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JewishJournal.com

May 10, 2013

Inspired by Alaska

http://www.jewishjournal.com/blog/item/inspired_by_alaska/

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The theme for our first travel Writing Contest was INSPIRATION! Our Judge, Richard Bangs, selected Rachel Zimmerman Brachman's article, "The Whale and The Trampoline," as our FIRST PLACE WINNER. 

Our INDEPENDENCE WRITING CONTEST begins May 11 and ends on July 4th. We hope you will choose to share your stories with us and perhaps win some of the $1000usd in CASH PRIZES!

Something puzzled me as I drove my rented all-terrain vehicle through Barrow, Alaska.   Why did so many homes have trampolines in their yards?  In a place where it’s cold and dark most of the year, trampolines seemed out of place.

I had always wanted to visit the high north, but I never imagined I'd make it to Barrow, Alaska -- 320 miles north of the Arctic Circle.  I was traveling with NASA scientists who wanted to compare the polar regions on Earth with the icy moons in our solar system.  My job, as a NASA educator, was to meet with the science teachers at the local schools.

The hut where I stayed was a few minutes' walk from the Arctic Ocean.  I wore my winter coat, hat, gloves, scarf, and boots, even though it was mid-August.  The temperature was 38 degrees F, with a wind chill below freezing.  I heard stories of winter temperatures reaching minus 120 F, and I couldn't imagine anywhere being that cold.

I visited an ice cellar, where families store their frozen salmon, seal, and whale.  Since the ground is permafrost, people can dig a deep hole in the ground and carve out a cave 20 feet below the surface.  The cave stays 18 degrees F all year, so food stays frozen.  I got to taste muktuk -- whale skin and blubber -- a treat for the people who live there.

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