Bright eyed and jet-lagged, I walked out of the plane into Nome, awoken to rain and wind bringing in the salty sea air. Currently from the Tri-cities, the eastern Washington desert environment, it was refreshing to be enveloped by rain. Mixed emotions ran through my mind: excitement for the upcoming adventure, nostalgia for the ocean, and an eerie sense of deja vu. Except for the sloping mountains in the distance and tall willows, this coastal city is familiar to my own hometown (Utqiagvik, formerly known as Barrow) growing up in Alaska. I flew into Nome as many others had that day and realized I had flown to a place where I never really knew anybody, yet it was very familiar, like home.

 Musk ox wander in Nome, Alaska. Photo credit: Alicia Flores

Musk ox wander in Nome, Alaska. Photo credit: Alicia Flores

After being in planes and airports for more than 12 hours, it was refreshing to walk in downtown Nome where I and another coworker, Genevieve, found food and a local grocery store. I had been to Nome once before, but the only memory I can retrieve is of the rocky beach that protects the shore. The ocean near downtown lay calm and steady as if welcoming us before our next adventure on the sea.

The next day was such a beautiful day, with clear skies and a pretty warm climate. Nome had people bustling on the cement and gravel roads and others riding bikes, enjoying the nice day it had been. I had heard local news of berry picking and a musk ox sighting in the area. It was the day to load onto the ship, so Ed and Johanna picked me up with the van from my Airbnb lodging and I entered the place I will live in for the next 5 weeks.

 Aboard the R/V  Ocean Starr  at the dock in Nome. Photo credit: Alicia Flores

Aboard the R/V Ocean Starr at the dock in Nome. Photo credit: Alicia Flores

Being on a research vessel allows me to experience what I have always dreamed of since I attained my biology degree. I thought I would feel afraid and uncertain leaving the land into rough waters, but I have always been proven wrong on the other side of my fears.

Anchors aweigh!

 Photo credit: Alicia Flores

Photo credit: Alicia Flores