Saturday, June 14, 2014

Up, Up and away we go to Barrow, AK

Fairbanks part 6
Clear and up to 70'

Today is the day we have been waiting for, in celebration of Joe's 80th birthday (6/17) we took a little flight up to Barrow, AK.  The day started early, the weather here in Fairbanks was going to be the clearest and warmest yet, but not so in Barrow.  After taking Buddy out a couple of times to do his thing we left at about 0620.  Buddy would be alone for 12 - 13 hrs.  He's done it before but not recently.  The weather in Barrow was going to be a high of 31' with rain and snow showers all day, so just in case we had to spend the night there I asked Jim, our campground host to get Buddy if we got stuck up there.  Well bless his heart, Jim  came over around noon and took Buddy for a little walk

We arrived at the North Alaska Tour Company in no time at all, we had to be there by 0700.  Another couple, Jan and Mike arrived at the same time and then a single lady, Jeannie came shortly after, so we are five people going on a Piper, nine passenge,r twin engine plane.
This post might get boring for some of you but it's my journal so I need all these pictures, focused or unfocused, clear or through a dirty window.

The skies were so clear here that we even got a glimpse of Mt McKinley with no clouds around her.

Greg, our pilot, giving us the last bit of information.  We were about 40 min late because of the bad weather in Barrow and Cold Foot, our refueling stop.  The flight almost got canceled.  Cold Foot had zero viability so we were headed to Bettles to refuel, it was only rainy there.  At Bettles Greg would then decide if it was still safe to land and take off in Barrow.

Greg, going over the last bit of safety instructions

 At N 66" we crossed the Arctic Circle

We had been in the clouds for about 30 min, when we cam out our gravel runway at Bettles, AK was right in front of us and it was only raining at 34', no snow and viability was about 1.5 miles.  What more could you ask for?

After fuel, coffee, a sack lunch and a nature call we were on our way again.

Luckily we were above the clouds most of the time as we were headed to Barrow, the northern most city in the North American Continent.

We arrived at Barrow about 30 min late so our tour guide, Walter had to hurry along the tour but we had a great time with him.  Unfortunately I discovered that I don't have a picture of him.  This is the Inupiat Heritage Center which has a fantastic Whaling history of their people and how the Inupiat People survived over the last 10,000 years. 

 Walter said that his family and all the Inupiat people have gone by these values for the last 10,000 years and that is how they survived through time

Each whaling community has their own flag which they fly when they have a whale

Bringing up the whaling boat and the whale is that dark spot in the water
 After everyone has their share of the whale, the rest is stored down in an ice cave about 30 feet below.

Walter said that his friend has a parka and pants similar to this one and he is so hot wearing it that he has to take it off and go to store-bought parka and pants if it's only -30' or more.

 Jaw bone of walrus,

Turn it over and it's a
Cribbage Board

This is a workshop where the Elders teach the younger people about their culture and how to make items to sell or use on a hunt.

Can you guess that this long thing is?
Hint:  One like this was featured on the Johnny Carson show.
( A block of drift wood and 2 nails is holding up up)

A section of baleen

Brand new hospital, just dedicated last fall.  Has all the latest equipment, including a MRI

Just pictures along side the road

Sign at entrance to their college, which is free, IF, you show an interest and get good grades.

Skull of a Bowhead Whale, this whale was about 28'

Farthest north football field

A lady was visiting on a tour just like ours and learned that there was no football field, they just played in a gravel area.  She went back home to Florida and raised $900,000 for this football field, and it's named after her. (But don't remember her name)

Look hard, the last bit of snow/ice is the Arctic Ocean
Standing on the Arctic Ocean.

Next pictures are out the plane window so not so good
Coming up to a gold mine, this was a dome hill and now it is 1/2 deep

Nenana River, it wanders all over and in July the river will be up from snow melt and then the the sand bars will be covered and the course of the river will change.

The end of the ride, back home again.

For some reason my computer and Picasa stopped talking in the middle of this post and it has taken me two days to get it working again,.

So this is the end of our trip to Barrow, Alaska in celebration of Joe's 80th birthday!



  1. Fascinating pictures of places I have only heard about. Happy milestone birthday, Joe!

  2. Wow! So Amazing! Happy Birthday Joe! What a great trip.