Saturday, July 17, 2010

Last days on the Bering Sea & Unalaska

My favorite shot I took of a bald eagle on Unalaska Island.
The last day, the seas were so glassy and it was very foggy. I think it's kind of beautiful this way, though by this time, I really wanted to get back onto land - which we did on the afternoon of the 13th. But first, I wanted to show photos of the last couple days on the Thompson. Like I said in a previous post, the trip was not what I expected, and was truly not an enjoyable experience for me. However, it's work. I did my job, I learned about the science (which is cool) and then mostly tried to keep to myself other than keeping up with the day to day activities on board.
I really thought this was sunrise, but now I'm thinking maybe it was a sunset. I can't remember! I blotted out those last few days because I was soooo ready to get off the ship!
The last day on the ship, I asked for a tour of the ship from the Captain, to see the parts that I hadn't seen before.
As we got into Dutch Harbor/Unalaska Island everyone was on deck watching the shoreline approach. It was my 40th birthday on the 13th. The three best things about my birthday were: I got off the boat, had an awesome walk around the island with Diane where I got some great pics (below), and in the evening, I got to hang out with Alexei and Russ at the Unisea pub in the evening.
This is Terence and Dominic. Terence, the mess hall attendant was such a sweetheart to me on the trip. He always had good words of wisdom. I didn't even meet Dominic until the last couple days but T asked me to take a pic of them, so I obliged!
When we got into the "City Dock" we were next to this hug container ship which was pretty cool.
Another shot of the container ship.
The Thompson - goodbye!
On the 13th when we got in, Diane and I walked from the ship into "town" (with its 2 stores - ha ha). She knows the flora of the island so it was cool being shown the different species. Diane was my roommate and she was very nice to me!
This is a paintbrush, similar to the red Indian paintbrush we have in Texas but all yellow.
In town the fishermen lay out their long pollock nets and fix any holes or problems.
Back in town there were tons of crab pots. These are what they use in Deadliest Catch!
Another view of the crab pots.
This is one of two stores in town - the Alaska Ship Supply.
This is a shot of some beautiful lupines with the ocean and mountains in the distance.
This is the tiny runway, and the plane taking off. We were walking along the road, but they have to close the road when a plane lands or takes off, so we had to stop and watch it.
Another view of the plane taking off.
Rachel joined us at some point - this is her on the shoreline where we looked for things.
Diane found me some sea urchin shells, which was significant for me (though she didn't know it) because my dad used to call me "urchin" due to my being a grubby little barefoot girl running around in Oregon on his homestead... but even as a kid I liked sea urchins as a result.
Diane with the urchins.
Diane showed me these violet-colored orchids. Beautiful!
Some more beautiful purple flowers on the hillside.
Me and Diane!
A shot of the shoreline on Unalaska. These World War II bunkers were all over the island! The island was actually bombed during WWII.

We saw so many bald eagles on our drive around the island. On the next day, the 14th, the ship was set to leave, so everyone had to find a hotel room - pretty much the one (nice) hotel is the Grand Aleutian. I had hung out with Alexei at the Unisea pub the night before and he told me he would show me around the island the next day (he was set to fly out around 4pm but trying to get on a 1pm flight that day), so I met with him in the morning and we signed off the ship! He had got a rental car at the airport (down the one road...) and he drove me around. I hadn't talked to him too much before then because he worked nights, and I was up on daylight hours. But we'd spent some time talking on board about his research and looked at one another's photos which was pretty cool, and it was really a blessing to have a friend to hang out with on the island the last couple days.
Dandelions on the shoreline.
The first thing Alexei showed me saw was the Russian Orthodox church. This is the oldest on the island!
This is Alexei. He's a biological oceanographer at the University of Alaska-Fairbanks/Seward campus (how's that for a mouthful).
Alexei and I drove around the island and climbed down a cliff (LOL - not really but kind of!) and explored the tidepools. The tide was out so we saw all kinds of things, like limpets, mussels, kelp, amphipods (his specialty), hermit crabs.
We also saw what Alexei thought was a fur seal, but when I got the photos I can tell it's not - it's an eared seal. I don't know what kind - anyone? The bird team know their mammals pretty good (and were also some of the few who were pretty nice to me!)
A closer shot of the seal.
A shot I took of the rocks and tidepool area.
Another view.
I saw this plant with water droplets on the tips, and thought it was cool!
A broader view of the tidepool area.
The hillsides were covered in dense fog. Because of this, Alexei's flight got cancelled, and in fact every flight off the island was cancelled that day! So he and I went to the airport early the next day for the "makeup" flight that they had, which was again delayed due to fog... However it did eventually get in and I was able to get on standby!! After some 24 full hours of flying, I made it home to Houston. Yay!
Another view of the beautiful foggy hillside. Reminds me of Ireland or something.
We saw lots and lots of these guys as we drove around, and walked around. Here are a few of my favorite shots!

1 comment:

hugh said...

loved the photos, and thought that the eagles looked regal and sad at the same time. like the last of a dying earth. the kings last days...
thank you for capturing these.

Why do they call it un Alaska?