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21 July, 2003

Back On Dry Land

I awoke to an exceptionally warm morning, by Barrow, Alaska standards. Light wind, about 36 degrees F and sunny skies. The Laurier is anchored about 500 yards of the shore and edge of town. With all of the science labs dismantled and equipment packed we carry our personal gear to the flight deck then wait in the officers lounge.

It's oddly quiet among every member of the science team as we wait, maybe it's a little sadness about leaving or perhaps we're just tired. Most likely it's a combination of both. I get my call to head to the flight deck and within a mere three minutes we're off and heading towards shore. I'll admit that I was teary-eyed a little as we circled the Barrow airport runway before landing-my sea adventure had ended.

It took only 15 minutes and three flights to bring the crew to shore but once the last members had stepped out of the helicopter the pilot got word that fog was rolling in fast. A quick flight back to the ship to pick up our gear and equipment stranded the helicopter on deck. We would have to wait. During the 90 minute wait Lee, Jackie, Sarah, Pete, Sigrid and company used the time to make arrangements to ship the 37 boxes of equipment and frozen samples back to their respected labs.

The fog finally lifted and the helicopter began transporting our gear. It was an interesting sight to see the gear bunched up in a cargo net suspended from a line at the bottom of the helicopter as it approached the shoreline. Three loads and we were good to go!

Over the next three days our team, my Arctic family, grew smaller as members returned to their jobs and homes in the lower 48 and Canada. As we said good-bye to each member the reality of my Arctic adventures end was sinking in. But for now Barrow, Alaska awaited to be explored!

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