Saturday, September 5, 2009

Fall Arrival In Greenland

I arrived in Greenland October 1978. We flew in a C-130 cargo plane stopping in Goose Bay, Labrador before hopping the ocean. It wasn't fancy. Like riding in an oversize cargo van, there was no insulation and it was very noisy. Webbed cots folded out from the sides and we could lay down for the trip which was about 4 hours from Goose Bay.
We arrived in daylight though the days were already growing short and the temperature was wintery, about 30F. I was immediately issued heavy mittens, a parka, Sorrel boots (which I still wear) and mukluk's (a boot with attached canvas leg protection that tied at the thigh.)
Bundled up, I was ready for the grand tour. The landscape is stark like a frozen desert. It is not green at all. The little vegetation that exists is short and brown. Less than 1000 people were living there; about 800 Danish, 80 US Air Force and a small number of US civilians. Most of the Danish people lived on one side of the runway and the rest of lived on the other. There was a movie theatre, an NCO club, a gym and bowling alley, the Polar Bear Hotel, a dining hall, the Base Exchange and barracks on the US side. On the other side was Scandinavian Airlines and the International Airport with a restaurant and grocery store and apartments were nearby.
From the Danish side, we could drive out to the port on the longest paved road in all of Greenland - 9 miles - speed limit 35 mph.
From the US side, we could drive across the fjord and up the mountain on a 3 mile dirt road to Lake Ferguson, a beautiful glacial lake - deep and blue. That was my regular drive for work at the Radio and Television Station. A short walk away was the Danish Row club which by October, was closed for the season.
This would be my world for the next year. The nearest civilization is hours by plane, longer by boat, and a dogsled is only going to get you to an even smaller village somewhere out there. The next day I would meet the station manager for my first official day as a broadcaster in Armed Forces Radio and Television.

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