Mosquitoes, Baby Squirrels, and Final Trapping Days
I have been back in Oklahoma for just over a week now, cooking in 90-104 degree temperatures. I miss the 40-50 degree days back in the Arctic, but I sure don’t miss the mosquitoes. From what I see on fellow PolarTREC teacher Nell Kemp’s blog, I left just before the mosquitoes got really intense!
Unfortunately, I also left a couple of days before the first baby squirrels emerged from their burrows. Kate was kind enough to send me a couple of pictures though! Aren't they adorable?
Jeanette and Kate kept me updated on Team Squirrel’s progress in the few days they were there after I left. In their last week at Toolik, Team Squirrel managed to catch 12 out of 16 squirrels that we needed to catch for a final light collar download, including all 5 squirrels that needed to have body temperature loggers explanted.
Back to Reality
My transition back to “real life” has been interesting. I think my husband, David, got a kick out of me marveling at all of my “firsts” since leaving Toolik:
The first time I drove on concrete instead of gravel felt so strange! It was so smooth that it didn’t even feel real at first.
When I made it back to Oklahoma, the first time the sun went down was bizarre. It was even more bizarre to see the stars and to have a completely dark bedroom.
The first time I had to go to a grocery store was a little overwhelming. It was nice to let the chefs at Toolik plan all of my meals for me for a month!
The first time I left the water on the entire time I showered felt fantastic, but I also felt a little guilty about using so much water. Perhaps some of the water saving habits I picked up at Toolik will stick with me (but not the two minute shower!).
The first time I did not have to put on a jacket and shoes when I needed to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night was pretty exciting!
Exploring more of Alaska
After I left Toolik and made the 9 hour truck ride back to Fairbanks, David met me in Fairbanks and we spent about a week driving south and exploring as much of Alaska along the way as possible! Here are some of the highlights of our trip.
I am excited to start planning how to best share my Arctic adventures with my students in the fall! I met with a local reporter and was featured in a ten second story on the local news magazine show “The List” last week. You can watch it here. I am at about the 45 second mark.
People ask me if I am glad to be back home. I tell them that I’m glad to be back with my family, but that I would be very happy living in the Arctic for an extended time period. And I truly mean it. I am now officially a Polar junkie!