TV, Bions & Polar Bears. October 2005

Hi Guys,

Hope you all had a great Halloween. When I last left you, I was heading out to Canada twice, once for a Ripley’s media tour to promote the book, and then again a few days later onto my next adventure with the Polar bears.

Okay so in a minute (depending on how quickly you read) I’ll tell you what happened on the trip, but first they say there is no rest for the adventurer, less than twelve hours after I got back from the Polar Bear Trip, three big media things happened.

MEDIA: FRIDAY OCT 28th
GOOD DAY NEW YORK:

6AM – I came home to an email telling me I was being picked up at 6AM to do some promotion for Good Day New York with fellow Ripley’s people. I found out we are called, BIONS…which stands for Believe it or Not’s. The show went great, and it was fun meeting new eccentric people. Makes for quite the photo album.

NOON – I get a call from CBS radio, they want to interview me at my house. Steve wanted to know the time to sneek out before they came…he is camera shy. The show aired ( NOV. 3 880 AM…)

JOURNAL NEWS – PRINT

An article came out in the Journal News – The number one paper in Westchester County. It was a two page color spread, with my face appearing on the front cover of the newspaper as a tease. The reporter Robert did a great job…he even had a cameraman come to my house and shoot video. Steve laughed, “Capo you’re the only person I know who gets video done on a print article.” Well it turns out the paper is spreading it’s website and wanted video of my fast talking.

So here’s the Link to the article:

http://www.thejournalnews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20051028/NEWS02/510280332/-1/spider&template=printart

To see the video the link is: www.lohud.com/talker. It was shot against a blank wall in my hallway.

OTHER HAPPENINGS: (now we are going in order)

Oct. 1 –
I did the Turk TV show in Manhattan at 10 AM. Wasn’t sure of this whole concept of me speaking English fast to a Turkish audience, but they said just to move my hands alot and talk fast…they would interpret. I’m Italian so the moving hands part was fine. I just hope they didn’t say that I was some crazy woman with Turrets…they did have me speak some Turkish words which they fed to me off camera…Man I hope I said the right thing…don’t want to find the Turkish Mafia at my door.

Straight from there I dashed off to Queens College for a reunion. I was asked to speak for 5 minutes in front of a group of 20 people, one thing lead to another and the next thing I know the I’m being moved upstairs to the grand ballroom, and the President of the college asks me to speak in front of 300 people instead. I had my books with me, so I did a quick speech, sold some books and said good-bye. Happened so fast, I thought I was back speaking Turkish.

Oct 4th –

Was part of the Comedy Festival in New York and did my routine for Talent in Motion…want to say thanks to all my friends who showed up, it was great to see you.

Fast Forward…

Oct 12th-15th, Flew to Toronto to do a whirl wind 2 day media tour. Since several of you have asked me in the past how I fit all those shows in, I figured I’d give you a behind the scenes look at a media schedule that was set up by the Ripley’s PR department in Canada. (Or course my notes about each show are added in).

BEHIND THE SCENE WITH FRAN CAPO:

Wednesday, October 12

Arrive Toronto Airport: 4:29 pm

Check into hotel.

Thursday, October 13

6:30 am – Take the hotel limousine or a taxi to:

City TV – Breakfast TV

7:00 am – Breakfast Television (live to air-syndicated across Canada) (equivalent to our Good Morning America)

(Producer says, “Fran we just want you to do your fast talking, and maybe a tongue twister.” I tell him, I think I should show my picture of the Titanic and the shrunken cup. He reluctantly says okay but nothing else. I’m holding picture of Kilimanjaro in my hand. I tell him, I think I should show that on air too. He says, not enough time. I say, I’m the fastest talker, there’s plenty of time…trust me. I manage to squeeze all that in plus a nice plug for the Ripley’s book. The host is laughing because it goes by so fast she barely says two words..Producer gives me the thumbs up. Yeah, I know…pushy New Yorker- but I’m on a mission.)

