Trip Log: Monday, July 29, 2002
We were up early this morning to prepare for our departure from Poverty Bar. At 11:30 a.m. the much anticipated thumping of approaching helicopters got our blood moving. The three Chinook helicopters landed close to the water on the gravel bar where we had camped and for the next two hours a moving line of fossil hunters and army service personnel (looking much like a party of leaf cutter ants) carried belongings from the camp to load on the helicopters.
Finally loaded, we took off on our flight to Fairbanks. With mixed emotions we watched our home for the last ten days fade into the distance. While delighted with the magical flight we were embarking on, we were somewhat saddened to leave “our” hadrosaurs. We hoped that our efforts would provide part of the key, which would unlock the mystery of what had happened to them.
The pilots left the large rear door open for viewing and flew low enough for us to see the myriad lakes, caribou, Dall sheep and bear below. The interplay of light and shadow highlighted the green, brown, yellow and orange hues of tundra and forest. We were enthralled with the sweeping vistas unfolding below us, as we inhaled the extravagant beauty of this most northern state.
At our refueling stop in Bettles, when we mentioned that we were teachers from California, the proprietor of “Sourdough Outfitters” store said that she had seen us on T.V. She treated us like celebrities with a welcome gift of popsicles. This was just a warm-up for our landing in Fairbanks. We were quite the media event when the three helicopters landed on a field across from the University soccer field. Cars stopped along the road, the practicing soccer team ran over to see what was going on, people stopped and stared and the media did interviews and took pictures. Pretty exciting stuff!
Possibly more exciting to us at that point though, was the thought of hot showers, clean clothes and pizza. We were so grateful to the Army for providing our transportation safely back to Fairbanks and making this last day such a memorable experience.
Reporters for the day: Peg and Rena
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