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April 18: Journey to St Paul, Pribilof Islands, Bering Sea

After packing up my gear, I headed to the airport in Anchorage to begin my journey to St. Paul in the Pribilof Islands, a group of islands in the middle of the Bering Sea.  I met a few other scientists who were also meeting the ship in St Paul in the airport.  The plane to St Paul was a small propeller plane.  Boarding the plane was interesting as there was no security and we just walked on to the plane which was on the rickety old side.  The passengers on the plane were two additional passengers and us.  It was a beautiful day in Anchorage so we were on our way.  The flight time was to be three hours across Alaska and into the Bering Sea.  About halfway through the flight, we passed over the coastline and were flying over a frozen Bering Sea.  The patterns of ice were beautiful and we were all filled with anticipation of what was to come. 




Three hours into the flight, as we were all anticipating an on time arrival, a rarity in the Pribilofs as the Bering Sea is known for its inhospitable weather, the pilot came over the PA and announced that the weather was not good enough to land and that we had enough gas to circle for one hour before going to Plan B.  I didn’t know what Plan B was but I was hoping not to find out.  After 45 minutes, we continued our decent into the fog to St Paul.  We were going down and down with no ground in sight until we were about 100 ft off the ground and I spotted a few breaking waves beneath us and then we touched down.  It was certainly an interesting landing. 

Once we landed and looked around, we all were wondering where we were.  All we saw was white with tufts of grass here and there.  Would there me a terminal?  We then pulled up to a hangar and that seemed to be the terminal.  We deplaned and then found our luggage in a neighboring building that turned out to be the King Eider Hotel where we would make our home for at least the next two days until we made it to the ship, hopefully on Sunday. 



The Hotel which is also the airport terminal.