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Sunday, December 16, 2012

No Mountains in Mountain Village

Hoping for a chance to play in the snow and enjoy the few hours of daylight we get here in the far north, I sent out my snowboard and boots to my second home in Mountain Village. With a name like Mountain Village one would think that with a little snow it shape up to be paradise for a fan of winter sports. 

Unfortunately Mountain Village is home only to a small hill we affectionately refer to as Cupcake. Hoping to make the best of it I tried getting a lift up the hill on a friends four-wheeler. Only making it part of the way up, I decided to board down with a headlamp in the dark. Riding through the trail was tough but fun, but eventually I made it to the road. Picking up some serious speed at the road I flew down until it was simply too dangerous to continue. Too dangerous to maneuver  but not too dangerous to hold on to a four-wheeler and ride back to the house on the slick ice!

This morning I woke up hoping to better the previous evenings adventure and find some hills to carve. After a few hours I gave up, but not before trying towing, riding backwards on a snowgo, balancing on the front ski, board attached to my feet, and hopping from berm to berm like a jack... rabbit. 

Here is a cute video if you are interested: 

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

I Am A Teacher In Alaska

Recently the State of Alaska's Department of Education had a brilliant idea to encourage teachers around the state to share their experiences with the world. I took up the challenge and create a video or two. I thought I would post it here for fun along with some encouragement for you to make one yourself. Telling your story is not only a healthy expression of your own self worth, but also a great way to encourage others. 

If you are looking for a way to make the work you do worth something more extrinsic  then check out the following flyers and links for simple contest and sharing ideas: 

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Giving Thanks

Always one to make the best of every situation, I recently planned a medical trip to Houston from good old Alaska. Understanding that surgery would require a brief period of inactivity and probably needing some help while recuperating. Deciding on the days before the Thanksgiving holiday, I made the 14 hour treck down to the warm and sunny Houston, TX the Saturday prior to the holiday. 
Arrival was a treat in the 75 degree temperatures and flip flops were so freeing! My wonderful father met me at the airport and insisted I borrow his car for the week I would be in the region. Catching up on some father-son time, we eventually made it to his south Houston home and met with my kind and welcoming step mother. 
My Dad passed on genes of wonderlust, courage, and a healthy love of toys. Translation, we took the bikes out for a spin. My dad loves his Spyder, and I can see why. It is totally decked out and I think it has everything except a seatbelt and air conditioning! I prefer the Moto Guzzi, myself...

Meeting up with my mother, sisters, brother-in-law, grandmother, aunts, uncles, and cousins in Louisiana I enjoyed the home cooking I missed oh so much. Granny and her girls made us a feast of turkey and fixings along with the devil's deserts (adding about five pounds to my waist). Football, family and fun is my idea of a good time, even if I was laid up on the couch or forced to sit the whole time.

After a week in the presence of my loving family it was hard to say goodbye. I am a blessed man. 

Monday, November 5, 2012

November Already!?

This time of year amazes me every time... With everyone ramping up in schools, conferences happening, and sports fever across the tundra, I haven't had too much time to sit, much less write. Lets see what I missed.

October included visits to Alakanuk, Emmonak, Marshall, Russian Mission, Nunam Iqua, and Scammon Bay. I had a blast, taught a few days, worked with some great teachers, and observed communities on the up and up. I think LYSD is a happier place than it has been. I think the teachers are more effective. I think the students are learning more. Could we do better? Without a doubt. The groundwork has been laid, though. It's time to harvest...

After a few weeks on the road I was lucky to be invited to the Career and Technical Education Conference in Anchorage. While there I facilitated and co-presented several sessions at the downtown Marriott  What a great meeting of minds! I was so happy to learn from a world-famous Google certified trainer and Apple Distinguished Educator. Also in attendance were members of a recently graduated PhD cohort sharing results from their studies of Alaskan technology in education. I learned a lot and had some of the most meaningful conversations I have had in a long while.

Back in the Bush, I have since been in Kotlik. With beautiful  cold days, full of color at dawn and fiery sunsets, the travel seems a little easier these days. Tomorrow I will be off to Alakanuk, then Hooper Bay until Friday. Tired as I may get, I can never say no to a trip promising progress. Making a difference, that's what its all about.

