Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Okmok trip, part 2: Setting up Camp

To pick up where I left off--

The weather was beautiful by the time we arrived at Umnak.  We would be staying at a bunkhouse built for the ranchers at the Bering Pacific Ranch, which had pretty much the only infrastructure on the upper section of Umnak Island.  The plane did a fly-by of the ranch first (to alert them to our presence) before looping around to land.  Our "airport shuttle" arrived in the form of a big old Alaska school bus.

Heading in to Umnak Island! The snowy part is the Okmok caldera rim.

view from the runway, looking NE towards Cape Idak

We arrived at the ranch to find that all of the food and equipment we'd sent weeks ahead of time did indeed make it there ok.  The bunkhouse was close to what I'd been expecting (a group of trailers connected under a common roof) except that it was filthy inside.  No one had stayed there in years, and the windows apparently didn't seal well because the interiors were all covered with a layer of ashy dust and big flies.  The kitchen and bathroom both had a lot of mold and mildew, including inside the refrigerators and freezer.  Kudos to our UCSD contingent, Kerry and his student Georgie, who arrived on an earlier flight and dealt with the worst of the mess before we got there.  By evening, through a combined effort, it was starting to look and feel more like a home.  We even kind of had a pet, a very self-sufficient cat who lived there year-round.  We called her Glennda (after Fort Glenn).  Here are some photos of our accommodations:

sorting and staging equipment
The "hallway" of the bunkhouse.  Bedrooms to the right, bathroom straight ahead behind the big truck (!),  kitchen and dining room to the left

My and Georgie's room (post-cleaning!)

part of the dining area, also after a lot of cleaning. We brought the bread maker!

We hung maps inside to help plan our daily work.

You wouldn't have wanted to see what this looked like when we arrived.  The washing machine didn't work, but the dryer did (thank goodness!).

More posts to come, on: the remains of the WWII base on Umnak, sights around the volcano, the seismic and MT work our group did around/on top of the volcano, and other elements of life on the island!

Friday, July 17, 2015

Okmok trip, part 1: Out into the Aleutians

When I left off here, I was scurrying out to a plane in Anchorage nearly a month ago.  Chances for internet access in Dutch Harbor were few and far between (the airport restaurant and library did have wifi, though!).  The internet on Umnak Island never materialized due to weather delays blocking the window to get a tech out there while he was free.  I arrived back in Wisconsin last weekend and have been busily catching up on everything.  I have about 1000 photos from the trip, but to keep things manageable I think I'll break the highlights up into multiple, mainly thematic posts with lots of pictures.  Bear with me, and check out whatever interests you.

We made it out of Anchorage on the second flight the morning of my last post, and there were some nice views above the clouds.

Aerial view of Redoubt volcano

Descent into Dutch Harbor

Some of the sights around Dutch Harbor:

World War II Visitor Center: this is a National Historic Area

Having a tsunami evacuation plan is very important in Pacific coastal areas!
The bald eagles here were almost as prevalent as sea gulls in San Diego.

Old naval radio station

Looking across to the town of Unalaska in the morning fog
the Norwegian Rat Saloon
The RV Thompson, which our UCSD colleagues used to deploy marine magnetotelluric (MT) instruments before the on-shore work started
Amelia's, favorite breakfast haunt in Dutch with a surprisingly good assortment of Mexican dishes

We ended up getting delayed leaving Dutch as well, due to more weather issues between there and Umnak.  Paul Bedrosian's instruments were having their own adventure and fell victim to even more delays leaving Anchorage than we did.  Our charter finally left for Umnak on Monday, just as Paul's equipment arrived in Dutch.

To be continued...

Ready to take off (luckily for everyone, I did not do the driving)
Waving hello and goodbye to the missing shipment of MT instruments