8:15 am – drive with Jill to:CHUM FM

8:30 am – meet in foyer with a CHUM representative

8:40 am – on air interview with Roger, Rick and Marilyn (Suppose to be a 4 minute interview, turns into a 12 minute interview, one of the longest they’ve ever done…and that’s with a fast talker…and they aired it twice! ) I go outside to get a bagel and girl recognizes my voice while I’m ordering…pretty cool.

9:00 am – return to hotel

12:30 pm – Fran & John (the official Ripley’s artist – the guy who drew the Titanic on my certificates) meet in hotel lobby. Jill will drive them to: Corus Entertainment

1:00 pm – YTV “The Zone” – a popular kids show for kids 4-12 – Do 5 segments with hosts ( each time try to motivate kids that nothing is impossible – surrounded in studio by Pee Wee Herman looking items. )

2:00 PM – Return to hotel after taping

5:00 pm – taxi to book launch hotel with John to:The Drake Hotel for live media event.

6:00 pm – Book Launch begins

Fran hosts event for media. Introduces all the acts and does 20 minutes time on herself. Do bunch of interviews with media prior to live show. I talk about my records, tell the press to relax and laugh and forget about that they have cameras. I tell them to edit out whatever they don’t like, but I’m not going to monitor myself, just going to say it like it is.

Get to introduce John the Ripley artist, Jason (A guy who does paintings of blonde celebrities out of gum…yes 500 sticks of gum for each painting..he doesn’t chew the gum himself, has a team of chewers – they put the gum into his hand (no gloves folks…a dangerous art) and he does the work. He calls it GUMBLONDES and I gotta tell ya the paintings come out great.) Then introduce Selvis (an elvis impersonator) and finally Santini the master of dark..(.guy puts himself in a straight jacket and handcuffs, then attaches himself to a wench, that drags him close to a moving chain saw…object get out before he gets cut in half. Turns out he had half the length of stage to work on than he thought, almost thought we were going to have double billing that night.)

9:00 pm – end of event.

Taxi back to hotel. Request limousine service for next morning.

Friday, October 14

(My son’s 17th Birthday- try to catch a midnight flight out…none- left present hidden for him in house with note of where to find it. Steve takes him out…Jamie (step sister..well almost, makes him a cake…okay enough disclaimer for missing his birthday.)

Toronto:

7:00 am – car service to Mix 99.9

7:30 am – Mix 99.9 – The Humble Howard Show (He asks me where I get all my energy from – I laugh, what energy?)

8:00 car service to hotel.

11:50 am – Meet Jill and John in hotel lobby. Jill will drive them to:.

12:20 pm – CFRB 1010 radio..Toronto At Noon with Bill Shurman

12:30 pm – Fran and John interview. We play off each other well. Host is watching us like a ping pong match.

1:00 pm – return to hotel

1:30 PM (Call spencer wish him a happy birthday…hey I had to let you know I did it.)

3:00 pm – Sun TV – “Inside Jam” entertainment show carried on cable across Canada.

Shoot inside a restaurant. Jill carries a real shrunken head in the trunk of her car for us to show on TV. I hold the head…reminds me of the scene from Beetlejuice with the guy with the small head.

7:30 pm – taxi to City TV – MUCH MUSIC (Equivalent to our MTV channel)

8:00 pm – Much on Demand (Live show)

– Fran, John and Santini + archive items are on.

– Fran will do a segment. (Santini comes up to me before the show, he’s not feeling well and asks if I will do a play by play VO of his act…since I saw it the night before I said sure. I worry that his timing will be off and I will be announcing, and now the great santini will be cut in two! (Video of it on his website…. www.thedarkmaster.com)

Saturday, October 15

4:45 am – Taxi from hotel to airport

6:25 am – fly home

8:00 am – HOME!

8:30am pick up Spencer’s friend Joey for birthday party.

Noon: pick up other kids. Drop kids, pick up party stuff and cake. Bake chocolate chip cookies, cook for 11 people, Slumber party kids up until 5 AM! The party ends by 8PM Sunday night. I feel tired.

