CAMBRIDGE BAY, NUNAVUT
A word of warning - the Internet is extremely slow and intermittent this far north, so I won't be adding any pictures until we have better satellite coverage.
I was back to my usual sleeping habits last night as I awoke at 4 a.m. and couldn't get back to sleep. That gave me the opportunity to take a couple of pictures of the most beautiful sunrise. After a leisurely breakfast, we wandered down to the centre of the ship where we were treated to some throat singing, Inuit games that required Olympic-style athleticism, and a handicraft sale.
We were zodiaced ashore for our hike where I was disappointed to learn that the ornithologist, Nigel Redmon, was not one of the leaders. Nigel has written the definitive field guide of the birds of the Horn of Africa amongst others so he knows his stuff. A botanist/birder, Conrad, took his place. He was good but didn't have a scope. On the hike along a shale strewn beach and into the tundra I saw: Thayer's Gulls (lifer), snow buntings, American pipit, Lapland Longspurs, Snowy Owl, Cackling Geese, Greater Whitefronted Geese, Sandhill Cranes, Northern Pintail and a Mallard. We also saw an Arctic Fox and Arctic Hares. I am afraid that the Inuit guide and I drifted away from the group as he had spotted the hares and was determined to track them down. Luckily he found them. They are enormous!
After the hike, we decided to take the shuttle into the town. We were so happy we did.
The townspeople went all out for our arrival. A number of them had donned neon-coloured vests to indicate that they were there to direct us to various sites and answer any of our questions. The population of the town is 1,608. The ship accommodates 1,000 passengers and 600 crew. For one day we doubled the population. We were made to feel so welcome. We tootled down to see the wreck of Admusson's ship, The Maud, which was brought up from the depths just three weeks ago. It is sitting in a barge being emptied of mud before being towed to Norway. We stopped in at the Visitor Centre which had an amazing collection of Inuit art, prints and carvings. There were also taxidermy skins of many animals including one of a wolverine. We took our picture in front of a polar bear on its hind legs. We hope that it is not the only one we see. We stopped to take a picture of a beautiful husky and spoke with his owner. This one was a pet and not a working dog as one of its legs had been amputated. As we left, we spotted an Arctic Fox crossing the road right in front of us! Three of our Inuit guides were all smiles - they were walking towards us and saw us see it too. We next dropped in at an Art Show where one of the prints at the raffle table was by one of my favourite artists - Teevee. We browsed the handicraft table where Norma discovered that mitts without nearly the workmanship of the ones she bought in Ulukhaktok cost $50 more than she paid. Then it was off to the school where some northern delicacies had been prepared for us. We tried Narwhal (sushi style), Muskoxen sliders (delicious), smoked Arctic char, homemade jelly from local berries, and bannock, a deep fried dough like a doughnut. We split a bannock and wished we had each taken an enormous piece each as it was so tasty. From there it was back to the shuttle, zodiac, and ship for dinner with Jim, Phil, Hugh, and Kathy. We closed the dining room and didn't get back to our room until midnight. In the mail slot we discover tickets for a 7:45 a.m. "Unexpected Excursion".