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7 September, 2002


Back to Fairbanks

Hello to everyone, once again from Alaska. I had not planned to post a journal entry until we got to Toolik Lake. The trip up here, however, made such an impact on me from several levels that I thought I should pass those impressions on to you.

The flight here was noticeably shorter this time. Flying through Minneapolis rather than Salt Lake City seemed to make a big difference. As passengers stated boarding the plane to Anchorage in the Minneapolis/St. Paul airport, I began to notice a definite theme amongst my fellow travelers. There were a few late season tourists and some business people working on the run, but the very large number of camouflaged hats, jackets and backpacks told me that hunting season was now open in Alaska. My estimate would be that nearly two-thirds of the plane was occupied by either hunters, off to try their luck in Alaska, or fisherman heading to Alaska for some late season fishing. I have no desire to make any pro-hunting or anti-hunting statements in this journal, but I do want to mention that I have never felt safer on a flight than I did on my flight from Minneapolis to Anchorage. Since, the tragedy of 9/11, you cannot help thinking about the security of the plane you are on. Even if you do not seriously consider yourself at risk, the possibilities of a problem are still in a tiny corner at the back of the mind. Yet, looking at my fellow passengers, men (and a few women) going to Alaska prepared for the hunt, I knew that there would be no chance that this parcticular aircraft could ever be taken. No matter what your feelings about hunters may be, there is no question in my mind that the passengers on this trip could have, and would have confronted anyone presenting a danger.

The flight itself was uneventful, though long. The announcement of our descent into Anchorage was a welcome message. Coming down out of the clouds, I was amazed at how green everything looked. When I had left Alaska in May, spring was just beginning to paint the landscape with a tint of green. Now everywhere I looked, shades of green dominated the landscape. I didn't think the Alaskan landscape could be more impressive than I had already seen in the spring, but now it was incredibly beautiful as well as impressive. The contrast between now and last spring was made even more apparent with our arrival in Fairbanks. The landscape in Fairbanks is showing the first signs of autumn. The Birches and the Poplars are turning a brilliant gold which is accentuated by the deep green of the Spruce trees. The contrast creates truly stunning scenery. I am looking forward to seeing just how beautiful the mountains and forests are on our way to Toolik.

We will be making that drive tomorrow, so I will hopefully be able to post the photos by tomorrow evening. Today we are packing up the lab and getting supplies for the trip north. When I next post to the journal, it will be from the Alaskan tundra.

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