27 July, 1998

7/27/98 Last Day of TEA

*** CRREL permafrost tunnel - The Pawn Shop Super Store - Shopping in Fairbanks - ARCUS barbecue ***

We were up early today as Renee took Aaron, myself, Myrtle, Elisa and Noa to the CRREL (Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory) Permafrost tunnel. At the tunnel we met Matthew Sturm who led us through the insulated double doors into the refrigerated permafrost past. The US Army Corps of Engineers constructed this 360+ foot long tunnel into permanently frozen silt and gravel in the 1960's. Originally constructed to study methods for frozen soil extraction and mining, the tunnel is now the site of permafrost and climate research. This tour was really fantastic! The tunnel was constructed in such a way that as we walked we were going backwards in stratigraphic time. We observed deposits and organic remains dating all the way back to the Pleistocene. We saw ice wedges, prehistoric mammal bones and a fantastic stratigraphy.

In the afternoon we went to see The Pawnshop Super Store (pretty bizarre) and window-shopped in downtown Fairbanks. I went to numerous shops as well as the Fairbanks Visitor Center and the Public Lands Information Center.

In the evening we all went to an ARCUS Barbecue at project manager Alison York's house. We had a great time with delicious food, hilarious stories and cut throat croquette.

This journal entry marks the end of an intense, fantastic sometimes almost surreal experience. I would like to thank the people of Deering for their acceptance and support especially co-workers Alvin, Bob, Susie, Stephanie, and Bonita, cook Calvin, and the Mayor of Deering and his wife the Hon. Mr. & Mrs. Gilbert Barr.

I would like to thank the Deering project P.I.'s Anne Jenson and Glenn Sheehan as well as the Archeologists at Deering Rick, Kristen, Ryan, Randy and Betty. Thanks also go out to Mike Lewis of the University of Fairbanks museum, Matthew Sturm of CRREL and to ARCUS staff Anne, Alison, Alison, Diane and Milo.

Special thanks go out to Wayne Sukow of NSF for making this project possible and to Wendy Warnick of ARCUS for steering the project clear of the rocks up here in Alaska.

Finally I would like to express my heartfelt gratitude to Aaron Stupple my co-conspirator, and to Renee Crain, who Aaron correctly characterizes as our Fairy Godmother. I will miss both of you guys.


Today we saw perhaps one of the rarest sites available in the world. It was a permafrost tunnel. The army core of engineers drilled a tunnel into the side of a bluff to learn about the possibility of building missile silos. They left it open to research and rare tours. The tunnel must be kept refrigerated so that it doesn't slump in. It was very cold inside and smelly as many of the trapped animal remains from up to 32,000 years ago are slightly decomposing. The only tunnel similar is in Siberia, but supposedly it isn't as interesting a section of permafrost.

Today is the last day of my Alaska trip. I have had an unbelievable time. I will never forget it, and I can say without hesitation that it had been the most incredible thing I've ever been part of. There are too many people to thank. All those who work at ARCUS, the people at the National Science Foundation that funded everything, and all those in Deering. Thank you all, and good luck.

Mathew Sturm in the permafrost tunnel.

Elisa waits for a shot while Noa, Wendy and Myrtle eat, and Wendy's husband Andy cooks.

Waiting for Renee at 5:45 A.M.

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