Frequently Asked Questions 6-10

6: Do you see the northern lights all the time?

Short answer not all the time, mostly in the spring and fall and then usually only late at night and they may come and go being visible for a few minutes to several hours and then being gone for several minutes to several hours before appearing again, or not. For more see my post on the northern lights.

7: Are there polar bears up there?

Short answer no not here. Longer answer up there yes as in the coast and as much as 50 miles inland but I am 150 miles inland so not were I am. I have not seen one other than the stuffed one in Kotzebue. I am told that besides proximity to water, latitude effects the number of sightings. While Kotzebue may get an occasional polar bear, places to the north (and yes there are places north of us) like Point Hope, Wainwright and Barrow have many more of them.

8: Do you eat polar bear… moose… whale…

As stated above not much polar bear activity. I have had moose bear and whale. Moose is really good. Whale muktuk or blubber and skin is very chewy and doesn’t have much taste to it. The meat I had was partly frozen and had a strong fish taste much like the raw tuna poke in Hawaii but with a strong raw-salmon-y flavor.

The thin ones are muktuq. The white is blubber and the black is the skin. The square chucks are the meat.

9: How much snow do you get?

2-3 feet depth but some reports have shown up to 80 inches a year average. It is not as much as most people expect. Although there is much standing water in the summer because it cannot seep into the ground through the permafrost, there is little precipitation annually, including snow. For more see my post on snow.

10: Is that near/ where the heck is Shungnak?

Shungnak is North of and more than 300 miles from; Anchorage, Fairbanks, North Pole, Juneau and the same distance south of Barrow. It is over 150 miles from Nome, Kotzebue, Unalakleet. Our closest neighbor is Kobuk 9 miles away but there are only  about 8 villages within a 100 mile radius including the Bornite mining camp. For you math nerds that is a 200 mile diameter circle with less people than are in the 2 square mile Waikiki strip right now. So not really near anything.

As to where it is. It is about 20 miles north of the Arctic Circle and 150 miles inland from Kotzebue. The graphic below is on the back of most of the school shirts and is more or less accurate.IMG_8180

Google maps for comparison, the grey right above us is the Brooks Range.

Screen Shot 2016-04-18 at 5.42.44 PM

So whatever you are thinking of, Shungnak is probably not ‘near’ there.




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