Perhaps I am positive for a different reason these days... perhaps it's because I don't have anymore homework to do for a while. Finishing a Master's (finally) is so refreshing. Done. ~whew~ Now to find a PhD Program.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

To Teach is to Change Lives...

Getting started on another month-long stint of travel, I look forward to the blessing of seeing the colors of the leaves (where there are trees) and the tundra of western Alaska change from the air. Tomorrow wraps up a week in Alakanuk and Emmonak and Sunday starts a week of Marshall and Russian Mission. 

From the delta to the interior, the climate, culture, and communities change in a variety of ways. I look forward to seeing Marshall teachers for the first time this year at their sites and Raiders for the second and even third time this year. With winter approaching the Upriver sites will be bathed in gold, orange, and brilliant reds as trees shed their summer coats of green and hunker down for the cold. 

I have to say things have taken a turn for the better here in LYSD. The new teachers this year are, by and large, phenomenal educators and genuinely wonderful people. I say this not just because I have been cooked for or shared a meal with every night this week, but because they are truly special individuals. Their passion is obvious and their spirit is inspiring.

With all the shake-ups in the district office of late, I feel as though the norm across the district has been to follow their own lead and take initiative to be autonomous to a certain extent. I like the idea of this, and I love the idea of home-grown concepts. My role, namely in the realm of staff development and facilitator of LYSD resources, has become more substantial than ever. I feel well received and useful, not intrusive or unwelcome.

I thank my LYSD team of teachers for all they do. I thank them for their time spent planning brilliant lessons. I thank them for the hours outside of the "workday" tutoring, coaching, mentoring, and writing grants. I thank them for their patience with wild third graders and mothering kindergarteners. I thank them for being the teachers I look up to and always wanted to be. You are so special... to me... to your students... to your communities... thank you.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Busy is as busy does...

I am so stinking busy!! 

I am finishing my Master's this month, so that's a bright spot on the horizon, but then I will just start shopping and stressing about a PhD program to attend, so... bleh... 

I am finalizing a few big projects at work and look forward to getting a literacy cart prototype built and tested. Very cool!  

 >>> Flatscreen interactive display on 5 foot rolling cart with Mac Mini, battery backup, Apple TV, 20 iPads, all the accessories, and maybe a charging station (eventually)<<<

Basically I get to sleep in my own bed for a week, assuming I can find the time to sleep... 

Let's summarize. I travelled to 6 villages in September after returning from Puerto Vallarta, jumped back into travel visiting Nunam Iqua, Alakanuk, Pilot Station, Kotlik, Scammon Bay, and ended up in Hooper Bay. All staff inservice was a blast! LYSD friends and coworkers spent Wednesday night - Friday afternoon together learning how to be a better team and serve our students more effectively, then headed home to respective sites. I then hosted two wonderful friends for a site tech inservice over the weekend. Since then I have started my days at the Mountain Village School every morning and then off to the office to slave away until 5:30, 6, or even 7pm, often with no breaks, even for lunch! -Whew. 

So whats the upside? I LOVE WORKING WITH TEACHERS. I generally love my job, as well, even if their are several details I could stand changing... 

All I can do is look forward to the winter when the pace of life seems to slow as the temperature drops. I ache for a regular workout routine and quiet "me time." It doesn't hurt that I have tickets to Maui hanging on the wall in front of my desk at work either.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Puerto Vallarta

Well, it’s creeping up on the end of the week and I am back in the swing of things after my vacation to Mexico. It’s always hard to readjust to the normal schedule after being off for a week, but this time was a little harder than usual. I’m not sure if it was the hot sun, the sand and surf, or the sleeping in I miss the most. Or maybe it was the all you can eat, all you can drink at the resort…

Life is too short to not enjoy every vacation and every second away from responsibility or a job. Don’t get me wrong, I love my job, but I love vacations even more! This trip was to the Pacific Coast of Mexico south of Cabo. Flying into Puerto Vallarta we then took a cab to Nuevo Vallarta and the Rui Vallarta all-inclusive resort. The hotel was immaculate and the amenities were lovely. Before checking in I had a drink in my hand and everyone was smiling, happy, and welcoming.

