Thursday, March 20, 2008

32 hours and 4 time zones later ...

Our two-day journey began in the sultry (relatively speaking) climes of Philadelphia. The first uneventful leg of the trip took us southwest to the Valley of the Sun - Phoenix, Arizona. After an hour layover, we took to the skies again, bound for Anchorage, in the land of the midnight sun. Here, after 13 merciless hours of flying, we rested our travel-weary bodies overnight in the 1-star accomodations of the "Executive Suites", Spenard Road, Anchorage. Restored, we embarked upon the final leg of our journey that would take us to the city of Barrow, Alaska - our home for the next several months.

Our plane rolled to a stop on the icy runway and we taxied to the solitary building that comprised the airport terminal. We watched as the steps were wheeled to the rear entrance of the aircraft - jetways are an unheard of luxury in this remote outpost, the northernmost settlement of the United States. The first breaths we took upon exiting the plane greeted us with a frigid blast of cold, bringing with it the unique, yet unmistakable feeling of instantaneous "snot freeze". The outside air temperature was approximately -25F, with wind chills well below -35F. Such was the anticipation of this moment, that excitement outweighed discomfort and it took several moments before our bodies registered the extreme cold.

Yet, we realized our pampered mid-latitude bodies would soon be whipped into shape, as we were greeted by hardy locals wearing simple fleece jackets (and even one teenager in shorts!).

Thus began our field season in the Arctic. Soon to come, we will be bringing you riveting scenes as we unpack our cargo, set up our lab, and make "Hut 163" our home away from home.

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