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Unusual Experiences-The Midnight Sun in Barrow Alaska

In 1988, we used frequent flyer miles to fly to Anchorage, Alaska for Memorial Day weekend. After we arrived on Saturday, we discussed our mutual desire to see the midnight sun.

We did not have frequent flyer tickets on Alaska Airlines so we paid $800 and arrived in Barrow mid-afternoon on Sunday. I stepped off the plane into mud! (Naturally, I had not packed mud boots.) None of the streets were paved; permafrost (which meant the ground was always frozen) negated the need for it.

We had made reservations at the Top of the World hotel. When we stepped into the lobby, the receptionist said,”You must be the Gundys.” How did she know this? We were the only guests!

Usually, when we arrived at our destination, we rented a car and took our own tour. We inquired about car rental. None was available, nor were there any available tours. However, she graciously offered to make a phone call.

Serendipity was on our side. The “tour” was one of the best we ever had.

A young man (I forget the name but let’s call him Mark), arrived in his red pickup, along with his 6 year old son. Mark had a master’s degree in Anthropology from the University of Alaska at Fairbanks. He was married to a native Alaskan who was getting her doctoral degree from Harvard and was the superintendent of the local school, which was held in a building without windows to keep out the cold.

Mark showed us the DEW line, the above ground gas pipes (the permafrost remember), the “city” hall where all the Inuit villages in the vast northern Alaska region met in conference.

He explained whale fishing, stating that only native Alaskans can participate, but he is allowed to because he is married to a native.

After three and a half hours (his son had long since fallen asleep), we asked how much we owed. “Let’s say six dollars.” he said. Lloyd tipped him considerably more than that,

Then we walked onto the frozen Arctic Ocean and snapped each other’s picture

under the midnight sun.

Wilma Gundy

To Be Continued...

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