Raining and muddy here this morning, and cold, just like Dutch Harbour. Great contrast to the last few days of heat and sunshine – the sea now a rolling, surging brown and the southerly wind pushing it up the beach and raising the water level in the harbour by at least half a metre.
We had an absorbing trip out to Teller, the little village where Amundsen, Nobile and Ellsworth landed the airship Norge in 1926 in a storm. They were trying to reach Nome. The airship was destroyed and I assume that the crew eventually followed more or less our route to and from Nome by dogsled. But the imagination quivers a bit at the thought of what the local natives must have thought when a 70 metre airship arrived above them…
I have sent Speedy photos from the trip – lovely delicate tundra wildflowers, melting permafrost, musk ox, arctic terns, a bit of scenery. We met Norbert, a local friend of Richard's, who has been blind for 40+ years since getting measles as a child. If you can find "Burdens greater than mine" by Hank Williams Snr, Norbert is the blind man and the other two were his friends.
I feel as if I have just seen the tip of the lure – this is an amazing place and there's so much that is fascinating and related in so many ways to Australia and things that happened and still happen there – and Cook – I intend to re-read his journals when we eventually get home to try to observe again what we have seen ourselves but through his eyes.
And from the philosophical to the totally ridiculous – there's a tv in my room and I was idly watching last night and doing other things and I saw scenes shot in Manly (a Sydney suburb close to the entrance to the Harbour) – it was an episode of, I think, Jag or JAG – a bunch of US naval people hunking around in stereotypical Oz. Not my gig but stirred the homesickness strings just a bit. The Supreme Court of NSW was set in St Patrick's Seminary on the hillside to the south of the beach. Hollywood license. Some of the rest of it was cringemaking – are we really seen like that?
Mjc, the microvave towers long disused – were part of the communications system for the DEW line.