The first day was exploring the hotel, eating from the various restaurants on the premises, and sampling drinks from the 4-6 bars within close reach wherever you are. The beach was soft and the water was perfect for a stroll late that evening where I saw a sea turtle exploring the volleyball court.

The next day we slept in late and enjoyed the hotel once again after making plans to zipline and enjoy a city tour on Friday. Day three we made the trip to Puerto Vallarta, which is actually across a river and in another state (Jalisco) from where we stayed (Nayarit). Downtown was interesting and the dive shop was on the Boardwalk, the heart of the old city. An hour boat ride took us to the dive point.
Los Arcos

After a long day of diving we returned to the hotel and enjoyed one of the many wonderful shows the resort puts on nightly. My favorite was the Michael Jackson tribute night. Waking early for a second day of diving, we made the trip once more by cab to Puerto Vallarta. It was absolutely beautiful.

With reservations to the beach front, reservation-only, restaurant at 7 this evening, we grabbed a few Manta Ray and Marlin tacos and Pacifico Cervezas and stayed in the shade while making our way back to the hotel. Realization of the 90 degree heat and 100% humidity came at 10 pm as we fell asleep in El Noche Mexico show later in the evening. Sleeping hard and waking refreshed, we set out for an action packed day of jungle exploration. The zipline tour we purchased included a 4x4 truck ride, burro rides, tubing in the river, repelling and 13 ziplines up to 1000ft long!

All in all, I would go back in a heartbeat...  I recommend it highly, just go in the middle of the Alaskan winter. 

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Late Summer Fun

I have a habit of never saying no to an opportunity because I am unsure of the outcome. When it comes to life in the Bush, nothing is certain, and anything can (and will) happen. You take the good with the bad, the stress with the fun, the pleasure with the pain. This weekend I was close to saying no to a trip out on the Yukon to camp and visit a nearby dormant volcano and lake known as Flattop, which is amusing, because there is a dormant volcano near Togiak referred to as Flattop and I am certain dozens more statewide. I think there may be literally hundred of First Creeks, Second Hills, and Flattops in the Bush. At any rate, I was tired, had homework to do, and generally just felt lazy in solitary-confinement-in-my-sweats-kinda-way. 
I decided to get off my keister and go though, having yet to try out the fancy 6 man tent I got on Amazon in May. Gassing we were off around 11:00am and cruised up river enjoying the sun and breeze. It was a glorious day full of hawks, eagles, colorful birds, and tasty ducks. 

Reaching the river we got the hook wet a few times, shot a bucket full of ducks and heading back to pick  acampsite along the banks. Rounding a particularly high cutbank I thought I saw antlers on the ledge and did an obvious doubletake. Realizing it was a stump, I waved to the captain of the boat that it was nothing. Already slowing, he asked if I wanted to look around, to which I happily agreed. Just as I climbed to bank an secureed my footing, I saw a lovely 3-4 year old moose 75 yards away. Startled and thinking of the little boy in the boat, I waved to my companions to join me quickly but silently. They clambered up the face of the bank and we all readied ourselves. Firing first, I was told my friend was unable to hear and was a bit disoriented. Not sure where it was hit I fired off 2 more shots in the front of the animal's path toward a nearby pond. I missed one and hit the spine on the second, sending the animal headlong into the grass about 75 yards from the bank.

Cleaning it in the clearwater was simple as it floated the meat and kept everything very clean and free of hair. Dragging her to the dry land we finished our work and lowered the meat 15 feet to the boat below. As the final peieces were finding their way down, a cow and bull stalked out of the trees across the river. Seeing them so close we were first dumbfounded but soon scuttled into the boat in persuit. Watching with glee, father cheered as son hit the bull just behind the ears! I hit it once again for good measure and we began the butchering once more, this time on the snady banks of the Yukon. 
Nearing completion, the rain began to fall and we decided to head staight home to begin the real work of putting everything away. Arriving soaked and chilled to the bone around midnight, we emptied the boat and heading home to find hot showers. 

Proving my tenacity or lack of better judgemnet I decided to work on the birds instead of showering and catching some z's. By 2:30am I was drained beyond words and my back ached like only a tall man in a small world can understand...

