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The official website of ISAMR (International Student-Led Arctic Monitoring and Research).

Summer Arctic Trip 2016

August 15th

Park ISAMR

Today was the final day of the trip. We spent the morning in Winnipeg shopping at antique stores and grabbing food at a falafel place. The Winnipeg students said their goodbyes at the airport. Our flights went smoothly, and we arrived in Baltimore around midnight. Anna and Bunmi practically slept in the airport to catch flights the next day, while the rest of the students said short goodbyes before returning home to talk to their families and catch up on sleep.

Now that the trip has ended, we must look at the future of ISAMR. As we reflect on our adventures, we think about how we want to improve the program and share the knowledge we gain every year. I have only been home for a day and I already miss my Canadian friends and the beautiful Wapusk National Park that seems like a second home, regardless of the little time I spent there. This trip has made me feel so important, as I have helped collect original data, but the tundra in Wapusk has also make me feel so small and insignificant. I have a lot to think about in the next few weeks and I am excited to see what my role will be in ISAMR's future.

Cecilia Charney, BPI, 18'

August 14th

Park ISAMR

We started off the day with a delicious, hot breakfast in the dining car of the train. As we approach Thompson we are able to read and respond to our letters we wrote a week earlier on the train to Churchill about our expectations for the trip. I was gratefully able to write that our journey to Churchill and Wapusk National Park exceeded my expectations, it’s almost impossible to put into words. After an eighteen hour train ride, it felt great arriving to the Thompson train station and breathing fresh air. We quickly gathered our luggage, packed it all into the vans, and started off our nine hour car ride. Our first stop however, was five minutes away from the station, Quiznos. As we ordered our subs we were able to watch the Olympic Women’s Gymnastics Vault Finals on the TV. We were all cheering on Simone! (even the Canadian kids) Webs and Mark stocked up on some road trip snacks, which was nice change from celebration mix!(still love it though) After about three hours of driving we took the exit to Little Limestone Lake. All of our jaws dropped to the floor in astonishment from the beauty of the lake. The water was a clear, perfect blue, and the shore was covered in perfectly round pebbles and stones. We took a swim in the refreshing water, except for Bunmi because she was sick. :( Cooled off and content we continued our road trip with sing alongs, junk food, and sleep. We arrived to Kelvin High School around 10:30 pm, and we said our goodbyes to Sarah, who would not be able to come to our lunch the next day. All the Kelvin kids reunited with their families, and the Baltimore kids were welcomed by Jim and his family in his home. We were all so excited to see Jim again, and we were all so thankful and grateful that he allowed us to take over his basement for one night. Even though the group felt different without the Kelvin kids, we were able to still have a fun night, as we fell asleep watching Victorious and White Chicks.

Jasmin Craven, The Park School of Baltimore, 18'

August 13th

Park ISAMR

We woke up at 9:30 at Prince of Wales National Historic Park. Everyone slept amazing after the long day of traveling. We had oatmeal for breakfast before we packed up our day backs for a short hike around the peninsula and to Sloop’s Cove (part of Prince of Wales National Historic Park). We walked along the beach and searched the rocky sand for fossils. Sloop’s Cove was an old dock where explorers, such as Samuel Hearne overwintered their ships. We saw signatures carved by Hearne and other explorers from the 18th century! We ate a quick lunch on the rocks. A few of the Junior Canadian Rangers decided to swim in the Hudson Bay.

            The zodiac boats picked us up from the island around two in the afternoon. We rode around the Hudson Bay for one hour watching beluga whales diving in and out of the water and under the boats. Our tour guide took out a machine that goes in the water and amplifies the noises the whales make. After our time was up we drove back into town and dropped our things off at the train station. Here we split into a few small groups. A few kids went to see horses before joining a larger group to shop around Churchill for souvenirs. A smaller group drove ATVs with the junior rangers. When we finished our shopping and sight seeing we met at the train station to say our goodbyes to the Junior Rangers and the amazing scientists and students who we would miss on the train ride.

