The worldwide Augustana College experience

Hurry up and Wait

One thing I will start to learn in these next six weeks is how to rush and get things done, and then have to wait until the next step. Already I’m beginning to understand the phrase “hurry up and wait.”

This morning I flew out of Chicago and to Baltimore to catch a plane to Greenland that flies only once a week. Our flight arrived in Baltimore around 2pm, but our departure for Greenland wasn’t until 1am! That’s about 11hours that I’d have to kill in the airport, so I was curious about possibly spending the time exploring Baltimore while I was there. Of course I asked Dr. Kurt Burnham if they ever ventured out in between flights. He told me that generally no, becuase there is nowhere to keep your luggage, they stay in the airport, reading books, and whatnot. But, he said in the past there was a 3-day delay and he not only saw Baltimore, but also visited the Smithsonian museums in D.C. I admit that I had a pang of desire to possibly see D.C. since I had never been to this area before, and I’d say it’s an important U.S. city considering it is the national capital, and I may have jynxed our luck becuase after waiting a short time at the international terminal, we were informed that there was going to be a 24-hour delay on our flight. I certainly am bummed, because I cannot wait to go to Greenland, get set-up and start working, I certainly didn’t wish this bad luck on us.

Regardless, the airline put us up in a nice hotel (I have a whole hotel room for the first time in my life!) and we got vouchers for 4 meals, and its been much better spending this day in a hotel than in an airport. We also then got to spend the day in Baltimore along the harbor. It’s a pretty nifty city. They’ve dressed up the area we were in pretty well, have different ships on display, such as a boat from the civil war, and a coast gaurd from pearl harbor, and old factories have been turned into big restaurants or a Barnes and Noble. So we perused the area, and ate dinner at a Tapas restaurant (very delicious!).

My favorite part of the day though was listening to Dr. Burnham and Bridger share plans and ideas for this coming field season. Going into this trip, I don’t have much to base my expectations off of: I know we’ll be staying at the Thule Air Base (which is also known as Pituffik not Qaanaaq), and we’ll be boating along the coast looking for birds. I’m also aware of the study we’ll be working on concerning black-legged kittiwakes and arctic terns, and probably surveying other birds especially peregrine falcons and gyrfalcons. But listening today to Bridger and Dr. Kurt Burnham talk, I realize that we’ll be doing so much more. Catching birds, taking samples, and while that sounds simple, it seems to be quite a challenge in itself! They talked about the complex process of capturing a female peregrine incubating eggs, which involves switching out eggs, repelling down a cliff, putting a straight-jacket-type device on them and so much more. But also how strongly our work depends on the weather, if the water is too rough, we won’t be able to land the boat, and therefore do work. So it will be a rush to get as much done, because even though we’ll be there for six weeks, many of that time might be spent waiting because of a storm. And so, while today has been fun, I’ve realized that there may be many more “delays” like this, so I look forward to being flexible, with whatever comes our way, and to learn to hurry and wait.

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