November 1, 1998

Early departure from Indianapolis to Minneapolis on Northwest.  The outside temperature was 60.  Was running a little late, and was asked to hurry along and luggage with battery back ups and power cords may not have made it.  Had great concerns if all my luggage did indeed make it.  I asked the flight attendant if she could, in any way, check the records to see if it had.  After I explained why this material was so important, she asked the captain to check on it.  It turns out that it was on board the plane, and all is okay.  On board, I met a mineral mining specialist that found this whole project very intriguing.  Quick change over in Minneapolis on another Northwest flight to Winnipeg.  Made a phone call via the AirPhone--it was only  $2.99 per minute + $2.99 connection fee. Customs went well.  The airport is being remodeled, so there wasn't much to see on the four hour layover.  I did take my luggage and pushed it around the rental car lot outside and looked at license plates, too.  Winnipeg is going to host the 1999 PanAm Games next summer, so there are many construction and revitalization projects taking place. The current temperature here is 0 C (32 F). While I was having lunch, there was a lot of commotion from the observation deck of the airport.  Being of the curious nature, I went to see what it was all about.  It turns out to be a 747 Jumbo Jet that was taxiing for take-off.  It is rather uncommon for this airport to have such large aircraft.  Soon, 3pm rolled around and it was time to board my flight to Churchill.  The plane could squeeze in 34 people.   What an interesting journey.  The locals call it a "Saab" flight.  The propellers whirring right outside my window made for an interesting spectacle as it grew dark.  The strobe lights, the snow flurries, and the fading view below was incredible.  About 90 minutes into the flight, the lakes below appeared frozen as the setting sun shown upon them.  The bathroom on board this plane was the smallest one I have ever attempted (note "attempted") to use!  There is no way you could wear a coat into one of these!!  On board this flight, I met Don Cardinal and his companion Allison Mantrone.  Don is a Cree Medicine Man who is traveling to Churchill to do the bear blessings for their journey out on to the ice.  They invited "us" to the ceremony sometime next week.  In the pitch darkness, we arrived at Churchill, the time was 5:30pm.  It looked as though it was 11pm.  Cold, blowing snow, icy conditions are about!  People that I had talked to in Winnipeg said that the weather was awful in Churchill--"awful" meaning it was too warm for bears.  Yesterday, Oct 31, that had all changed!  A lady from North Star Tours picked me up in her truck and took me into Churchill.  I am staying in a small bed and breakfast place run by Don Gould.  His home has really been converted into a type of dormitory situation.  I am not sure how many people are staying here at this time, but he sure is full up.  Don is a machinist at the port and has incredibly long hours.  The situation here is to take your shoes off (as they are covered with snow) and make yourself at home!  I am sleeping on a cot right in the living room.  Normally he may not do this, but as I am returning to his abode, this works out just fine.  The folks staying here are from different parts of the globe.  Australia, France, Germany, Japan, US, Britain are all here.  Some are not just tourists, but have been working here in the local cafes or b&b places during the late summer through this tourist season.  There are other little hotels and b&b places in Churchill, too.  As this is "high season", most are fully booked.  Since Don leaves before most people are up, he has left all the boarders with a coupon to go get breakfast at "Gypsy's" the local bakery.  Speaking of food, I finally had a proper meal.  Right across the rather wide street is "The Lazy Bear Cafe".  It is made of logs, and all the furnishings are like a trappers lodge.  For dinner I had fresh, pan-fried arctic char.  This fish was recently caught in Hudson Bay, and it is a local delicacy.  While there, I had a chance to talked with an author.  He wrote the book On the Edge of the Arctic.  He has returned with a tour group and is showing them around. Also having dinner in this place is the British Ambassador to Spain and his wife.  After a filling meal and good conversation, I headed back to my B&B.  Finally time for bed, and not long to go to sleep!!