Sunday, July 26, 2009

A short trip up north to Toolik

Last Sunday, Martin came back from Yakutat, and I promptly left a day later for a short work trip up to Toolik Field Station. With Naomi, we flew into Deadhorse, the airport for Prudhoe Bay, where they take the oil out of the ground and which is where the Trans-Alaska Oil Pipeline starts. Prudhoe bay is an ugly... can't really call it town, since there are no normal houses - all the oil workers come for two weeks on (the job), two weeks off (back home) perhaps I should call it an ugly place. The weather did not help. We did see some geese and this swan on the tundra in the development (map).

Then we picked up the car, and drove about three hours south to Toolik. Along the way, we had nice view of the Sag river (?) rounding a bend around a hill (map)

A bit further, a caribou grazed on the tundra.

A bit further south, the foothills of the Brooks Range.

And, finally, we made it to Toolik. Some people sleep in these weatherports. In the background, the mountains are rising out of the rolling plain.

A long tailed jaeger in the air.

Rock ptarmigan on the tundra.

Two helicopter pilots in the evening: Ryan and Jonas, by another building where people can sleep.

View of Toolik from a nearby hill.

Lots of research happening at Toolik... so they build lots of boardwalks so that people can get around easily, and don't damage the fragile tundra.

To study the effect of warming on the ecosystem, the researchers have put up a bunch of greenhouses.

Two days later, we left back up north to drive to Prudhoe Bay. Saw a herd of muscox, then an hour later this lone one. There is a pingo visible on the horizon on the right side.

Prudhoe Bay was even grayer than when we came through the first time. We made it on our flight, flew to Barrow, took a five hour layever there instead of flying via Anchorage. After a dinner, we walked down the beach in Barrow to the airport. Unlike Prudhoe Bay, people live in Barrow, not just work. There are houses. And since there are no trees or fences to hide anything, Barrow can look a bit bleak too. But it is great to see things, like this upside-down whale-hunting boat stored in the front yard.

This house has hides drying on the sides of the house, and a sled on the porch. It sits right on the beach, and to protect it and other houses from storms, there is a big line of sand bags lining the beach.

Back on the plane, for a short bit, we had a break in the clouds and saw the landscape below. Those rivers seem to have a lot of sand on their shores. (map of location)

The kids and Martin seemed to survive fine the three days that I was gone, which was good. Still, I got n enthusiastic "Mama!" from Emilie early next morning when she woke up, for which I was also grateful. My first trip away from Emilie for more than a few hours.

1 comment:

Matt Heavner said...

fun trip, and great pictures! It sure is great to get the "welcome home" from the kids, isn't it!