Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Day 28 Playing Catch Up

Haven't written for about 5 days so will try to catch up in one post--may make it may not. Saturday was the first Nalukataq--eaxh of the boats that has been successful in landing a whale hold's their own, this one was for 2 captains combined--it is basically a sharing ceremony and lasts from about noon to after midnight. They distribute various foods like the caribou soup I mentioned earlier, muktuk and the new one (for me) this time was Mikiauq which is whale meat in fermented whale blood. Sound awful but really isn't, the fermentation adds a bit of zing but all in all its pretty good. there is another one on Thrus and another one on Saturday. Saturday we went to Joe's museum. He's a private individual--actually the son of Fran who owns Pepe's and was the water man here for 25+ years, ( I'll explain the water man thing in a minute) he works till 10 pm so that is the earliest you can go in--he has been collecting stuff that people bring him for 25+ years and his place is pretty small, but he has full sized stuffed polar bear, a caribou, wolverines, wolf, and bunches of smaller animals, and hundreds and hundreds of artifacts displayed in small cases. Age on them ranges from 1800 years old to anout 150 years ago--The water thing--this is Barrow, everything is built on permafrost, everyone uses septic systems and the water is supplied by trucks. Each hut has an internal cistern that is about 150-175 gallons, and when you need water you call the water man and he comes with his truck and fills your cistern. With 4 of us we go through a fair amount of water with showers, flushes etc, sometimes we make it to the next day's delivery sometimes its pee in the toilet and don't dare flush. Washes also eat up water, we all pretty much wash everything we own once a week cause we get pretty dirty out at the site, so those days take water planning and allocation. Any way its not like you just turn on the tap and don't pay attention. We asked about when we should start to be concerned about the septic system and we told when sewage starts to back up into the shower to give them a call!!??
Sunday we didn't have anything scheduled so I'd been trying to organize a trash clean-up out at the point for the last few days. All kinds of people were in until they had to make a commitment for the ATV's --then, not suprisingly, they got very busy with other urgent tasks and the only ones that ened up going we me Andrew and Katey the dental extern who is on the current rotation at the hospital--they rotate a new one in every two weeks, this one went out to the Point with us on Thrus and Friday and hung out with us until she flew out to one of the villages on Monday. It is basically welfare dentistry. The villages know when they are coming and start lining up at 7AM, first come, first served, and if there are too many the remainder have to come back the next day. Anyway, we took 3 ATV's anrt two tow behind tubbies, we started out at Point Plover, about 2 miles east on Nuvuk and worked our way slowly back picking up everything we could without getting bogged down in the gravel, we got back to where we work at Nuvuk and worked another 1/2 mile or so on the Chukchi sea side then called it a day. we filled both tubbies to the brim, probably 300-400 pounds of rusted oil drums, plastic debris, nylon rope, 3 feet of tank tread( that was heavy, it took two of us to lift it)small tires,and suprisingly 3 pairs of jeans, three shoes, several pairs of underpants(both sexes)I can't imagine anyone riding back on an ATV in 30-40 degree weather without jeans on. We off loaded at the warehouse and I thought about laying it all out and taking a picture but figured the other two would kill me so we just dumped it in a garbage bin. The director asked me the next day if I had taken pictures, and what the most interesting things were( answers are No and 3 pair of women's Jeans). I may go out again on Thursday cause the crew is taking the day off for the next Nalukataq, which doesn't start till later in the day.
We've got six burials identified and ready to remove so that will be this weeks priority, along with Clare's driftwood feature, which is looking more like human usage all the time, chert flakes, burnt wood, fish scales (who knew they would preserve) and seal bones. Dating on that feature will be interesting. Yesterday and today I worked shovel test pits, everyone rotates on them and we all hate them, but today i decided to embrace the concept. The target is 30 a day with 20 being sort of acceptable and most people do between 20 and 30. The site record is 55 by Kyle. I had 30 by lunch and finished withh 58, I'm pretty compfortable that I can keep up with the big kids now. Kyle was in the lab today and was really pissed when I told him but we kicked it aroun=d and agreed that 70 is doable, if you really can focus without interuptions. Not by me though, I'll take my one day of glory and retire.
The big news of the day was we had our first bear of the season out on the ice. On the ride out to the point, I was ferrying this little female photographer along on the back of my ATV, and she was taking stills with a really expensive camera whose shutter button froze up as we were passing Birnirk, about a mile later the bear guards spotted the bear and I thought she was such a delicate little thing until she started swearing. I got about six shots with the nice little camera Lois got me and even though he was about 100 yards out on the ice, I've got him in every frame I just have to magnify and crop.
Tomorrow I get to work another burial which should be fun if it isn't raining, but I'll do it even if it is, just have to gear up differently.I'll post pictures so they'll appear at the top of the post rather than at the bottom. I'm scheduled to come late on the 30th of June and fly back to Barrow again on 07/09


erik said...

The track you found on the beach, could it be from a Japanese tank that invaded Alaska during the Second World War. Or is it from an American tank. I don`t know if the forces could land such vehicles! e.

Dave Grant said...

ghgirhiwhen ther navy decided to build NARL(navy arctic research lab)on 08/02/1944 they didn't tell any of the residents who thought they were being invaded by the Japanese and took off for the interior. all of these massive ships showed up off Barrow and starting unloading gear in LST's so tanks and half tracks would have been part of their arsenal. this probably was from one of them--

erik said...

Ha.Ha. If I were there when those LST`s were landing in 1944 I think I would have been one of the first to skedaddle out of there too! e.