By Mike Reimer
Why? For how long?? Don’t we all cringe when your partner floats that question?
In this case it’s me (Mike) dodging the query from Jeanne as I packed up in the middle of Polar Bear season to head to PURE in Marrakech, Morocco.
PURE Life Experiences is where “the world’s finest creators of travel experiences meet” and this is Churchill Wild’s second year. The event is invite only and there is an extensive screening process to be approved.
This prestigious experiential/luxury travel show brings together all the best in adventure travel products on the planet for 4 days of intense marketing discussions, networking, and possibly just a little bit of fun. (But mostly hard work, honest!)
Leaving behind a lodge full of happy guests surrounded by polar bears is really not that big a deal when you have a rock solid, dependable, professional staff staying back to “hold down the fort” managed by Jeanne, the Arctic Queen.
Bear season has been fantastic this year – one of the best, in fact. We have had daily polar bear sightings and spectacular photo ops highlighted by great Northern Lights. Also both red and Arctic foxes, Gyrfalcons, and Snowy Owls are being observed. As much fun as PURE will be, I can’t wait to get back to the lodge.
See you soon.
(PURE Life Experiences runs from November 1 – 4, 2011)
Imagine what it would be like to get a polar bear for your birthday! Is that even possible? And if so, how would you gift wrap it? And how would you give it to the person?
The answer to question one is… not quite, but close!
The answer to question three will have to wait until the end of this story.
Reach for the Rainbow, a non-profit organization which has pioneered the integration of children and youth with disabilities into the mainstream of society at summer camp programs throughout Ontario, provided the gift wrapping via its 24th annual Crystal Ball Fundraising Gala this past November in Toronto.
Churchill Wild provided the polar bears, in the form of a trip for two to their Polar Bear Photo Safari at Seal River Heritage Lodge, as one of 13 featured live auction items at the gala. The top prize was a BMW which went for over $130,000.
“It is due to the generosity and support of donors such as Churchill Wild that Reach for the Rainbow can deliver the integrated opportunities we do, to close to 700 children with disabilities across Ontario each year,” said Jennifer Jeynes, Reach for the Rainbow’s Manager of Communications & Public Relations.
“The amazing team at Churchill Wild have really stepped up to aid the charity, and we couldn’t be more thrilled to be associated with such a wonderful company which provides the ultimate experience of adventure and exploration!” Churchill Wild’s Polar Bear Photo Safari gives professional, amateur and hobbyist photographers the chance to walk with polar bears for incredible on the ground opportunities.
Churchill Wild’s Director of Marketing & Communications Rick Kemp worked with disabled children for eight years and identified Reach for the Rainbow’s Crystal Ball Gala as an ideal event to support. His enthusiasm and the worthiness of Reach for the Rainbow’s goals made it was an easy sell to Churchill Wild owner’s Mike and Jeanne Reimer.
“Churchill Wild is a family business,” said Mike. “And when it comes to family, it’s really all about the kids.”
The winning bidder for the Polar Bear Photo Safari has been a guest of Fuel Advertising at the Crystal Ball Fundraising Gala for the last few years. Every year she buys her Christmas gifts at different charity events. This year was a little different – she wanted something unique and very special.
“I wanted a spectacular once-in-a-lifetime gift,” she said. “My husband is an avid photographer, he’s always had an interest in it. I think he will be blown away with this because it’s something he would not have discovered himself. He’ll be very surprised!”
Especially when he reads this, on February 4, 2011:
Happy Birthday Bob! — Love, Nicole
Text and photos by Nolan Booth
We pieced together some of our notes to describe a week in the life of Dymond Lake Lodge at the Great Ice Bear Adventure. We’re always happy when Mother Nature cooperates with good weather and plenty of polar bears, but we know full well that she is always in charge!
This week’s guests are a very interesting and diverse group of Swiss, English and New Zealanders. They took a day to start talking, but the polar bear action really helped. They definitely feel special to have had one bear travel all the way home with them and walk right past the camp, and another sleeping 25 feet from their front window. They’ll be telling these stories forever…
The weather has gone from warm to cold and snowy and back over the last few days. It’s windy now and the snow is melting. Our Inuit couple, Peter and Mary, who graciously offered to visit Dymond Lake to teach our guests a little bit about their culture and their way of life, have been working hard. Peter is constantly carving antlers into tools, toys and games. Mary is always cooking bannock or sewing.
