After three days of waiting out bad weather, I’m still at Thule Air Base in northwestern Greenland. We’ve been experiencing wind gusts up to 60-70 knots, heavy (and horizontal!) rain, near-freezing temperatures, and low clouds. Certainly not flying weather. Although it’s been frustrating to not be able to get in the field, I’ve gotten to spend a few days at the air base and now know the day-to-day life here a little bit better.
I’ve discovered that I actually really like it here! There’s something very comforting in the simplicity of life at Thule. In no particular order, some of my favorite things about life on base are as follows:
1.) The food at the cafeteria is awesome, especially the salad bar. I still can’t get over seeing such an abundance of fresh produce in Greenland. There’s also soft-serve ice cream every night at dinner and an omelet/pancake bar on weekends at brunch.
2.) Surprisingly, there is actually a lot to do here. There’s a great gym, a bowling alley, movies on weekends, a restaurant/bar (the “Top of the World Club”), organized activities (e.g. fitness classes, group hikes), massage chairs, saunas, and even a small pool. It seems like the folks who manage the base make a big effort to help people stay happy and healthy during their time here.
3.) There are very few opportunities to spend money; I don’t even carry my wallet with me. Even the taxi service is free. This is a very liberating feeling!
4.) Because this is an American military base, it’s easy (and cheap) to call home (however, right now the phone lines are out because they got mistakenly cut during construction…).
5.) The coverage of the Olympics was spectacular. In addition to getting NBC, we get two “Armed Forces Network” channels that are primarily sports, plus several Danish channels that show commercials only very rarely. I’ve also enjoyed watching the Olympics with people from all around the world.
6.) The internet access is limited. Although this is at times a little bit annoying, it seems to discourage people (myself included) from spending all day at their computers.
7.) The showers get really hot.
8.) It’s very safe here. Most of the buildings don’t even have locks, and everyone just leaves the keys to their trucks in the ignition (that way, if your truck happens to ever be in the way, someone can just move it instead of having to come find you).
9.) There are cute little Arctic foxes who live under the buildings.
10.) Everyone is very friendly and helpful. Every time you pass another truck on the road, you wave. Every time you encounter another person, you smile, say hello, and ask how they’re doing. This goes for scientists, science support staff, American military personnel, and Danish contractors alike.
All in all, I’ve very much enjoyed my time here so far. That said, I’m hopeful that I’ll be able to get into the field either this afternoon or tomorrow morning… so keep your fingers crossed for good weather in Thule!