I get an expected disappointment at what I see. Although it has been in the low 30's the past few nights, I can tell from my peering that there is no snow on the ground as we make our descent into Churchill, Manitoba.
However, with temperatures still in the 30's, I hope the locals that I have come here to visit will still come out and hang with me.
Inside the quaint terminal building I learn a little bit about the town that is known as the Polar Bear Capital of The World. Like all of my experiences in Canada, except the Immigration and Custom officials in Winnipeg the local Canadians are friendly and welcoming.
For CAD$25, I am dropped off at the Polar Inn and Suites, my Canadian home for the night.
Whatever disappointment I have about being here is quickly erased as I visit the Great White Bear Tour company office and gift shop. Here I meet two other visitors that will be with me on the tour tomorrow along with one energetic and super friendly GWBT employee. She introduces all of us and then proceeds to individually give us a huge welcome hug.
I feel like the prodigal son in her warm embrace. She is full of excitement from the minute I walk in and until I leave about twenty minutes later, gladly sharing all kinds of tour and local information with us.
Across the street from Great White is Gypsy's Restaurant and Bakery, The Place To Be In Churchill and for good reason. Owned and operated by a Portuguese family, this restaurant comes highly recommended not only by the taxi cab driver and Great White employees but now also by me.
As I enter Gypsy’s , I am not surprised to find fellow tour guests David and Victoria who prefer to be called Eric and Claire sitting at a nearby table. They invite me to join them which I immediately accept. We are all here for the same thing, The Thanksgiving Day dinner special that Gypsy’s is serving for CAD$20.95 in honor of the Canadian holiday.
Moist sliced turkey, steamed colorful vegetables, a scoop of mashed potatoes that looks like ice cream, stuffing which David/Eric is not familiar with, cranberry sauce and a fresh dinner roll to be followed by a slice of pumpkin pie which surprises Claire. She is accustomed to using pumpkin as a vegetable not a sweet. The waiter and I take the opportunity to give her a bit of our pumpkin cooking know how.
Eric and Claire are retirees from Australia who have traveled the world with some interesting stories to tell.
Eric breaks out a well worn and folded map from his wallet and we go over their 25,000 miles, five month RV journey across the United States and Canada. We share some common sites and memories of identical places we have visited. As Eric carefully folds his prized map up, Claire reminds him that he will have to get a new one the next time they visit a Cracker Barrel.
This is a meal and a time that one does not want to end. Of course there is no rush for us to leave but we want to explore a bit of Churchill although most places are closed because of the holiday.
Eric and Claire share one slice and take the other to go.
No worries, I have my eyes on my own “to-go” selection from the bakery showcase. Since as Claire puts it, “You are a big boy”, I savory my whole slice at the table along with a warm cup of tea. With the right amount of cinnamon and other fall baking flavors, it is going to be hard to beat this slice of pumpkin pie, anywhere else.
For CAD$20.95, we have had a feast that has me talking a new language. Gobble, gobble, gobble.
Happy Thanksgiving Day, Canada!
Walking from Gypsy’s I hear my named yelled from across street and “... are you just leaving Gypsy’s now?” Responding, “Yes”, my warm hugging, energetic, friendly and new Churchill BF is just as happy as I am that my dining experience has taken so long.
Not getting anything past her, she smiles as she notices that I have a nice “to go” bag.