“I suggest you don’t go up there without a rifle”

Large mass of ice on the sea.

Sea ice not far from Point Barrow

I spent almost the longest day of the year in the furthest community on the North American continent – Barrow, Alaska. Kim lived in Barrow for 15 years, and her family is still there. I tagged along for the visit. Barrow, like any other Alaskan bush community, was low on pavement and high on dust. The interesting setup for city water makes it a precious and expensive resource, so VERY VERY short showers is the norm. We spent the whole weekend on a 4-wheeler, and I was surprised that gas was not that expensive; about $4.50 a gallon (probably $4.10 in Anchorage). Milk however came in at $10.99 a gallon.

I visited the Inupiat Heritage area, saw a couple of native dances, took some great pics, and tried to get to Point Barrow – the highest point on the continent. We got to the very end of the northern most dirt road, and then a little bit more on a 4-wheeler trail, but we stopped there. Locals (including Kim) said polar bears are frequent there and we shouldn’t venture up there without a rifle. Not wanting to tangle with a polar bear, we stayed off the point. The wind was raging and the sea ice was all around; the blue of the sky blended with the water, and all that seemed to break it up was ice.

Global warming is very apparent in places like Alaska. The ice melts sooner, putting village whale hunters at risk. Polar bears wander through town more frequently. Everyone in the community keeps an eye on the kids and those that don’t have the sense to stay close or take a rifle with them when they wander off…

Kim took me out to enjoy the tundra… and that we did! The tundra is very spongy, and the flowers and spots of color are very subtle, much like the traditional desert. The ground was very marshy and wet, and mud was everywhere. We tried to make it south of the community, but the water and mud was too much even for the 4-wheeler.

We stopped at an old beached ship called the Nanuq (Inupiat for Polar Bear) and played like kids on her deck. Arrghhh! Next time I go I need to take a hand-made pirate flag to raise up her landlocked mast.

We sat in the library and listened to story time, had some great meals, went to Pepe’s for the farthest North of the Mexican border tacos, and visited with old friends and family.

The sun never sets for three months of the year here. At one point I got confused because it seemed like there were two suns in the sky. The dimmer sun masked in thick cloud cover and a brighter moon shining through thin cloud cover. What a trip!

Now that I’m caught up on the last two trips, I will move on to the current trip. Riding my motorcycle to Inuvik, North Western Territories, Canada…eh?

The roads to Canada are paved with flowers
Catch-up (Eagle 2 weekends ago)
About Maya

My name is Maya, and I wander.


  1. A nice description of my home.

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