Friday marked my final contract day for the 2011-2012 school year. An hour and 45 minutes later, I was on a Cessna 207, bound for Platinum with a couple gallons of water, noodles, meat, pilot bread, my Remington and plenty of 3" #2 shells.
You don't need to take a plane ride in order to get birds here, but it was worth it to me to be able to hunt with a good friend in a really neat place and get out of town for a few days.
The weekend didn't disappoint. Weather was quite cooperative, and while the hunting wasn't fast and furious, it was steady enough to mostly keep a person interested. The highlight was bagging a double of sandhills with Paul on the last hunt.
Prior to that I heard some snoring in the field. After about a half an hour Paul woke up and said "I feel sorry for those who haven't experienced the pure joy of falling asleep in the sun on the tundra with a shotgun across their lap."
Up next for me, I am working on (right now taking a break from) moving into a new apartment, and then I will be going up to Donlin Creek for an industry externship. It should be interesting, I'll be sure to take some pics and post an update.
Tuesday I was riding with my parents after storing my pickup at my great aunt Peggy's farm in Wisconsin, getting ready to head back here to Bethel for the spring semester. I commented on a faint sun dog I could see and my mom asked what that was.
Returning to Bethel in the midst of a heckuva cold snap, the sun dogs are common. Yesterday I came home early from work-evacuated home, to be precise. You see, some of the water pipes had frozen at the LKSD buildings, and an effort was underway to remedy it before the kids come back to school next week. Then all of a sudden came into the building a smell of wood and other unknown smokes. Some of the stuff by those frozen pipes got a little too "unthawed" so to speak. It was time to get out of there and call it a day.
When I got home I snapped this photo for Mom off our porch. It's not the best, but I couldn't move the neighbor's house out of the way, and it was a tad chilly to go on a true photo safari.
Wow have I neglected this blog...For so long that I'd have to imagine that all but the most stubborn, hopeful, or bored of my friends and family probably don't bother checking it anymore, probably haven't for months now. It's ok...I'd have quit looking too. I don't know what it is. I know I'm not alone on this though. Every so often I'll check in on MY OWN blog and not bother to write anything. I'm checking to see if any of my friends have anything interesting to add to the web. But the little monitor of friends' blog at the side remains silent. Has blogging died? Have all generally available internet announcements been reduced to inane tweets and facebook status changes? As compelling as all that is, I decided on the commute to work today that when I got home I was gonna sit down and have myself a blogging. So if you're still reading, here's a little something for you, a little update.
So I guess I should be telling everything that's happened since I left Tununak...
But I've worked all day and I left Tununak in May, so I'll abridge things a bit. A lot, actually. I know friends and family like to know about fish I've caught and hunting I've done. I never did get out on the water this fall, not one bit. I did however fly out to Platinum and do some bird hunting over Labor Day weekend. It's become kind of a tradition to find myself hunkered on the tundra or on the edge of a slough with my friend Paul and his dog Stella so it seemed fitting to fly on out there for a solid weekend of waterfowling. We had a pretty good amount of action. We got to see probably 10-20% of the world's population of emperor geese, and at pretty close range, which was a treat in itself, even though they are protected. There was the BIG DAY on Labor Day, where the planets aligned and Paul and I teamed up to each fill our daily limit on geese. And let me tell you they have been delicious :-) Flying home I saw a giant bull moose somewhere in between Platinum and Quinhagak too. We're getting settled into the new digs here in town. The TO is no more, sad to say. Last year was the end of an era on that one. This year myself, Lee from the TO, and Eileen are living in a 3 bedroom home on the outskirts of town. Slowly we've been coming up with furnishings. The neighborhood is nice, and I appreciate the relative quietude. And we added this little girl to the household... The dog, Bailey’s her name, really likes the futon. She’s a rescue dog, and I don’t think she’s really sat on much furniture in her life. I don’t know her background story at all, where she’s from, what she’s seen, or how she was cared for. She’s got a scar by her eye where fur won’t grow, she’s timid, sweet and a little dopey at times.
I’ve been doing a bit of traveling lately, but not to villages like in the past, but instead to training and conferences over to Anchorage. I’m taking on a bit of a different role this year, and I’m preparing to provide instruction via two way video teleconference, broadcast out of our district office. I have no idea until it starts whether or not I will like it more or less than the classroom, but I’ll give it my all and see what it’s like.
Today we’re having our 2nd blizzard of the year. In fact, the 2nd this week to be exact. No need to cringe though. With the snow comes winter, and with winter comes tundra mobility, opportunity to cover some miles and put tracks behind me. And when the weather outside is frightful, I can stay in and brood over the Milwaukee Brewers off season.
HI folks. Yes I still have a blog. I actually let a whole site visit pass without a post, how negligent of me. I was out in Kasigluk-Akula, (home of the Tundra Foxes) in late March through mid April. Since then, I took an awesome little trip to Anchorage, spent a little time in Bethel, and then this past Monday flew on out here to Tununak.
