Friday, June 21, 2013

Lasting impressions of Toolik Lake

I heard a few stories about Toolik Lake prior to my arrival. However, the nice thing about finally visiting this field research station myself is to develop my own impressions and draw my own conclusions.

I am impressed with the history of Toolik Lake and the quality of research that has come from work conducted here since the 1970's. The people who work here and the students and technical staff who do much of the research are really passionate about their science. The discussions overheard at breakfast and dinner confirm that the focus of everyone is on their work. It seems like a truly cordial and collaborative group with lots of interactions among the various groups that work at Toolik Lake.

I leave you with a series of pictures that present something of the lighter side of Toolik Lake.
1.  I have mentioned that the dining hall served really great food. There are also a couple of well-stocked candy shelves. Plenty of fruit is also available. Ample portions, a variety of choices, desserts, and the candy shelves contribute to what I heard referred to as the "Toolik Ten" seems that everyone weighs more at the end of the season.

2.  I have never seen "elevated" bathroom facilities. Still not sure about the underlying reason for this, except for the direct delivery of waste to tanks that can be easily transported to disposal facilities in Prudhoe Bay. Cost of waste water disposal is on the order of $1.00 per gallon. Guidance is two showers a week; 2 minutes each. There is also the lake for washing off the dust of the day!

3.  There is a Toolik Lake Health Club. It contacts a dusty treadmill, elliptical, and free weights. It looked like the weights may have been used; not sure about the elliptical and treadmill. The sign on the door reinforced an interesting perspective on exercise during quiet hours.

4.  Mountain bikes could be checked out and used for business and pleasure. I saw a number of students out on bikes as I ran each morning on the roads around camp.

5.  Finally, lot of creative ways to transport research materials to your research site. Boardwalk buggies appeared to be the favorite means of hauling gear.
We are now on our way to Prudhoe Bay where Rich, Gus, and I will catch a flight to Barrow. We will be there for a couple of days, showing Gus our research site and discussing potential collaboration between our various projects.