Hummer Chick Ridin High

Trip Start Jun 18, 2005
Trip End Jan 01, 2006

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Flag of United States  , Alaska
Wednesday, June 22, 2005

What a day this has been. Did I mention? The hotel gave me the name of a man who drove tours out to Point Barrow. THAT'S the northernmost spot I wanted to get to. Fifteen miles beyond the town. I had called before I set out on my morning trip and asked about availibility for today. Frank was the owner of this particular guide service. And Frank said, in a clipped accent (German? Swedish? Russian? I wasn't sure) that he was all booked. "Try me tomorrow," he offered.

"I won't be here tomorrow," I told him. "My plane leaves at 10 AM. I MUST go today. Is there any way you can help me?"

"I could take you by yourself," he answered. "But you would have to pay for two. I require a minimum of two fares."

"That's OK," I said. "I don't mind." We tentatively agreed on 5 PM.

Back in the hotel at 4, I called Frank to verify. "I can come at 5:30 and take you by yourself," he said. "But if you'd like to save some money, I have two people scheduled at 8:30. I could fit you in with them. My Hummer holds four."

HUMMER! I'm going in a HUMMER?!

"Perfect! That's perfect!" I couldn't believe my good fortune. I did a little slipper dance and hurried downstairs for advice about dinner. I wanted to order in, prop my feet up, anticipate my Hummer ride. They recommended a Chinese restaurant on the other side of the lake. "Service is fast," they assured, "and portions are big."

In thirty minutes my dinner arrived, complete with fortune cookie. I broke it open right there and then. "This is your lucky day," it said. So accurate! I spread my spread on the pine-log table in my cozy room and gobbled up steamed rice and beef and broccoli and crunchy eggroll. I even had time for a nap.

Remembering my afternoon freezing fiasco, I layered myself in T-shirt, sweatshirt, wool sweater, fleece vest; doubled up on the socks, fleece-lined boots, mittens, scarf, and cameras. Two cameras. The Hummer Chick was ready.

A handsome young man stuck his head inside the lobby door and called "Tour for Linda."

"Here! I'm here!" I answered as I hurried towards the door, sliding the slipper-covers off my boots at the window bench.

"Your Hummer is ready," he said with a grin, boosting my elbow as I hoisted myself up, over and in.

"I'm Maureen," said my back-seat mate. "And this is my husband John."

John said hello from the front seat. "And I'm Alex," said our good-looking guide, as he hopped in and shut his door. "Frank is in the middle of another tour. Who's ready to look for polar bear?"

It didn't take us long to come to consensus on that question. "Go Go Go" we chanted, in a laughing sing-song that left no doubt. I don't know how it happened so quickly, but I felt like I'd known these people forever.

"All right then," Alex said, easing the Hummer onto Okpik Street, headed north towards the Arctic Ocean. "I'll take you there."

The Hummer kicked up bits of gravel as we passed through town, past the college, past the airstrip with the heated runway, past the sign that welcomed the polar bears. The road ended, but the Hummer kept going, climbing pebble-shale dunes in a barren, icy land; weaving, jerking, bouncing, slinging us around. But we hung on, gleeful as monkeys. It was the first day of summer, and we were just where we wanted to be, doing just what we wanted to be doing, grinning all the while.
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Wanting to Go to Barrow on

Thanks so much for a great trip report! I love your photo captions.

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