            We boarded the train around seven in the evening, and set up our sleeping bags before falling asleep quickly. Space on the train was tight, but by now no one seemed to mind as we had spent every waking moment together for the past week and a half. A few kept themselves awake eating pizza and writing blog posts, sorting pictures and video footage, or entering the last sheets of data onto the database. Late at night, as I struggled to pull together video footage, I realized how close our journey was to over. We only have about two days left with our Canadian friends before returning to normal life in Baltimore. Running through the photos is fun until you realize how fleeting those moments in Wapusk National Park were. You miss the way the wind slams the door shut and the flat, understated land swallows you whole. The park makes you feel so alone, so isolated, but still surrounded by strangers who you have grown to care about. For now, I am looking forward to our long van ride back to Winnipeg.

Cecilia Charney, Baltimore Polytechnic Institute, 18’

August 12th

Park ISAMR

Today was a bittersweet day. It was our last day at Nester 1, and we woke up at 8 am for a quick breakfast of sausage, as well as eggs mixed with leftover burrito toppings from the night before. Upon finishing our meal, we only had one hour to pack up all of our belongings, as well as clean the whole camp. In the end, we were able to clean and pack everything. We all gathered for one final time, to spend our final hour together as a group at Nester 1 listening to a presentation in the classroom. We listened to Jackie Verstege, a Masters student studying the food web dynamics between foxes and the animals who inhabit fox dens.  We were all very excited to hear from Jackie, as she had built up quite a reputation within the group of being a badass.

Before we knew it, we began to hear the loud sounds of a helicopter motor in the distance and it finally hit me how fast the time went from these six days. It felt like yesterday that I was hearing this same sound of helicopter rotors when we were anxiously waiting to leave the CNSC for Nester 1. I had this same feeling of anxiety now, but for a different reason; this time I was realizing that our trip was nearly over and that our group would never be together again, in such a remote and beautiful place. After the first 5 people from our group left, the camp began to feel different. Five university students, as well as Ryan Brook, a professor at the University of Saskatchewan and the co-founder of ISAMR, came to Nester. I realized that we were no longer the only group of people who were experiencing the true beauty of Wapusk. Forty minutes later, the second flight of ISAMR students left and with half of our group gone, the remaining members and myself went onto the observation deck, to look at the empty tundra one last time. After another quick 40 minutes, it was my turn to leave. Once the helicopter landed, I was quickly shuffled outside of the gates of Nester one final time and boarded a helicopter for the second time in my life. Once we took off, I tried my best to look into the sky, as this may have been my last chance to ever be able to look out and see nothing but nature and untouched land for as far as the eye can see.

After landing at the CNSC, my sad mood began to lighten a little bit once I realized I could shower for the first time in six days. After my shower I felt refreshed and it felt amazing to not smell. Shortly after, it was time for our group to go to Prince of Wales National Historic Site. We gathered as a group once again in the lobby of the CNSC and started our short trip to the fort. After a short bus ride, we boarded a small Zodiac, which took us across the Hudson Bay, to the fort. Here we met up with some more Junior Canadian Rangers, who were going to be spending the night with us at the fort. During our boat ride, we were able to catch a glimpse of some of my favorite animals, which are wild beluga whales. Once our boat docked, we caught a glimpse of the 18th century fort, and it was beautiful. The architecture on this amazing structure is truly like no other.

Later in the night, we learned how to start a fire from Duane, a Parks Canada interpreter, who was spending the night in the fort with us. We also cooked our dinner of hamburgers, hot dogs, and tofu (for the vegetarians) over the fire. Shortly after dinner, Scott, the Junior Ranger who traveled to Nester with us, came quickly to get me and told me to come quick to the second story of the fort to see something. Upon walking up the stairs, I saw through one of the holes in the walls of the fort which was used to fire cannons through, that there was a polar bear outside the fort, walking along the beach.

Later in the night, after roasting marshmallows over the fire, we saw the northern lights, for the fifth time of the trip. Any time that I could see northern lights was special, but tonight especially was probably the best and most lively I had ever seen them.

I am looking forward to a great final day in Churchill and our final day as a group. 

