Beluga

Beluga Travel Blog

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The seismic camp at Beluga.

I came out to Beluga to nurture one of our helicopters through the final weeks of a job that began in January. Located across the Cook Inlet from Anchorage, I can just see the city lights in the distance at night. By day I watch for beluga whales but only see an occassional oil tanker or fishing boat sail into and out of the inlet. It's good to be working again and, better yet, to be away from the hangar.

The camp is constructed of the same Atco units which housed the workers building the Alaska Pipeline back in the 1970's. The units are butted together, side-to-side, seven deep, and each consists of two two-man rooms. A hallway  divides the rooms and doorways on either end lead outside.

A seismic boat waits in the Cook Inlet to measure vibrations of explosive charges set off onshore.
  The center unit provides the wash-room and contains sinks, showers, toilets, and two washers and dyers. There are four clusters of these 6-unit housing arrangements. A dining hall employs half a dozen cooks and bakers who work around the clock in twelve hour shifts. And, also like the Pipeline, food is excellent and in abundance.

This helicopter is being used to shuttle crews into the woods to lay out miles of the seismic cables which connect geophones for measuring the vibrations in the earth after they set off explosive charges. Seismic exploration technology has advanced dramatically in the decades since I had seen this same work in the Amazon jungles of Peru and Bolivia. The new equipment will provide a  3-D 'picture' of what lays beneath the surface to reveal likely oil deposits.

Bald eagle
The woods and brush, in which the seismic teams work, are thick and concealing so each crew includes an armed 'Bear Guard' as there are numerous grizzlies in the area.

While the helicopter is gone, I hunt a family of nearby bald eagles with my camera, munch the excellent food and snacks in the dining hall, and nap. As days turn to weeks, I reclaim the weight I lost on my winter travels in SE Asia.

One night we walked to a bar called 'Fat Alberts' about a mile down a gravel road. It is in the middle of nowhere, all by itself, and overlooks the Cook Inlet. The place includes a bunkhouse where hunters and snow-mobilers can stay. It was a shock to see the place out there, but a real treat. A bottle of Budweiser cost U.S.$4.

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The seismic camp at Beluga.
The seismic camp at Beluga.
A seismic boat waits in the Cook I…
A seismic boat waits in the Cook …
Bald eagle
Bald eagle
Cessna and bald eagle
Cessna and bald eagle
Bald eagle in flight
Bald eagle in flight
Sign entering camp
Sign entering camp
Squirrel behind the kitchen
Squirrel behind the kitchen
Blasting on the mud-flats
Blasting on the mud-flats
An old Curtis C-46 hauling fuel
An old Curtis C-46 hauling fuel
An A-Star landing
An A-Star landing
A Bell Jetranger landing
A Bell Jetranger landing
Beluga
photo by: rotorhead85