So, I cannot tell you hour by hour what I did today. However, I will tell you that it was a cultural experience on par with visiting Morocco. Ok, I just want to start off by saying that I officially have a crush on the village of Barrow and would love to try to live there for a year or two. Yes, you read that right, I would love to live in Barrow, Alaska the most northern incorporated town in the United States. The sense of community there is absolutely amazing. The pride that the folks take in even their municipal systems is pretty amazing, as well it should be. Living in a permafrosted, isolated place like that causes a lot of innovation in the ways that everyday things are done, like a sewer system or electricity. Or just how they even get stuff to them. Everything is either brought in by plane
or shipped up on one large barge that arrives in June. All building materials, cars, gasoline everything is brought up on the barges (there is one for stuff and one for gas and diesel). They endure 65 continuous days without seeing the sun each year and even at the height of summer the temperature hovers in the 40’s.
So, I left Fairbanks on an Alaskan Air flight at about 7:30am. The views out the gate areas were amazing of the mountains in the distance. The flight left early and arrived in Prudoe Bay early. There we took on quite a few more people and the testosterone level in the plane skyrocketed. It was all guys that had had jobs working in the oilfields and on the pipeline. All but the high-up engineers had a little bit of a scruffy look about them, like they were a couple of weeks overdue for a haircut. Admittedly, some of the guys looked like they were a couple of years overdue for their trim. Anyway, talking to one of the guys I found out that a lot of them were nice Midwestern boys working up there for the summer to earn enough money for the rest of the year.
The plane ride from Prudoe bay to Barrow was just a quick 45 minute jump and we were dumped out into the smallest airport that I have ever seen a 737 land at.
One of the ground crew that escorted us on the ground into the building was wearing a native style, fur lined parka, which each woman makes in an individual style, with the fluorescent safety vest over it.
We got into the tour bus which is a school bus not much converted. In fact, I feel as though it could be the same exact bus that I rode to school in 20 years ago! Anyway, our tour guide Ryan started showing us the town. Ryan is a native to Barrow and was a wonderful tour guide. He started off wearing jeans and a t-shirt and, get this, sandals! We went too and fro throughout the town, he showed us sights such as the Will Rogers monument,
all the schools and churches in town, the fire department and in general, the whole town. Some of the coolest things that we saw:
The remains of sod houses from the Inupiat Eskimo forefathers.
A high school football game on their new football field.
The Arctic Ocean:
And not one but two Snowy Owls on the tundra.
Going to Barrow is by far one of the coolest things that I have done yet travel wise and I so want to go back!
Some cool random photos:
Travel knitting: A few rows on the lace stole on the flight.