Max Shockett, The Park School of Baltimore, 18'

August 11th

Park ISAMR

For the second day in a row, our day started off waking up early to a polar bear outside the fence! We had planned to wake up at 7am in order to get an early start on our long 35 kilometer hike to Cape Churchill, but we were shaken awake at 6:15 to see the bear. We then had breakfast and prepared for our day of hiking (free of field gear!). We set off on our hike, taking a fair amount of breaks and beginning to see the tower on the Cape only a few kilometers in. We walked on the beach ridges, at times zig-zagging toward our far away destination. Along our way we saw many caribou and began to pick up fossils as we got closer and closer to the coast of Hudson Bay. Once at Cape Churchill, we sat down to eat our long-awaited lunches and look for more fossils. A large herd of 20-30 caribou were far below us down the coast and frolicked while we finished our lunch and found many cephalopod fossils. We started our hike back around 2:30, but stopped after a short while to take a swim break. Out on an small island of sand only a short way off the beach sat the caribou herd as we splashed around in the shallow, chilly waters. We pushed through our journey back thinking of the pizza and warmth awaiting us inside our Nester One home. Our time at Nester and in Wapusk has been amazing — filled with lots of transects, polar bears, caribou, foxes, sunsets, delicious food, and great friends. Today was cloud-free all day so hopefully tonight we will see the northern lights!

Leah Genth, Park School of Baltimore, 18'

August 10th

Park ISAMR

Today was my favourite day that we have had on this trip. I was woken upat 6:40am by someone saying “get up there is a bear at the fence”. With my camera and not quite awake, i used outside and saw that I was 2 meters away from a fully grown polar bear. We took pictures of the bear for about 20 minutes and eventually it walked away from the camp and moved in to the willows to take a nap. Since it was an early start to the morning and everyone was excited because they just saw a polar bear; we decided to make breakfast and start packing our gear for the last day of field work. Once everyone was packed up and ready to go we left the camp and started on our hike on the beach ridge. The polar bear that was seeping before now was awake and walked beside us for quite a while. It was a beautiful sunny, warm day and i couldn’t have asked for a better way to start it. Our site went really well and everyone was extremely efficient with getting all the work done. Once we were finished with the site we met up with some of the people visiting goose nests and hiked to the beach for a fire, lunch and exploring. The beach was one of the best parts of the day, everyone was really excited to get some time to hangout and look for fossils, take a nap, or just sit and talk around the fire. While we were sitting and eating lunch we were able to sit and watch 5 polar bears off in the distance, which was very neat. After the beach our group split up, most of the people went with Jim to go look at fox dens while myself and a few other students went with Jill back to camp. The walk back to camp wasn’t long at all, we passed the time with riddles and getting to know each other better. Once we were back at camp some people started cooking dinner and preparing breakfast for tomorrow while others took a nap, or burnt the garbage. Dinner was ready when the whole group was back, so we had one of our family style dinners outside and talked about highlights from the day. After dinner we all gathered our cameras up and walked over to the foot den, where we saw all the pups playing outside. Scott, the junior ranger on this trip talked to all of us about some of the expeditions that he goes on with the junior rangers. Now we are sitting around the fire making smores, and waiting for the northern lights to show up in the clear sky.  

Leah Hicks, Kelvin High School 17'

August 9th

Park ISAMR

After a breakfast of French toast and bacon, topped with blueberry syrup (Latin name: Vaccinium Uliganosum), we braved the wind and rain on an exploration hike to a new site.  By the time that we got there, most of our supposedly waterproof jackets were soaked through. The rain got collected in the top of my hip-waders and flowed into my boots, creating a sizable puddle in my boots. Luke and I distracted ourselves from the wind and cold as we probed by belting out songs from the musical Hamilton. Despite the weather, we managed to finish the site and keep our spirits high. Cold and tired, we walked into camp and were greeted with warm soup, Kraft Dinner, and some hot cheese biscuits.

Feeling thawed and replenished, Jill Larkin, a Parks Canada Resource Management Officer, gave a presentation about the over population of Lesser Snow Geese and the damage that they are doing to the vegetation in the tundra. This presentation initiated a discussion about how to prevent the impending disaster of losing this beautiful tundra. She also gave us some survival tips and described some of her incredible stories about spending the night in the wild.

 Following this discussion, we actually had the chance to eat some goose. We had a full arctic dinner consisting of goose, fish, veggies, bannock and an amazing wild rice dish. That really completed the Nester One tundra vibe.

We ended off the day with a visit to the arctic fox den the is right outside of the fence. We walked out, staring at the beautiful sun set, the sky was glowing the most fascinating pink and orange. The foxes were also happy to be out in the sunset after a day cooped up in their den. As we stood there, two of the fox pups started jumping on each other and rolling around. Watching the pups playing was entrancing and a great image to go to sleep with.

