We woke up at 6:00am in the morning and got dressed for breakfast and ate an omelet, hash-browns that were more like french fries, and a croissant. We went back up to the room, got packed, took showers, and watched some TV before we left for the airport to Toronto. We got through security and got on the plane at 10:25am and took a two hour flight to Toronto. We then went through customs in Toronto, ate a lunch of hamburgers and fries, and got on our plane to Orlando for close to a three hour flight. We got to Orlando, got our bags, and were picked up by my mom. We drove to my Abuela and Abuelo’s house for a quick dinner and I showed them some of the photos and they were amazed. We drove back to Ocala and arrived home at around 9:20pm, I worked on some more photos, played with my dogs, and showed my mom and brother the photos that I took over the week that I was in Churchill, Manitoba, Canada to photograph the Polar Bears.
Our plane from Winnipeg to Toronto.
All of the planes that we had with Air Canada had these little touch-screen TVs on the chairs in front of us. They really helped to pass the time.
Coming in to Toronto.
Sunset on the plane to Orlando.
Getting ready to land in Orlando.
We woke up at 6:00am and got dressed and packed to head back to Churchill. We ate breakfast and got all of our gear onto the Polar Rovers and headed to Churchill. We saw the Polar Bear Jail, and they were actually bringing three of the bears out to the ice. We then went and shot the entrance sign to Churchill, and went to a trading post and saw some young huskies and two puppies. Then we went to go on the dog sleds and we had a camera crew there filming the family for a show on BBC. I got some great footage with my GoPro, and dad got some nice footage too. I played in the snow for a few minutes too, then we went back into town to have lunch at the Sea Port Hotel. I ate British style Fish & Chips, then ran to the shops before We had to leave for the airport. I got an awesome hat and a really cool t-shirt. We got on the plane at 2:14pm and we got back to Winnipeg at close to 5:00pm and we got back to the Fort Garry Hotel and got into our room, 435, and relaxed for a few minutes. We went up to the 9th floor to drop off our parkas and boots, then went to our farewell dinner. We talked with the rest of our crew and took photos with Rinie and Eric. We said our goodbyes, then we got back in the room and downloaded photos and took showers. We packed up and laid out our clothes for going to the airport tomorrow.
This is the Polar Bear Holding Facility, better known as the Polar Bear Jail. The bears that roam around in or near the town are trapped and brought here until the Hudson Bay freezes over, or they catch too many bears.
This is one of the traps with a bear in it, and they were bringing her back onto the ice.
This is my dad and me in front of the Churchill sign.
We got to play with some husky puppies before we went on a sled dog ride just outside of Churchill.
This was one of the really young huskies that I played with.
And this was his brother.
If you were to compare Churchill to New York the Ravens would be the pigeons, that’s how numerous they are!
This was one of our sled dogs.
My dad and me before going on the sled ride. I had my GoPro strapped to my head and I got some great footage.
These were our guides, Rinie was on the left and Eric was in the middle.
I woke up at 6:40am and got dressed for breakfast, and I ate some potatoes, bacon, and a cinnamon roll. As I was eating, a Polar Bear walked right outside of the window next to me. Then I went back to my bunk and worked on some more photos. I went to the lounge at around 9:50am to hear a talk that our guide, Erik, was going to present, and it was on shutter-speed, ISO, and aperture. As he was talking we saw our 50th bear walking on the ice, and a raven buzzed the Tundra Lodge. we then ate a lunch of curry chicken, basle rice, and a cinnamon role. Then we headed out onto the Polar Rover, unfortunately today was very slim pickings. The whole time we were out on the tundra, which was close to 4 and a half hours, we saw some ptarmigan and a vole. We also might have seen a bear way off in the distance, but it was too far to tell. We got back at 4:05pm in a white out and we could barely see 100 yards in front of us! I then went to my bunk and worked on my photos until dinner. I went to the lounge just before dinner and I talked to a guy and he ended up buying 20 of my photos foe $40. We ate lamb chops, broccoli, cauliflower, and chocolate cheese cake. We then discussed what we had to do the next day. Happy Thanksgiving!
