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April 10, 2005

Alaska, Part 1

Another trip to Alaska. Not that I’m complaining. Anymore. I am comfortable admitting that I was *not* excited about coming back to a cold place, nor was I excited about leaving the apartment I had moved into in Boulder just two weeks before. But, it’s my job, and besides, it’s Alaska, so even though I was complaining I’m not really allowed to complain.

I flew from Denver to Seattle to Fairbanks. It felt like a long day of travel. It was a long day of travel. I left my apartment at 8:30 AM and got to my hotel at probably 8 PM Alaska time, which is 10 PM Colorado time. I was greeted by moose.

They were fake, but they were kind of neat.

The next day, I drove in my rental car to University of Alaska, Fairbanks (UAF), and met up with Andrew Balser and Lael __, GIS specialists for the UAF Toolik Lake Field Station. I would be going with Andrew to Toolik Lake the following week, but was teaching a three-day, hands-on GPS class at the university first. We spent Tuesday setting up for the course and Tuesday night I went over to the house of Matt Nolan and Kristin Scott, who I worked with on McCall glacier (Brooks Range, Alaska) last summer. Alexandra, a student from Germany who is working with Matt this summer, was also there. We had a lovely dinner and reminisced and made silly jokes and talked about our favorite books and then Alex and I left (I was giving her a ride home) and we got stuck in the driveway. I knew that could happen. I realize that’s not a very strong statement, but I arrived in Fairbanks just for melt. But melt hadn’t really happened yet. Not yet yet. It was still in the fingers of winter, and there was snow on Matt and Kris’ road, and snow with big craters in their driveway. I slid just a little bit on the way there, on the road, and then made the mistake of parking in their driveway. It was a nice idea. Sort of. Except between the craters and the patches of ice and the patches along the sides of soft snow, I managed to get stuck in about three or four different places as Alex and Matt and I worked to get the rental car out. We ended up succeeding by having Matt strap his truck to mine and pulling me out of the driveway. He was a bit enthusiastic about it, too, since it was hard going at first, and we somehow ended up on his road with my car next to his, overlapping by half the car’s length, and about an inch away. Luckily, I made it out scratch-free, and, more importantly, I made it out. Alex and I were able to get home. Though she had no power, and spent the night freezing with five layers and her not-warm-enough sleeping bag and slept in class the next day, but that’s her story.

The class went from Wednesday through most of Friday, from 9:15-5, and each day I arrived back at my hotel exhausted and not wanting to do anything except lie on the bed. I had to struggle to motivate to eat. Luckily, there was a restaurant right next to my hotel, so I didn’t have to go far. They had both a restaurant and a pub, and I decided on the second night to try out the restaurant. As it turns out, it is a nice restaurant, but I didn’t realize that until I was already in so I was the only person in there in Carhartts, a fleece, and/or a t-shirt. i had the $19.99 dungenouss crab special, which I think was the cheapest entrée. And, it was good.

I was supposed to take pictures during the class, but I didn’t. I was too busy.

I was glad when the class was over. Andrew invited a few folks over for dinner on Friday, and I was very glad to be sitting on a deck having a beer and relaxing rather than teaching a class. Andrew has a very friendly, old dog and a very very friendly cat. I came out covered in animal hair, because I can’t very well resist friendly dogs and friendly cats. Woof woof. Meow.

Saturday, I slept in. Sleeping in is something close to heaven. Maybe heaven will consist of waking up exhausted and realizing I don’t have to be up yet and going back to sleep, over and over again. Then, I went with Matt and Alex (Kris had left for Denver) to Chena Hot Springs. We ate and drank and soaked and pruned and ate and drank some more. The hot springs were big. And hot. We drove back through a really long sunset—mmm, great time of year. Hour long sunsets. I was like a noodle when I got back to my hotel. Climbed into bed and slept hard.

Posted by beth at April 10, 2005 10:59 PM