Back at the apartment I dug into a burger left over from the retreat and began reading the "Firecracker Boys" (more on this later). The phone rang. It was Matt and did I want to meet and go up to the glacier in ten minutes? Yes. Yes, I did! I scarfed the burger, showered, and ran down to campus to meet him in the parking lot.
We were drove out with a news crew from UAS. They were intent on putting together some PR material and drilled Matt on the glacier. While they were busy, I got a chance to take in the glacier, which was spectacular. It glowed with a deep blue inside and white and dirt on the outside. It seemed sort of narrow and smaller than I expected, though, having only seen it from the forest service's cameras.
Closer to my glacier…
Matt pointed to where the glacier had been in 01984: it had covered the rocky peninsula on the western side of the lake at that time - and I was amazed at how much had disappeared. After he finished the interview we began talking and I had a chance to ask all my many questions - primarily concerning the glacier's melt speed, historical extent, and whether it would continue to flow. The PR people filmed this and then got footage of Matt and I walking along the edge talking about the glacier. He said that he'd told me I'd get pulled into this.
We took a run through the visitor's center where we were not charged an entry fee and everyone greeted him. As we were walking I asked him if it was all just natural cycles or if we were screwing ourselves and he said both, pointing out that the Juneau area is still recovering from the last ice age. He also said that Alaska is contributing more to sea level increase than Antarctrica or Greenland right now, but the isostatic rebound is such that Alaska is actually rising faster than the water. Matt also mentioned that apparently some junior senator from Alaska had had plans to nuke one of the glaciers to protect an airport.
We stopped by his office afterwards and he showed me the project's wiki page and I got a close-up look at a mote. He said he'd find me a faster laptop to use (I brought a six year-old brick with me) and that part of the challenge of my project would be to find science in what seems to be an engineering project whereas most of the other projects are raw science. I was told to expect a team from NASA/Georgia Tech on Sunday and to potentially helicopter up to the glacier on Monday.
Walking home, I stopped at the campus library and picked up my awaited copy of the Ashley Book of Knots, which I always check out where ever I go. The librarian, who'd left a message that it was in complimented me on my voice-mail message and said she was an English major and listening to my voice message was like being read classic literature.
I haven't seen the whales do this yet, but wouldn't it be something.
By the bagel shop…
I drove us into town. It was raining and a bit dark, so I was nervous about taking the van up to full speed, although Kevin informed me a couple of times of just what that was. In town I failed at parallel parking - never a strong point, especially in large vehicles.We walked down to the Wharf - a collection of little shops in a single building built right over the water. Inside, we stopped in the Pel' Meni shop: Juneau's only Russian restaurant. Pel' Meni is some sort of dumpling containing either potato or meat, topped with a spicy Japanese sauce, and cillantro. While Kevin and Derek ordered some baskets of it, I wandered down the way and into a little shop with a huge window looking directly out at the water. I spoke with the lady inside and told her what I was doing with my summer; she, like everyone here, had a story about the glaciers and how much they'd retreated since she'd been here. I complimented her on her view and she said, "And I get paid to sit here and look at it." She was happy about this.
The LP collection at the Pel' Meni shop: I put on Arlo Guthrie.
The LP player bested me and I had to ask the waitress how to use it. Lesley was saddened by the poor way in which people treated the records and had her own private collection which she brought in to play (it included Ben Folds) and which, in fact, we were listening to right then. I took her's off and she squirreled it away somewhere safe and, shortly, the sounds of "City of New Orleans" filtered about.
Playing pool at a local bar.
Kevin's claim regarding the Pel' Meni's - that people start out not liking them and then get addicted - proved true. It was spicy to begin with and then, increasingly, good. We wandered back outside into the rain and around downtown until we found a good looking bar. Dinora had just turned 21, so it was obligatory. They got a big pitcher of beer and a special drink for Dinora and then Rosemary and I, who don't drink and didn't feel like playing pool, watched them play a game.
Afterwards, we wandered back to the van. I drove us up and around the capital building, which was pleasantly small - small government? Back on the road we decided to swing by the glacier. Derek thought we should go back, but changed his mind. I didn't find out why until we got up to the visitor's center and noticed that Dinorah was a bit intoxicated, having no body mass. The rest of us had a good luck and took a few pictures while Derek supported her. They went to the bathroom and, when it was locked, I pulled the van around quick enough to send the spare tire sliding across the back.
UAS had a series of summer concerts on a stage overlooking the campus.
Kevin, myself, Dinorah, TJ, and Isaiah after one of the concerts.
Behind the Squire's Rest bar in Auke Bay, we discoverd this car.
The folks from NASA and Georgia tech showed up, which meant it was a good time to have a cook-out at Matt's. I opted to walk over.
And passed this house on the way.
Dinner was a big ole' salmon. Later, I'd recognise this as a necessity and become a salmon snob. At the time, I looked mostly like "fish" to me. Matt's precocious 4-year-old son Torsten romped around the living room accompanied by two sleek-looking dogs.
Later that night we took our first group hike up the East Glacier Trail, starting at 10PM.
My glacier, by "night".
Another long-exposure night-shot of Mendenhall glacier. The glacier would have filled this whole photo just twenty some years ago.
Ge'Yanni, Dinorah, myself, and TJ
A waterfall we passed on the hike.
The NASA people and their cute little snowmobile robot. This was a low-attendance community info meeting. Ayanna Howard, at left, was leading the team. They'd previously hit up Colorado, but were looking to see first-hand some larger glaciers since the eventual goal of their project is full-sized snow machines in Antarctica.
Having had one crash already this season, the pilots were flying carefully. Northstar flew us up and floated around with us looking for a flat area to land. Then there was the tension of setting down. Look for exposed ice: snow might hide crevasses. Touch down slowly, slowly. If it buckles, get airborne again!
Then we scramble out, onto the ice and begin poking around in the snow with ice axes. If you don't feel any resistance, that's pretty bad. Having accomplished this, Matt and I left Georgia Tech to do their thing and hiked out onto the main, crevasse-laced body of the glacier to check on the wireless signal from the NRSL (Natural Resource Science Lab) building near campus, where the SEAMONSTER project stores the majority of its computing equipment.