Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Day 8

Beer. God what I wouldn't give for a beer.

Today started out rough. After a wonderful dinner of roasted pork loin, mashed potatoes and some great salads, I finally got a good night sleep. We have started to see a trend here in Deadhorse concerning the food. The Prudhoe Bay Hotel is ok, about one step up from cafeteria food. But just down the road is the Arctic Caribou Inn. This is where the tour buses stay when they make the journey up from Fairbanks so the blue-hairs can dip their toes in the Arctic Ocean and marvel at the common folk working the oil fields. And on the nights the tour buses are in town, this is the place to be. The food is damn good and plentiful. On the days that the tour buses are not in town, well let's just say it's not. Last night over cheesecake we met a couple from Sydney, who were amazed that people live and work here. They seemed disgusted by the whole thing and seemed to turn their nose at us blue collar worker types. But when I kindly showed them how to use the coffee dispenser (place cup under spout, pull handle), they acknowledged my brilliance.

Anyway, after a breakfast burrito with fresh guacamole, fresh ground coffee, fruit salad and pastries, we noticed our tire was flat. The thought of changing our tire in 2 inch deep mud during 40 degree windy, foggy weather was not appealing. So I was pleased to find out the rental company would change it for us. Of course it took them three hours to show up so our morning was shot. Once the tire was changed we headed to the airport to catch the helicopter east along the Beaufort Sea to our sites. The fog was starting to lift and by noon, we were ready to fly.

We lifted off and flew for about ten minutes before we hit a wall of fog coming in from the sea. It was headed right for us and moving fast.

The pilots explained that we could either turn around or plan on spending the night out on the tundra. While we have more survival gear than you could imagine and would probably have been quite comfortable, we decided to turn around. I took a couple of shots in mid-flight.

Below us is Deadhorse. If you look closely, you can see a polar bear eating a wolf eating a caribou.

Gotcha didn't I? I'm still hoping to see a polar bear.

In this photo, you can see the fog bank rolling in. What you can't see is the giant wall of fog in front of us......or the polar bear eating the wolf eating the caribou.

So we landed again. By this time it was 2:45 and we decided to take a stand down day. Our only other option was to drive 2 hours south to our next roadside stop and it wasn't worth it. While it hasn't gotten dark since I have arrived here, we are only supposed to work 10 hour days (not including the crew chief and data mapper who usually put in two extra hours a day [I am the crew chief]). Since we had been on the clock since 8:00, we decided to call it a day. We all rejoiced and decided to drive south and find a herd of musk ox that was a couple of miles south of town.

We found them. However we stayed back a ways to watch. These are the best shots I could get without instantly getting trampled to death, then eaten by a polar bear (and a wolf).

Well, that's it for today. I got the schedule for August and it looks awesome. I go home for the first week of August (beer), then back up for the following three weeks. In that time, I'll get to wander south through the Brooks Range all the way to Fairbanks. Talk to you tomorrow.


  1. Awesome pictures and comments so far Mike. Keep them coming.


  2. This pictures are why I wish I was up there.
    ~ jolie