What a day it has been, it only makes me more excited for the days to come.

Jordan Kroeker, ISAMR Alum.

            

August 8th

Park ISAMR

We kicked off our first full day at Nester One with banana pancakes, eggs, and sausage. On our own schedule, we could wake up, get ready, and leave as late as we wanted to, which was very well received by everyone. We set out to do what we do at ten o’clock.

            We started off with W-9, a site south of camp. Nothing more to report, other than everything went well. We hiked to a tree island to have our lunch and get ready for the next site.

            Our hike to the next site, W-3, was quite eventful. After making it back to the ridge, we ran into a freshly killed waterfowl. The bird had its wings spread wide, and was clearly missing a head. It was the most intact kill we had seen on the trip, and was very interesting to examine. We also found caribou vertebrae, ribs, and antlers, for possible use as a new handle for the outhouse (the best bathroom at Nester One, clearly). Then we walked across a lake in our waders. All in all, entertaining.

            At our last site of the day, we finally sorted out which willow is which, had Swedish Fish, and spent 10 minutes trying to figure out if any of the rocks on the far shore were bears. They weren’t. Our active layer thickness measurements were the thickest we’ve seen thus far, and required our longest probes. When we finished our work, the adults proposed a banana bread baking contest (we have a lot of bananas) and we divided ourselves into groups. The five breads were a honey-peanut butter banana bread, a gluten-and-dairy-free banana bread, a “le everything” bread, a chocolate-and-trail-mix bread (“Craven some Jasmadeah”) and “Pizzazzzz.” Craven some Jasmadeah won, with the gluten and dairy free bread coming in last place with one vote. Since that was the only bread I could eat, I was that one vote. It was fun tasting and baking the bread after a day of hard work.

            For a perfect conclusion, we had a clear sky tonight, and saw magnificent northern lights, shining green and purple in waves across the sky.

            I’m looking forward to more days at Nester One.

Luke Pound, Park School of Baltimore 18'

August 7th

Park ISAMR

Today was most likely one of the most exciting days in the trip; our flight to Nester 1 in Wapusk National Park by helicopter. I had no idea what to expect for the ride but I was ecstatic just to be fortunate enough to have this stupendous experience. We woke up to clear blue skies as far as the eye could see and a lovely temperature for fieldwork. After finishing up some last minute packing, we waited (dressed in many layers to save space in our daypacks) eagerly for the helicopter to arrive. I was in the second group and seated beside the pilot in the front.

There is nothing like the first few moments in the helicopter. It was an exceptionally smooth lift-off and I couldn’t resist smiling the entire time. As we glided over the most beautiful landscape that I have ever seen, it felt like I was in the midst of a National Geographic documentary. There were beautiful, crystal-clear bodies of water sprinkled all over the green, green tundra. Unfortunately for my parents, my pictures will never be able to do this place justice.

We arrived at Nester 1 Field Camp and we all thought, ‘how am I ever going to leave this?’ We began to set up our tents after a quick tour of the facility, however the tent stakes were nowhere to be seen, so we scrounged for nails and pieces of metal wire in the tool building. As Julie says, ‘Flexibility is the arctic f-word.” The rest of the ISAMR kids leaked in throughout a few more helicopter trips and we settled down to a simple but delicious meal of bannock, cheese biscuits, veggies and sandwiches. We set out for a quick hike across the tundra to a fen site and found a lemming nest and multiple caribou antlers and skeletons. A few caribou pranced around us in a curious manner, perfect for photography.

We enjoyed the pleasant weather throughout the afternoon and hiked back to the camp. We stopped at an arctic fox den with 8 pups, though we only saw the mother fox poke her head out. On returning to Nester 1, we began data analysis and transfer from the field, as well as supper preparation (perogies with Old Bay seasoning and veggies).  Foxes were all around; one ran by the beach ridge to the left of the camp and a pup ventured right through the fence and across the camp.

As we settle in for bed among the curious noises of our surrounding environment, all I can think is;

‘What a carib-eautiful day!’

