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Polar bear warning sign at Point Barrow. (1997)
I've checked prices on flights from Anchorage to Barrow (and back) when we've considered trips to Alaska over the last few years, but they have always been quite expensive ($800 or more). I couldn't believe it when I discovered the same tickets could be had for about $550 the last week of September.
So what do you do in Barrow? How much of a tourist scene is there? You can take a dip in the Arctic Ocean in the summer when the pack ice is gone. You can check out the brand new half million dollar artificial turf football field. You can take in some of the local Inupiat culture.
Or you can go look at polar bears.
Turns out Barrow does a brisk tourist trade in the summer months chauffeuring all sorts of folks (many geriatric) out on the tundra to catch a glimpse of the planet's largest land carnivore. And since I'm going to be there for about two days with no real agenda, I might as well make like a mainlander and go for the tour.
It was about the time I was planning my Barrow trip that our nephew Bobby got in the mix. He wanted to come visit us in Florida this fall, but we counter-offered with an invitation to join us in Anchorage. We weren't paying or anything, but we wanted him to know he was welcome to join us. He said yes right away.
Then I told him about my side trip. Explained to him that he'd have to pay for his additional plane fare, but I'd split the hotel, the nature tour and the trauma center bill with him. After a couple days considering, he said yes.
So next Tuesday, 21-year-old Bobby and I will be getting on a plane in Anchorage at 6AM. Our first stop will be Fairbanks. Next it's on to Deadhorse, right by Prudhoe Bay where, I guess, all the oil workers go.
And then finally, it's on to Barrow.
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