One day I decided that I need to go up way north where temperatures are extreme and snow is the warmest form of liquid to be found outdoors, a place where nights can find themselves decorated with mystical lights made of stardust.. . It had been a while (maybe since forever) that the thought was there in my head, but at this moment I needed to do it. Long story short, five days later I was on a plane on my way to the Churchill Northern Studies Centre near Churchill Manitoba in Canada as a volunteer. ..
Basic air travel, in this case 2 airplanes, gets me to Winnipeg aka Winterpeg one of the coldest cities in the western hemisphere, and my first steps out of the airport proved so as I started to feel my nose snot starting to freeze up. Amazing thing, they spray the planes with some kind of antifreeze before taking off from here. .. The next day I take a train (or the train takes me) up to Churchill Manitoba, they announce a 38 hour ride that actually ends up to be on the above side of 40 hours. .. So much time in a train, after a while I started feeling like the outside world was some kind of fish tank with an almost static scenery .. The trees just get shorter and signs of life become more and more scarce... Towards the end I felt like I was born and raised on this train and that maybe all my memories of life outside where just very realistic dreams. ...
Like everything here, getting around calls for uncommon measures, of course the snowmobile is an often used means of transportation but you can even see some of their ancestors, the Bombardier B7 or B12 and other unusual vehicles. Churchill city, around 900 human souls, no urban sprawl and no traffic jams, almost nobody outdoors.. . I wonder why. . ..
This used to be a rocket research centre built by the U.S. military and NASA to carry out research on northern lights. To conduct their work they built a rocket range with 3 rocket launchers. .. . I love the rocket launchers' 60's cold war high tech style. ..
When i finally arrive at the Churchill Northern Studies Centre, I met the people who work there, I put my bags in my room and I start to work there right away. As a volunteer at the CNSC, I get food and lodging in exchange for some work, mostly in the kitchen where I end up spending most of my time with Don, the chef.. . A remote place in such a hostile environment calls for unusual ways of doing things, water is imported and exported by truck, the Internet gets there through a 23 km directional wireless link coming from the port of Churchill. Add the people you meet in such a place with some remains of the rocket days and you get this unique feeling I cannot really explain. . ...
I waited outside every night to catch the strange lights but it wasn't until the 4th day that i finally saw green stuff illuminating the immense subarctic sky. Catching auroras can be considered a sport somewhat like fishing, you have to find a good spot, wait, and not make too much noise.. :) The lights are made of stardust attracted to our Earth's magnetic poles, this dust comes from the explosions that occur on the surface of the sun. The density of aurora and colours depends on the sun's activity.