Friday, March 5, 2010

Many more wolves. And more airplane too.

This morning we decided to go see whether we could see the wolves again. We weren't quite expecting as many as we saw, nor just how happy they were to get close to us!

We counted about 19 or 20 again. Such beautiful animals. They were really calm and curious. We didn't walk up to them so much as they would wander over to us. Even as soon as the truck pulled up, they all came right over. Very cool experience!

And here's a daytime picture of the plane:

Wolves and an airplane

It's dark... but can you see his glowing eye?Back to the truck ride to see the wolves. We saw a whole big pack of them! Up until yesterday, I had on two occasions in my life seen one wolf. That's it. And yesterday there were TWENTY of them up at the runway! We watched them for a while, and then took some pictures. Some of the ones we saw were up on the runway, where a DC3 was parked. It didn't take long for us to realize that the wolves were making quick work (as in quick snacking work) of the power and heater cords running out to the plane...

A quick trip back to the station to get the plane's engineer to have a look meant that we got a tour of the plane. I was VERY excited to sit in the cockpit and have a look around. The plane was built in 1944 and served in WWII. It's still got some of the stuff needed to be able to launch paratroopers out of the back, but the engines have been retrofitted. It's on skis, and I was surprised to see that the skis had wings. Apparently the skis themselves are so big and bulky that they need to be flown also. If I ever get to win an airplane as a prize, I'd pick a DC3 - It's exactly what an airplane should look like.

Frisbee golf

Yesterday was one of the best days I've ever had in the arctic. After breakfast, I went over to 0pal as usual to work, and had a really productive day. After supper back at the station, a few of us decided to play a round of disk golf. I imagine that frisbee golf would be fun under pretty much any circumstances (frisbee where no one is responsible for catching my throws!), but it's very awesome in Eureka. There's a whole course marked out on the tundra, along the edge of a creek, and there's pretty varied terrain. We only made it to about the 3rd or 4th hole along the course when we couldn't ignore the sound of the howling wolves for any longer - we quit our game and decided to go find the pack. At -42 C, no one was complaining too much about the idea of a nice warm truck ride up past the runway to the dump where they sometimes hang out.

As a side note to the cold: Yes, Stephanie you do get used to the cold, but it can still freeze you if you're not careful. It's a dry cold, so -30 or -40 doesn't feel as bad as it would if it were also damp. Likewise, if it's windy, it can be not so fun. When we come up here we're issued arctic gear including -100C rated boots, a pair of snowpants and one of those Canada Goose parkas that are super warm. Mine is even warmer because it's bigger than I am, so it goes past my knees. Once you're snuggled into your snowsuit, you're not really that cold. Only thing is that you have to watch how much skin is uncovered on your face (or your hands if you're taking your hand out of your mitt too often for picture taking purposes). My biggest problem is that my glasses frost over really quickly from my breath. I have a choice: Don't cover my mouth or nose and be able to see, or cover them up, be blind, but not risk frostbite. Yes, I've tried ski goggles. They give me a lovely extra 10 frost free minutes of vision. Needless to say, when we were playing frisbee golf, someone (in a giant black parka against the bright white snow) had to go stand by the hole so I'd know vaguely where to throw...