Oct. 17th – Do interview with Journal news, the one that came out on Oct 28th. Next four days filled with tv meetings, college fairs, workout classes, tutoring, picking up my mom to stay with Spencer while I’m in polar bear country and then BOOM off to Churchill.

UPCOMING EVENTS:

ATLANTIC CITY GIG:

Tuesday, November 15

2- 3:40 Atlantic City Convention Center

Doing a workshop on communication skills for elected officials…that’s right, I’m going to fast talk to a bunch of politicians…should be fun 🙂 The title of the talk, “Speaking from the heart.”

BOOK TALK & SIGNING:

When: Saturday Nov. 19th

Time: 3-4 PM

Where: Barnes and Nobles

2614 Central Park Avenue

Yonkers, NY 10710

Phone: 914 771-6411

NOTE: BTW if anyone wants me to speak at the group or function about these adventures, just give me a hollar and let me know…it is what I do for a living and I love it and would love to share it with the world.

FINALLY THE POLAR BEAR ADVENTURE:

Okay so you know Steve and I flew to Chruchill, Manatoba (Canada) “The Polar Bear Capital of he World” via Winnipeg, to see these creatures up front and personal…the polar bears btw are the largest and fierest land animal, the only (almost )exclusive meat eater in the bear family…and although they look fluffy and cute, they are extremely dangerous. Unlike brown or black bears, they have no fear of humans and will attack without provocation. Just the type of thing I like to see.

Our first night in Winnipeg, we had a welcome dinner where we met our small traveling gang of 15…there was a wild bunch (6 total) in from Raleigh, North Carolina, (who packed their own liquor) so we knew this would be a great trip. After our introductions and the southerns telling me, “Damn girl, you talk fast!…” our natural habitat guide Jarad spoke, “Okay, I just wanted to go over some safety procedures once we are in Churchill. Churchill is a multicultural community made up of about 1000 people. It is made up of Caucasian, Inuit and Cree. There are people in that town that have never traveled more than 50 miles from home their entire lives…and everyone knows everyone there. Churchill is only accessible by VIA Rail or plane, that means everything food, school supplies etc come in that way. There are no roads leading to the town. You can walk around town, but just know the polar bears walk around town as well. So, never go outside the lit aread of town, you never know where a bear might be lurking. And don’t travel alone.” (I’m thinking yeah cause all you really have to do to be safe is outrun the person you are with!) He continued, “There is a polar bear alert program, with signs, traps and monitoring perimeters and it is patroled, 24-7. If you hear cracker shells, that means there is a bear in town and they are trying to chase it away. If you see a bear walk, don’t run, into the nearest building.(Yeah, Easier said than done) People leave the doors to their houses open and just walk into each others house for protection. If you do see a bear, call 675-BEAR to report a siting.” At that point, Karen, the blonde leader of the NC pack said to her husband, “Hey Larry, if some bear goes chasing me, you’ll kick his ass..but just in case, write that number down. ” Everyone laughed. This woman was one outspoken lady.

Flash Forward- DAY TWO

Our Natural Habitat gang takes a private charter plane to Chruchill (land on this extremely long runway, which by the way is an emergency land spot for the shuttle if it’s every needed) then a tour around the town which lasts all of 10 minutes, unpack and then are put on a school bus out to the ‘Launch’ area where the tundra vechicles are. In case you don’t know what a tundra vechicle is, picture a huge white double wide bus with a back open viewing deck. The tires on this thing are like those on a monster truck, they are huge. We arrive at this barren land (Which by the way did not have any snow on it…thanks to our old pal global warming) and we start to ride along the ‘roads’…not really roads more like imprints of previous tires. You are jolted every which way, kind of like being on a moving seesaw. I love it of course, and stand on the outside deck, bracing myself in the corner and taking in the night air.

After about a 1/2 hour of riding (which by the way is so bumpy that if you have to go to the bathroom you have to tell the driver to stop or you’d fall into the toilet)…we stopped.