The next morning I woke for church, ate a quick meal at a potluck and dove headlong into my project. Working to clean, slice, cube, vaccuum pack and freez the meat as quickly as possible I must have found a second wind (or perhaps 4th or 5th) becuase my energy only seemed to increase! Giving away many a choice piece to the local elders of my church and any suggestions they offered, I was in a seemingly endless cycle of cutting, cleaning, delivering, and stretching all day. 
I managed to get everything done, including cleaning the kitchen and laundry, by 2:00am on Monday. Sleep never felt so good. Speaking of which, I am currently writing this with about 9 hours of sleep since Saturday morning, so I think that about does it for this episode of Bush Life. Thanks for reading and stop on by for some steak, okay? I'll probally try to get another next month... 

Monday, August 20, 2012

New Teachers and New Adventures

The beginning of a new school year is always busy, but this year was really something! I recall last year being a blur as I flew from village to village presenting SMART training and professional development to teachers all over the state. This year was spent flustered as I was asked to jump on a plane and facilitate video conferencing between new teachers in Anchorage and the superintendent in Mountain Village. It was a wonderful experience and one I will not soon forget.
Fresh faces, bright and cheery, full of energy and "chomping at the bit" to get into there classrooms, many for the first time. I love new teachers. They teach us so much with there fresh eyes on older problems and new solutions to internal struggles. Following the new teacher orientation I returned to Mountain Village to gather my wits for the continuation of the orientation in the district office headquarters.

Finding the time to fish over the weekend, I grabbed a few fish for the teachers. Not one to "feed a man for a day," I invited the new ladies of Mountain Village to practice their filleting skills on a dozen or so salmon. We had a good time and they all left with meat in their freezer.

Welcoming the new staff to the village every Mountain Village teacher, principal, and their families went down to the river for a bonfire and fun. We threw the football and softball around, danced, visited, and made s'mores. The celebration went deep into the wee hours of the morning as we waited for the meteor shower. Streaking across the atmosphere, Perseids kept us wide-eyed in awe at the celestial light show.

Adding to the confusion of the new teacher orientation and inservice schedule, the powers that be decided to have the entire program delivered over video teleconference. This sounded great to a techie like me of course, but it meant we could not hand out computers in person as planned. Instead we were tasked with flying charters around the district, passing out computers to the new staff members, logging them in, and troubleshooting any needs as they arose. It was a long day to say the least.

The week went by quickly in the heat of VTCs, inservices, and trainings. Drained from the meetings, meetings about meetings, and meetings to talk about the next meetings, I wanted a break. As it was 80 degrees in the delta this week, I though a cool dip in the mighty Yukon sounded great...

Sorry for the delay... I was hoping for more pictures... 

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Summer in the Vill

 Well it was a great time with the family, but I am glad to be back in the Last Frontier. I made it home to Anchorage mid July and spent a few days enjoying town and doing a little shopping and mailing. Okay, okay, I got really carried away, but I won't need to shop in town for the rest of the year now! 
Always an adventure, the ride over from St. Mary's was filled with wildlife and lush green leaves all around. I managed to snap a few pics with my phone of a family of foxes. 

Getting back into Mountain Village, I found myself falling right back into the role like I never left. 
The first day int he vill I took a boat ride down to gather cut logs that were stacked to dry this passed spring. Tired the next day, there no excuses to not hp on another boat and fish all night. Catching plenty of fish to fillet out and can (jarring them for use later in the year), I managed to get a little sleep that first weekend. 

Hitting the office, I think I worked 100 hours each of the first two weeks, at least it felt that way... Imaging all the teacher computers for the 2012-2013 school year was a more tedious and problematic affair than any of us realized. With no chance of peeling away from the office or homework long enough to fish, I was delighted to hear from a great friend in the village who wanted to share fish with me. I am so thankful for the monster he saved for me and it truly made my week! I thought I would take the time to explain what it is we do out here for those who may not know. First step, clear a good work surface for your processing. I keep tons of cardboard boxes around for all the game processing I do. 
Next sharpen up your knife really well. I would recommend getting Ziplocks or vacuum bags ready and having lots of paper towels ready, too. When I fillet a fish (any salmon-like critter) I like to start by heading and gutting it at the river. I was actually taught a nifty trick for this process by the friend who gave me this fish, but that will have to wait for another post. Being that this big fella was frozen and now half thawed, I left everything in tact. Starting below the head I cut down to the spine, across both sides of the fish then sliced down the middle to fillet it. I go pretty fast and don't worry about wasting meat. 