This was one of the guys on the ground filling the tries with air so that they could role the Tundra Lodge out of there the next day. He was on Polar Bear Watch, and he had a shotgun with a few blank rounds in the front, and some live ones towards the end incase if the bear does charge.
This is the lounge car where we all met up to talk and relax.
This was the gas heater that heated the lounge. Each of the cars had a heater like this.
This is the raven that buzzed the lodge.
This is the snow from the pad of a Polar Bear’s paw, and the snow stuck to the ice as he walked on it.
This is a Vole, the only mammal that we saw on the rover that day.
This is an old Cold War watch tower. They would have people in the tower to tell America or the Soviet Union if a nuclear missile was headed their way.
Here is the Tundra Lodge during a white out.
I woke up at 6:30am, got dressed for breakfast, and when I walked outside the wind almost pushed me over! It was freezing because we had a 30-40 kilometers per hour (48-64 miles per hour) winds and those winds will pull all of your heat away from your body, so if you don’t have heavy parka you will freeze to death. So I ate some potatoes, toast, and cereal. After breakfast I went to my bunk and put on my layers: my neck guard, a windproof hood that looks like a ninja mask, my rabbit fur trapper’s hat, long underwear top, turtle neck, wool sweater, parka, boxers, long underwear bottoms, pants, ski-pants, silk glove liners, gloves, thick wool socks, and snow boots. At 8:05am we headed out to look for some bears, and at 8:27am we saw our first bear of the day way off in the distance. As I was taking some photos of the bear, the wind caused me to tear-up, and that tear froze on my eyelashes causing them to freeze close. I had to sacrifice a few eyelashes so that I could open my eye. We did get some cool shots of him with the wind and snow blowing. During the time that we were photographing the bear the sun was rising and causing a Sun Dog, which is a kind of rainbow made when the sunlight goes through ice crystals and it forms a circle around the sun. Sadly it didn’t make a complete circle, but it was still very cool to see. We also got some nice shots of the wind blowing on the ice. About an hour later we saw another Polar Bear with some great backlight on him. Then like the first bear, he hunkered down behind some willows. We stayed with him for another 20 minutes until he fell asleep, then we moved on. We saw tons of bear tracks and some shelters that they slept in the night before, or had just dug a little into the snow for a barrier from the wind. A little farther out there was a bear that was almost completely covered in snow, and we waited on him for a few minutes then we realized that he was asleep, so we moved on. After 15 more minutes we found another bear in the same condition, so we took some shots and moved on. Then right before we got to the lodge we found another bear hiding behind a snow drift. This bear was a little more active and she looked up several times but went back down after. We then got back to the Tundra Lodge at 12:14pm and ate a lunch of spaghetti and meatballs. While we ate lunch the bear we saw right next to the lodge came up and I got some great shots of her with some sidelight and backlight. After she walked back into the willows I went to my bunk and took off my layers, took a shower, and worked on my photos. Then at 5:45pm I walked over to the lounge where I sat and talked with some of the other people, and at 6:05pm we went to the dinning car for dinner. I ate crab-cakes, chicken in a lemon and time sauce, and mashed potatoes.
Me in all of my layers.
40-60 mile per hour winds, which makes 10˚F feel like -40˚F!
Sunrise that we saw on the Polar Rover. The funny thing is that on the only day that we saw the sun, that was our coldest day as well!
This is called a Sun Dog, and it is basically an ice rainbow. The sunlight goes through the ice crystals in the sky, and if it is a really good Sun Dog, it will make a circle around the entire sun!
This was our first bear of the day, and he was gorgeous! The backlight and the snow and wind really made the shot.
This is that same bear, and now he is walking away from us.
Here is a bear that just laid down in the snow to take a nap, and the snow started coving him in just a matter of minutes!
