Saturday, June 21, 2008

Summer Solstice

Grace and greetings.

This morning we welcomed a couple from New York who came to experience his birthday in the land where the sun does not set. He is also an Episcopal priest and offered to do an Episcopal service while he was here. I had been advertising the service for the last several weeks; it ended up being four of us, the priest, his wife, the organist and myself. So instead of a service, we sat around and shared stories for a little while.

I had arranged for a tour out to Point Barrow with one of the several tour groups here, going with a tour guide that was a member of the congregation. It is the farthest northern point in the United States. I had never been out there since one could not just drive out there in a normal truck. So I arranged for the couple from New York, my wife, son and myself to go. The morning started out overcast, so things were not starting out as I had hoped.

During the night, I remembered my camera, that I had not used at all since we have moved up here, mostly because it was a 35 mm camera and everything is going digital. Well, I ran over to the store to pick up some film and was told that the store does not care 35 mm film anymore. Bummer. Again, everything has gone digital. Well, I knew that my cell phone camera would not be that useful but I brought it along anyway; along with my 35 mm camera because I had telephoto lens that I could use.

After we were picked up and the tour was underway, the blue skies from over the Arctic Ocean came our way, and it was a wonderful sunny day after all. I picked up more history that I did not know.

We drove out the three miles to end of the road, then he drove off into the soft sand for the final three miles to the actual Point Barrow. It was a beautiful sight, then the miracle of miracles happened. We spotted a Polar Bear. It is very unusual to spot a bear out there, but our guide was able to see the bear out on the ice. We had a couple of binoculars to share between the six of us. We all had out time checking out the bear; as the bear checked us out, though at a very safe distance. Fortunately, the camera that our guest possessed had to ability to zoom, and got some wonderful shots of the bear. He promised to send us a copy of the pictures, as well as other pictures of the day to us after he got back home. One would think that bear sightings happened all the time, but they didn't. In fact, the guide quickly called his cousin who was guiding another tour following ours, and told him where to look if the bear was still around by the time the other tour van got out there.

Well our tour guide had to head back into town to pick up his next group, so we headed back with him, as he had the vehicle, and we were given certificates stating that we had been out to the Point, but also had the certificates embossed with a seal that we had seen a bear while we were out there. Cool.

After watching the Angels/Philly's game for a while, (the Angels won after I turned off the game), we went out to see some of this season's first Nalunaq, also known as the celebration after a successful whale hunt and blanket toss. Since the blanket toss was not going to be until later, we went out to eat at Pepe's for dinner, then returned to the Nalunaq. The kids were doing the blanket toss, we watched for a little bit, but decided not to wait for the adults to do the "real" blanket toss. So I dropped our guest off at their hotel, came home, wrote my blog, and will head for bed soon. Man, I am not as young as I used to be...

Peace and blessings.

1 comment:

Arvay said...

A polar bear! I am in awe.