First Day in Barrow after Cross-country Flight--Meeting Old Acquaintances--Settling into the ARF--Elders' Conference--Making New Acquaintances--Pizza with Glenn Sheehan and Anne Jensen
Aaron and I arrive in Barrow today. We are a little nervous about temperatures. Reports range from -20 to -40 degrees F. with wind. There was snow in Fairbanks last night, but the plane got off with only a slight delay.
Yesterday I was up at 4:30 A.M. followed by 15 hours of airports and flying. (Binghamton to Pittsburgh, (where I met Aaron) to Seattle to Anchorage to Fairbanks. In Fairbanks we were met by our old friend Renee Crain. Renee took us to our lodgings, a spectacular log house bed and breakfast with a four-story spiral staircase. After checking in we picked up Renee's friend Martin and headed for last summer's favorite Fairbanks restaurant the Thai house. At the Thai house we met up with Wendy Warnick Executive Director of ARCUS (Arctic Research Consortium of the United States) Wendy is not only an old friend from last summer, she is the boss and an excellent judge of Thai food. (we always let her order)
As we boarded the plane for Barrow we met Chris Savok an archeological technician that we met last summer. Chris now works for the Cultural Heritage Museum in Barrow.
In Barrow we were met by Dave Ramey of BASC (Barrow Arctic Science Consortium) who drove us to our home for the week, the ARF (Arctic Research Facility) run by the North Slope Borough Department of Wildlife Management. Dave showed us around the ARF and introduced us to its manager Benny Akootchook. At the ARF we are guests of the North Slope Borough, which is similar to a county, but this one is the size of Minnesota, and extends from the Brooks Range to the Canadian border. The ARF is the home away from home for Arctic researchers from all over the world. It is a bunkhouse style facility, with communal kitchens, bathrooms, labs and a shop.
From the ARF Dave took us to the Elders/Youth Conference being held in the Inupiat Heritage Center. Aaron and I sat in as Inuit elders answered the questions of Inuit youth regarding life on the North Slope in years past. The stories were fascinating, all about difficult times and ingenious strategies for survival in a harsh environment. The answers were in Inupiat and were translated into English for the audience. As the session ended some more old friends greeted us, Anne Jensen, the co-principal investigator (PI) for the Deering project, Betty Kinneeveauk one of the archeological technicians at Deering and Maasak Akpik.
We had lunch in the cafeteria where we met and talked to numerous Arctic scientists working on projects here in the Arctic. In the afternoon we busied ourselves making connections and scheduling appointments with Arctic scientists.
At 5 PM we walked a short distance with Anne Jensen to her house. At Anne's we finally met her husband Glenn Sheehan and daughter Justine. Glenn and Anne were the co principal investigators who created the Deering project that Aaron and I were involved in last summer. We had never met Glenn and Justine before because they were in the 'lower 48' when we were in Deering. We had a great evening. Anne and Glenn are a font of information, and we swapped anecdote after anecdote about everything from Deering to archeological project disasters. There was a lot of discussion of the politics of research funding and of the mysteries of politics on the North Slope. There was Pizza and a lot of laughter, a truly enjoyable evening!
The Heritage Center.
Well here we are, back in the North Country of Alaska. Tim has very adequately filled you in on the events so far, a lot of meeting old acquaintances and introductions to new ones. As before, the hospitality of our Alaskan friends has been tremendous. Also, I would feel remiss in not mentioning the culinary prowess of the Thai House and our excellent dinner there with the ARCUS folks.
The last time we were here in Barrow, the sun was up all day long, the pack ice was receding from shore, and the weather was balmy. Now we return three months earlier than last summer and, while still sunny, the temperatures are well below zero, the Arctic Ocean is frozen solid, and we are surrounded by winter conditions of the most severity for Upstate New York.
This time it has been a singular pleasure to meet Dr. Glenn Sheehan, the Principal Investigator for the Deering Project of last summer. As Tim said, it was wonderful to finally meet the man behind the scenes with whom, unfortunately, we were unable to catch up with last summer. We certainly had a very delightful evening having pizza and hearing stories of North Slope archaeology.
It's great to be back in Alaska!
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