One week has now officially passed since I left for Alaska and the beginning of my journey. I flew out of Denver on a plane full of fishing rods, men in camo and what turned out to be two other expedition participants representing University of Colorado Boulder. Once in Anchorage more and more Swedish voices and bright colored polar jackets started to gather and we all boarded a flight to Barrow. I’ve had some incredibly eventful days since then. New places and a lot of new faces of which many felt like good friends already.
Barrow was a perfect and absolutely fascinating start to the adventure. A grey post-apocalyptic wasteland of trashed trucks, beautifully worn down buildings and toothless ladies speeding by on dusty ATVs. That first night, I ended up at a 90’s themed birthday party with two oilers from Oden and a group of youngsters living in Barrow over the summer. A cross-dressed spice girl from Wales invited us to come along and I had a great time talking and drinking scary smelling booze out of large plastic bottles. I left at 3 am and walked alone along the shore looking over towards Oden waiting for us at the horizon. After another day and a half in Barrow we left land behind and I felt quite ready to get on board, just to have a shower and a bed that was my own.
The first few days were socially intense with a lot of conversations and information. I asked a few scientists about UFO sightings in the Arctic but the response was unfortunately not overwhelming. A wonderful older gentleman called Tom gladly told me about the recent sinking holes in Siberia, which I found just as interesting. Everyone is very open to questions and they all seem to love sharing what they do. Yesterday I spent some time with the meteorologists as they prepared and launched a beautifully beige latex weather balloon. And today Natalia from Stockholm University delivered my first batch of leftover clay from their first day of sediment sampling. I’m not sure what I will do with it yet but am quite excited to have a bag of arctic mud waiting to enter my work in the studio.
I moved in to my container! It’s blue, surprisingly roomy and has 6 little windows overlooking the ocean. I brought a small amplifier with me and have been blasting music in there while the waves crash by. The water is quite still again after a couple days of what I understand to be some mild rocking. Even though I’m from a family of sailors, it did take me some time to get the sea legs going. I felt quite crappy a few days ago and my Russian roommate Sasha asked me “You not good sailor?” I’m working on it. Looking forward to entering the ice though. This endless water mass gives me a few moments of reverse claustrophobia every day. It’s like a communal sensory deprivation tank with constant daylight and no water in your ears. But whenever it feels a bit scary I listen to “Oceandåren” by the Swedish band Skriet and I’m right back to being a strong Viking explorer.