May 6: Dutch Harbor and Unalaska


Once checked out of the ship, I headed to the airport to rent a truck to explore the area.  I rented a F-250 pick-up that was held together with ratchet straps and some duct tape.  As I was leaving the rental agency, one of the men working there, told me to make sure to put it in four wheel drive if I got to any questionable spots in the road.  This certainly was going to be an adventure. 

I was off on my adventure exploring Dutch Harbor with two other members of the science party who wanted to join.  I drove down every road until it was impassable stopping along the way to enjoy the views of the water.  There are a few things that stand out in my mind about Dutch Harbor: crab pots, fishing boats, bald eagles, and potholes.  The roads are rough and nearly all are lined with crab pots; often there are eagles perched on top of the crab pots; and the roads were filled with potholes that I seemed not to be able to miss. 




The sun ducked in and out for the rest of the afternoon.  We went along the water and stopped to check out some tide pools where four otters were frolicking nearby.  The tide pools were filled with chitons, mussels, barnacles, snails and different species of seaweed.  We enjoyed the vistas from this spot and then piled into the truck to continue down the road where we encountered the rental car guy changing someone’s tire.  That made me a little nervous but I figured I would just be a bit more careful of the potholes.  We came to a black sand beach with little waves gently rolling in and an outflow of water feeding into the bay.  I continued along until the road got narrow and windy and then I hit a snow embankment.  I had to back down this road with a sheer cliff on one side and a hillside with a drainage trench on the other.  Needless to say we made it and it was worth it because the view from the top was stunning.




There was a single lane road to the right which we decided to head up to see what was there.  About a mile up the road, we found horses!  They were grazing in a meadow with the rain falling and the wind building. 



Then we headed back towards the town of Unalaska.  There is not much in Unalaska.  The one infamous bar in town was recently shut down leaving only two bars, one at the hotel and one at the airport.  This is big news in a fishing town.  I drove up to the top of one of the hills to get an overview of the town.  The setting is beautiful and it must be spectacular in the summer.  It is mud season now so everything is on the grey/brown side.  There is a Greek Orthodox Church in Unalaska much like the one in St Paul.   


After a long day of exploring, we headed back to the hotel to wind down from the day and reflect on a great expedition.  Flying out of Dutch Harbor is supposed to be an experience so I have that to look forward to tomorrow afternoon.  



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