This is a bear that walked next to the Tundra Lodge. The backlight and clean white snow made this shot one of my favorites.
Here she is again, and she just finished digging around in the snow, as you can see on her nose.
This is in my top 5 shot from the trip. It just looks like a book cover!
This is another panoramic that I took with my iPhone, but this is my bunk, and you can actually see me twice in this picture.
I woke up at 7:30am and got dressed to have breakfast and I looked out my window and there was a beautiful sunrise that I photographed, and while I was shooting the sunrise I saw a bear that was right under the kitchen car. I took some photos of her and then I went to breakfast where I had eggs and potatoes. After breakfast I went to the end of the lodge where I saw the bear walking away with another bear. After a few minutes the second bear turned around and started walking back to the lodge. I got some stunning shots of her and then a third bear came walking out of the willows and came to the lodge as well, where I got some great shots of her. After 20 minutes we had to board the rovers and we sat there and photographed the bears for a little longer then headed off. We saw a mother and her cubs almost immediately, and I think that it was the same pare that we saw yesterday. Then, after they walked away, we found a big male that had a broken jaw and his lower right canine was outside his lip, not through it. He was very playful and he rolled and slid around in the snow for a few minutes and we got some awesome shots of him and the broken ice behind him. Then we moved on and right as we were leaving a Snowy Owl took off in the distance and we only had a few seconds to get a shot before he was too far to see any more. Right after that it started to snow lightly. We then saw another mother and cubs, which I think were different from the first two. We got some good shots of one of the cubs running to catch up with the mother. Then we found a bear lying down with her head resting on a rock, and after a few minutes of that, she stood up and walked right to our rover and even went under our deck. Then on our way back we found two more bears on the ice while it was snowing, and back at the lodge the two bears that were there in the morning were still there, hunkering down in the willows. We worked on photos from 3:30pm until 5:50pm, and then we went to dinner at 6:00pm. We ate scallops, halibut, sweet potato puree, and baroquely. While we were eating dinner we had another Polar Bear standing outside of the lodge! When I went outside to go to the bunks to work my photos the wind had picked up substantially and the little, light snowflakes turned into sharp, icy blades that stung my exposed skin. Unfortunately the clouds covered the sky so we couldn’t see any Aurora Borealis, fortunately though I was able to get some more sleep. I finished going through my 2,310 photos at 9:23pm and went to bed with the wind howling and moving the lodge.
This was the first set of bears that we saw that day, and they were right off of the side of the lodge! They started to look like they were going to spar, but they didn’t unfortunately.
One of those bears walked right next to me and looked up.
They actually did do a little spar, but they only opened their mouthes.
This is a panorama of the outer deck of our Polar Rover that I took with my iPhone.
This is our first set of mother and cubs that we saw that day, and our second set that we had seen during the trip. Unfortunately they didn’t stay with us for very long.
This is Snaggle Tooth rolling in the snow to dry off after a dip in the Hudson Bay. Snow is a great insulator, and animals use it to dry their fur so it doesn’t ice up.
Here is Snaggle Tooth again, he just walked right up to the windshield of the Polar Rover. You can see his jaw injury better here. We think that he got it from fighting another bear.
This is a Snowy Owl that gave us about five seconds to focus on him before he took off and flew across the ice.
This was our group inside of the Polar Rover. Our group was called the COYs, or Cub Of the Year, and that means that the cub was born from January to December of that year. The age of bears is usually determined by size, the only way to tell the exact age is to count the growth rings in their teeth, like a tree.
This was our third set of mother and cubs that we had seen during the whole length of the trip. They meandered around in the willows for a while, but they didn’t stay with us as long as the first set.
This was the bear that we saw who was sleeping on a rock that could date back to the creation of Earth!
This is me with the bear behind me. I was the only one on the deck while taking photos of the bear.
Then she stood up and walked right under our feet.
This is the snow storm that came in that night.