November 8, 1998

Once again, up early.  Worked on getting packed.  Repack all the camera battery chargers, clothes, and notes.  Breakfast was a traditional thick Manitobian porridge called Red River.  You sweeten this with maple sugar, brown sugar or fruit.  Also we had bagels and juice.  I presented the staff with a Clay Junior High School pennant.  They immediately put it up in their collection of things in the bunkhouse!  The luggage was loaded on the buggy, the staff at the bunkhouse came onto the buggy to say good-bye, and we were off.  Another day of bear watching.  John had something on his mind and away we went.  He located a bear playing with something.  We found an adult male bear playing with a small propane canister.  It would pick it up with its mouth, then bat at it, then push it across the ice.  It looked like the bear was playing hockey!! (Really!!)  The bear eventually disappeared out of sight.  Walking into sight was a mother polar bear and her 11 month old cub.  The cub follows the lead of the mother.  So if mother would stop and look, so would the cub.  We moved to a better position.  There were a lot of other buggies appearing.  We jockeyed for the best position.  Sure enough, she stopped right at our machine.  Had a good look and sniffed us.  She sat for a while with the cub before going on!!  Wow.  How rare this was.  Lunchtime!  A bean stew, sandwiches and hot chocolate was served on the buggy.  After that, we saw another mother and a two year old cub.  They stopped and looked, leaned up against the buggy and peered in repeatedly!  We were seeing polar bears in many places.  I have been out of camera film for quite awhile now.  I am still able to take video  and digital photos though. I am thinking how in the world I am going to select the photos and put photos on this website!!  This day is going faster than the others!  We are slowly heading back to launch (where we initially boarded the buggy three days ago).  Then, a small toyota truck appeared on the buggy path.  This small pickup truck was just stopped right in the road.  This is not a place for these vehicles. Well, look at the size of our machine and it has a difficult time going through ice holes and mud pits.  A polar bear is pounding on the front of the truck; then it goes to the passenger window.  It appears that some silvery wrapped granola type food item is taken--wrapper and all.  A cry of disgust goes up from everyone on our buggy.  Most likely, this situation involves tourists that have rented a small vehicle and they are traveling the few roads in the area and have somehow wandered out this way.  They are definitely violating "codes", and they are endangering their lives.  The bear plays with the antenna of the car.  Then looks in the bed of the truck.  It reaches in and takes a soft-sided briefcase.  The bear throws it down, pounds on the car some more.  The people are very lucky that the bear did not pound on the glass.  The polar bear is the top carnivore and will kill people if the situation arises.  The little truck takes off, and John gets the tag number to report to the Department of Resources.  They could be fined and or written up....which needs to be done.  Now this bear might assume that every truck that appears will have things and will attack them, too.  Back to the bear, she (a two year old) takes the suitcase and plays for about an hour with this thing.  It is really very entertaining.  At the same time, you can see the "kill and eat" mode a polar bear would go through to eat a seal.  The case was hurled through the air multiple times, dragged, carried, twirled and then eventually ripped to shreds by the polar bear.  It was great entertainment and honestly quite funny, but then the environmental effects are really quite devastating.  How careless or may ignorant these people were.  We push on and go to Bird Cove.  There we can see an old ship wreck (The "Ithica") and more ice collecting on the Bay.  It is now time to head back to launch.  It is really quiet on the buggy now.  We all realize that we will be breaking up and going our separate ways.  What we saw could never be duplicated.  How do you even begin to tell anyone about what we saw, what we did here?  Amazing.  We are back at the launch and disembark and for most people, the first time they have touched the earth in three days!  We are transferred to a bus and taken back into Churchill.  It felt like I was home.  The people were taken to the Seaport Hotel, and then I was taken back to Don Gould's.  As today is the last day for the Tundra Buggy people as they move the camp out to Cape Churchill, and those that are on that tour will be there for many many days, their shop closes.  They had it open for us for an hour....you can imagine it was packed with all of us once again!! While standing there, Doug Clark drove by.  He is the man in charge of the Parks Canada office here.  He asked how things were going.  I told him all was well and told him about the last three days.  He expressed concern over the little truck incident and asked if I had photos.  Of course!  Tomorrow I meet with him and Parks to review the film!!   After a feverish buying spree a the Tundra Buggy shop, folks were faced with what to do for dinner.  I described the restaurants in town and people went different ways.  I took some people on a night town tour!  Mrs. Garrison, Jon, her son, and myself ate together at the Lazy Bear.  After dinner, we headed to the Parks Canada office to watch a programme on Henry Hudson and Hudson Bay, and on the Voyageurs.  We were exhausted.  I am not sure we saw all of either film!  We quickly took a tour the complex, then the Anglican church with the Franklin windows, then back to our respective places for the night.  Wow, I am really, really tired!!!!!!