20 May 2008
Polar Bear Sighted, Dead Ahead!
(Tuesday, May 20 19:37) Exhausted, Peaceful
Today, my entire day was spent behind the wheel of a snowmobile. Well, not really the wheel, as they don’t have steering wheels, but you get the idea. I’m a little bit bummed now, because I can’t take any of the pictures off of my digital camera until I get either a CF adapter or a USB -> micro usb cable. Why can’t all mobile devices use mini usb instead of some smaller thing? But that’s alright, it just means my descriptions get to be that much more intricate =). (If I was planning on putting up 4 pictures, does that mean I have to write 4000 extra words? Uh oh!)
After a shower and a quick breakfast at 7:00AM we managed to almost miss the bus at 8:15. For some reason I thought it was at 8:30, and a restroom stop turned near-fatal to the health of our snowmobile trip. But, we caught the driver and managed to make it to the dealership intact. I say dealership because I swear that they also sell new snowmobiles there. We had a quick briefing, from which I took away little more than ‘pull on the throttle to go.’ Oh, and ‘Don’t tip.’ Great, just great. But, considering that, unlike yesterday, they didn’t tell us what to do if we did tip, I figured that it’s extremely rare and nothing to be worried of.
I’m very glad that I got to drive my own snowmobile, and also that I had no passengers to please. That meant I could play around a little, ignoring the jerkyness of my driving and having fun going quite fast. I think I managed a top speed of about 90 km/h, which translates into roughly 55 or 60mph. And when you’re two feet or less from the ground, that sure does feel fast. Looking at others riding, I had this strange feeling that a snowmobile is a cross between a tough motorcycle and a Ghost from Halo.
We traveled almost 170 kilometers during our day, 80 some each way. That in itself is quite amazing, considering that we were traversing the shortest distance from west coast to east coast. Svalbard is much bigger than most people-including myself-think. When we reached the east coast we had lunch and then went out to check out the sea ice and a second glacier. And, to our surprise, two polar bears decided to show up for lunch as well. I got some excellent footage of them with my camcorder. I knew that 20x optical zoom was good for something! When the bears started getting too close for comfort we started the snowmobiles again and headed home.
Edit: Fixed some spelling and weird character loss. And of course added tags.