Alaska is many things to many people. It can be a home, a vacation spot, a place to escape, a place to work; it can be a summer wonderland or the winter doldrums. Over the last year and a half, I’ve experienced a lot of the different types of Alaska. From busy Anchorage, laid-back Fairbanks, placid Kenai, old-town Nome and the isolated Bush, I’ve seen a lot.
A lot of people would assume that life in the Bush is laid back – there’s no rat race, no malls, not even a supermarket to get lost in. While some people may find that kind of life out here, my time seems to be mostly spent at work. Last year, I literally lived at work and while my commute has lengthened by a wonderful 40 or so yards this year, I still spend 55+ hours a week working in the school.
That’s why for Christmas this year, I was secretly pleased that we would be spending a week and a half in Koyuk. No long flights, no frantic trips to the mall and no reason to get out of bed if I don’t want to. It has been my first opportunity to experience the slower pace of life that not having a road that goes anywhere can offer. Time to enjoy it while I can – school starts back up on Monday.
Ever since I moved up to Alaska people have been telling me the exact same thing: “You need to get a sled dog!”
Well, I’ve got to say, it’s been a year coming, but it’s finally happened! Today, Thunder, from Bruce Linton’s kennel arrived on Cessna a 207. Thunder is an 8 year old, and due to the generally long lifespans of sled dogs, we expect to have him another 8-10 years.
Enough talk though, here’s some pictures.
This past Friday morning while in Koyuk, I went for a walk out of town. (This is the part where I warn you that nothing of real interest happened on this walk.) Sadly, it was probably only a hike of a couple miles total over the course of maybe an hour or an hour and a half (I didn’t check my watch before or after the hike).
There’s something a little different about this walk than most winter walks I’ve ever taken though. First, I walked a whole lot slower, probably because I was wearing a pair of 8 lb boots. This may not sound like a big deal, but I wore tennis shoes year-round in Michigan except when snowshoeing, even in the middle of blizzards and nights that would dip into the low negatives.
The other reason for such a short walk is that the daylight is rapidly fading. Sunrise is already after 11am and the sun now sets before 4pm, leaving under 5 hours of daylight a day. This is quite a change from August, when there wasn’t even 5 hours of darkness a night. Normally, it takes a couple hours of daylight to motivate me to head out which now equates to half the day. Oh well, at least I have it better than someone I know who on the weekends can’t wake up until sunrise.
21 more days until the trend reverses and we start gaining sunlight back.
And something to leave you with, this is how I look when I go for a walk:
Wow… it’s been a month and a half since I’ve made a meaningful post. It is a little disturbing to think that time has flown by that fast.
For Thanksgiving (yes, it is celebrated here) I headed to Koyuk for 3 days to spend time with my girlfriend. It was the first Thanksgiving away from family for both of us and it will certainly go down as one of the most memorable for me. (Next year – the Turkey gets thawed entirely the day before – no waking up 5 hours before dawn to put it in the sink and change the water out repeatedly.)
An early morning alarm to start the turkey thawing followed by half hour naps followed a late night baking pies – lack of sleep took it’s toll on me early in the day, so I was a bit tired (maybe this is what my mom has always complained about) but there’s no cure like turkey, stuffing and cranberry sauce to perk a guy up. If I hadn’t found out about the Lions losing so early in the day, football might have been involved too. Needless to say though, Thursday night didn’t involve too much moving, just a light walk down the beach to shake the calories down into my legs and prepare myself for pie (both apple and pumpkin)!
Last week the school’s itinerant counselor was in and gave a lesson in problem solving and decision making to one of my classes. The basic scenario was: you’re stranded in the desert and have access to a limited number of supplies that you can recover from your wrecked vehicle. A magnetic compass was among the possible items to take.
Counselor (C): “Do you think a magnetic compass is important for survival?”
Student (S): “No.”
C: “Why not?”
S: Because you don’t have a refrigerator, duh!”