18 June 2013 CELEBRATION, DEPARTURE, AND ARRIVAL HOME....by Seth
On Saturday, we considered heading back down to Anchorage in the afternoon to pick up the U-Haul, but we still had much to do with organizing equipment. So, we continued our packing and gear logistics and planned one more final event. Talkeetna Air Taxi and Denali National Park Rangers and the remainder of our team decided to have a pot luck cookout at Talkeetna Air Taxi headquarters.
Erich, Mike, Liz, Sam, and I cooked on available grills as our way of saying thank you to all the folks who helped over the past six years. It was a grand event with beautiful weather. The party went from 6 pm -10 pm on the TAT deck looking out at all the planes on the runway. The owner of TAT, Paul, and his family, were very gracious in providing the space and time to help us host a cookout with everyone and it was a fantastic end to a very successful field season.
Many people have become extended family, particularly for me, over this past six years. From the early recon of potential drill sites, all the efforts and labor by everyone, to this field season, we could not have done this project without everyone’s help in Talkeetna. It was great to see everyone and have all the rangers, pilots, families, and friends gathered in one final BBQ potluck celebration. Thanks for coming everyone and thanks to Paul and TAT for providing the place. Also, super cool timing… Erich received a text message from the truck drivers saying they had already made it into the lower 48 with the ice cores. They were ALMOST to Denver!
On Sunday morning, I couldn’t sleep so at 6:00am Alaska time I called my dad to wish him a happy Fathers Day. I then jumped out of bed and walked over to the Roadhouse to have just ONE MORE sourdough blueberry pancake and some chocolate milk for breakfast. It was a nice quiet relaxing place to end my trip this year, as I have ended it I think every year over the past six, before heading on to Anchorage and the lower 48. The Roadhouse owner, Trisha, was there so we chatted for a couple minutes. I bought some wonderful chocolate fudge for the road, and then walked back to meet the others at TAT. Erich, Liz, and I were on the road to Anchorage by 8:30am.
As we were done our project early, we each had changed our flights to avoid spending an extra 2 weeks in Talkeetna. To minimize expenses I opted for a Sunday flight leaving Erich, Liz, Mike, and Sam to do the final packing of the gear in the U-Haul and eventually the RELO cube. I don’t think they minded too, too much. I was pretty exhausted so I didn’t mind not being involved in the last little bit either! I’ll be at U New Hampshire the day the RELO cubes arrive to grab and sort any UMaine/Dartmouth/personal gear.
On the way to Anchorage Erich received a picture text message of the final ice cores stored in the Denver freezers! SUCCESS and perfect timing to receive that message! I think we both had a sigh of relief knowing the cores made it safely to their home in Denver. In Anchorage, we changed the U-Haul to Erich’s name, transferred the car rental to Liz’s name at the airport, and then we parted ways. We exchanged hugs and I walked towards security to reach my gate. I am pretty sure I fell asleep on the plane before it even took off, but I woke up in time to see the glacier covered coastal mountains of Alaska below me as we traveled southeastward toward my overnight layover destination, Minneapolis, Minnesota.
I arrived in Boston at 11:00am Monday morning, caught the Dartmouth Coach bus JUST IN TIME to arrive in Hanover at 2:00pm, had a quick bite to eat in town (because I hadn’t eaten anything of significant substance since breakfast at the Roadhouse the previous day) and my wife, Kristen, picked me up around 2:45. We made a quick trip to pick up lobsters for a celebration dinner and headed home, finally, with Kinley the puppy. I am pretty sure I fell asleep in bed last night before Kristen could even say good night.
Overall, it was an amazing trip, a wonderful team, with unbelievable support from all those people involved. I’m very proud to have been a part of it. This field season was nearly ten years in the making and the successful delivery of the cores certainly speaks to that perseverance. Now for the processing, analysis, and interpretation which may account for several more years of work!
So, this is where I leave you, the reader, with our project. Please stay tuned for results as they come out. As we go through the core processing and all the data work we will make an effort to provide public locations where results can be displayed. We appreciate everyone’s support who followed us, and of course the PolarTREC folks who provided a mechanism to outreach to the public and funding for my middle school teacher, Ken Williams to join us for a few weeks. Now… If I am like the rest of the team, I have taken today off and I am lying on my couch. I think I will go back to bed again (it’s 4 pm) to get a little more rest before I head into work tomorrow… or the next day! And oh… it’s REALLY nice to be home with the family… my wife and Kinley!
Thanks again for everyone’s hard work and thanks to everyone for following along!