Everyone was excited…what is it? A bear? Nope it was a spotting of the Ptarmigan bird. The bird was busy snipping some buds. While it was nice to see the bird…we were all anxious to see the bears….we rode some more, and again more of those birds. Throughout this whole trip…those birds turned out to be a common site to the point that we’d say…”Oh man, not another one of those stupid birds.”

We kept riding along and then another stop…”What another bird?” Nope, There up ahead was a sleeping polar bear. Okay, not too impressive, till he started to move. He was smelling our scents (Their sense of smell by the way is phenomenal…they have been known to walk over hills and mountains following a scent of a seal over 20 miles away…40 miles if it’s open land, so if you think your ‘Secret’ deodorant is going to mask you…think again.)

He gets up and meanders to our buggy. Cameras are flashing, he kepts coming. He walks right under the open viewing area part, which by the way has a open crissed crossed mesh type standing area…so you can see the thing moving under your feet. He decides to look up at us, starts to stand and thinks, “Ah the hell with it, I’m in walking hybernation…got to save energy.” Then he circles us again…decides to sniff us out on his hind legs…pretty impressive since if you reached your arm down he can easily yank you over. (Which some idiot did with another company in the past).

Everyone was buzzing with excitement. We ask Jarad why Churchill is the hot spot (or cold in this instance) for bears… and it goes like this. “Each year, these white bears prowl the coast waiting for the winter freeze. Hudson Bay’s expanse of ice is the bear’s winter hunting ground. Their main food is seal, and although their are excellent swimmers it’s easier to catch a seal when it pops it’s head up out of a breathing hole in the ice. The bear will wait for hours for this opportunity, then grab the seal in it’s jaw of death and chow down. This is one of the best artic spots for them to do this.”

After a few hours of watching this bear sleep, walk, climb up on another tundra buggy, walk some more etc…we headed back out of the tundra, but not before a quick glimse at a artic fox..it was white. (They have two color phases, white and blue..changing from winter to summer…he had his winter coat on.) At least the one thing good about no snow, it was easier to view the animals-even in the pitch black night.

Day 3 – OUR BEST DAY!

Kelly our bus driver/tour guide/dog sled owner picked us up for our morning tour while the other half of the group went on the helicopter ride. Right away I noticed something you don’t see on the NYC buses, a warm shotgun behind the driver… Maybe it’s to keep the tourist in line…or maybe he just didn’t like those Ptarmigan birds either. Anyway he took us to see his sled dog and puppies. He has them fenced off because recently wolves ate some of his dogs. Kelly btw has some adorable huskies for sale if anybody wants them…there is no animal shelter up there for him to give them too, and he already has too many puppies to keep)…so if you love animals, and have room you can save a life.

After his dogs we went to see this guy Brian Ladoon who raises Canadian Eskimo dogs, the rarest artic animal on earth (only 250 left- he is bringing the breed back from near extinction). The guy is quite a character, apparantly we caught him on a very talkative day. He has hundreds of his dogs out in the open on chains. He’s worked out a way to make the polar bears friendly with the dogs, supposedly it’s an amazing thing to see (of course when we were there, the bears weren’t). Then we went out to this fort area and lo and behold hiding amongst some rocks was this bright white artic hare. We got within 15 feet of him and he didn’t move. I asked why. Kelly said, &quotHe thinks you can’t see him.” I’m thinking “hey did this rabbit look around…there’s no snow..he stands out like a sore thumb…” Kelly continued,”In his world, if he runs he only has a 10% chance of survival, if he stays still he’s got a 90% chance.” Okay, I guess Mr. rabbit knows what he’s doing. Good thing we were all just interested in taking pictures or the rabbit would have been soup.

From there, lunch and then we were on a bus to the heliport, a big 2 minute ride. Hey it’s a small town wadda ya want. The NC crowd came off the helicopters and of course Karen said, “Didn’t see a thing…just jokin! It was awesome.”

