Published: October 11th 2008October 6th 2008
about 60 ft long and 20 ft high. The wheels alone are about 5 feet high. The polar bears can stretch up to the windows with their paws.
Dave and I are having a great time in Churchill as we get caught up in the energy of the tourist season of the Polar Bear Capital of the world, Churchill, Manitoba!
The Tundra Buggy Lodge is up and running and Dave, Bree (from Australia) and Julie (from Canada) are the people running the show out there with the help of BJ (US). The lodge is a series of portable trailers (on very big wheels!).
I've met most of the people who are working for Tundra Buggy Adventures including the family who owns and manages it. Everyone is a team player and they all are working very long hours fine tuning everything before the rush starts (which is next week). Many seasonal workers have arrived by now from all over the world just to be here, make some money either with the tours or with the service industry and of course, to go see the almighty polar bear. I now work for the company, in the gift shop, and am spending my money in the store faster than I'm making it! haha! (lots of nice stuff, and well, I needed a couple of turtle neck shirts
with Tundra Buggies on them)
Tundra Buggy tours started in July (with Neil) and in the last week they have been seeing bears each time they go out onto the tundra. (I get all the news as right now I'm staying with Dave in the Tundra Buggy Crew house) There are Mom's and cubs being seen right now and some adolescents. As the cold sets in there will be more bears migrating through to the coast (where the lodge is set up).
Across the street from our gift shop is another gift shop where you can stop and pet some lovely Eskimo breed puppies. The guy who owns them has a whole dog sled team just out of town and people frequently go to see these dogs in the season as there are polar bears hanging out with the dogs. And no, the dogs do not get eaten. Many beautiful photo opportunities have arisen from this odd relationship they have. (we saw them the last time we were up here to see the bears).
As Bree was off to bed last night she glimpsed out the window whilst we were still chatting in the kitchen. "The Northern
Dave's rescue Buggy
the oldest one, which is now parked at the lodge for fire emergencies.
Lights are out!" And in a flash, we all piled into the bus and drove to the edge of town to watch them and take photos. They filled the entire sky above us. Not straying too far from the bus, we scouted for bears and oohed and awed. The temperature last night was still tolerable for using our cameras without gloves (probably one of the last nights we could do this). As I am still learning how to do this setting on my camera, the photos of the Aurora Borealis are Dave's.
Hi again! A week has gone by since I wrote the story above, still not having time to publish this piece of the blog. Just to add a few new things, the weather has turned into the transition stage between Fall and winter with rain/snow mix and the high of 3 or so. Gusts off of the Hudson's Bay have been up to 80 km/h and walking is fun as you lean into the wind to prevent being blown over. My co-worker, Renee, being from St.John's Newfoundland feels right at home with this current weather.
There are many things to see in Churchill as the tourists
preparing for the lodge launch
Each trailer is pulled by a Tundra Buggy out onto the tundra
arrive. The Parks Canada office features films and documentaries on the arctic from various people, and lectures are to follow from some parks Canada officers themselves. The library is currently featuring pencil drawings of elders by a local artist (wow! so much detail captures the character!). Dave, Bree and Julie come in from the lodge this weekend as the clients out there are part of a leadership camp by Polar Bears International. All of the teens do all of the chores and cooking, and BJ holds down watching after the generator when Dave is in town. The kids come from all over the US and are honour students who received this award. I heard the cost of each teen's trip and stay is over ten thousand dollars! (it is an honour to go out to the lodge).
There was a wine and cheese get together at the Hudson's Bay Helicopters Office this week to welcome all the people who are working for the tourist season. It was an opportunity to network and get to know local people. And anywhere there is free food and booze, well the place was packed, to say the least. I tried my best to be
in the lodge
Bree, Julie and Simon
direct to the manager about getting a free helicopter ride and his answer was "sure you can, if you pay me $495 dollars!" Well, I tried. Perhaps for my birthday in November, i'll buy myself a gift and go for a ride in a helicopter.....we'll see!
Well, signing off for now!
Your gift shop dream chick
There are more photos below