More logistics… and Pretty Babies!

The past week has been crazy.  All of the crew except the GPR people and Dennis O’Rourke are here.  We’ve gotten all of the training out of the way except for ATV driving.  We spent a while on Thursday afternoon as scheduled, but the logistics provider still didn’t have all the ATVs (or even know what they would be) so we weren’t able to make sure everyone knew how to ride what they’d be driving.  Since they may be renting a bunch of manual shift models (and a number of people have never driven anything with a manual shift), it seemed safest to let people learn that before taking them off-road, so the start for the field will be delayed :-(.

We have all the gear piled in the Theater, where we’ll be staging, except for the electronics.  They are still in the lab, where they are being charged.  Laura and a rotating crew person will get them and bring them to the Theater each morning, and return them for recharging at the end of the day.  We also have a generator, but we’d really rather not run it.

On Friday, I had to do a survey of a very small area where a surface current radar is being installed on Point Barrow.  We went out a while ago and picked some spots, and after calculations back at the lab, Hank Statscewich picked a spot.  I was supposed to meet up with the logistics providers out there, to show them where the tent was to go, but alas, something came up.  I ran into one of them at the gas station while getting gas for the 4-wheeler (turned out to be more complex than expected because I filled my 5 gallon can only to find out it leaked and had to run next door to the NAPA to buy 2 new 2.5 cans to transfer the gas into), and we arranged to go the next morning.  I did the survey and went home.  The weather alternated between spooky fog and quite nice.

Foggy day on Point Barrow

The next day I met up with the logistics providers and headed back to the Point for what was supposed to be a 2-hour activity.  I was just going to show them where the tents should go and head back in, but it became clear that might not be the best plan.  I made it home 7 hours later.  The tents are all up and in place.  There are a few issues, mostly relating to them not having actually set up the whole tent prior to shipping, but they were going out today to fix most of them, so we hope to find things in working order tomorrow…  At least the weather was nice except when it rained a little bit.

Weatherports going up

Since that shot my Saturday, I spent most of yesterday and today finishing various things that clients need before I get out of the field and dealing with various work-related issues.  As a result, I missed almost all of the 4th of July festivities.  We did get in for the start of the “marathon” in which crew member Emily Button was running, and the Pretty Baby contest, but Glenn hadn’t really dressed for the weather and the wind & drizzle picked up, so we left and I don’t know how either event came out!  Maggie Rose Solomon won Miss Top of the World (thanks to DoeDoe for posting that on FB ).

Runners at the ready. Emily is in the red jacket.

All the Pretty Babies
When the potato chips aren't enough...

Now that I’m home…

I was lucky enough to get an upgrade from Alaska Airlines, so at least I wasn’t bent up like a pretzel all the way to Barrow.  They weren’t any too quick about getting the baggage out, and no-one was to be found to issue the Baggage Service Guarantee vouchers after the 20 minutes had passed, so we took my bag when it showed up (after about 1/2 hour) and went home.

Luckily, today was a holiday so I could sleep late.  Once up, there was the usual post-travel laundry pile to start on.  Once that was underway, I had to dig out my car.  There had been a blizzard in Barrow on Friday, which had blown snow into our arctic entryway, among other places.

Snow in the arctic entryway.

It had also blown all over my vehicle, which required significant digging out.  Apparently the blowing or subsequent plowing had somehow packed snow around my left rear mudflap, since that shattered when I pulled out (only went forward) although I didn’t discover that until I got home.

View out the front door, showing snowed-in car, and ivu (ice push) on the beach in the background.

The wind had apparently also caused some pretty significant ice push from the Chukchi Sea onto the beach.  You can see it in the background of the photo above.  The ice is black in places because it was frozen to the bottom.  The ice is very thin for this time of year.  In some places it is probably 20 or more feet tall.

Once I got to work I caught up on emails, drafted a “mission statement” for a working group on coastal erosion I am helping to organize (contact me if you are interested–it’s global, not just Arctic in focus), worked on an encyclopedia article a bit, and took care of things like time-sheet approvals which can be a time suck, but are fairly important (we all like getting paid!).

Vacationing is hard work

Not really.  But getting ready to go on vacation is.  We spent two weeks on Oahu over Thanksgiving.  We’d been promising our daughter a trip to Hawaii when she finished high school, and this was it.  Since the budget process at UIC was in full swing in November, that meant that everything had to be done before I left, not to mention all the usual packing and getting the house ready for a prolonged absence issues.

We got back (with the whole unpacking/laundry extravaganza that meant), only to leave in a week for upstate New York to visit my family for the Christmas/New Year’s holidays.  That brought its own flurry of baking stollen to give in Barrow before I left, packing, Christmas shopping, etc.  There was also the travel to arrange for the conferences in Europe that Glenn & I are going to in January, which is almost done.

All this by way of explaining the lack of posts for the last little while.  I was on the computer so much for all of the above (except the baking, laundry & packing) that I really couldn’t face more screen time, even if there had been spare minutes.

Now we’re here after a 20+ hour trip fortunately unaffected by the bad weather happening across much of the country, so I should have a bit more time to write.

Barrow 4th of July – No fireworks

Barrow really does up the 4th of July.  In part this is because Eben Hopson Day, which celebrates Eben Hopson and the founding of the North Slope Borough, falls on July 2.  This year, it was essentially a 3 1/2 day weekend, with games and activities every day. Not only did people have the 5th off in lieu of the 4th, but most places let people off work early on the 2nd.

There were all sorts of races and games, a big parade, and the Pretty Baby and Miss Top of the World contests.  The contests (run by age group) usually have money prizes, and are hotly contested.  Lots of local groups fund-raise by selling food, candy, and so forth, and you really don’t need to cook.  This year the Arctic Education Foundation booth had brought up 13 (!) tubs of Baskin-Robbins ice cream, which was a huge hit.  I went 3 days in a row.

One thing it doesn’t include is a fireworks display.  Why not?  Not because people here don’t like fireworks.  The New Year’s Eve display is broadcast not only across the North Slope but on WGN from Chicago.  Long story…  We don’t have 4th of July fireworks because the sun won’t go down until August 2nd, and it’s just too light to appreciate them.  Of course kids have little noise-making ones, snaps & “M-80s” and somebody did try something with colored smoke trails, but it’s not the same.  Most people save their money until New Year’s Eve.

I took a ton of pictures, but not all came out so well (using the iPhone, not the D200), so not all the babies are here :-(.  Some pictures for those who weren’t lucky enough to be here in person…

What's a parade without lots of fire apparatus?
Color guard of local reservists
If you've spent time in Bush Alaska, you'll know why this is the Best. Float. Ever.
Search and Rescue boat. Perry Anasugak, former Nuvuk bear guard, is in the cabin window.
UIC (my employers) float, with real umiaq and surreal ukpik (owl). They can be scary enough at life-size.
Women runners for Clare Okpeaha Memorial Race--2 x around town.
Men runners for Clare Okpeaha Memorial Race--3 x around town.
Pretty baby & her Aaka walking around so the crowd can see.
Pretty 4th of July Baby
Budding hunter and his mom in beautiful parkas

Oh, yeah, for those on the East Coast, our high today was a pleasant 38 (4.4 C) with light winds :-P.