Northeast Transit

The day begins early, around 4am. Lots of crazy stuff happens at 4am and today is no exception. For me 4am means I’m about to head to the airport, and board a plane that will (many inflight movies later) get me to Oslo, Norway: gateway to the Arctic! I’ve spent weeks figuring out what to pack. The arctic is, after all, a rather cold place filled with awe-inspiring landscapes, fascinating wildlife, resilient plants, hearty people, and lots of lessons about climate change. It’s only logical, therefore, that I come absolutely prepared for this once-in-a-lifetime-experience.

  • Rubber boots, check.
  • Sunglasses, check.
  • All sorts of warm clothes, check.
  • Camera, check.
  • Binoculars, check.
  • Ukulele (travel-sized), check.
  • Passport, check.
  • A book to read for fun that will realistically never be opened, check.
Everything I need for my expedition to the Arctic Ocean... I hope.

Everything I need for my expedition to the Arctic Ocean… I hope.

Let’s go!

Of course, the act of embarking on a trip like this is no simple feat. The amount of energy needed to propel a metal tube filled with people at several hundred miles per hours miles high in the atmosphere is staggering. I’ve been thinking a lot recently about my carbon footprint and find it ironic that I’ll be complicit in creating far more than my share of greenhouse gases as part of this expedition which is, largely oriented around exploring the impacts of climate change on a fragile ecosystem. Ecology-based moral conundrums aside I’m so, so honored and excited to be a part of this expedition and to absorb everything that I experience to the best of my ability so that I can communicate that to my students, my friends, and my community.

There are two types of people who fly planes: those who choose the window seat, and those who choose the aisle. Maybe there’s a third category that “chooses” the middle seat, and if that’s you, well, more power to you. For myself I’m glad to sacrifice restroom accessibility for some of the best views a human can hope to see: the view of the world from above the clouds.

As we travel north and east, first to Newark, and then on to Oslo, Norway I keep peering out my window curious to see how the sky and land and ocean change during the course of the flight.

Leaving PDX in the early morning I peer down to see the Columbia River rolling along to the Pacific.

Leaving PDX in the early morning I peer down to see the Columbia River rolling along to the Pacific.

Clouds are a beautiful site, especially from above. They remain beautiful even if they can also indicate a bumpy ride.

Clouds are a beautiful site, especially from above. They remain beautiful even if they can also indicate a bumpy ride.

It's almost the summer solstice, and I'm heading to some pretty high latitudes. I'm on the cusp of spending seven days and "no nights" aboard the National Geographic Explorer.

It’s almost the summer solstice, and I’m heading to some pretty high latitudes. I’m on the cusp of spending seven days and “no nights” aboard the National Geographic Explorer.

Oslo is a green, green city. Though nearly 600,000 people live there, only 20% of the land is urbanized with the remaining land left for agriculture and parks.

Oslo is a green, green city. Though nearly 600,000 people live there, only 20% of the land is urbanized with the remaining land left for agriculture and parks.

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