Welcome back to part two of my exciting trip to Barrow, Alaska! (Part one can be found here) As stated in part one, I was privileged to have the opportunity of a life time to travel to the most northern part of North America. Not only falling in love with the Arctic Ocean, but learning and deeply admiring the native Inupiat's culture.
Above is a photograph of Sara's Ford F-250 pickup truck right outside of town. This was the first stop during our tour around the village. We were brought to a small cliff overlooking the Arctic Ocean. I, however, enjoyed view of the village from this angle.
There's only three different restaurants in Barrow- Japanese, Mexican and pizza. Rumor has it that the pizzeria isn't so good, so our first stop is this tiny Japanese sushi hut, which was the best sushi I've ever had.
The huts of Barrow might look beat up on the exterior, yet the interior's are very modernized and super cozy. Many huts have multiple arctic entrees, just to keep the freezing winds from entering their homes.
Our Barrow grand hotel. One entryway in the middle that divide the two homes. Sara's neighbors, on the left side, are elder natives, which unfortunately we didn't get to meet. I wish I took a photograph of the inside of Sara's hut. There was a good size full kitchen, two beds in the living room area, and one massive master bedroom with a full bathroom, even had Wifi! Very cozy, very comfortable.
The rumors about Alaska being expensive to live in is completely true. Fruits at supermarkets are sky high and pultry is very expensive as well, in Anchorage. What happens when you travel over 720 miles North of Anchorage to a village where everything is imported from barge or plane? Please see below....
My opinion on the cost of living in Anchorage certainly has changed drastically. However, importing goods to Barrow may be super expensive, but what is the most expensive product? I'll give you a hint, there are no trees within 100 miles of Barrow. Yup, lumber. Lumber is the most expensive product in the Arctic villages.
Shipping pallets are commonly used for having campfires on the beach. Think that's weird? Barrow is also a dry alcohol town, meaning no alcohol is allowed. What's a campfire with out proper tree lumber and a few cold beers?
The next morning, I woke up prior to everyone else in the hut, just to walk the beach and explore some thoughts. Walking the shoreline, beach green plants lit up the black beach with it's beautiful yellow-green leave colors. This plant is very common in Alaska's North Slope. One thing my mind can not comprehend, is how plant life survive 8-9 months of temperatures below -40 degrees, while being covered with feet of snow, and still surviving and blooming in the spring.
As I made my way down the quiet lonely beach, I came across this massive four foot bone. This was way too large to be part of a seal or a fox. Luckily, a local man was riding his ATV down towards me. He slowed down and asked me where I was from. I replied I was visiting from Anchorage and the elder threw his hands up "Awww man!" Why was this guy upset that I was from Alaska? "I wish you were from the states so I can hear some cool ass stories from down there!" I then told him that I lived in NJ my whole life and shared some Jersey Shore stories with him.
This man, whose name I never retrieved, drives up and down the coast, searching for random debris. Last winter, he found an Alaskan King Crab washed up, which traveled over 200 miles after a storm. He proceeded to tell me that this bone was a shoulder blade of a humpback whale. At first nasty, but very cool to see.
As I try my best to create adjectives for this beautiful seascape, emotions rise, but vocabulary is lost. What makes this body of water so much different than the Atlantic Ocean, that I basically grew up on? I guess it all comes back to one of my reasonings of moving to Alaska- the cold climate produces adrenaline inside of me. This past winter, I spent many days in 0 degree temperatures, standing next to my tripod for up to 6-7 hours a day, waiting and waiting for a bird to arrive. Miserable? Maybe to many, but enjoyable to me. The Arctic (comes from a Greek word meaning "near the bear") Ocean is home thousands of the most badass creatures- polar bears, sea leopards, various seals, the largest whales on the planet, sea ice bacteria, various species of jelly fish, fish and so on. Adrenaline arrises when I hear of animals and people, not only surviving, but enjoy living in these extreme conditions. With winter temperatures going down to -58 F, this is also one of most dangerous and deadliest bodies of water on the planet.
My trip to Barrow is unforgettable. The land, the birds, the lifestyle- all truly amazing. I hope to spend more time there in the future. Thank you again Charlene and Sara for the amazing hospitality and a huge thank you to Margret for making this all a possibility!