Monday, December 18, 2006

My polar bear can beat up their polar bear

Well, this is my last day in Barrow. What a not-so-long, yet-very-strange trip it's been. I now find myself in the lobby of the hotel I was staying at, sucking the last bit of wireless out of the King Eider Inn. I was just informed that the washroom is for guests only and since I've already checked out, I can't go pee in their loo. Hmmm. Tricky. Very tricky. Instead of making a big deal (they are letting me loiter in the lobby until my flight) I might just have to pull a Trisha E. around back. We'll see. I'm also chugging their complimentary coffee like it's going out of style. I should probably stop drinking since there's no facility.
So. This morning I was at Pepe's for breakfast and the manager (owner?) Joe was telling me about how he has a museum in his house. He informed me he has a stuffed polar bear that measures 10 feet. "It's about three feet bigger than the bear in the lobby of the Top of the World Hotel," he said. Then he giggled (he's kind of a sketchy dude) and said, "My polar bear can beat up their polar bear." I laughed, a little too hard, and he got serious. "It can," he said.
I wanted to remind him that the beasts were in fact dead, and therefore not capable of fighting each other, but instead I nodded solemnly and bolted for the door. A while later, my cab driver told me that Friday night he was bombing along the point road doing about 80 km per hour when a polar bear sauntered out in front of him. He told the story with such gusto that my heart was racing. "What did you DO?" I half-screeched. He said he just sat there, in awe, and watched it. The troopers showed up a minute later to scare it out of town.
Ok, one more polar bear story.
Yesterday, I got dropped off by a woman cabbie on the beach of the Arctic Ocean to take photos of some old whaling boats and bones. I told her to come back in about half an hour. When she returned, I was still down on the beach, but I had left my camera bag in the snow bank where she dropped me off. She pulled up, saw my belongings but not me, and thought I had been dragged out to sea by a polar bear. When I finally did show up, she was near panic. I apologized and said I didn't realize that I shouldn't have done that. After hearing stories from a friend who lived in Rankin Inlet for a while about how a siren would be set off whenever a polar bear came into town, I just thought the same would go for Barrow. Not so.
On one of my walk-abouts around town yesterday I passed a house with a couple of German Shepherds tied out front. As I was passing, a guy opened the door and came outside. By his side was a little puppy, probably three months old or so. The puppy ran to me and I played with it for a minute, waved at the dude and kept walking. The puppy followed. I tried to shoo it off and told it 'go home'. It kept following. Finally I looked back at the guy, hoping he'd call it back. He didn't. "Just take it," he said. I almost did, but really couldn't. I resorted to using my big-boy voice and scaring the crap out of it until the puppy realized that going home was the lesser of two evils and trotted back to the guy, who let it in the house.
I sent my photos off the Chicago Tribune last night (they asked for 10, but I sent 14 because I have trouble editing my own work). They were received and the editor seemed pleased. I was so nervous coming here for this assignment but it worked out really well. Despite the darkness thing, there are some great shots to be had. I went to the Inupiat Heritage Center, the library, the grocery store, the rec center, a local craftswoman's home, bingo (bust) and just walked around town. I took a tour out to the point to photograph some old houses and walked along the beach. I like this place, it's neat, but after only three days, the darkness is driving me a little batty.
Here are some leftover pics (not the ones I sent to Chicago) from the trip. Even though some of the outside shots don't look like it's that dark out, I was using long exposures with a tripod.
Peace.






10 comments:

Anonymous said...

Jill, Why would walk along the beach where polar bears roam? The polar bear is the most dangerous of predators. It has no fear!

akbushbaby said...

I eat polar bears for breakfast! Ok, seriously though, tourists come to Alaska and the Yukon every year with pepper spray and other random grizzly and black bear deterrents. We, in the north, always kind of thought these people were paranoid. So arriving in Barrow as, essentially, a tourist, I didn't want to be one of those people. Now, the thought did cross my mind and I did ask questions and if a bear gets close to the town, word spreads fast and guys with guns jump into action. There was no such commotion when I went onto the beach and therefore I wasn't worried. Maybe I shouldn't have, but bears don't just run in gangs through the villages. It's not like they're all over the place. I'd feel lucky if I actually did see one.

Anonymous said...

I didn't know the Trib used self portraits of the photographers!

akbushbaby said...

"(not the ones I sent to Chicago)"
But you know, maybe they should start.

Anonymous said...

Give me a break!

CD

akbushbaby said...

Oh, I'll give you a break.

akbushbaby said...

I'll give you a break when you give me back my jacket.

Anonymous said...

Let your fans know what edition of the Tribune your photos are in OK?

akbushbaby said...

I think it's in today's edition.

sugartimebaker said...

Can you give us a link or path to follow- after www.chicagotribune.com - the Tribune Photo Gallery is mostly archives - Rocky Road Dial-Up remember? takes forever! Thanks. Mere