About that flight out here....The pilot came to get me to leave for Tununak and then called the village agent to check on conditions before we headed out to the plane. He came and told me that the Tununak runway was closed but they were working on it. Although we had very little remaining snow in Bethel, evidently they had lots of it out in Tununak. After a little more checking by the pilot we decided to fly out here, circle the runway and decide if it was ok, and if it wasn't, land at nearby Toksook Bay instead. It was a warm day so I would have been ok with a village to village snowmachine ride, but I was hoping against it.
So, we were off. I took my customary 1/2 hour Cessna airplane nap, and woke up when we were getting near the mountains of Nelson Island. I perked up then, knowing there's always a chance of spotting a musk ox out here, which I did spot two way off in the distance. Still have yet to see one up close enough to look like much more than a distant black blob. Anyways, soon we were approaching Tununak Int'l and came down for a closer look. Sure enough, there were tall drifts along the runway. We decided to go for it, and it was a pretty interesting landing. Slush flew all over the place, and we were keeping a close eye on the wings to make sure they'd clear all the drifts. The pilot had to make a couple tricky little moves to avoid clipping them. But, we made it.
So here I am at TNK, Tununak, Paul T. Albert Memorial School, home of the Coasters. I have a LOT of students here and for the most part they are great. It's beautiful out here and I want to get out on some hikes and maybe bag some birdies to eat. Here is the view from in front of the little tiny house I'm staying in. Directly in front of the village is the bering sea, and people have been dragging boats out to the edge of the ice and are on the ready to shoot/catch seals. I don't know how long the ice will last out in front, or how deep the water below it is, but maybe I'll find out before I leave in two weeks. Hopefully I'll get some more photos and stories to share from here.
Well this past weekend I traveled to Fairbanks to be a chaperone, photographer, chauffeur and referee at the FTC (FIRST Tech Challenge) state competition. It was quite a fun and exhausting time, and our teams represented LKSD well, both in their demeanor and in their performance. We were all quite proud.
The students got to tour campus, which was especially cool since a couple students are planning on attending UAF. They have a great campus, with great opportunities, a really cool museum, and campus dining that I must say is quite good, way better than anything I remember from my days in school. I think it would be a pretty neat school to attend.
Some shots of the museum... We got in Thursday night and basically rented vans, checked into the hotel. The students were much more full of energy than I.
Friday was campus tour, robot inspection, and pit day.
Pit time... Saturday was the big day. The competition was impressive, and it was great to see our kids hold their own with "the big boys" from the Anchorage, Fairbanks, and Juneau schools. After competition, we all went out to eat as a big group, and then went to see the World Championship Ice Carving display. The pictures won't do it justice, but let me just say, this was super cool. And pretty cold, too... There were things they could touch, sit on, and slide down, like this cool slide And this big multi slide we raced down, fun! And this big halibut chair thing And artwork like this... Amazing stuff. I would have taken more pics, but I thought my fingers might freeze.
Unfortunately, all this fun and lack of sleep left me exhausted and vulnerable, and I came down with some flu after coming back to Bethel. But, like Buddy Ryan used to say on Night Court...I'm feeling MUCH better now. And good thing, with spring break just around the corner. Stay healthy, friends.
Well I made it out of Toksook Bay and back to Bethel.
Myself and coworker Marc had schemed up a little Saturday trip to go up past Three Step, a mountain up river past Kwethluk, on a mission to put meat in the freezers.
I rose early that morning to get ready and have a good breakfast, and at 7:45 set out. It was a bit on the chilly side at -18F, so we were all dressed for the weather when we met at Crowley to gas up the tanks and jugs for the journey.
By the time we hit Kwethluk we were getting first light and it wasn't warming up at all. Towards Three Step we started to see tracks and sign so we knew we were getting somewhat close to the herd. The trail got fresher and eventually we spotted the herd about 4-5 miles in the distance, they were on the move.
We came up with a plan to get up ahead of them so as not to scatter them out on the run. I wish I had some pics or video of this huge group of caribou, it was pretty cool seeing and hearing them move through the draw. The sound of all the hooves in the ice crusted snow reminded me of the sound of a class II rapids in a small river, only a little crunchier. As it was, it was a bit cold to be digging out the camera, and plus I was kind of busy at the time.
Despite it never warming up, it was a gorgeous day in some pretty country. It was a bright day, with ice haze and the sun, as one friend once put it in their blog, had its mittens on. (sun dogs to either side)
Fortunately we found a good ambush point and Marc and I were each able to bag an animal. I opted for this cow because she presented a decent shot where I wouldn't have an accidental hit on a 2nd animal, and the word was that a cow would have a bit nicer meat this time of year than a tired out bull. That wisdom proved true from what we saw cutting her up.
We set to work on the animals and then had a couple of hangups getting back to Bethel. First, Marc's snowmachine wouldn't start. Luckily there was another man with us, Glen, who could tow Marc back, and I hooked up the sled to mine. But then we got to the meeting place where we were to meet another friend who had gone up that way with us to go check his trap line. He didn't show and didn't show, and we were running out of daylight. At temps like we had yesterday, we were getting worried about him and decided he must have bagged it and headed home, so we did the same. We got him on the phone once we got near Kwethluk and had cell service, so all was well.
It all made for a long day out in some cool temps though. It was good to come back with a catch for the freezer.
Next up, I start teaching in Napaskiak this week, so I'll have the daily ice road commute, and my own bed to sleep in at night.