The Inuit couple have set up a summer tupik to show us what they would live in while traveling and hunting during the summer months in the north. The tupik is constructed of about 20 caribou hides and long skinny timbers.
Today Peter surprised me and built a one man igloo with the little snow we have. He shoveled a small pad on the ground and then cut blocks from a snow drift that had formed behind one of the cabins. As expected, the little snow hut is quite warm once you get in and block off the door. It takes nothing more than a candle and some body heat to stay warm inside.
No polar bear sightings yet but all guests are sleeping and I can hear “Mr. Big” back behind the garage. Right now our igloo blocks have shrunk by half so it may turn into a doghouse unless it gets colder soon. Busy day checking all systems, everything is running smooth. Just have to get rid of the Martin in the garage. He keeps eating anything that’s fuzzy.
Six polar bears today – amazing how things change, but once again, Mother Nature dictates the pace up here. A mom and two cubs hanging around the wind sock; a big male circling camp all day; two 3-year-old bears dancing on the ice outside the dining room. Tonight we took the guests out with the spotlight after dinner just to hear the bears sparring – thumping each other, their claws scraping the cracking ice in the dark – eerie and amazing.
New group of guests in today and the polar bears are already here. All outgoing guests are extremely happy. Sam (our dog) got to show off his skills tonight after another bear walked right across the step of my cabin while Peter was on his way outside to have a cigarette. I told him he now has a choice between smoking or getting eaten by a polar bear that has now patterned him and knows that he comes out every couple of hours. He says he’ll take his chances… and keeps me laughing while dancing around the cabin yelling “Polar Bear! Polar Bear! Polar Bear!” over and over.
Just came back and had a bear sleeping on the road 20 feet from the Wilson cabin. Woke everyone up and they had a great first day. Thirty photo-ops, lights on and off, then informed the guests I would have to chase the bear off later so that I wouldn’t have to sleep in their cabin tonight. The big bear is now sleeping and doesn’t even notice me yelling at him. Guests had a good laugh and in the end the bear did too. One screamer and two crackers had him sleeping 200 yards back in the bush. George and Sam are on high alert while I sleep… until George gets me up to see the northern lights… Maybe tomorrow I’ll get a nap in.
I think we have five different bears visiting us regularly and they have become more active over the past few days. One is big and I was standing 30 feet from him last night. He does not like it when I yell at him and for now I’m hoping it stays that way because the garage door he was prying at doesn’t stand a chance.
More bears today, banging on the garage, walking between the cabins, interrupting my speech. The guests love it but George does not like the bears looking into his bedroom. Tonight I will get little sleep. The big polar bear is walking around the cabin again. Thank goodness for the compound fence and George or I wouldn’t get any sleep.
Four wolves at the end of the runway, not sticking around but will be back. Five polar bears roamed passed the compound fence before the sun came up and one decided to stay awhile… sleeping 10 feet from the fence.
Good morning Mr. Big!
Churchill Wild’s remote polar bear ecolodges on the Hudson Bay Coast were featured in the Financial Post as “the” cool adventure vacation spots for viewing polar bears, swimming with beluga whales and enjoying culinary delights! The article, entitled, At their leisure, also talks about where people are spending their money on holidays and includes vacation ideas from Alberta, Ontario and Quebec.
Below are a few excerpts of what the Financial Post had to say about Churchill Wild.
“Roughing it in style is the vacation trend du jour. At the Seal River Heritage eco-lodge on the Hudson Bay Coast, Manitoba’s happy few explore the depths of nature by day in one of the planet’s most rugged environments. Then it’s nice nights with gourmet fare and proper drinks in a chic wilderness outpost.”
“It takes time – and money – to get there. After a flight to Churchill, it’s a 30-minute transfer by Turbo beaver float plane to the 12-room hand-made lodge completely lost in the tundra. Remote yes, but animal-wise, this is where the action is. Stalk polar bears near the Seal River estuary or swim or snorkel with the belugas, then come back to the lodge to embark on a culinary adventure.”
“The gourmet fare prepared by Helen Webber, matriarch of the foodie family who own the lodge, makes the 100-mile diet seem so south of the 49th parallel. Almond-crusted lake trout, slow-roasted barbeque caribou sandwiches and cranberry cake with warm butter sauce, are examples of her dinners sourced from within walking distance. Guests have been so impressed with the food that they insisted Ms. Webber do a cookbook. Her Blueberries and Polar Bears cookbook was the first of what would become a series and a Canadian bestseller.”