Then chunking the best parts of the meat into 2 pound portions, vacuum sealed the choice peices with a Food Saver. The belly meat and parts full of bones I cube up and fill a large mixing bowl with along with the carefully cleaned remains I missed in my haste. 

The trimmings were enough to fill 5 quart jars which I began canning immediately. Some like to take the skin off of this meat, but I don't mind it. Others prefer to marinade or add spices to the jars, but I feel like my fish are more versatile and can be used in any recipe this way. I once made 3 cases of various flavors and ended up with lots of teriyaki and lemon pepper salmon jars... 
(word to the wise: teriyaki burns easily...)

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Louisianaisms (Part Three)

Swamp Fishing

With the recent popularity of Swamp Loggers, Swamp People, and the dozens of other shows filmed in Louisiana filling your television line up everyone back home in Alaska wants to hear about "Louisianaisms." My favorite questions are about the swamp and especially alligators. 
This passed Friday (following Independence Day) we decided to do some fishing south of Lake Charles almost to the Gulf Coast. We wanted to get our fill of sweet delicious blue crabs and gar fish. Bait fishing the night before, we went down passed Hackberry, La with chicken for the crabs and tiny fish for the gars. The idea was to use a net and lure in crabs with the chicken legs tied to strings dangling in the water. The crabs grab the chicken and pull, then we gently coax them to the bank and scoop them up. The gar fish were a bit more interested in the bait fish. 
Gar is a prehistoric beast with scales tougher than a filet knife (Jeff skinned it with metal sheers and a hack saw) and a mouth like an alligator. Hence the name: alligator gar. 

Anyway enjoy the video!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Louisianaisms (Part Two)

The Muffellatta 

If you have never heard of the sandwich, you are missing out, to say the least. Best sandwich in America? Heck yeah

Anyway, I thought I would dedicate this post to the wonder that is a 3-5 meat Italian dream topped in spicy olive dressing. If you want the best in the world you better come to Louisiana. Many, including myself, believe New Orleans, LA (NOLA for short) to be the epicenter of the sandwich. To save you the trouble, time, and money I thought I'd break it down for you here. 

Step One: come to NOLA and stay in the Quarter. 
Step Two: get a large extra shot daiquiri from the plethora available on Bourbon, Decatur, or basically EVERYWHERE in NOLA. 
Step Three: Visit the Central Grocer on Decatur across from the French Market. Ask for the muffellatta and split it with a close friend or two... yes it is that big. They're closed on Monday's, so be sure to schedule your trip accordingly. ;-)

Now to the difficult task of rating the other sammies in the area.

Contestant #1 - The Camellia 
Not a terrible snadwich, but definitely not a true muff. Made with corned beef and heavy on the olive oil, this guy will fill you up, but you may need to schedule some recovery time afterward at the hotel. 

Contestant #2 - Cafe Maspero
Great sandwich overall, and a heck of a value. With fries this plate will take care of any grumble and tune you up for a long night in the Big Easy. I don't use the lettuce, tomato, or pickle on the plate, but knock yourself out. 

Contestant #3 - Frank's 
A classic New Orleanian spot, Frank's is a great location across from the French Market on Decatur. I suggest you eat upstairs on the balcony with a ice cold beverage of your choosing. Great view, great sandwich, and heck of a deal. I suggest you get the half...

Now for the bad news. I am a sandwich lover like no other, dare I say connoisseur. My favorite sammie isn't in the Quarter, though. It's not even in New Orleans. It's in Baton Rouge at the family owned and operated Anthony's Deli in Baton Rouge, LA. Mad props to the best in the state (WORLD). 

What are you waiting for? Get down here and try one of the best tastes of Louisiana... you won't regret it. 

