Utqiagvik Day - part one
On the plane to Barrow, now called, Utqiagvik, early in the morning. First stop is Deadhorse, the epicenter of the oil effort on the North Slope. Nothing here if you are not working the fields. Most get off the plane for their two week tour, about 12 of us continue on to Barrow. We land in the furthest northern city in the US and one of the most northerly cities in the world. I am closer to Paris than Florida. Barrow has about 4000 people and more than 65% are native to the area. The streets are potholed, dirt with dirt edges where the scrapers have tried to even them out. It would be dusty if it were not raining so hard. Mud everywhere I went. The temperature when I deplaned was 41 degrees with heavy rain and 20 to 30 mph winds. The weather got worse all day. I first set out to locate the NP museum but no one was on the street but me! Several places were either not open yet or closed for the day. After getting directions from a person in the borough office, I continued walking. Sadly, the iconic whalebone arch by the Arctic Ocean and the rocky beach were off limits today because of high waves and erosion. Portions of the road closed intermittantly. The housing was ramshackle and unaligned on streets leaving a helter-skelter impression. Many structures looked ready to fall apart, and almost every place needed paint. Windows were very small. Water stood everywhere - dodging puddles was a full alert effort all day. Cars and trucks that no longer ran were left along the street or in back of the house, most sunk deep in the mud and often with broken windows. Boats appeared to be in better shape but the scores of ATVs and snow machines at most houses were not. Government buildings faired better; clearly a lot of money invested here. Decent schools, nice library, city courts, and museum (my goal) and a very nice new hospital. There were a few restaurants, a bank, some smallish stores, a hotel and a grocery. The streets were filled with taxis, and they drove quite quickly. You could hear various parts of the vehicles protesting as the taxis bounced along the rutted streets.