Friday, September 4, 2009

A Year In Greenland

One of the most extraordinary experiences in my young life was being stationed at Sondrestrom Air Base. That was 30 years ago.
It closed as a US Air Base in 1992.
I've been thinking for some years that I'd really like to go back. So, recently, I downloaded Google Earth to see if I could find it. And I did. From the air the place looks pretty much like I remember. It's still a very small town - Kangerlussuaq. Now it is promoted as a tourist destination. Is Greenland on your list of tourist destinations? It is on mine. I lived there one year.
Check out the midnight sun tab. I saw the northern lights in even greater glory than the picture shows. The pictures of Lake Ferguson reveal the landscape I saw everyday. It's about 3 miles up the mountain from Kangerlussuaq and where the Radio/TV station broadcasts originated in those days. The Danish Row club was nearby.
So, what is Greenland like? Sondrestrom - Kangerlussuaq - is the "Miami" of the north. While Thule had a complete underground system for going from one place to another, we did not need that in Sondrestrom. Our winter temperatures that year were in the -60F degree range. As long as we plugged our vehicles in, they would start. We dressed accordingly and learned that exposed skin was not an option.
I wrote home that I had walked to the truck without drying my hair and it froze on the way to the truck. My family sent me a hair dryer. There are no trees - except for the one in Royal Danish Commander's yard which was in a pot. My brother sent me pictures of the trees of PA in various stages of color.
Greenland is an amazing place. I will write more about that year in the days ahead. At this time, 30 years ago, I was leaving there. I was there when they won their "independence" - home rule. I spent only one year there but am still drawn to it. I am drawn to the place but also the people - both Danish and Greenlandic. I am also drawn to the historic significance of the United States presence there.

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