30 April, 2002
Before I write anything else I have to say Happy Anniversary to my lovely wife. I promise a very nice dinner celebration when I get home!
Finally, I arrived in Fairbanks at 6pm local time. I arrived to very overcast skies, light rain and temperatures in the upper 40's. In fact it wasn't really all that different from the weather when I left Cincinnati.
After Dr. Jack Duman and Valerie Bennett of the University of Notre Dame met me at the baggage claim area, we loaded up a Ford Expedition and headed back to the home of Dr. Brian Barnes. Brian lives just a few miles outside of Fairbanks, but looking outside would lead you to believe that his home is in the middle of a forest. The house is surrounded by spruce trees still dark in their evergreen color and birch and poplar still leafless and dormant. I have not seen any deciduous trees or plants that have begun to show leaves for the spring. Perhaps the plants know best considering the weather reports. The weather service tells us that today will be damp with 7-8 inches of snow this evening and turning much colder.
Even just the few miles outside of Fairbanks, Brian is without many of the amenities at his home that we in Cincinnati take for granted. There is no city water, no sewer system and no trash collection. Water is supplied through wells and trucked in when necessary. Trash must be hauled out individually and Brian's family composts everything possible. Sewage treatment is handled on site as well.
Sleeping was an interesting situation. Even through I was very tired from the traveling, I found it very difficult to go sleep while it was still light outside. The official word is that it gets dark about 10:30pm right now and gets light again at about 5am. The truth though is that it is still fairly light at midnight and begins to lighten up again already by 4am.
When we woke up this morning, we found out that the road to the research site at Toolik Lake is closed due to heavy snow. Not to let the news deter us from our goal of insect collection however, we set out to find insects in the hills and mountains of Fairbanks area. We started near a couple of sites where temperature data collection devices had been placed. These devices record temperatures in locations that have been identified as good beetle habitat. The beetles and centipedes we are looking for tend to be found under the bark of fallen logs and snags. To all of my AP Environmental students, what was the definition of a snag? I'll remind you in my journal entry tomorrow.
The good news of the day was that we were very successful in our collection efforts. We found a number of beetle larvae, a few adult beetles and centipedes everywhere we looked. Tomorrow, we will test the cold tolerance of our sample specimens in Brian's lab at the university here.
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