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Sunday, April 29, 2012

Almost May

Well, it's certainly spring... I went out for a look around across the river this weekend and was absolutely surprised by the melting of snow! There was hardly any powder left to ride on and the trail, hard packed as it was, was a less than comfortable ride. Bouncing across the tundra was interesting to say the least, and the patches of old dirty snow were a welcome sight.

Open water was common and the marshy open country made me fear slowing for fear of swamping my snow machine. I guess I've seen one too many YouTube videos, but the thought of dropping $3500 in a creek out in the middle of nowhere scares the crap out of me!

Why go out in this weather you ask? For bear, of course! I ordered a Brown bear tag, which is required to  hunt in the state and keep the hide, and it came in the day I left to hunt. Serendipitous, yes, but not indicative of a successful hunt. I found a den and lots of tracks, but nothing moving. I will admit that was more than a little on edge waiting outside a den with smoke billowing out, awaiting the appearance of the regions most fearsome predator, gun in hand...

All in all I had a great time and hopefully I will have one more chance this week. Next time I hope to at least bring home a swan a goose or several of either. Yes, sir, spring is here.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Spring Fever

Great day yesterday in the warm and sunny Hooper Bay, AK... I landed on Monday afternoon to begin a week on the coast, first in Hooper Bay, then in Scammon Bay. The site tech, a friend of mine I will be sad to see leave this year, gave me a lift and a welcoming to the school via snogo. After greetings to the principal and assistant principal and settling in I joined several teachers for dinner. I love the community here, I suspect because it reminds me of Togiak. The school is of the same style, layout, and feel of the Togiak School and the population is more similar to my former home than any other Lower Yukon village.

Spending the evening chatting about the possibilities afforded to my colleagues leaving LYSD, I realized how very blessed I am to live in Alaska. I love this state, I am drunk with excitement for the changing seasons, and I continually find new ways to enjoy my job. I don't know if I could live anywhere else. 

One thing that never gets old for me is taking a stroll out into the wilderness, even a short snogo ride can provide the most breathtaking vistas. I drove out Tuesday to the ocean and threw some snowballs at icebergs breaking away, melting quickly into the Bering Sea. So pristine, so vast, so clean. The birds will be here soon and already I hear the familiar call of gulls searching for herring. Before I know it there will be no snow and no night.

I can already feel the sun pulling me to "play out" until 11:00pm. Before long I will be back to 5-6 hours of sleep, jogging, biking, BEING outside. I love this land. 

Monday, April 23, 2012

First Manday back from vacation and I am loving life!! What a relief it is to be back in the swing of things, fully recharged by the week or so of sun and warmth only the lower latitudes can provide. Vacations are a must, this I can say with all certainty. A life without reprieve is a life I would not want to live.

Somehow the challenges of life in the village seem to melt away with the snow every spring. My heart races as I think of the fun I will have and the endless possibilities of the equally endless summer days in Alaska. I look forward to the geese and ducks making there way to my freezer and I wish them all speed in there long journey. I can practically taste the fresh salmon, baked the same day it came from the mighty Yukon River or smoked and dried, so rich and flavorful! With humility I hope and pray to catch a black and brown bear this year which will provide me with ample meat for future crock pots and perhaps even a blanket for my bed. All of these things inspire me with a second wind of sorts to finish off the 2012 school year with a bang, but there is more to it as well. There is something magical and enchanting about Alaska's spring and summers. I will do my best to qualify this statement over the next few months and perhaps share the proof of my hypothesis through the lens of my camera.

Start every day like it has a purpose, I say. Today I am heading out to Hooper Bay, AK and then visiting Scammon Bay before returning home to Mountain Village on Thursday evening. I plan to do my absolute best this week. I plan to be nothing short of amazing. Maybe I'm a little too spunky. Or maybe it's the new comfy bed, running water, and newly installed shower talking...

Sister's Wedding

(Sorry- I forgot to post this on time, but here is one from the 16th of April!)

This weekend I had the pleasure of attending the wedding of my oldest sister. It was such a beautiful affair and I enjoyed every minute of the wonderful company. The venue was lovely, the food plentiful and the weather perfect. My entire family was in attendance and I was able to spend an entire weekend with the bride and groom!
My trip started well, if early, and I had no trouble getting to Anchorage from Mountain. This time of year can sometimes be plagued by fronts, fog, and wind storms. Once in Seattle, then on to Houston it began to sink in that I was in store for an amazing adventure. I purchased the tickets to Puerto Rico & Houston a few weeks prior, but I had not yet accepted the fact that I would be 50-70 degrees warmer and eventually on a beach! Rushing to get to the wedding I grabbed the keys to a Chrysler 300 and hit the road. By the time I got to Lake Charles the rehearsal was over and it was bachelor party time ~ and if you want to know more about this evening (morning?) you’ll have to ask me personally!
The next morning was earlier than I would like, but well worth the headache; besides, it was nothing a Rockstar and an oatmeal creampie couldn’t fix.  Helping the groom get ready was quick and then we were off the ceremony.  I was lucky to be the MC at the event and even got the first dance after mom & dad!

