Thursday, August 6, 2009
When I first got to Barrow, it was nice and warm, but the weather has turned and the fog has rolled in. Barrow is an interesting place, and much of the local economy is based on tourism (besides the tax revenue from oil). On Tuesday, they took the teachers who wanted to to do a polar bear dip. The site for doing it was just outside my hotel. I didn't really want to do it, and I didn't bring my swimsuit. The bus driver didn't accept that, though, and handed me a loner swimsuit (that was a little small) and sent me in to pay the fee. I also didn't really want to pay the $10 to participate. The family that organizes the polar bear dip makes a killing. When I did it, there must have been at least 50 people with me. I figure that in one season, they probably have several hundred people stupid enough to jump into the Chukchi Sea for a little patch.
Well, when we got to the beach (don't think sandy California beach: it's very gravelly), we stood out there for a little bit and waited for our entire group. We got in in a few waves. When I ran in, I was met by some of the coldest water I've ever felt. I ran out a few yards, and dove in after a small drop off. By the time I got back to the beach, my feet were nearly numb.