06 Dec Alaska the final edition! Barrow ices whales on the frontier!
Ukpiagvik. “The place where we hunt snowy owls.”
71 degrees North.
The most further Northern city in the United States.
70% Native Alaskan
Above the Arctic Circle and on the Arctic Ocean.
There are no roads in, and in the winter there is no daylight. No starbucks, no movie theater, no gym, no sidewalks, no pavement, and no booze…
Can you get further from LA and still be in the US?
We took a bus all around Barrow – our guide, Joe, was a Native Alaskan. He was friendly, a good speaker, a nd had a good sense of humor. He’d talk about his people and say things like “the old ways,” and “in the old times.”
whaling boats are all around barrow – each captain of a boat has his boat out front of his house and often the skull of any whales that his team has killed. Furs, pelts, antlers, birds…it’s all outside.
Barrow is a hunting community. They don’t grow vegetables there. They eat meat. Anything that can be killed and eaten is. And then bones, fur, feathers, everything is used again. The Inupait are the ultimate conservationists.
And they hunt all year…
My Mom is pretty.
My Sister – more American than apple pie and at least 2x as cute.
My Dad is a good photographer…
Never pass up an opportunity for silliness. that’s my M.O.
This cuts something…
Barrow puts the “Narl” in “gnaaaaaarly.”
The next day the pack ice blew in. In under two months the Arctic Ocean will freeze over all the way
to the shores of Barrow.
One of the things that makes Barrow so fascinating to me is that it is a frontier community. Seriously it’s on the edge of civilization. You can’t get more far away from the things we take for granted in the US and still be in the US than here.
It’s the sort of place that if you leave your house unprepared at the wrong time of year you will die. Or you will be eaten. Polar bears routinely come into town when the ice is in.
The edge of civilization is where society shows itself. This is where human interactions
aren’t based on social niceties – they are based upon survival and the tribe survives
better than the individual. It reminds me of a space colony…but then again, I’m a nerd.
My Dad and I wandered along the beach and talked about life, women, birds…
While we there some locals based and we said hello. We talked about Barrow and what we had done. They told us the best time to come was in May – that is when they had their hunting celebration and make all the delicacies out of the whales they got that season.
the things they make I can’t even begin to describe in full.
One “muktuk” is fermented whale blubber.
It was describe to me a “lutefisk flavored bubble gum.”
Some of you are familiar with my eating habits while traveling…so you won’t be
surprised to hear that I can’t wait to try it=)
It’s an ocean…with no waves…
Really it wasn’t that bad…I mean, I couldn’t feel my feet afterwards – but I could still walk.
Alaska is an amazing tremendous place. The landscapes, the people, and the way of life all inspired me. It makes living in Los Angeles seem like a piece of cake. Everything we want is right at our finger tips, a phone call, a google search, or a quick drive away.
It makes me really appreciate what we have here…and it made me hunger to go back. Even as we were flying back to Seattle I was already planning how I could go back.
Maybe I’ll go for the summer in Barrow – write and hunt under the Midnight Sun…Maybe I’ll go in the winter and follow hunting crews around…maybe the kids of Barrow need to learn about film making and how to make their digital movies…I happen to know an fcp ninja…
After all that, I think I learned the valuable lesson at the grocery store in Barrow that sold milk for $7.89 A GALLON…that lesson is,
You can sell ice to an Eskimo.
thanks for reliving the journey with me…
Via Con Dios,