We were booked for a 3 hour tour…a three hour tour…(to be sung to the tune of Gilligans Island). There were 4 passengers and a pilot were in each helicopter. Riding shotgun (and I really mean shotgun, since the pilot carried a 12 gauge with him just in case something happened when we were on the ground) was Cindy…my buddy from Indiana who had this real infectious laugh. It was great having her around…good for a comics ego for sure. Also inside were her friend Jean (who was now retired and enjoying trekking the world) and me and Steve. Steve by the way carried his first aid kit and satellite phone whereever we went. He always likes being prepared– a regular boyscout.

This is the part of the trip I was waiting for most, because now I would get to climb into the (hopefully unoccupied mother-baby den.) It was a 20 minute flight to this den…so of course we had to fly over some land…

From the air we could see the delination of land from the treeline…you see the artic landscape is made up of the taiga (the boreal forest which is a kind of gloomy place with shelters and overhangs…it covers about half of Canada and Alaska..) and the treeless Tundra which is huge and wide open…no shelter there. The treeline is the border between the two worlds.

From our window on our way to the den we saw about 20 polar bear, mothers with cubs, some lone females and some males…(Oh and how can you tell the difference you ask…well besides the males being bigger…(1,200 pounds…and about 11 1/2 feet) the females…well I hate to admit this but, they have a distinct mark…you can usually see a yellow stain down their legs…(if I need to explain further you need to go back to anatomy class.) So much for a classy female.

Anyway, we we are flying around and then suddenly we saw it…well, actually we didn’t see anything, the pilot told us we were above the den. He said, “We need to circle around a few times to make sure no bears are here.” Good idea…circle a few hundred times that’s fine with us…don’t want to have to use that shotgun.

He landed the helicopter and we all were snapping pictures like crazy. It was a strange feeling to be on the ground where we knew they roamed. Then again the whole town of Churchill was where they roamed, but here we were out in the wilderness…actively seeking their den.

Now here’s the thing on polar bear and dens. Only pregnant females den for any period of time. The males and other females do not den, they enter a physiological state called, ‘walking hibernation’, in which they remain awake and active. So at any time some zombie like Polar bear could be walking around waiting to make a nice meal out of us humans… I mean we may not be their favorite food, but we are meat in the food chain…and just so you know they can eat 150 lbs per day…so most of us make a perfect size meal.

The denning begins mid-October to early November…Just the time we were there… and bears like to return to the same dens…hell it’s their homes…scientists have noted that some dens have been used for over 200 years! Talk about “this old house!” So of course we were hoping that this house was vacated. Just to be sure the helicopter pilot peeked his head in first. Nope he didn’t go in. Steve offered me up first…but Cindy wanted to do the honors.

Now you might be thinking, big polar bear, big den. Wrong! This opening to this den was about 2 feet high, it was covered in moss…you’d miss it if it wasn’t pointed out to you. You’d crawl in and it was about twelve feet long inside, and about 7 feet wide, barely enough room to turn around in. I don’t know how the heck a mother bear and her cubs can be inside of there. No room for pictures, that’s for sure.

Cindy crawled in, found a sunroof in the den and poked her hand out from the top. It was like the final scene in the movie “Carrie” where she pokes her hand out of the grave. After Cindy crawled to the end, she tried to shimmy back out backwards. Of course we were making comments since her butt was covered in moss. She started laughing hysterically, so she had to stop and regain her strength before she made it out totally.

Next up was Jean…she went in, surveyed the place and came out like a pro…also backwards.

I was up next. Now of course you guys know I had to take my books in with me. So I crawled in…the ground was squishy, but it was rather cozy in there…not much room for pictures. As I got to the end I saw there was a little side room, not very big. I stuck my hand out the whole and had Steve take a picture of my hand with the book out the whole of the den. Then I was about to shimmy out backwards as my previous cohorts had done, but I decided, if a mother bear can have cubs in this place I sure as hell can make a U -turn. So I start to turn around in there, and it’s tight.. All of a sudden I feel like Nadia Comenichi trying to move into positions not humanly possible. My leg is contorted , then I start laughing becaue I’m halfway aroudn the turn and stuck. Steve says, “What’ s going on in there?” I mutter, “I’m trying to turn around, but I think I’m stuck.” “Capo, just like you…can’t do things like normal people.” I managed to turn around, which I felt was an accomplishment and then had steve take pictures of me with the books at the entrance.

