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Archive of our Alaska trip -

Deadhorse and Barrow 

We arrived in Alaska on June 17th.  As of June 23rd, here's where we've been:

 

 

We wanted to venture up to the Arctic and so we set off for Barrow.  Unfortunately, the weather in Barrow is rather unpredictable.  We left Fairbanks with the Barrow weather acceptable.  2.5 hours later, Barrow was fogged in - a thin marine layer.  We tried the ILS approach and saw nothing, so off we went to our alternate airport: Deadhorse / Prudhoe Bay.  The beginning of the Trans-Alaska pipeline.  We were planning to visit here anyway, so why not take in the sights a few days early while we wait for the weather in Barrow to improve.

 

Even though we're several hundred miles north of the Arctic Circle, the weather in Prudhoe was rather nice - no jacket required (though cooler than Fairbanks' 90 degrees!).

 

And though we took a tour, basically, the family was just "Hanging around in Prudhoe Bay" :-)

 

The weather lifted, and we made it to Barrow arriving around 9PM (though since the sun won't set in Barrow until sometime in July, it looked more like 6PM).

 

Barrow, Alaska.  An Inuit village of about 4000 people.  The only way to get there is by air.  Interestingly, it is closer to Greenland than to Chicago :-)

 

This far north, the ground is all permafrost which means it's permanently frozen once you get about 12 inches or so below the surface.  Thus, there isn't really much for plant life to sink roots into.  The vegetation is basically low grasses and flowers.  No trees.  It's really quite noticeable.  However, some locals felt that a forest was nice to have, so they made one.  It's a palm tree oasis in the arctic tundra.  The logs are imported from Canada - actually, they wash up on shore courtesy of the McKenzie River in Canada dumping them into the Arctic Ocean.

 

Don't let the palm trees fool you though.  It's chilly up here.  The ice flows in the Arctic Ocean were just starting to break up.

 

Whaling is a big part of the local life in Barrow.  Whaling season just ended and there was a celebration on June 21 for the successful season.  Once the whale has been cut up, the locals put the bones far north of town on the beach for the scavengers, and it helps keep the polar bears out of the town.

 

Next - Denali (Mt. McKinley)

 

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