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> Self-Tour of Barrow Part II, Looking Around Town
Steve_Marshall
post Jul 26 2005, 07:30 AM
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Monday, June 27 #2
Added Bonus: Self-tour of Barrow, Part II—Looking Around Town


After our visit to the Heritage Center, we returned to the BASC facilities so those who were leaving on the evening flight could get an early dinner and prepare for departure. After dinner, most had gathered their luggage in the computer lab at BASC. Once again, it was kind of a strange feeling not to be leaving with this group, and I again missed seeing them off (or so I thought at the time!) at the airport since I was in the middle of meeting some of the BASC researchers who would be showing me some of their projects the next day. It’s at this point thanks should be given to the director of BASC, Glenn Sheehan, for being kind enough to take the time to introduce me to several of the staff so that I could set up a time to observe some of the research projects. Since my time was limited, I could not participate in all the opportunities presented to me, but just speaking briefly with some of the people related to the various projects was interesting, and gave me a feeling of how dedicated these researchers are.

One of the staff members was Bob Bulger. He and his wife were spending time with a group of high school students and teaching them about the arctic environment. Bob took a lot of time to explain exactly what they were doing, and also provided interesting perspectives about the interaction of politics, cultures, research, and the environment of the area. While I would like to go into the details of this, it would probably be pages and pages on it’s own, so I’ll leave it just with the point that I was very appreciative that he took the time to discuss these things with me, and if anyone is similarly interested, they should contact him at BASC.

Another person I met was Taqulik Hepa, who works with the Alaska Department of Wildlife Management. She also took a lot of time to discuss some of the work of the department. One of the things that impressed me the most is how closely they work with students to provide them enrichment and college preparatory programs during both the summer and the school year. This highlighted something I noticed throughout my stay in Barrow; It was surprising to see how active the area was both in terms of research and student involvement at all grade levels. I know this was summer, and there is less going on during the winter, but even in terms of summer, I did not expect so much activity in such a remote and sometimes harsh environment.

The third person I met was Emi and it was she who ultimately showed me around some of the areas where research was being conducted, so I will hold that description for tomorrow’s entry.

After lining up the plans for tomorrow, it was decided that this would be good opportunity to do some exploring of Barrow on my own, so I got a ride into town from another staff member, Willow. This was an experience in itself because it was on the back of a 4-wheeler. This also brought up an interesting point about life in Barrow that Willow was discussing as we rode into town; Transportation around town can be very difficult at certain times of the year. In the winter, when everything is frozen and there’s some snow, the best transport is by snowmobile. In the summer, it’s the 4-wheelers that work best. But in between, when there is a lot of melting and still snow on the ground, nothing really works that well because it’s not covered enough for snowmobiles, and it’s not clear enough for other vehicles, unless you want to get really muddy and slip and slide all around! Luckily, I was riding in the good part of the year. Still had to deal with a little windchill factor and some dust as other vehicles passed by us, but not too bad overall.

Once in town, I just kind of took a walking tour of my own. I first went by the airport and was surprised to see the evening plane that had most of our group on it still on the runway. It was supposed to leave at 7:50, but it was now 8:30 and still on the ground. I walked in the airport just in time to see the last of our group head out towards the plane. I went back outside found an opening in the fence just large enough to get an unobstructed picture of the plane. It was another one of those strange feelings knowing most of the group was on that plane and I was still here, but I also like the freedom of exploring things on my own sometime too. The other thing I was wondering about too…If my plane was as late as this tomorrow, I might be looking at some interesting situations since my connection in Fairbanks didn’t leave much room for error. We’ll see.

