Sunday, August 17, 2008

Part III, Day 12: 080719

Most of today was spent in Churchill, so I’m counting this as the last day of Part III of my summer, rather than as an Interlude / Travel day.

The town of Churchill organized a “polar bear swim” event today, in which crazy people swim in Hudson Bay in bathing suits. I would have participated, but it’s our last day in Churchill so I wouldn’t have access to a hot shower and clean clothes after the event. It was a team event, a relay in which each member of the 4-person teams swims / splashes out to a rope just off-shore and returns with a flag (a scrap of flagging tape tied to the rope). Traditionally at such events, team members dress up with some sort of theme, this year there was a team of cats (black nylon body-suits, make-up, paper ears on a headband), a team of infants (big diapers), and other, less recognizable themes.

After watching the silly people freeze themselves, we wandered around town and visited a local garage sale we saw advertisements for. We also visited a second garage sale that was not advertised, though I bought nothing. Eventually we started walking out towards Cape Merry, as today was Parks Day, with free food (hotdogs) and other things going on out at the historic site on the cape.

We were cheerfully ignoring the “Polar Bear Alert: Don’t Walk in this Area” signs on our way out when some kind person stopped and picked us up. Riding on a dirt road in the open back of a pick-up truck is not the least comfortable way I’ve ever travelled, but it might have been the least safe. Survivors enjoyed their free hotdogs.

This ship arrived off the mouth of the Churchill river today. I asked a Parks ranger about it, and he told me it was a Russian cruise ship; they typically stick around for a few days, watch the belugas, then move on up the coast towards Rankin Inlet. The other people in this picture were enjoying some of the events of Parks Day.

We needed to get back to the train station before about 3:30pm, so once again we started walking along the dirt road. Eventually, as we’d been betting they would, some fine people with an open pick-up truck stopped and gave us a ride into town. We did some last-minute souvenir shopping, then waited around at the train station for a while.

The Hudson Bay departed Churchill around 5:00pm. This train moves rather slowly, often at just faster than walking speed, so the 500 kilometres or so to Thompson will take about 22 hours; we should arrive in the early afternoon. My companions are going on to Winnipeg, and then back to Guelph by van.

My last view of the grain elevators of the Port of Churchill, taken from my bunk on the train as we moved slowly South.

Sunset from my bunk on the train.

Tomorrow I’ll just be in Thompson, getting ready for my flights North to Nunavut.

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