Marissa Hamlin Kelvin High School 19'

August 6th

Park ISAMR

Today started off colder than normal, I had noticed something different about the wind, but didn’t think anything of it. We had eggs for breakfast with yogurt. We headed down twin lakes road at eight thirty and got out around nine. Then we got ready for the long hike a head of us to our first site, then it turned hot to hot, I took off my bug jacket it was that hot. Our first place was we studied was a fen, and then when we were done we braked for lunch.

Our second site was another hike, but shorter than the first; we went to a bog. It didn’t take too long to do my part, I was probing and the permafrost was like right there. So after I was done Mark, the male chaperone from Baltimore, and I dug a small hoe to the permafrost. It was really cold, and I’m from Churchill. Then we continued.

We hiked to our third site, which wasn’t that far of a hike from the second site. But then that feeling came back to me when we were done, which wasn’t even that long. And it started to rain, it was like a disturbance in the force. Then we hiked for a long time again, it was really nice until my knees felt like they were about to give out on me but I made it to the vans. Then we enjoyed our supper and went out on a sunset safari where it was so nice and one van was just Americans and the other one was one American and the rest were Canadians. When we were heading back to the vans I was speed running like a stupid person and almost would have had to stay back from Nester 1. But I stopped my self before I could hurt my self.

Scott Stewardson JCR. 2019

August 5th

Park ISAMR

Today has been the 1st full day out in the field. Even the dreary weather couldn’t bring down our spirits as we trenched through the Twin Lakes Bog.

 Our day began promptly as 7a.m. in the cafeteria where we greeted by hearty smiles from the kitchen staff as well as hearty breakfast full of pancakes, syrup, and sausages. We headed out armed with our gear, including hip waders, which are thigh high rubber boots that ensure we don’t get our clothing wet, preventing the weather conditions from making us sick. As we weaved our way through the mossy wetlands we observed the versatile vegetation that grew throughout the bog (which was also the 1st bog we surveyed), munching on the savory berries that grew along the shrubs.

All researchers worked tirelessly through the morning. We inspected, measured ALT thickness, and took samples on the side of the bog that hadn’t been affected by the horrid forest fire that had devastated half of the bog back in the 90s’. While we broke for lunch, Dr. Ryan Brook showed us games played by Nunavut people in an effort to keep warm. This ensured lots of laughs and helped warm the spirits of those soaked by the foggy midday weather.

 In the afternoon we continued in the same fashion of the morning routine. This time, we focused on the vegetation in the area burned by the forest fire so we’d have a contrast between two identical sites. I, as a person in charge of recording the macro-data for both sites, found a significant difference in the amount of lichen growing in the fields. In the healthy, prosperous area I estimated lichen (more specifically the cladonia species, cladonia rangiferina, and cladonia mitis) to cover over half of the space. Whereas in the burned area, herbs and shrubs were more likely to dominate. This, coupled with the data from the soil-samples, gave us key insight in the growing habits of vegetation and the effects external forces have the on the prosperity of a habitat.

 As the day progressed we improved our technique improved and we were able to complete our work around 3p.m. We returned to the facility tired but with a feeling of accomplishment of our day’s work. After dinner we were treated to a moving talk with Sayisi Dene woman named Caroline, who bravely walked us through her life journey. This included her childhood in a residential school, her relationship with her parents, her inner turmoil with being a Sayisi Dene, and how she is relearning her culture that was torn away from her. This ended with a passionate speech on not only accepting who you are, but why it is important to know your roots.

In the evening we journeyed on a sunset safari as we gazed upon the Hudson Bay. We saw sled dogs, learned interesting tales of Churchill, and bonded with our fellow researchers. This was a relaxing and calming way to end such a busy day. We eagerly go to bed and await what the next day has in store for us.

Sarah Rauf, Kelvin High School 2018

August 4th

Park ISAMR

Finally we are in Churchill after two plane rides, a ten-hour car ride, and a sixteen-hour train ride. We arrived at the CNSC this morning tired but excited, ready to begin taking data and struggling to remember all the Latin names of species that were memorized quickly on the train. After a couple hours of down time, and a very filling lunch, we headed out to complete our first transect.

