24 February, 2002
A view of the San Fernando Valley in Los Angeles, California. As I prepare to leave this very large, urban, desert that we call home to travel to the small, arctic island community of Little Diomede, Alaska. Eager and ready to experience a very different landscape and living environment
It's two o'clock in the morning and my plane has just arrived in Anchorage, Alaska. From the moment that I steped off the plane I knew that I had just entered a very different world. The airport is full of masks, carvings, and other artifacts that reflect the many different cultures that are a part of Alaska's past and present. As I wait for the next plane to arrive so that I can meet up with Dr. Carol Zane Jolles, the scientific researcher that I will be working with on Little Diomede Island, I take in the traditional parkas of the other people in the waiting areas. The airport has very few other people at this early hour, but most of those who are here are Native Alaskans; Inuit, Yupik, and Inupiat Eskimos to name a few.
Carol and I arrive in the town of Nome, Alaska around 11 o'clock on Saturday morning. Stepping off the airplane in Nome, I am greeted by the bright rays of the sun as it rises over white tundra. The crisp air is16 degrees F. And, in case there was any doubt that in my mind that I had just left Southern California for the Arctic, this poster greets me at the Bering Air Terminal.
This is the waiting room at the Bering Air Terminal in Nome. It's called the waiting room because you really do wait and wait and wait there. Travel up here in the Arctic operates on nature's clock, and the weather rules all. Because the land is icy tundra, most travel is done in small planes that can only fly in daytime and in safe weather conditions. And today, there are weather storms up north that would make it impossible to land in the Bering Strait. So, we wait. And wait. And wait. Until at 4 o'clock pm all flights are cancelled. So...before heading out to Diomede, I get to visit the city of Nome. ("There's no place like Nome.")
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