Well, yesterday we were socked in thoroughly with clouds for as far as we could see, so was Poker Flat and Toolik. We went home at midnight, after the Poker folks realizing there was no hope for launch. The day before was even worse, with -50 degree weather and 40 mph winds at Kaktovik. I thought the building was going to blow right off it's foundation - it was rocking and swaying along with the rumbling sound of the wind slamming it. A few times, I caught myself completely losing my bearings and thinking we were in the hull of a ship! (A normal reaction to a swaying building or isolation insanity, perhaps?) We stayed that night until 1am or so. Leemacher (the other group with rockets at Poker) launched his squadron of 4 missiles. They were doing some atmospheric study that didn't require aurora, so they were good to go, and now they're out of our way so we can launch without coordinating with them. Hanna down in Toolik got to see the TMA deposit trails (chemicals expelled during flight), but Kaktovik is too far north, so we didn't even get to see the show.
The solar activity has been deader than a doornail lately, but it's predicted to pick up this weekend. Precisely the time that Kaktovik and then Fairbanks are expected to clear up. Come on, aurora... Come on, weather... Everybody start whistling...
For now, let's take a little tour of my living quarters and a tiny bonfire we had the other night:
My bunk. I know, I know, so luxurious, isn't it? But since I'm the only lady here, at least I get the whole room to myself! Which means I don't have to worry about coming home at 1 in the morning without waking someone up and I can sit and listen to the Sirius XM Classical radio station on the TV all day if I want to (or sometimes the bluegrass station, for motivational homework music).
My studying area. This is where the magic happens, people. At least I have photographic proof that I brought textbooks to the arctic.
Here's me and the adorable bonfire that Randy constructed from old food and empty cardboard boxes. We got a whole shipment of food that day on the airplane, which only happens every 3 weeks or so. After putting it all away and moving the rotten stuff out of the fridges, they came up with a scheme to get rid of everything - burn it! Alas, the rotten heads of lettuce, the melon and the one onion didn't burn much. But Randy decided to leave it out there in a pile after the rest burned away, since he thought it might attract foxes and then I could see one out the window! I never saw a fox at the pile, and the next day the 40 mph wind blew the old singed produce to who knows where.
A candid shot of Milton, in the middle of doing a hard day's work here at the site. He's leaving tomorrow! So sad... But doesn't the building look like a submarine? Told you.
I love this subtle reminder at the bottom of all the airforce-issue calendars. Gee, I was about to sexually harass someone, when I just happened to look up to check the date...
And here is but a taste of the whimsical decorating style that is showcased all throughout the Kaktovik Long Range Radar Station.
Today we went to town again to find Tylenol, a Kaktovik sweatshirt for Hans' daughter in Boston and a few postcards for me. The grocery store was hard to find, but we stopped by the post office where I asked the very friendly postmaster how to get there. Everything is located by colors. The post office is green, the town hall is grey. And the grocer is bright pink. "Can't miss it" said the postmaster. No, no you can't. The other day when I stopped by to mail some things off, the very same postmaster spent 15 minutes telling me the tale of the big freeze in Kaktovik. There was a bad blizzard several years ago that took out the power station and the electricity to most of the entire village. He had stories of how people kept warm, and how you could walk up the snowbanks all the way to the roof of the school. I think the army eventually airlifted some electrical engineers to a nearby town and they snowmachined into the blizzard to help restore power.
I think I'll post this now and go check on the state of the banana bread that I just made! Yum!