For our first time, collecting data didn’t go too bad at all. The hardest part for me was probing. Probing requires jamming a long metal rod into the ground until you hit the permafrost: the ice.  The distance from the surface to the permafrost, measured on the probe, is the active layer thickness. The active layer is the layer that thaws in the summer and freezes in the winter. It was hard to probe in this site because it’s scattered with rocks, making jamming a metal rod through a bed of rocks a tough task. The site we did today is one that we believe is in transition between a fen and a bog, so it is therefore home to a large variety of species from both habitats. So identifying species and percent cover took a while, as did the probing. However, by the end of the afternoon, we had a good amount of data and were ready for a hearty dinner back at the CNSC.

The climate of the tundra is unlike anywhere I’ve ever been. The sky seems so large and so close, and the land so untouched by humans. It’s a great feeling; so different from Baltimore city. The air is clean and crisp, not filled with factory smoke and gasoline. And each day I am surrounded by such amazing people. While Canada and the United States share a border, I am finding out more and more each day how different the countries really are. Each day has been a learning experience, and I am looking forward to have another two weeks of time to take in the beauty of such a special place!

Anna Connors, Park School 2019

August 3rd

Park ISAMR

Hour 17. The train has set to the rail. After a small delay, the motors ignite and the wheels roll towards the North. The warmth of the setting sun accompanies our visions of great adventure. Inside the train, we enjoy a nice meal of various pizzas and supplementary meals for us people with various dietary restrictions (ISAMR takes them pretty seriously... we are all fed so well, with great considerations).

Of course, the end of our day greatly opposes the start of it. Hour 5. With a punctual arrival at Kelvin, all the vehicles and humans depart for Thompson. The darkness of the crisp morning reflects a gothic undertone within the architecture and fields of Manitoba. Then again this goes unnoticed by most people as they are fast asleep, cuddled in their own corners (with more awkwardness than comfort). The adults, morning heroes they are, are driving diligently, although they definitely need sleep as much as we do. The large van may or may not have a functioning audio system, therefore we make our own with an iPhone and a pop tart box.

Hour 9. Our arrival to Grand Rapids is marked by a unanimous bathroom break, sushi rolls, and of course, a little scramble in the back of the van to find the cream cheese, hidden within one of the elusive Coleman Coolers.

Hour 12. A stop at Poncton only means one thing: poutine (per Julie's huge request)! It is a humbling experience to stop by so many little towns that are secluded from large areas of commercial prosperity. Unfortunately, fresh produce and other necessities are not as equally accessible to all citizens. Another thing to be grateful for, for all of us living in Winnipeg or Baltimore!

Hour 13. Pisew Falls can be summed up as quick hike with a fantastic view, as well as another icebreaker activity to get ourselves acquainted better with each other. Leah G. strongly believes she could survive a fall from the falls; we agree that this is up for acceptable debate.

Hour 14. Arrival to Thompson! After we unload all our luggage at the train station, we all head our separate ways, either to buy a little food (200 granola bars and 150 breakfast sausages), get pizza for supper, go on the city trail hike, or to keep an eye on our luggage at the station.

Hour 20. It has been a few hours in the train, and we have all settled in a slow routine: Memorizing all the vegetation to prepare for our next-morning, watching Lemonade at full blast, and getting ourselves comfy for the coming darkness. It has been a very linear day of travel, eating, and great conversations. I cannot wait to see what tomorrow will offer us!

Grace Ma, Kelvin High School 2017

August 2nd

Park ISAMR

Today has been a fun, yet exhausting day. I arrived at the airport at 5:00am and met up with the rest of the group. After Jasmin arrived, we got in line to be checked by security. Everybody except for Max and Mark got TSA Pre so we breezed through the security line. When my carry on backpack was going through the x-ray machine, the man who was looking through all the bags said, "Wow, that's a lot of Old Bay." In my defense I had five tins of Old Bay in my bag to give to the host families as a thank you present. As the x-ray guy was commenting on my choice in seasoning, Jasmin was getting the shampoo and conditioner taken out of her bag. It turns out that she forgot that there was the 3.4oz liquid restriction so she brought her shampoo and conditioner. After Jasmin said her final goodbye to her hair products, we walked to the terminal. We had twenty minutes before our plane started boarding passengers so, I went to get breakfast along with Leah, Max, Jasmin, and Madison. After we got our food we spent what little time we had left enjoying our breakfast.

