North AmericaPolarVirtual Travel Tales

Québec Winter Carnival, Canada

Interior of the Ice Hotel built for the Winter Carnival

Oscillating between rage, despair and frequent wide-eyed shock over the current state of international politics and the unleashing of the politageddon, Leroy and I have decided it’s time for another virtual trip to take our mind off things. We thought we’d drop in to Justin Trudeau’s utopia, to see how he’s faring in the quest to dispense humane and hospitable policies in a world where that sort of thing is increasingly seen as bizarre. We also exchanged notes about Madagascar after our recent visits.

Leroy and I then spent the rest of the morning at the Haughton impact crater in far northern Canada. Created around 23 million years ago when a 2km-wide object crashed into earth, it wasn’t discovered until the 1950s when someone happened to spot it on an aerial photo. Leroy wanted to visit because he’d read that it’s the closest thing to Mars on earth. So close, in fact, that it’s been used by NASA as a Mars landing training area. Given that it’s the middle of winter and -34 degrees centigrade, I was a little hesitant at first, but it was amazing in a bleak, icy kind of way.

We then headed south to the relatively balmy climes (-11 degrees) of Québec City for the 18-day Carnaval de Québec. We missed yesterday’s Battle of the Dukes (a 6000-strong snowball fight), but there’s still plenty going on. Enormous ice sculptures, French Canadians with very few clothes on frolicking in the snow, trucks and restaurants selling endless burgers, cheese fondue and maple syrup-infused morsels. Not to mention caribou, a lethal-sounding concoction of red wine, maple syrup and brandy, which we might leave until later to sample. It wouldn’t mix well with ice skating.