Wednesday, August 1, 2012

From Downtown Fairbanks to Barrow

7/30 We spent the day in downtown Fairbanks. The visitor center is huge and lovely with the four seasons displayed dramatically.
A fall brown bear. Don't get between him and his berries.
All around downtown and in the community museum I found interesting sayings.
We'd sooner die by fang or by claw, in the bowels of a frozen hell, than to spend another lonely day where the city slickers dwell.

January 1989. -60 degrees below zero. Visibility 22 feet. 31.8 barometric pressure. 9,377 butts frozen to outhouse seats. Fairbanks, Alaska

A walking park stretches along the Chena River. A farmer's market set up while we were there. We bought some pea sprouts for sandwiches.
A statue about the Lend Lease program after WWII. William said it reminded him of statue park in Budapest.

The antler arch reminded us of the elk antler arch in Jackson Hole Wyoming
7/31 Up early for a shuttle to the airport for our plane trip to Barrow Alaska, to the northernmost tip of the United States. We have done the southernmost tip to Key West, Florida so now we do the northernmost tip.
Our little 8 passenger plane
We stopped off in Coldfoot to stretch our legs and drop off a passenger who lives in Wiseman.
In the Coldfoot Cafe. The post behind us is used to post messages for truckers, since there is no cell service here.
We had a nice guide who drove us all around Barrow pointing out all the sites.
At the northernmost tip of the Barrow Spit
People wishing to escape the hubbub of Barrow sometimes build small dachas out of whatever materials come to hand out here on the spit. Our guide pointed out his grandfather's small place with 3 different colors of plywood. A polar bear had torn the place up 3 times, necessitating the rebuilds.
There are no trees or even shrubs, just tiny bits of grassy green , so people build their own trees.
The welcome to Barrow sign. The older one on the edge of town was used to much for target practice and destroyed. One of the whale skulls had a bomb stuck in the skull.  That is what the explosive shells used to kill them are called.

Another landmark made of whale bones and bones of old whaling boats.
We had a guided tour of the Inupiat Heritage Center, a huge community center, museum and art center.  Along one wall were framed photographs of a successful whale hunt. Finally some color in this shades of gray world. The snow turns bright red with the blood of the whale as the townsfolk butcher it for their traditional food.
Wading in the Arctic Ocean

A small boat's wake added some relief to the flat water.
Time to fly back to Fairbanks.
A last look at Barrow

Since I sit in the front, during the flight I can keep a close watch on the instruments.

The Barrow Wiley Post/Will Rogers Memorial Airport

The fog that had almost socked in Barrow and would have prevented our flight has lifted a bit. The fog is caused by the off shore ice sheet just out of sight. We fly low over the North Slope to give us a look at this flat land.
Flat, flat with puddles and streams of water with green gray land between.
The clouds are still low as we drop down

Through the Gates of the Arctic

On down the Tinaybuk to the North fork of the Koyukuk
We are now Arctic Circle Explorers.

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