2 September 2016

Getting there

Posted by llipuma

This is the latest in a series of dispatches from scientists and education officers aboard the National Science Foundation’s R/V Sikuliaq. Read more posts here. Track the Sikuliaq’s progress here.

by Kim Kenny

If you look long enough, you’ll see it: Alaska is the silhouette of a scraggly old man. His face juts out defiantly into the cold of the Arctic Circle, neck stretched, as if willing the rest of the North American continent to follow across the finish line of the Bering Strait. He has sunken eyes, a huge nose and chin, and a long, thin beard of Aleutian Islands. The left nostril – that’s where we’re going. Nome.

Usually I maintain the delicate practice of packing the night before a trip, but not this time. There isn’t really a corner store you can run to in the Arctic if you forget something. I was also having nightmares about somehow finding myself without a camera, trapped in a cage surrounded by the beauty of the Arctic and unable to capture any of it. So, with uncharacteristic meticulousness, I laid everything out beforehand (and in so doing felt some of the satisfaction that must come with following Marie Kundo’s guidelines of “The Life-changing magic of Tidying Up.” Maybe I should actually read that book.). This is easily the most preparation I’ve ever done for a trip. Friends and family have asked what the heck you pack for a research cruise in the Arctic, so in answer (and to validate my own packing efforts), I give you photos:

I was told layers are key.

I was told layers are key.

The advice I got from photographers was bring backups.

The advice I got from photographers was bring backups.

The other essentials.

The other essentials.

Two crucial additions. Also important: Xtratufs and Carhartts are the pinnacle of oceanographic fashion.

Two crucial additions. Also important: Xtratufs and Carhartts are the pinnacle of oceanographic fashion.

Today some of the scientific team is traveling to join the rest of the group in Nome, where the R/V Sikuliaq – our home for the next month – is docked.

That includes Laurie Juranek (chemical oceanographer), Jil Callaghan (6th grade science teacher), Burke Hales (chemical oceanographer), Dale Hubbard (research technician), Aaron Jones (graduate student), Carrie Weekes (undergraduate student), Selina Lambert (undergraduate student), and me (media millennial).

We’re taking two flights: Portland to Anchorage, and Anchorage to Nome. 6 hours, 51 minutes (ha, ha, AP Style, this blog scoffs at your restrictive no starting sentences with numbers rule!). 2,075 (oh the righteous power) miles as the willow ptarmigan flies (designated the state bird in 1955, four years before Alaska was enveloped in the Union…ok I’m done with parenthetical notes).

During the second flight from Anchorage to Nome, we made a quick stop at Kotzebue. Once in Nome, we met up with the rest of the team and got our first view of the Sikuliaq in person. Then a night out in Nome followed by….an adjustment to slow internet. More of the ship to come tomorrow, but here are a few shots of our first night in Nome:

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— Kim Kenny is a freelance journalist who specializes in science writing and multimedia. This post was originally published on thedynamicarctic.wordpress.com.