Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Back To Barrow

It seems like it's been a while since I've been to Barrow. A couple of weeks ago, we de-commissioned a bunch of servers located in the Barrow data center that provided services such as storage and authentication. I need to get new software installed to support the VoIP telephone system. The newly de-commissioned servers give me the opportunity to start fresh instead of trying to upgrade the existing servers. This seemed like a good opportunity to get this task started as well as take care of some requests from Umiaq, the science logistics provider. Plus the Alaska Airlines PFD sale is going on now.

The previous Alaska Airlines flight leaving the gate in Fairbanks was one of their nicely painted Boeing 737's. In this case, the "Salmon-Thirty-Salmon". I think it's actually a flying billboard for the Alaska seafood industry but I'm not going to complain about it. I like the way it looks.

There must be so few researchers working in Barrow these days that I was assigned the deluxe hut with multiple bedrooms, a very large kitchen and a huge living room. Most of the quonset huts used for visiting researchers are divided into two apartments but this one is not. There is even a nice view of a now frozen lake out of the picture window in the dining room.

Since the kitchen is fairly well equipped and I am going to be here for five days, I stopped at the local grocery store for some breakfast and dinner items. Just to give you an idea of what things go for when you are far from the nearest Safeway or warehouse grocery store:
  • 18 ct eggs - $7.39
  • 2# whole wheat spaghetti - $6.25
  • Bottled pasta sauce - $6.99
  • Parmesan/Romano cheese - $6.39
  • Frozen winter vegetables - $4.89
  • 12 pack Diet Coke - $12.29
But it's still way cheaper than eating out every day...


  1. Richard:

    IF diet coke is over $1. buck a can, I don't want to ask what REG coke costs

    . . . NO protein ? I'm glad we have a Safeway close by

    Riding the Wet Coast
    My Flickr // My YouTube

    1. If you buy it by the individual can it's $2 and I thought that eggs counted as protein. Actually, I'll probably rely on lunch as my regular meal since it is cheaper than dinner at many of the local restaurants. All groceries are shipped by air so anything heavy, such as liquids, or anything that would need special handling, such as fresh produce, or anything bulky, such as diapers, tends to be more expensive than you would expect.

  2. Wow, and I thought BC was expensive. I guess it costs money to transport in the goods.

    It looks like you have comfy accommodations for your visit.

    I enjoyed your 'salmon thirty salmon' comment. Made me chuckle.

    1. I was pleasantly surprised to get the luxury accommodations. But I don't really have any complaints about any of their other housing. One of the real benefits, at least to me, is that I have a connection into the same network as any of the research buildings. So I don't necessarily have to sit in my office to get things done.

      According to Alaska Airlines that is the official name for the plane....

  3. Nice digs Richard! I guess there's not much demand for furniture that hug the walls of a quonset hut better.....

    I liked the salmon design on the plane, though I would have put the fish's head right at the front of the plane....


    1. The shape of the quonset hut does make furniture selection and floor plans more complicated. The curve also makes covering it with anything besides wood paneling (or in this case plywood) more difficult. I don't know why they didn't put the head of the fish right on the nose but I guessing that the artist didn't want it that way...

  4. Wow - those prices are a bit like Western Australia. Guess it's because Barrow is at the end of the supply line.

    Will you be fishing for protein through a hole in the ice? I note you didn't comment on the cost of a bottle of rum to go with the coke ;-)

    1. Barrow is a "damp" village. I.e. illegal to buy or sell alcohol but legal to ship it in for personal consumption. Barrow is at the end of the supply line and for most of the year the only way to get supplies is by air. Fortunately, there are several shippers. Alaska Airlines flies 737's in two to three times per day.

      The ocean is still ice-free but people do fish for salmon during the summer but I've never seen anyone out on the ice fishing during the winter.

  5. That's a good looking plane!

    Your groceries remind me of Hawaii. It makes sense that Barrow would have those prices. Enough to make one take up hunting...d'oh!

    Will we be seeing the frozen lake?

    1. Yeah, the prices are kind of Hawaii like though large, bulky items are still brought in by ship. Barrow gets barge shipments one time per year so fuel prices for the year are set in September (assuming it lasts!) when the barge shipment comes in.

      If you are thinking of hunting moose or caribou, they are still a long ways away. There are two whale hunting periods where much of the native community gets a significant amount of quality protein.

  6. Very nice accommodations. Quite comfy.

    I have to respect those prices. Meeks sense for trekking it that far. But it would definitely make me meal plan better. :) (Better than I do now...)