Friday, June 29, 2012

Louisianaisms (Part One)

Living in Alaska for the last few years I have had many a conversation about things we do in Louisiana  that are unique, different, or just plain weird. Whether it's eating crawfish and alligator or zydeco music, we have a distinct way of doing things...
One of the most well known things we do in Louisiana is drink. I know that sounds strange and it certainly isn't something we should be "proud" of, but it is a Louisianaism. I grew up in a state that was the last to adopt the 21 year old drinking age, meaning I drank with my friends (who were 18 at the time) in high school. Now that Louisiana is serious about the drinking age, we still have the stigma of New Orleans, Mardi Gras, and 100 other reasons to party every day of the year. One feature of Louisiana no one believes me when I describe is the mystery of the drive threw daiquiri shop. We have several in Lake Charles, La, my favorite being The Frosty Factory. We took a break from floating parched in the pool for a few icy beverages. I took the opportunity to document the process here.

I loved living here, and wish I could take so much of Louisiana back with me to my new home: Alaska.  This trip I will return with 50 lbs of frozen food in an ice chest on July 10th. Tasty treats will include: alligator, andoille sausage, smoked deer, pork, and beef sausage, and crawfish. Keep posted for cooking dates...

Friday, June 22, 2012

Birthdays Never Get Old

Well I am officially "in my thirties" and loving every second of it! I suppose one could be sad, angry, or maybe even overreact to the number, but what would be the point of that?! I am young enough to run, surf, climb, dive, have fun, and generally get into lots of trouble. I am also old enough to relax, "enjoy finer things", afford to travel, and make good decisions. Okay, enough of the philosophical mumbo-jumbo.

Talk about your colossal screw-ups... I missed my flight to Baton Rouge, LA on Sunday night, scheduled to arrive in BTR Monday afternoon. Always a silver lining, it turns out it was perfect for my sanity. I had been burning the candle from both ends for way to long. With the extra time in Anchorage I got to relax, visit more with friends and loved ones, and leisurely head to the airport on Tuesday night. 
Arriving in Baton Rouge early in the morning was really nice. Its best to ease into a hot tub, I mean Louisiana, and not dive in to the 2:00 pm sweat box. The airport looked great, especially since the last time I was there the entire building was under construction. Meeting me at the airport, my lovely mother and I share a wonderful drive home and lots of conversation until others joined us. My wonderful sister and charming young nephew arrived for dinner later and we fired up the grill. 

I am in love with life, to say the least. It has become an annual tradition for my mother to make a cake and spoil the heck out of me. I don't mind. 
(Strawberry accented, cream cheese frosted birthday cake, with a side of Blue Bell Homemade Vanilla)

Of course any logical person would say I deserve it, and I won't argue, but for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. I've been getting up early and jogging, working out, and doing crunches every morning since. I am working up to a 5 mile full on jog/run, but I am currently stuck in a walk, jog, run routine. We'll see how it works out. 
My nephew needs a super hero uncle to look up to, after all. I love that little guy. Speaking of which, could there be anything better than a cool pool to hop into on a sweltering Louisiana day? 
I think not.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Interesting week, to say the least…

Since the fish have been running on the Yukon I haven’t slept much. Okay, lets be honest, it’s really just since summer kept the daylight pouring through my blinds all night. 

As I recall, Sunday was a late night, fishing until 1:00am. Monday was the same, and Tuesday was a catch-up day. Wednesday was an all nighter: cleaning fish until 5:00am, vacuum sealing, cleaning house, and then heading off to work. By lunch I left to catch the plane and hit the ground in Anchorage by 2:00pm Thursday. Happy to be in the big city, but with lots of work to do, I grabbed my car from the parking lot near my home. Changing the windshield and doing a little shopping I finished up the day with sushi at my favorite restaurant downtown. Ready for bed and running on fumes, I decided to share beer, good conversation, and a warm fire instead of calling it a night. Good sleep is a treasure I will not soon again underestimate.

Repairing the car further then wrapping up the sale, I moved on to the motorcycle.  Running like a top, I forgot how wonderful it was to ride in Alaskan summers.

Always something to do, shop for, or just errands to run, living two lives, one in the city and one in the Bush, is stressful. Compound that with Master’s homework and you have a maddening start of a promising vacation. I think this weekend was definitely worth it, though. Time with friends and loved ones is always worth it. I cherish this time and value it above all else. Maximize fun, minimize unhappiness, that's what I say. 

