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A Tribute to Judy – Part 12

© ChristianChan - iStock-476118892
Ernest Hammer


MAY 31, 1938 – AUGUST 8, 2023

Part 11 was published November 6, 2023, and can be found here.

The Longest and Most Interesting train Trip

One of the longest and most interesting train trips Judy and I ever took was from La Junta, Colorado, to Churchill, Manitoba.

We always have a layover in Chicago, from there it was to Grand Forks, North Dakota. Here Had t catch a bus to Winnipeg, Manitoba. We had to sit out in the cold waiting for the bus because nothing opened early.

We had to get off the bus at the Canadian port of entry. It was a few miles past the border. There were no other buildings in sight. One passenger was not allowed to get back on the bus.

Judy and I played in the snow at the park in Winnipeg. We had to stay the night and catch a train heading to Thompson the next morning. We stayed on this train all the way to Churchill.

There was no pavement past Thompson. It was a town of about 14,000. All the Indians and Eskimos would come by train to Thompson to do their shopping. Some would bring their dogs with them. The boxcars would be sectioned off for the different villages.

All through the night the train would stop at a big light every few miles. There would be someone there with a pickup. They would unload the merchandise for that village. Each village usually had six or seven miles of pavement heading out in each direction.

I don’t know how many children were on this train but there were several. I was eating some pistachio nuts and one Indian boy stopped and ask, “what are you eating?” I gave him some. A little later he came back and said, “have you got any more of those nuts?”

We went to Churchill to see polar bears. The weather was warmer than normal, and the bears weren’t getting very close to town. We took a tour bus to get a close look. We saw some bears, but they were pretty far away. The tour guide had Judy driving the tour bus.

A few miles out of town, a guy raised Canadian Husky dogs. He was close to Hudson Bay but he had a fresh water pond. He had dogs chained to a kennel with access to the fresh water. Every evening he would feed fish to the dogs. The polar bears would help themselves to the fish, so the owner would have to feed more fish. At feeding time, he would put a chain across the driveway and, for a fee, you could drive around where the bears were feeding with the dogs. You could get up close and personal.

We had a little time before the train came to take us back to Winnipeg, so decided to drive our rented pickup  to where the railroad tracks ended on the west end of Hudson Bay. We pulled off the gravel road to turn around. When I went to backup, the wheels started sinking into the sand. Judy saw a broken wood pallet quite a ways off. There were Beware of Polar Bear signs everywhere. She knew we needed the pallet and went and got it. I found a small jack in the pickup. We put a slat from the pallet under the jack so it wouldn’t sink into the sand. Then we would jack the rear wheels up and put a slat under them and back a ways and kept putting slats under the rear wheels until we got to solid ground. This is the most concerned about our lives as we have ever been. This was before cell phones. No one knew where we went. By the grace of God, we got the pickup back and boarded the train headed to Winnipeg with time to spare.

Next: Glacier National Park