After food and pictures we all made our way to the newlywed’s house for a swim and BBQ in the back yard. Far from the “warm” 30 degrees in Alaska, I enjoyed the party in swimsuit and sandals. I didn’t realize how much I missed my family (as I often do living so far away) until midnight snuck up on us and better judgment demanded we sleep.

Keeping true to my roots, I suggested the following morning that we boil crawfish and met little resistance. Taking every opportunity to show my appreciation and love for the new couple I picked up a few fixings and a few dozen pounds of live crawfish. Potatoes, corn, mushrooms, garlic, and crawfish rounded out the menu. In order to document the process for those not fortunate enough to have joined a feast such as this I took the liberty of walking you through it step-by-step. I hope you enjoy:
Separate tail from head.

Suck inside of head while squeezing shell.

Remove first section of tail shell (closest to head).
Remove a second section if needed.

Bite and hold tail meat between teeth.

Pinch the lowest section of the tail with thumb while pulling meat away with mouth. 
Repeat 100-500 times!! :)

Friday, April 6, 2012

Good Friday

Rarely are Fridays as relaxing as this one, fresh, crisp, and clear too! It is a majestic day today, and I hope for a magnificent weekend to match it. With Spring teasing us all in Western Alaska the village is truly on edge. Testing (most of it, anyway) will be over soon, and the downhill rush toward May will be on us before we know it.

I have been out hunting and enjoying the scenery lately and I could certainly tolerate a bit warmer temperatures. The warmer it is the sooner the bears wake up, too, and I cannot wait to bag a black bear. It would be my first and I am anxious to try the meat. I've been studying the bet skinning techniques for both black and brown bear mounting as well. I think I would like a rug of each. I've never been one for trophies, but heck it's not like I'm not eating them, too.

I ordered a new scope for my .22 LR when I realized I stink at ptarmigan hunting with the 12 gauge. I used to be pretty good, but I suppose it's time to hang it up. I think I should go ahead and get a new bear gun (.464 handgun, perhaps) as well. Ah Spring, so many possibilities, so many toys to play with.

I have been daydreaming a lot lately, Spring Fever I suppose. I want to ride my bike around Anchorage, through the Coastal Trail and Kincaid Park, through Campbell Creek, and maybe even out in the valley. I want to fish in Soldotna with Dan, hike McHugh and Flattop with friends, and drive to Whittier for the heck of it! Chena has been calling my name, too! So much to do and see, so many adventures to be had. I haven't rafted in Hope in a few years or taken a cruise in a while, either... Okay, okay, time to stop.
The point is: Spring in Alaska is nothing short of amazing. What will you be doing? Let me know and maybe we can do it together...

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Palm Sunday

It’s another beautiful, pleasant Sunday in Mountain Village and another weekend without water. It seems as though the universe, in it’s complex system of checks and balances, punishments and rewards, or karma has seen fit to “balance” my existence once again. This week I was gone from Monday through Friday with water at my home Tuesday through Saturday.
With my next trip scheduled to leave tomorrow I am thrilled that I at least had the foresight to do laundry. I wish I had been as industrious when it came to my kitchen. A trip down to the spring is always nice, I admit it, but I would really love, yes love, to wash my dishes like a normal person… But I should focus on the positive.
The past week’s travels took me to Nunam Iqua and the Sheldon Point School. The home of the foxes (or kaviaq), Nunam is a blustery and cold village on the coast west of Mountain Village and one of the smaller sites in the Lower Yukon School District.  I enjoy visiting this site for several reasons, but the biggest is the great team they have there. There are some truly interesting and wonderful people in Bush Alaska and several live in Nunam.
Wednesday afternoon I hopped a ride on a 207 to Alakanuk where I was greeted warmly (as always) and treated to a delish moose taco dinner. I simply cannot stress enough how wonderful the Lower Yukon team is! Meeting up with a few other friends for a chat and a snack I turned in for the night on a warm and comfortable bed. This was three nights in a row; mind you and something extremely out of the ordinary for a traveler such as myself. Indeed with home cooked meals and running water, it would appear that travelling is more comfortable than the home I leave in Mountain every Monday.
Thursday was spent working with students and teachers on various topics and technology tools and a generally enjoyable day. 

The night was fantastic, though. Riding over by snowgo, a convoy of teachers took the river down to Emmonak for some volleyball fun in a open mixed six tournament. We visited with teachers, mentors, family, friends and community and enjoyed some impressively competitive volleyball. Friday was much like Thursday, and then I made my way home.
Never a dull moment, I couldn’t simply fly to Mountain. Instead I buzzed over to Scammon and Hooper before arriving at my final destination. Mountain Village, Nunam Iqua, Alakanuk, Scammon Bay, Hooper Bay, Mountain Village: not bad for a weeks work. Happy Sunday.