Feeling Left Out…But Only For A Second!
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This was my view of the airplane that brought the remainder of our group, except for two others and me, back to their respective homes. This picture was taken by squeezing the camera lens through a chained fence as best I could (the edge of the fence gate is to the right in the picture). Thinking about how strange that might have looked, I wondered what was going through the minds of anyone who saw me! smile.gif

Off They Go
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Continuing my tour of Barrow, I heard and saw the plane finally take off between 8:30 and 8:45. I wonder if those on the plane saw me wave when it was at this point smile.gif


After watching the plane go out of view, the tour of Barrow continued. I was going to describe some aspects unique to Barrow, but I noticed that one of the other TREC teachers, Leslie Pierce, has already done a great job of that, so I’ll reference her entry here for that, and just use some pictures I took to cover the extra things I thought were unique or related to my particular trip:


Memories
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This was the FAA building we were next to two weeks ago when we were waiting for the helicopters to take us out to the Healy. Seeing it again brought back the memories of the whole experience, and two weeks seemed a lot further back than it is

Barrow 99723
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I don’t know if it was its simplicity, the unique way of proving I was here, or what, but I found the sign on the FAA building to be interesting

Yes, I AM a Tourist
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I’m not positive, but I would think if the residents of Barrow saw me take this picture, they likely had the same reaction you might have if someone came to your town and took a picture of say….the local garbage collection truck? It might be something like, “WHY is he taking a picture of THAT? What a tourist….And a strange one at that smile.gif !” Yes, they might take what’s shown here for granted, but for me, this was a unique thing: This is a water truck that is used to wet down the roads. Since Barrow is very dry, and the roads mostly gravel and dust, this procedure helps keep the dust under control. I couldn’t help but wonder, though….Doesn’t it also add to the mud seen all over the cars??

Which Way Do I Go?
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This was a directional/mileage sign next to the Will Rogers/Wiley Post Memorial. It was interesting to me that here in Barrow, you are closer to places like Norway than you are to many places in the United States


And On Your Left Is….
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Since I took a picture of the directional sign that was next to the Will Rogers/Wiley Post Memorial, I thought I should probably take a picture of the….Will Rogers/Wiley Post Memorial! This is the top of the memorial

Memorial Engraving
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This is one of the four engraved sides of the granite pedestal that supports the top of the memorial shown in the previous picture. If you have trouble reading it, it reads, “Dedicated August 15, 1982 in memory of Will Rogers and Wiley Post. Searching for the top of the world, they lost their lives August 15, 1935 when Post’s unnamed experimental plane crashed just 16 miles short of their destination. From this spot in Barrow, Alaska, their bodies were flown back home for burial. Their spirits keep winging onward!”

Something In Common
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Being a high school teacher, I was told I should check out the Barrow High School. I didn’t get a chance to go inside, but it was impressive even from the outside. It is a state-of-the-art high school, complete with a swimming pool that is also available for community use. Also note, as with most buildings in a permafrost area, the building is on stilts. An orange natural gas pipeline (foreground) is also above ground. Stilts and above ground utilities prevent both melting of the permafrost and damage to utilities from freezing and thawing ground.

Looking Back...In More Ways Than One
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As I continued my tour around Barrow, this was a view from the road I was on, looking back to the high school (on right). To the left, in the background with the same color scheme as the high school, is Barrow’s elementary school

"White Lagoon"
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This is the view to the left of the road from which the previous picture of the high school and elementary school was taken. This was one of the several lagoons in the Barrow area

I Could Have Been A Star…I Could Have BEEN Somebody! smile.gif
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This is a picture of the local radio station, KBRW. I was supposed to contact the local radio host here for a possible interview about the research cruise, but the time just didn’t work out for that. This picture is the only visual reminder of me wondering if I have missed out on a fleeting chance at fame and fortune smile.gif

