22 August, 1998

August 22, 1998

Pepe's North of the Border****IBP (International Biome Program) Sites****Point Barrow

This morning Javier and I were both awakened by Anna pounding on our door to tell us that they don't serve breakfast here at NARL on the weekends. So we had to drag ourselves out of bed (Anna can be quite insistent) and go to eat. We went to Pepe's North of the Border, which is the northernmost Mexican restaurant in the world (I think).

After eating we went back to the hotel and had a fairly relaxing morning since we did so much yesterday. I got caught up on some postcards and my journal and even found the time to watch a little TV. After lunch we went out to probe some new type of sites that were used in the early 70's to measure active layer, ground thermal studies, and ecology of the Barrow region. These sites are scattered all over the place with no rhyme or reason to their placement. We are using them for active-layer depth of course and we had to probe in a "plus" sign pattern that is 10 meters per line with measurements every meter (20 depth measurements per site).

After dinner we were able to borrow some ATV's and go to Point Barrow, the northernmost point in the United States. It was about a twenty-minute drive from the hotel and the view when we arrived was well worth it. The sea was calm despite the light breeze and it was cool to think that I couldn't get any further north in the good old USA. We all took pictures (although I didn't because my camera is part of the tundra somewhere) and collected rocks and other little baubles and got back to the hotel around 10:30. This was the first really sunny evening and sunset I had seen since coming to the North Slope. TOY


This morning we went to a fine Mexican restaurant and I had the best Belgian Waffles I've ever tasted. After breakfast we stayed at the lab while Fritz and everyone else went to one of the sites. After lunch, we went to the haphazardly arranged IBP sites out in some residential area. There was quite a lot of litter from people that was still lying on the tundra; old coke cans and styrofoam were the most prevalent forms of trash. The sites themselves were a pain to do because they were scattered in no order that I could make out. It is just amazing to see how people can go out there and find all of these things after so many years of abuse. At some areas, the quadrants were so spread out that it was hard to find some of them without wandering for many minutes, wasting valuable time. I suppose a little GPS would have been handy, but we didn't have it with us. Even if we did, the coordinates of the IBP sites were not given to us.

After dinner, we were able to go to Point Barrow. It was really very pristine (except for some whale carcasses lying around). There was a lot of drift-wood around, which I am not familiar with. In Florida, we don't see a lot of drift-wood. Apparently, it is wood from trees (which aren't abundant over the "tree line," though not impossible) that has drifted in the ocean for a time and has become bleached. It eventually does end up on the beaches of even the northernmost points of Barrow.

There was a semi-clear sky and the sun was beginning to recline beyond the horizon; its decent was colored by brilliant blue-red hues and the astonishing reflections of the yellow sun were visible in the gossamer water. On the beach were some partially devoured carcasses and bones of whales and walruses, though we didn't have much time to investigate. We snapped a couple of photos and then we rushed home, back to NARL. Tomorrow, we are going to Atqasuk. I have heard a lot about the townŠ some good, someŠ Hopefully, I'll be able to decide to myself tomorrow.

Everyone visits the Point in Barrow (photo by Javier Lopez).

A whale carcass on the beach near Point Barrow (photo by Javier Lopez).

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