Today has been forecast to be a bad one for quite some time, and so far it’s living up to expectations. Since there was no chance of flights today, I decided we’d have a down day at the camp. Al and I drove over to Kuparuk camp, about 20 minutes from here, because both of our rental trucks were showing check engine lights — the cold can really do a number on trucks up here — but otherwise, the day was spent troubleshooting some minor DataHawk issues and looking at the forecast for the next few days. As I type this at 6:45 pm, the camp buildings are shaking, and winds are up to 50–60 mph. Things should settle down a bit tomorrow afternoon, but for the time being, flights are completely out of the question.
Since we spent the day here, I thought I’d provide a bit of insight into the Nikaitchuq Operations Camp (NOC), where we are staying. Each of us have our small but comfortable sleeping rooms. Each set of two rooms shares a bathroom. Beyond this, there is a dining area, with fixed meals (Breakfast 4:30–7:00, Lunch 11:30–1:00, Dinner 4:30–7:00) as well as a “spike room” which has all kinds of snacks and drinks and is open 24 hours per day. Also, there are laundry rooms, a larger conference room, a rec room, a TV room, and thankfully a couple of rooms with decent exercise equipment! Since we can’t just “go for a walk” out on the tundra due to the weather and the presence of bears, having the equipment has provided us an opportunity to get some exercise! Our days have been relatively consistent — wake up around 6, get breakfast, head to the AMF-3 around 7:00, work through the morning, come back to the NOC for lunch around 12:15, and then see whether access to the AMF-3 is necessary and available in the afternoon. Because of the high winds, there has been a ton of drifting on the roads, and since the amount of time available for snow-removal at the AMF-3 is limited, we want to make sure that if we request access that we will actually be able to take advantage of that time and fly our aircraft. After the afternoon work period, we generally get some exercise, get dinner, and disperse for the evening. These are full days for sure!
Tomorrow we’ll be back at the AMF-3 for some amount of time, and I hope that the winds settle enough for some flights. Stay tuned!