After passing the radio station, I continued to walk…and walk…and WALK. Having seen most of the things I knew about or was looking for, and thoroughly enjoying the experience, the last goal was to find the main grocery store in Barrow. Unfortunately, I couldn’t remember exactly where it was. As a result, I circled from the school, to the Wells Fargo Bank, to the power plant, to the radio station, the post office, etc. several times, using various routes, before I realized it must not be in the section of town where the store is. I finally remembered it was next to the Heritage center, and that was on the opposite side of the “white lagoon” that was shown in a previous picture. I was glad that this would put me on a different route since I was beginning to wonder if anyone was getting suspicious of the dude with a camera walking around the same streets and taking pictures of things like water trucks, cemeteries, and planes through a locked fence! smile.gif Anyway, I finally got to the store. The main reason for looking for it was I thought they might be have stamps for a post card I wanted to mail (the post office was closed). Well, it turns out they didn’t. “We used to,” the cashier said, “but we stopped selling them for some reason awhile back.” Feeling I had been walking forever, I wondered to myself if that meant they had stopped selling them sometime between my third and fourth trips around the town! laugh.gif

Well, not to leave empty handed, I bought a few things to eat and drink in preparation for my next adventure. I had brought some phone numbers to call a cab to take me from town back to BASC, but in my travels, it was concluded that there is something else that is relatively scarce in Barrow: Payphones. There was one at the airport, but that was all the way back on the other side of town. I would have expected one at the grocery store, but there wasn’t. There may have been some close by, but I wasn’t in the mood to go on a random search again. The result? Our group always had wondered exactly how far it was from town to BASC, and if the distance could be walked, so I was going to find out. I started out on the long dusty road. There was enough varied scenery to keep me somewhat occupied, but it’s funny what you think about when there’s not much else to look at; It wasn’t very cold, so I couldn’t really see my breath much while walking. However, when each vehicle that passed by left me walking through a mini dust-storm, my breath could be seen very clearly. What was the difference? The dust was providing the solid nuclei for the moisture in my breath to collect on and become visible…sort of a mini cloud. I’ve demonstrated this need for condensation nuclei several times with smoke from a match in a sealed, variable-pressure jar partly filled with water to my classes when discussing cloud formation, but now I was demonstrating it in a totally different way. So, instead of being upset at being dust and sand-blasted, I was busy using the scientific method to figure out why my breath could be seen sometimes and not at others. Like I said, strange what you think about…. but hey, is that scientific dedication or what?! smile.gif

After my brief experimentation with cloud formation, something else was getting my attention: My knees. This walk wasn’t any further than those done in the past without any problem, but maybe it was something about the softness and unevenness of the road that made me walk in a way that my knees didn’t like, because when I got within sight of BASC, I was greatly relieved because my knees were greatly in pain. I finally made it back, and had to struggle a little to make it up the stairs, but at least the answer was now known…somewhat: You CAN walk from Barrow to BASC, but I still can only estimate the distance. I’d say it is probably two or so miles from BASC to the very edge of town, but if you consider all the walking I did IN town, the total distance walked was probably more like five or six miles. Again, not anything that had ever bothered me in the past, but this time, there was something that made my knees unforgiving. Oh well, I would deal with it, had accomplished my goal, and was looking forward to checking out the research projects tomorrow; something I later found out would involve..…a lot of walking. Uh Oh…. blink.gif
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Ute_Kaden
post Jul 31 2005, 02:55 AM
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Hi Steve,
Great post. I somehow know how you felt wandering alone in Barrow trying to make sense of the great experience on the Healy.
I am almost ready to get started with my advanture and job.
I am sure you will read along! Looking at Leslie's lab- cool.
All the best,
Ute
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Steve_Marshall
post Aug 2 2005, 05:04 AM
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QUOTE(Ute_Kaden @ Jul 31 2005, 02:55 AM)
Hi Steve,
Great post. I somehow know how you felt wandering alone in Barrow trying to make sense of the great experience on the Healy.
I am almost ready to get started with my advanture and job.
I am sure you will read along!
*



Thanks to you too, Ute.
You may already be on the ship when you read this, but if not, get ready for a great time! I'll definitely be reading along, as I've already been doing with your "pre-cruise" explorations of Alaska. They've been great posts, so I'm definitely looking forward to reading your Healy posts too.

Steve
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