8 July, 2004
Getting to Alaska from Vermont takes a while! I started on Wednesday morning at 8 AM, traveled through Chicago to Anchorage, and flew on to Kodiak, arriving at 4:40 PM. With the 4 hour difference, that made it more than 12 hours to get here. Flying over incredibly beautiful snow capped mountains and huge glaciers didn't exactly prepare me for the temperature when I landed in Kodiak. It was 80+ degrees, 10 degrees warmer than Burlington, VT!
Kodiak Island, known as the Emerald Isle, is part of an archipelago (group of islands) 30 miles off the southern Alaska coast. Covering 3,588 square miles, Kodiak is the second largest island in the United States; Hawaii is the largest. The entire archipelago is influenced by volcanoes and seismic activity. Ten thousand years ago, the area was covered by glaciers. As the glaciers retreated, they left behind the jagged peaks, deep valleys and bays that make up these islands today. The name Kodiak is from an Aluttig word, gik/rtag, which means island. The Alutiit, the original settlers, arrived 7,500 years ago. Today their descendants live in 6 rural villages and the town of Kodiak. Commercial fishing provides the economic base for Kodiak, with more than 700 fishing vessels. Kodiak is also home to the country's largest coast guard station.
On Thursday, we had time to walk through Kodiak, purchase smoked salmon and halibut to send home (check out the smokehouse picture below), visit the Alutiig museum, and move our gear onto the ship. The Sir Wilfrid Laurier, a Canadian Coast Guard ship based in Vancouver, will be our home for the next two weeks. Shortly after we settled into our rooms, Dr. Jackie Grebmeier and the remainder of the science team arrived. There are eleven members of the science team, and I will introduce you to each of them in future journals. Since the ship doesn't sail until tomorrow morning, everyone had a chance for a good night's sleep.
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