Monday, June 11, 2012

Kings Are Here!

Well this weekend was a busy one to say the least! Last week was full of sleepless nights as the village teens enjoyed the daylight until 2:00 am nightly, but I finally caught up on Friday. Getting a solid 8 hours was vital because Saturday was full of the good old hard work Bush living requires. No complaints here, of course, I love the life and I love the Bush. 

Rainy and chilly, this Saturday morning was spent on the river. The chop was light and the wind was moderate. We decided to head up all the way to "Old A" or Old Andreavsky. This is an old village site before there were the towns of St. Mary's and Mountain Village, and the final resting place of a friend's family. 

Tying up logs or pushing them from the current to the shore we then sawed them into manageable pieces about five feet each. Loading them in the boat we then moved on until we were full then tied off more to tow home. Unloading and transporting the the sections in a cart pulled by ATV, we then stacked them into 2 piles 5 x 10 x 5 feet.

That is  lot of wood, but it was only about 1/3 or 1/4 of the total wood we gathered since breakup.

 Getting another good night's sleep and waking up with a stiff back I happily suffered through the unforgiving benches at the local Covenant Church for a few hours. The singing was great and the sermon was led by a teacher from Kentucky. I think he said he was a coach and a high school shop teacher back home and his presentation skills showed years of group engagements. This particular work team was visiting from Colorado, Kenai, Kentucky, and Ohio I believe. Often these "missionaries" will visit our village and do work around the building, lead studies and groups, or preach on Sunday. I always enjoy meeting new people and I love to hear the first impressions of Alaska from them. It reminds me of my first tie here...

After church I pounded out some homework then took a great midday steam with a friend, which we call maqii (maq-ki). Feeling relaxed and rejuvenated I went back to homework and prepared for the evening opening of subsistence salmon fishing. We all hoped the Kings would run soon and we were not disappointed!

The legal time when fishing was to be opened for personal use was 8:00pm, so we headed out to the spot we planned to drift over around 7:30pm. When the clock struck 8 we tossed our nets and spoke a quiet prayer. By 8:30 we had a king in the boat and it was all worth while!

All together we caught 4 kings, the biggest about 55 lbs, and 2 shefish. Getting home at around 1:00am  I wrapped up my fish and froze them whole, gutted and headed of course. I can't wait to share a little piece of my life and adventures with my family. I just can't wait...

Thursday, June 7, 2012

June on the Yukon

What a busy month it has been so far! With school out I thought maybe things would slow down. I guess I was mistaken.

I cannot complain, though, I am really loving life. I could use some more sleep, but the daylight is invigorating. I have been lucky enough to get out checking nets, hunting ducks, and looking for logs. I suppose I should start with the trips out on the tundra...

 Memorial Day I had a wonderful visitor from Anchorage. I drove to St. Mary's on a warm and clear day to save the trip from St. Mary's to Mountain Village by plane and took in the stunning views for the hour and a half there and back. When we arrived in Mountain we unpacked visited and then headed out once again. A good part of the weekend was spent on the trails and outside exploring. What a great weekend! 

As I said my sad goodbyes to one visitor, another arrived on Monday. A friend of min from my former job in Anchorage is married to a missionary of sorts who wanted to come out to the village and visit rural Alaska for a week or so. Offering my home and transportation, he stayed for 6 days. The week passed slowly and my need for time alone drew me longer and longer to the great out doors. 

Afternoons were spent gathering logs from the river, tying them off to the boat and pulling them to the shore to be cut. On Saturday I had the opportunity to check the set net posted in the river a few miles up from Mountain Village. Leaving before lunch we ran out to the net and pulled in a few shefish. Big and tasty, the half dozen fish were a good warm-up for the logs to come. Cutting up 6 or 7 logs we managed to stack and clean a few months worth of winter heating. 

Throughout the week another friend and I got out and gathered, cut, or move logs in the afternoons as well. Wednesday June 6 I got to get out and blast a few ducks in a friend's boat, which is one of my favorite pastimes! I managed to get 8 birds this week, and currently have a crock pot full of birds waiting for me after work...

Hopefully I will be more proactive on posting in the weekend to come, but glad you read this!