Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Barrow: From the Middle of the World to the Top of the World


DAY 1:

My name is Perry Houser, I am an undergrad studying geology at the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP). This blog is to note my research and stay in the Arctic Circle, Barrow, Alaska. Currently I am stationed at the Barrow Arctic Science Consortium (BASC) and sleeping at the NARL Hotel, of the coast of the currently frozen Arctic Sea.

The snow is still here but starting to melt, and will be gone within a month. The sun is out all day and night, which takes getting use to. There is a slight breeze that comes in and out that cuts into you and chills things down considerable. Currently it is around 28 degrees. I have yet to see much of the wildlife, however, upon arrival, I was able to hear very excited and emotional chatter on the radios from the local community. They were expressing thanks to God and all the people that worked on the pulling in of a couple of Bowhead whales. Not seeing the locals yet, hearing them for the first time was like a going back in time, where life was not nearly as easy and where death is a certain possibility. Even better than hearing them on the radio is being invited to eat the fresh uncooked catch. As this is the first time trying whale, I was a bit excited and a bit worried that I may not like it and gag (or worse). However, beyond the fishy smell, I was able to eat and enjoy. Good thing that I already like sushi. The locals were very friendly, and left us with a gift bag containing various parts of the whale.

This is the front of the BASC offices near the NARL hotel.
It is the skull of a Bowhead Whale.

After this incredible entrance, we drove around the town and saw different buildings (most look like small aircraft hangers) and looked at the frozen coast line. The crew that I am very lucky to work with are truly great and I look forward to work with them this summer.