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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...