper for Elisha’s in depth report on her polar bear adventure. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on twitter @elishadacey.