Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Hooper Bay Zen

One of the reasons I love living here is the feeling that we have the chance to make things better -- we don't have a ton of infrastructure, so when stuff gets put into place we (the collective "we", as in Hooper Bay) have a chance to make things more sustainable than they would have been made a few decades ago. Not that there still aren't a million things to make better, just like any place, but living in a small, unique part of the world, it feels like it's possible to make a positive change, a positive impact, whereas in other places things are so big, complicated, and entrenched that it would be harder to change things. Anyway, here are two of those good things that make me feel uplifted whenever I see them.

The windmills that were installed a year ago are finally working. We had to live through several multiple-hour power outages while they were getting hooked up to the town's electrical system, but it was worth it. Look at how beautiful they are!
For an environmentally-minded (read: constantly feeling guilty about polluting/using energy) person like me, the fact that our town runs on diesel fuel REALLY bothers me. The existing power plant looks like this, with the fuel tanks all around:
So, now, whenever I look out and see these windmills, I feel a strong sense of calm and reassurance. They add so much to the landscape of the town, the beauty of the view, like they are tall guardians watching over the town. At night they have little red lights so that they planes can avoid them, and they seem like watchful eyes (yes, I suppose it could be reminiscent of Lord of the Rings, but there doesn't seem to be anything sinister about these lights!). I know that they are high-tech industrial metal things, but for some reason they are also extremely beautiful to me, and they actually FIT in with the landscape. Perhaps it's the constant, perpetual, circular motion of the arms -- it's SO calming to watch them. I've never been able to meditate well, as I always have thoughts buzzing through my head, but I can actually push pesky busy-thoughts away when I'm relaxing and watching the motion of the windmills, just watching the motion and breathing, slowing my heartrate down.
They also make a wonderful whoosing sound when you are directly under them. What can I say, I'm in love with the windmills. I'm so grateful for their installation, thank you AVEC (Alaska Village Electric Company) and other powers that be that made it possible.

The other thing that I've been having a love affair with is the black plastic road -- I know I posted about this not too long ago, but I'm so enamored with it that I am going to wax on about it(I know, I know, I am NOT a fan of plastic, but here it is, used in a perfect way, where we don't want it to break down). I took some pictures of honda trails here and there around town that do not have the black plastic trail installed. Some are nice trails, just as they're supposed to be, with just two solid tracks through the tundra:
And some, tearing up the tundra, are NOT:
The main reason for this is because wet spots develop and people keep trying to go around the wet spot and it ends up getting wider:
Flying in and out of the village, looking out over the tundra from above, these honda trails are very evident, cris-crossing the ground. It is not very pretty, especially when you think about how long it takes for the tundra to be revitalized -- a LONG time.

However, with the black plastic trail, this is not an issue. Drivers can get through wet spots unpeturbed because there is traction at the bottom of the wet, muddy, messy dip (and I HATE getting stuck. It tears up the ground, it wears out my honda, and it is unsafe for me and the girls), and there is no need to make the trail wider and wider:
In fact, even some of the impassable creeks (they are tidal creeks, and in general they are deceptively deep, even if narrow) are now made passable by honda with little bridges:

There are even pull-off spots so folks can park or pass, still on the trail:

And the tundra flourishes underneath this trail because inside the little grid, the pressure from the wheels is distributed:

In fact, in time, I can see how this trail will totally blend in with the tundra, just with hidden reinforcement underneath:

This trail was built by Sea Lion Corporation -- what a great idea; and it really makes a difference. It makes me eager to take my family out on the tundra -- thank you! Oh, PS: Any suggestions as to what to name it? "Black Plastic Trail" is kind of boring and not as exciting as it really is.


Amy said...

Last time we were in Valpo I noticed that the windmills along I-65 just north of us are finally spinning, too!! I don't know if they're hooked into the grid, yet, but I was so happy to see them at work.

The plants poking up through the black plastic mesh remind me of seedlings in starter trays. Seedling Trail?

Great to hear from you!!

Anonymous said...

Your trail and its "sidings" where folks can pull over to pass one another remind me of another trail that was built early the last Century that was built on sand dunes in Southern California between the Town of Yuma Arizona and Holtville California. That trail was made of wood (It lasts a long time and does not rot on the sand dunes).. It is called the Old Plank Road. Perhaps that makes yours the "New Plastic waffle road"? Just a thought. But my familiarity with that road (and having visited the North Slope a few times) makes me really understand why you like your new tundra trails. Ed B of So Cal

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