Thursday, June 09, 2005

Prudhoe Bay Hotel

The fantastic view from my hotel room at Prudhoe Bay Hotel. That's the Alaska Airlines terminal in the left background!

The comfort here is intoxicating. It lulls me to sleep. Just watched a pretty funny Ben Stiller-Jennifer Aniston movie (didn’t see the title). Dinner was New York steak, cooked to order, baked potato, vegetables, Caesar salad and an array of desserts. I’m eating like an oil field laborer, minus the laborer part. During dinner, watched the end of a women’s softball championship, Michigan State beating UCLA.

Used the day to bring some order to the chaos that has accumulated over past weeks. Did some journaling, logged in receipts, cleaned gear. Removed the broken mud guard from the bike and replaced the headlight bulb. Partially unloaded the bike to make it easier to explore Deadhorse this afternoon. Lots of thick gravel in the camp. With the bike lightened, it actually seemed more difficult to handle.

Across the tundra and a partially frozen lake, a drill rig at work putting in a new well.

The sun appeared briefly before noon, but it was considerably colder today: 35° when I went out. Surprised by the difficult driving conditions in town; even managed to find some sand. Tried my luck riding out to the Arctic, but was stopped at the security gate. Chatted with the guard. Though he’s a fan of Mondavi wines, he apologetically said "I'll have to ask you to turn around." He said I could try calling the BP office to see if they’d escort me. Otherwise, the $37 tour through the Arctic Caribou Hotel was the only way to see the Arctic.

Found the general store-post office-NAPA Auto Parts complex. A remarkably well-stocked facility. I was fascinated by the extreme duty clothing available: Arctic Bib Overalls, heavyweight flannel shirts, gloves, hats, boots, fishing and camping gear, mosquito netting and repellents.

Upon seeing my motorcycle gear, "Stephanie" at the Prudhoe Bay General Store presented me with this certificate

Upon seeing my motorcycle suit and helmet,Stephanie, the store manager offered me a “Dalton Highway Survivor” certificate. She asked me to sign her guest book and to check out the Polaroids of other “interesting visitors” to Deadhorse. They were on a bulletin board outside the post office, along with the felons. Stephanie even called BP's Public Relations office to see about escorting me to the Arctic, but was told there wasn't a chance. "They just get too many requests these days."

Bought a Prudhoe Bay t-shirt and some small souvenir pins. Though Stephanie offered, I couldn't bring myself to inconvenience them by asking that they take my picture outside under the "End of the Dalton Highway" sign. So, I went around back and stuck my bike in the mud under the sign and with a frigid wind blowing, set up the camera on tripod. Took a photo for the Kenwood Press as well. Went out to take at least one shot of an oil rig across a frozen pond.

It's "burry" cold at Deadhorse. About 35° with a brisk wind.

So here's the one I sent to the Kenwood Press. They're always publishing photos of their readers taken in exotic places.

Comfortably "ensconced" (sounds like being impaled) in my room, watched City of Angels, Hollywood’s over-the-top remake of the wonderful Wim Wenders film, Wings of Desire.

Over the course of the evening, slowly repacked all my gear. Considered shipping about ten pounds of stuff home, as it becomes more clear what is unnecessary.

To bed around 1:00 a.m. (Here there are few visual cues to tell you when to rest. At some point, you simply come to the realization "I'm tired.")

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