“A Moment I Will Relive Forever”

Aimee Weinstein went on a trip to see polar bears in Canada's wilderness.
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When was the last time you felt truly connected? I am not talking about wi-fi or social media but a true, profound, deep connection to the earth, wildlife, and people? My connection with nature is something that has slowly become a necessity to my existence. It's the feeling of peace and love that runs through me. I seek this in all my travels. In fact, most people thought I was crazy to take a trip to see polar bears in the wild only two weeks before my wedding day, but I knew this was an opportunity that couldn’t be missed.
 
It was a cold, overcast day in Churchill, Canada, when my new group of friends and I boarded our spacious tundra rover and set out in search of these majestic creatures. This was day two roaming over the bumpy tundra roads when one of my fellow passengers shrieked with excitement, “Bear! Two o’clock!” At first seeing this beautiful white creature, I was so overcome with emotion; I knew she was beautiful but couldn't properly see her. I immediately grabbed my cameras. I took off my jacket and crept to the back of the rover. I took some generic pictures and attempted some awful selfies. We had seen her the day before rolling around stretching and doing some yoga, but today was different. She slowly made her way to where I was standing, and stillness took over. The air was crisp, but I didn’t feel it; besides, I was not going back inside to get my coat. There, I was standing in front of her, watching her roam toward me, heart beating fast inside my chest. She was admiring me as much as I was admiring her; although she was probably thinking, “This one would make a delicious dinner.” It was at this point that I put away my camera and finally became present. I think we all did as we stood on the back deck of the rover barely moving, barely breathing. Then (a moment I will relive forever in my memory), the magnificent creature stood on her hind legs and for a brief moment, our eyes connected with each other as though we were looking into each other’s souls, and I truly realized the perfection of this huge body in front of me. The feeling of amazement overtook me. How can this beautiful thing exist?! With the climate warming and food becoming more and more scarce every year, it won’t be long before this moment will never be made possible again. She hung out with us for a while, standing on her hind legs multiple times, even sniffing our feet from below. I was able to get a few more photos before she wandered off down the road toward another rover. I released the breath I didn’t know I was holding and watched the fog dance off my chapped lips into the icy air before me. We all escaped the cold and migrated back to the warm interior of the rover, crying happy tears and hugging each other. The emotion was so overpowering for everyone on the vehicle. I couldn’t believe this was my life, and I couldn’t believe it has taken me this long to get to this moment, to just be, to see.
 
The excitement and the emotions only escalated from here as each day got better than the next. We watched two male bears spar for over an hour as rays of golden sunlight shone down upon them, casting them in a beautiful, numinous glow. And just when we thought the trip couldn’t get any better, on the last night, the clouds cleared, and we were privy to the most amazing display of Northern Lights. Hues of emerald green and purple with hints of red danced over our heads, and I was, once again, brough to my knees by Mother Nature. Jaw open and in love with the planet that we live.
 
This is the type of travel that matters. It the type of trip I live for, and it is the reason I love companies like Natural Habitat that make these experiences so accessible to so many people. I’ve had the privilege of taking two trips with this amazing company, and it will not be my last. This is a company that's so passionate about wildlife, nature, and conservation that they partnered with the World Wildlife Fund. Both trips I’ve taken (check out my Greenland blog!) have left me in awe, speechless, and wanting more. All their guides are college-educated and in the top of their field. The passion they share is easily felt, and the emotion in their stories can bring you to tears. These are trip worth saving up for; these are trips that change lives. 
 
Natural Habitat charters their own plane to and from Churchill, and it was quite adorable listening to the many groups’ excited conversations, all the different people connecting and sharing their unique experiences. It was the most excitement shared among strangers that I've heard on a plane. I sat there quietly with a smile on my face knowing that Churchill was worth the expense and that many people would call this trip truly one of the best of their lives. 
 
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