But I'm getting ahead of myself...I'll come back to our dog-sledding in a moment...
This is the landscape of the arctic tundra. Thousands of miles of nothing but flat frozen land and a few very hardy spruce trees.
These spruce are called flag trees. Perfect name for them...they are like living weathervanes, pointing the direction the wind is blowing.
The coldest biome in the world, the tundra biome is a brutal place to live. And play.
While our northern lights viewing only can happen in the middle of the night, our guide Eddy had other adventures to entertain us during the day.
One frigid afternoon, after a visit to the Churchill Northern Studies Centre (yes, it's spelled that way...we are in Canada, remember?)...(and yes, that's my half-frozen Kimmie)...
...we had an opportunity to play in the snow and try our hand at making igloos...
...and snow inukshuks.
Kim and I tried to stay warm and out of the wind in this partially-built igloo.
Definitely a frosty experience (Right, Eddy?) with temperatures in the -20 range not counting the brutal windchill.
And I also learned a new word. Quenzhee.
A quenzhee is a Canadian snow shelter, built for temporary shelter for a hunting party or the like. Quenzhees are made a large piles of snow that are then hollowed out.
Quenzhees differ from igloos (which are more "permanent" shelters made from blocks of snow) and snow caves (which are very rudimentary and quickly made by carving into the snowbank).
Who knew there were so many different kinds of snow shelters?
One day on our way to the NatHab cabin, we drove across frozen Goose Creek.
This is our snow coach, driving on a makeshift "road" which in the summertime is a flowing river.
Kim relaxing and taking in the utter silence of this remote and very cold place.
You could actually see and hear water flowing several inches beneath us.
Orange posts in the ice mark the road...
Goose Creek cabin is on sled runners. NatHab pulls it out into the boreal forest during the winter for us (and other groups) to use.
Very cozy on the inside...
...and always plenty of snacks! Specialty jellies made by locals smeared on buttered homemade bannock bread, another local specialty...
Loving the rustic decor...this eagle is carved and painted on a moose antler.
For those so inclined to freeze their booties nearly off, there are outdoor activities of which to partake. Chris, a fellow from our group, tries ice hockey...
Eddy demonstrates the fine art of curling...
...and Kim gives it a try.
A necessity for life up there...but I don't know how they keep the engines from freezing up. It's daggone cold, all the time!
Eddy led us on a walk through the surrounding boreal forest...
Just beautiful! We also had an armed polar bear lookout with us, just in case a momma bear decided to bring her babies out from hiding. But no such luck for us!
My favorite afternoon of the week was spent with Dave Daley and his sled dogs.
Dave keeps about 20 healthy, happy sled dogs in his dog yard.
And they LOVE to pull the sleds! I mean, these dogs LIVE for it!!! When the mushers go into the yard to get the dogs they want, all the dogs go wild barking and jumping around, hoping to be chosen.
The dogs that aren't chosen are visibly disappointed, going back with big sad eyes to pout by their doghouses.
Dave has nice custom sleds for a great ride. Not practical for a dog-sled race (of which he's done many), but great for cruising through the forest.
Dave's modest home...
...for which we were VERY GRATEFUL as it provided a nice warm spot out of the brutal cold.
Dave is truly a man of the land, and he dearly loves this land his ancestors have lived on for centuries.
Cutest little outdoor bathroom that I ever bared my behind in...
Dave's feathered friends gray jays, known to the locals as whiskey jacks, are nearly tame.
That's my Kimmie...
...and Dave even let me feed them!
And when it was our turn, the ride was simply magical! COLD...and MAGICAL!
Our last afternoon in the Churchill area, we had another brand new experience...snowshoeing.
That is a picnic table...to give you some idea about the depth of the snow pack...
It was fun and miraculously neither of us fell down!
Such serenity and silence...the scenery was breathtakingly beautiful!
We didn't encounter any momma polar bears, but we did see a moose in the road ahead. But he didn't stick around long after he spotted us.
Setting sun on the Churchill tundra...
One last photography experiment as the sun was setting over the Hudson Bay...Eddy had some hot water in a bottle and he threw it into the frigid air where it froze instantly.
This was the one time I legitimately worried that I had gotten frostbite on my hands. My fingers tingled for a couple of hours after this photo session.