Monday, July 4, 2016

Umiak Race

One of the highlights of Saturday's 4th of July activities was the umiak race. The umiak is the traditional open boat made of walrus or seal skin stretched over a wooden frame. Each boat is entered by one of the whaling crews. The prize for the winning crew is a drum of gasoline. As you might guess, the race is sponsored by the local gas station Eskimo, Inc.

Four boats participated in the race across and back on the freshwater lagoon. This is one of the fresh water sources for the village as it is separated from the salt water by a small earthen dam. The large pipes seen in the first photo running along the shore hold all of the utilities as you can't bury them due to frost heaves. So all of the utilities are run above ground. The building with the red roof is the elementary school. The crew with the matching blue jackets won the race. They seemed pretty organized compared with some of the other participants.

Some other activities included children and adult games. On Friday afternoon, I stopped by to check out the food booths with diverse offerings reflecting the nature of the community. Everything from spam musubi (spam w/sushi rice wrapped in seaweed) to a taco truck to reindeer stew. The popular offering seemed to be teriyaki Copper River red salmon served Hawaiian plate style. i.e. with a scoop of white rice and a scoop of macaroni salad. I opted for a bowl of Filipino spaghetti. The sauce was made with banana ketchup and hot dogs. Below is a pano taken while waiting for the umiak race to start.


I spent most of Saturday out on the BEO (Barrow Environmental Observatory) to fix a few more radios. Things are starting to turn green but that also means that there is a lot of standing water. Fortunately, it was still only 38°F so there weren't too many mosquitos but when the wind dies down or you are near a nice warm building like the BEO Control Sled, you start to see more than a few of the pesky insects.

It turned out that one of the reasons for the poor performance they've been experiencing was the wrong radio being installed. I had asked the tech to install a radio last year and somehow he got hold of a different radio. I had purchased only 5 GHz radios but somewhere they found some 2.4 GHz radios. This is what was installed on the Control Shed which means that it was connecting into the building WiFi and not the large panel antennae on the roof. I'm amazed that it even worked at all...

Bridget had asked me to take some pictures flowers on the tundra. At this point there weren't very many either in number or variety.  I don't know what they are.




12 comments:

Unknown said...

Ha! I love that the prize in a man-powered boat race is a drum of gasoline. Too funny. :D

Flowers on the tundra: Live fast, die young, right?...

Dar said...

I gotta say I am not sure about spam sushi, don't even think I could eat it. Reindeer stew maybe, but not the spam. Its not a big thing here in Canada, I did have it when I was a kid and money was tight, but it was usually fried and drowned in ketchup.

RichardM said...

It did strike me as somewhat ironic as well. I believe that a typical crew will go through a lot more gas than that during the whaling season. And gas up here is still $6/gal. I forgot to mention that all of the other participating crews also got 15 gal of gas.

RichardM said...

Spam musubi is actually very tasty. The spam is fried so it isn't greasy at all. Many grocery stores carry it in the "sushi" section. I've had it in B..C. last summer. A tasty breakfast or snack.

redlegsrides said...

Spam sushi sounds good to me! :)

Trobairitz said...

Hey you got to have hot dog and ketchup spaghetti. I remember you telling us stories about that. Think they got the recipe from a cookbook?

The little tundra flowers are pretty.

RichardM said...

It's pretty tasty. The sweet/sour of the rice goes well with the fried spam...

RichardM said...

If you google "Filipino spaghetti" you'll find a lot of recipes. Most of them use banana ketchup and all have hot dogs. Some sites mention that even McDonalds has it on the menu in the Philippines. A very popular kids dish.

David Masse said...

The first prize being a drum of gasoline reminds me when my wife worked at The Bay as a buyer in women's fashion. They would get orders to fill from the Bay's Northern Stores division. The orders would be passed from department to department to be filled. One such order had the big city folks stumped. The handwritten order was hard to decipher. Their best guess was "100 lbs of lamp shades". Until one of the guys in hardware figured it out: 100 lbs of LAMB SHIT".

VStar Lady said...

No matter how ironic it is, gas sounds like a great prize at that price. (And I have nothing to complain about since it has gone down to the equivalent of around $4. per gallon here - cheaper in out of the way places.)

RichardM said...

Sorry, the one went whizzing over my head...

RichardM said...

Everyone is wondering what it'll be come September when the next fuel shipments arrive. (It's only delivered once per year which determines the price for the year)