Winter passed and spring came, and all Trystan could think about was the Pleasure Dome. The two sections he had toured in the fall with Mother and Father had been so wonderful, so exciting, that he wanted more. He knew, of course, that there was more, the rest of the first floor and all of the second. But it had been decreed that any other trip was to include the whole family, and so it couldn’t happen until the school holidays for Lancelot and Clarissant. He sighed. That seemed so far away!
But time passed with all of them busy with school and music lessons and trips to Toronto for shopping, and finally it was time! Tomorrow, they would all go to the Pleasure dome, and see more. Father said they would only do the other two rooms on the first floor, and he, Mother and Trystan would sit in the tea room while Lance, Claris and Lin toured the jungle and rain forest. Father had learned that the second floor was all connected, going from Ocean, to Swamp, to Forest, to formal garden with a maze. Trystan had a hard time holding in his excitement when he heard of the maze. That would be so much fun!
They set out right after lunch; though this time they didn’t walk, but had Jethro drive them there in the carriage. Mother didn’t want to arrive already tired, as they had in the spring. Jethro could bring the carriage back by five o’clock to take them home. Trystan knew he, for one, would be very happy to ride home. He had been worn out after the spring trip.
They entered as the y had before through the front arched door, and walked down the long hall. Just over half way there were two doors, one on the left and one on the right. On the left, the Guide said, was the Arctic and Ant Arctic, and warm clothing was provided just inside. On the right was the desert. Water and umbrellas were provided for shade, and there was an oasis at about the halfway point for rest and cooling.
They decided to try the Acrctics and went in the left side door. Inside was a room with a guide in furs and warm boots, and racks and shelves of the same in various sizes. Soon, they were all outfitted and following the guide out another door. The guide paused when they were all out to let them take in the view. Snow and ice, mountains and rocks stretched out in all directions. When Trystan looked back, the door had disappeared. He pulled on the guide’s coat sleeve, and when she turned, he asked “How do we leave here? The door is gone.” She smiled and said “Don’t worry. When the tour is over, it will re-appear, and you will take off the furs and step out into the hall.” He said “Oh, all right. I thought it might be something like that, murals and mirrors hiding what is really there.”
They moved n then. Mother exclaimed over the bright colours on some of the exposed rocks. “That is beautiful. I thought the only colours we would see would be whites and grays, and maybe some blue. But that is really bright!”
“Yes,” the guide said. There are many kinds of moss and lichen that grow in the summer season here, and they are bright, beautiful reds and yellows. In the fall and spring, when the sun is just appearing or disappearing, it is much as you expected.” She led them on, and they came to the ocean,
“There, so you see it? That is a humpback whale, broaching the water.” A huge fish shape came up out of the water, curved over and dived back with a might splash. “Incredible!” Father exclaimed.
They moved on, and again, the guide pointed. “Weddell Seals.” Their gazes followed the pointing finger and saw seals with short light coloured muzzles, spindle shaped bodies in dark gray with light gray and black bloches. They were intrigued, and would have stayed to watch them, but the guide moved them on.
During the rest of the tour, they also saw Emperor penguins, and the guide allowed several minutes for them to watch. They couldn’t help laughing at the funny creatures. Father said “They remind me of some of the gentlemen at my club, pottering around importantly in their tuxedos.” Mother chuckled and agreed. “Or members of parliament,” she added. Laughing they moved on.
In the distance the guide pointed out Mt. Erebus, the only active volcano in Antarctica. It was so far away that it looked small and benign, but Trystan thought he wouldn’t want to be even this close, if it decided to erupt.
Just before they reached the end of the tour, the guide pointed out another pod of Weddell seals, sometimes called leopard seals because of the markings. “They never migrate far, and can be found all around Antarctica, and are a true seal.” She said. Linette looked at them and smiled. They are cute!” The guide agreed and then led them though the door that was suddenly there. “Ok,” Father said, now the arctic!”
Walking around a large hill, the scenery changed, and they were there. On the tundra, there was arctic willow, clumps of yellow pearlwort and tough caribou grass. As they crossed the tundra they saw Alpine Elk, Arctic Terns, Arctic Fox and Arctic Hare. When they got closer to the snow line, they saw a mother Polar Bear with three cubs.
Linette and Trystan both oohed at the cubs. “They look so cuddly; I would love to hold one.” Linette said. The guide laughed. “No, my dear, you wouldn’t like that at all. First, the mother would be after you in a flash, and the cub would be fighting and clawing to get free. You would need a lot of work by a doctor and would likely have bad scars. That is, if you lived. But they are cute, as long as you keep your distance.”
By this time, they were tired, and were more than willing to follow the guide back to the hall, where they left the furs, boots, mitts and hats. Once out in the reception area, Trystan, Mother and Father settled in the tea room for a much needed afternoon tea and rest, while Lancelot, Clarissant and Linette toured the forest and rain forest. They too needed a rest the, before the trip home, even though Jethro was there waiting to drive them home .