Meanwhile the whole time the pilot is guarding us with his shotgun. This is not the time I want to reenact Goldilocks and the three bears, “who’s been sitting in my cave?”

Steve was next to crawl in. He knelt down, took one look inside and then wimped out. Yup..he said. “Nope, not going in there, saw it.” We asked the pilot if he wanted to go in…”Nope that’s okay.” Maybe its a male-female thing. Good, the mother bear probably doesn’t want some man in her den messing it up anyway.

After the den adventure, we changed our seating plan on the helicopter and then went to see more bears along the coastline. We saw about another 20 just laying down waiting for that ice to freeze. If we saw our flying around annoyed the bears, we didn’t circle around to take another look. Some bears just sat there, some ran. We were told the ones that sat there, usually associated helicopters with being darted in the butt (to be tagged)…so they kept their hinnies low.

As we kept flying we also spotted some more of those Ptarmigan birds. We looked at each other, those birds sure get around.

Further on we saw some caribou and a big moose. The whole thing was incredible, just seeing these giant creatures roaming around below us.

We made one more stop at a fort…the helicopter trip before us wasn’t able to stop because a polar bear was blocking the entrance. So we carefully circled around, saw that no white blobs were planted near the tree, and landed. Spent some time in the fort and then headed back to the heliport.

On the way back we saw a downed plane they called MissPiggy that crashed and was left there,a downed air missle left in the water, and a polar bear carcass. Steve commented, “Man this is a dangerous place. If you fall they just leave you there and make it a tourist attraction.”

The day so far was great…but it got even better. After dinner we were treated to stories from some Inuit people and then we went back to our hotel. As were were sitting in the lobby checking emails on the hotel computer we heard, “The Northern LIghts are out!”

I logged off mid-sentence…and ran out. There in the night sky was this huge green swirl of lights. You could see it, but because of the street lights it was hard to see. I ran inside and found Jarad, and asked if we could go someplace dark to see it better. He said “Yes but we’d have to be careful because there is a bear in town”….as he said it the night air was punctuated with the sound of a cracker shell. “Well where exactly is this bear?” “Last it was scene was two blocks down in front of the post office.” “Oh man…”

Okay so here’s the thing. Besides the polar bears, I’ve wanted to see the Northern Lights for years now. Once when I was in Alaska I drove around back roads with my mom and son for 5 hours trying to find them…no luck. Now here they were in the Churchill sky ( an uncommon occurance at this time of year, because its mostly cloudy) and some bear was basically in my way.

Jarad said, we just have to be safe…I agreed but Steve and I still wanted to see it. First though we did promise the rest of our crew we’d wake them up if we saw anything…that’ was the deal we all had. So Jarad and myself went knocking on doors to wake people up. Only Jean and Cindy responded. They were obviously sleeping, but through on some coats over their pajamas and came outside.

With no other takers, Jarad, myself, Steve, Cindy and Jean walked over to this alley way. We were not the only daredevils…since there were about another 10 people there as well. Hey strength in numbers…we hope anyway.

There in the dark alley, armed with our cameras, we could see the sky doing its magic. Okay, not magic really, but it sure looked like it. You see the aurora Borealis is a natural phenomenon that shows systematic motions on a global scale. It goes like this..solar winds flw across the upper atomosphere 50 to 200 miles above the earths surface. The winds hit molecules of gas that causes them to light up, kind of like a the electrical discharge of a neon sign. The colors created in the sky depend on what atoms are struck. The colors can range from green to red to purple and yellow. Sometimes the lights go bright and dim, and other the colors dance in the sky. Toinght they were dancing up a storm.

As we watched in awe we heard another cracker shell go off, which basically meant the bear alert patrol spotted the bear and were trying to scare it off. It added to the excitement of the night. We all looked around to see the nearest place to hide if it came strolling around the corner. We spotted a dumpster and thought, it’ll have to do.

