Saturday, June 15, 2013

DAY Twenty-four: Prudhoe Bay at work

Life at Prudhoe Bay is work, work, rest then work. Where safety is a priority concern to employers, workers, visitors and the First Nation elders who provide the political structure up here. There are no schools, churches or parks. This is an industrial worksite first and foremost. No one lives here permanently. All 3-5000 workers are three weeks on, three weeks off, or some variation of that schedule. Even if they have worked on the north slope for many years, home is somewhere else. Many have homes and families in Alaska, others fly to the lower 48 to see their families again. They claim there are twenty applicants for every job up here. Some here have waited for years for an opening. Often starting at positions below their skill level just to get a foot in the door. The pay here is very good, the work is demanding, the environment harsh and the rules strictly enforced. One violation and you are on the next plane out, unemployed.

There are many unique and unusual structures, vehicles and systems here, all designed to operate in the demanding conditions of the arctic.

Money is not spend on esthetics. Everything must be practical, durable and functional. The Prudhoe Bay Hotel is a prime example. One has a choice or a dorm style room with the baths down the hall, or a traditional motel room. Laundry facilities are free as is all the food you can eat. There is an exercise room, TV room, coffee bar and pool room.

The entrance to an industrial style building that must protect its residents in extreme conditions.


Tony, the policeman on duty when I arrived, signed my witness form. I know the trees in the far north are shorter, but didn't know it affected the people too....... (am standing on the Da'mit's foot pegs).

Inside the outer doors is a mud room and .... BOOTIES. Thank god they are blue and not pink.

Remember, there are no sidewalks or paved streets up here, just mud, gravel, mud, snow, mud, ice, mud, chemicals, mud and more mud. Then it rains or snows most every day, so.. there is a lot of MUD.

The housekeepers are the law inside, everyone entering must put on booties.




Should have taken the photo before I moved in. The other side of the room is a mirror image of this, except the bed is made.

DINING AREA:: half of it


Serving line, clean, organized and functional.

Beverage area, and ice cream machine

So I parked myself right next to the pastry cabinet, where I could smell the goodies, grab a few now and then, and then, and then, work on the blog and refill the lemonade glass.... all day long. In case you are wondering, Prudhoe Bay is dry.

That is the tour from inside the hotel. Now let's explore outside. Took Da'mit out for loop around town this afternoon. Da'mit enjoyed looking at the various types of equipment here.

Da'mit meets an Arctic Cat.

Bet Da'mit gets better miles per gallon than this beast.

This makes my behind look small...

Da'mit hides among the Cats.

Of course we had to get the required photo in front of the Deadhorse sign.

Off to fill our gas tanks for a morning departure. There are only two places to get gas up here. One pays a machine inside a small unattended building, go outside to pump gas, then back inside for the receipt. Not today, the "station" was down. However, they were pumping gas directly from a delivery truck into your vehicle. Being very environmentally conscious, they place a catch pad (mini swimming pool) under any gas can or under your vehicle when pumping gas in order to catch any spills. Easier to prevent than clean up. Did not take any photos due to the gas fumes.

Tomorrow Da'mit and I start south. Two days back to Fairbanks. See you then.

Nite all.



  1. Great job ! Nice pics of life in the work camp too.

  2. Good tour of the facilities that's what I missed. :)

    Good luck on the way back....hopefully you get some good light again in/around Atigun Pass.


  3. Hey, if you get this in time — we'd be happy to buy you a drink in Fairbanks! I used to work with your sister, when I was at the University of Michigan. I did my (only and unofficial 'cause I never got the paperwork turned in!) Saddle Sore 1000 all in the state of Texas, so I have an inkling of what you've just done!

  4. Charlie6, would love to meet you and see darrell again. Maybe in a couple of weeks?
    In which direction do I point Da'mit? PM me on Soviet Steeds or AdvRider.

  5. Dennis, would love to get together. Am staying in UAF dorm. call me 361-813-7374.