A Day North of the Arctic Circle--Alaska Airlines to Barrow--Great in-flight Banana Bread, Aaron scores us a Few Extra Pieces with His Wholesome but Hungry Good Looks--Good Views of Tundra and Patterned Ground as well as the Arctic Ocean Ice Pack--Met Anne Jensen of UIC--Checked into the NARL Hotel--Tour Barrow with Inupiaq Language Specialist Maasak Akpik--Great Lunch at the Brower Cafe--Trip to Point Barrow with Archeological Technician Chris Savok--Good Mexican Food and Great Archeology Talk with Anne Jensen at Pepe's--Tundra and Gas Field Tour with Anne
At 2P.M. Anne Jensen of UIP (Ukpeagvik Inupiat Corporation) introduced us to Chris Savok who is her Archeological Technician. Chris was just the guy to show us around. After we siphoned enough gas out of a snowmobile we were able to fuel a four wheeler and a six wheeler for a trip out to point Barrow. Chris loaded his shotgun for polar bear protection and we were off. Chris pointed out everything, explained everything and had an anecdote for everything. We saw Inuit sod houses and excavations, whale bones, and the carcasses of whale, caribou, snowy owl, and arctic fox. We visited Shooting Station (Pigniq) (sort of an Eskimo summer hunting camp) and the old metal naval airstrip. We slid and skidded and bogged our ATV's all the way out to Point Barrow, the point furthest north in the United States. Chris talked of life in the old sod houses. He talked of seal hunts, whaling and whale meat. In general we learned volumes about Barrow life, history and culture.
In the evening, Anne Jensen took us to Pepe's for a little Mexican food and a lot of archeology talk. We covered archeology on almost every continent as well as archeology in Alaska and it's politics. We learned a lot more about the Deering site and the culture that we will be unearthing. This conversation was so compelling that it could have gone on all night! After dinner Anne took us on an extensive tundra tour and even though we were out to 11P.M. the sun stayed pretty high in the sky.
AN EXTREMLY INTERESTING AND SATISFYING DAY!
P.S. They have already encountered burials in Deering and Aaron and I
are getting anxious to get started so that we don't miss anything.
I am overwhelmed with this environment. Barrow is a place unlike any I've ever thought or heard of. To be this isolated from the world that I've always known, to be in a place so radically different (the sun never sets, there is an ice pack on the ocean, polar bears, etc.), the feeling is difficult to convey. As Tim Conner said, Maasak Akpik and Chris Savok's tours of the area have been fascinating, as well as Anne Jensen's fountain of information, have truly added to the day. Tim Conner and I are in Barrow as a precursor to our journey to Deering, and yet the amount and scope of the scientific activity taking place here could occupy a visitor for months. I've never seen tundra. Coming from the Catskill Mountains and seeing the landscape just stretch for mile is incredible. When the sun is at the proper angle, the lakes and ponds in the tundra are a beautiful deep blue, which is offset from the pale green grass of the land.
I haven't adequately noted yet, but standing on the beach at the Northern most point in the US and staring out at the pack ice, I can truly appreciate all that was done to bring me here from across the country. I thank you all, those in ARCUS and the National Science Foundation. There is no place I'd rather be.
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