The plane ride itself was pretty fine, I slept through most of it and what little turbulence we had wasn't enough to wake me up. Once we arrived in Chicago, everybody who didn't get breakfast before our first flight got food. The second plane that we took was so small that our carry on bags weren't stowed in overhead bins, instead we left our bags at the door and collected them at the end of our flight. When I stepped on the plane, I immediately noticed that something was off. The ceiling was quite low in fact, my head was almost touching the ceiling. The isle of the plane was also off center. On the left side of the plane there were two seats and on the right side of the plane there was only one seat in the row which was a bit odd. This flight was also pretty uneventful but then again, I did sleep through most of it.

I was feeling energized when I stepped off the plane because we were going through customs. This might sound a little weird but I was really excited to go through customs. When I went through customs everything went fine and I really felt like the trip had begun.

After I left customs, I saw a familiar face outside of the doors that allowed me to officially enter Canada. One of my friend Melissa, who went on the October trip with me came to the airport to say hi. I was so excited to see her because it had been months. She came with her mother to help drop us off at Donna's house, which is where we would meet up with the kids from Kelvin High School and one Junior Canadian Ranger for dinner. Once we were settled into Donna's living room, I caught up with Melissa and introduced her to the Americans, and I met Jordan, Donna's daughter who is coming with us to Churchill. We were all relaxing for a while and eating lunch together which was really nice. After lunch I said goodbye to Melissa and we got ready to go grocery shopping.

Grocery shopping was interesting to say the least. We were shopping for 30 people for two weeks worth of food. Jordan and I were tasked with getting all the dairy products. This was fairly easy except that Ceci forgot when she was making the list that we would be in Canada so all of the food products were measured in grams. Jordan and I found the conversion and used that to get all the cheese we needed. Our second obstacle was getting eggs. We needed 17 dozen eggs and we only had two small carts to hold the eggs. We somehow managed to find 14 dozen of the cheapest eggs in the store but at that point, we had put all of the eggs in our basket. Since the other eggs were significantly more expensive, we added two cartons of 18 eggs to the basket. Once we found all the eggs, we were done shopping for dairy products so we helped Ceci get grain products. After we got all of the groceries we had four carts full of food. Webs helped us rearrange the food into boxes for the train, boxes for Nestor One, and boxes that need to be refrigerated. Before we checked out the groceries we placed bets on how much the groceries would cost. Webs guessed $750 while others guessed $2,100. Originally I guessed $2,000 but as we were nearing the end of the groceries, I changed my guess to $1,175. It turns out that we spent $1061.80  so Luke guess that the food would cost $1,000 was closest to accurate.

Once we got back to Donna's house the students from Winnipeg were there. I saw Leah and Marissa who I met on the October trip and a few new faces. Once all the food that needed to be refrigerated or frozen was put away, and Scott the Junior Ranger arrived, everybody sat down and did introductions. After introductions we ate a delicious meal that Donna made and I started to get to know the Canadians better. After dinner and dessert, we listened to Webs's presentation on ISAMR. After the presentation and questions, we were split up into groups and asked to answer the question "who are you" in either a poem or an interpretive dance. After we presented our dances and poems we went home with our host families.

I'm really excited to see the tundra in all its glory and get to know everybody. I think all the time in the vans and on the train will great for team bonding.

Bunmi Osias, Park School 2017

July 31st

Park ISAMR

I am thrilled to be starting up the summer ISAMR arctic trip blog for 2016. We will attempt to post an update every evening describing the day’s adventures. Inconsistent internet access may delay us fairly often; however, we will try to upload a post for each day missed. We will also be uploading photos in “Galleries,” but likely not until the trip is nearing it's end.

With that I can begin the first blog post of the trip. While we still have two days before we wake up at the crack of dawn to board a plane, the anticipation is as strong as ever as the reality sits in that I will be leaving my cozy home in Baltimore for an unpredictable and original trip to the subarctic. This is my second year visiting Churchill, but I have been told no experience in the subarctic is ever the same. Even if the experience was the same, I would be extremely happy to have returned. Most of all, I can't wait to meet the new students from Canada, as well as getting to know the students I've spent Monday nights with in Baltimore for the past year. I have decided it is not possible to feel completely prepared for this trip ever, as I would have imagined I would be used to it by year two. This is all part of Churchill's magic, and I cannot wait to feel underprepared in the most beautiful place on earth for the next two weeks.

Cecilia Charney, Baltimore Polytechnic Institute 2018