Since it was cold out Jean and Cindy went in after a 1/2 hour. Steve and I headed in as well and then decided we wanted one more look at the night sky. So we headed back to the alley. Now the sky was swirling faster like a giant whip. As we all looked on in awe, we saw a streak of light…a huge shooting star shot across the middle of the swirling circle. We all let out a giant, “Wow, did you see that!” It was the perfect moment…the perfect sky…the perfect night…

Cameras flashed but no one, at least not in the alley way was able to capture it on film. It was one of those things that will have to stay etched in you memory forever…we were still in that state of wonderment when another cracker shell went off, this time closer. We decided we had enough excitement for one night and quickly headed back to the safety of the hotel.

Day 4-On the road again.

Headed out for an all day excursion on tundra buggies. Saw artic owl (again the thing just sat there, thinking we couldn’t see it). We saw more sleeping polar bears. To pass the time, Bunny took a bunch of pictures of me with my book with the polar bears in the background. At one point, Myrna asked, “Can I buy one of your books?” I said sure. Then Mona said, “Well I’d like to buy one too.”

The next thing I know a couple of people are gathered around looking at my books. Karen who was up front and couldn’t see what was going on yells, “Hey Larry buy me one of those…..what is it?” We all laughed.

It felt great to be with such a fun and supportive group. Everyone was watching out for each other, everyone moved out of the way to let others get a good camera shot…it was wonderful…unlike my partner on the Titanic trip…

ANyway, we were in the middle of watching bear sleep when Jarad got a message on the radio that they were doing a bear lift. This was a rare thing to be able to see, and we all wanted to see it. We voted to leave the tundra early to try to make it to the heliport in time for the launch. The buggy was bouncing all over the place…Karen was leaning on the side window and we hit a huge bump…BOOM…she knocks out the window with her butt!!

Steve ran and grabbed the window and took it off the hinge. For the rest of the trip she didn’t live that down.

Despite the boomer butt, we made it to the heliport in time. You see in Churchill they have a polar bear prison. A huge gray compound that can house about 20 bears. The male bears are given a mandatory 30 day sentence..no trial…and they are only given water. They also arent’ allowed visitors…all this in the hopes that Mr. Bear will not want a return visit to the town of Churchill. The female bears and cubs are flown out usually as soon as possible, because they feel threatened in the prison. Yup, if they could the males will attack and eat the cubs…nice guys.

Anyway…it turns out one of the inmates time was up…he did his 30 days and was ready to be flown out. It also turns out that the cracker shells from the other night turned into something more. They couldnt scare the female away so they darted her and the cub. Now all three were layign on the ground about 200 feet in front of us in nets, sedated. They were fully aware of their surroundings, they just couldnt move.

A helicopter was going to fly all three of them out. The female and cubs would be dropped frist (not dropped really, laid down) about 50 miles out. Then the male would be dropped further.

The whole process was facinating to watch. It was also wierd knowing they were conscious. Within minutes the helicopters came, and the three nets were lifted up. The were one underneath the other, picture attached raindroplets.

This trip was everything we hoped for and then some.

The next day was spent with, museums, shopping, Mona winning 1500 bucks at the local casino (and probably wiping the town out), another Northern lights sighting, though not as spectacular and some of the crew going on a dog sled ride on wheels, since there was no snow. Steve wanted to try a ride, but wanted to wait for the real deal. They gang said it was fun, none the less.

The last day we headed back to Winnipeg on our chartered plane, 455 pictures later I was ready to go home and tell you guys about my trip. I sat on the plane waiting to take off…engines started, we got up to sped, started down the runway and then..we braked suddenly..didn’t stop till the end of the runway. Everyone was jolted. What the hell happened!

We all look out the window …there on the runway were those damn Ptarmigan birds, just glaring at us. The captain apologized for the delay, but said the birds got right in the path of the plane. Karen was ready to shoot them. I just started laughing…those birds were determined to be noticed…sure they may not be polar bears, but apparently they had the power to stop traffic just the same. I guess it proves that no matter how big or small everything in this world should be noticed and can make a difference. It seemed a very fitting ending to a wonderful trip.