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New Website, New Blog, but the Old Blog Archive remains: September 28, 2023

After many years of wanting a real website, this month I finally have a website designed by the very knowledgeable Rey Rey Rodriguez ( TheMindOfReyRey ). My old blog,  Vacation-Travel-Adventure  continues with the same address but it is located in the "Archives" tab on my new website . The new blog which is a continuation but with much better resolution for 4K screens, it is now at .

Arctic Vacation, Somerset Island, Canada: July 8, 2019

Rain overnight and much colder this morning with wind coming from the northern ice cap. Today, we chose a hike to "Google Canyon" so named because several years ago the lodge got a call from Google explaining that a balloon or something that they had put into the air had last been identified as dropping somewhere on Somerset Island. Some of the pieces were found in a canyon that is now named unofficially "Google Canyon." On our walk, Dan and I actually found a piece of decomposing plastic that may have been part of the Google thing.

Colder, more layers

On our hike we came across a nest of two eggs on the ground. There are no trees as we know them here or anywhere above the arctic circle. Birds nest on the ground.

The nest belonged to a long-tailed jaeger who immediately became protective of her future offspring. She went on the attack, and Dan was her target.

Arctic Avens

Continuing up a hill we saw one snow goose on her nest. There were no other snow geese around. Her nest is on the edge of the hill just where the ground steeply falls off.

Owl vomit filled with the bones of lemmings
There are lemmings (mouse-size creatures) on Somerset Island--lots of them. There are also foxes and snowy owls who enjoy lemmings as a food source. In the summer, lemmings live in underground communities with tunnels.

In the winter, lemmings collect dried grasses and build small grass huts for their homes under the snow. Because they are more confined during the winter, they also dig tunnels to areas used for latrines.

Lemming winter grass hut
"Google Canyon" is spectacular with it's "L" shaped river cut through rock walls.

Fire Moss next to the river

After lunch we did a steep climb to one of the hilltops for a look around.

Arctic Wooly Caterpillar
Our guide Dave told us the Arctic Wooly Caterpillar lives seven years as a caterpillar before turning into a black moth. The moth's lifespan is just two weeks.

We discovered another nest of eggs. This one belongs to a Sandpiper. She had laid her eggs on an arctic willow which is the only tree in the arctic. 

A Sandpiper 
Sandpiper Nest of Eggs on an Arctic Willow
The Arctic Willow spreads horizontally along the ground
Purple Saxifrage
Muskoxen Scat
Another animal we hope to see is the muskox. Today we saw old muskox poop, new muskox poop, poop from when times are lean, and poop from when eating is good. We didn't see any muskoxen.

Our hike was about 6.5 miles round trip in a beautiful, stark, dramatic landscape.