Sunday, November 2, 2008

Village Travel Completed

It has been a while since I have posted so let me catch you up a bit.

First of all, I survived Car Camp just fine. Well - there were a few glitches. First of all I woke up in the middle of the night in my tent wondering what that damp feeling was on the edge of my sleeping bag only to discover it was my breath freezing as it left my mouth- is colder than I expected! Second, I woke up as the sun was peeking above the mountains to the sound of footsteps around my tent.....animal footsteps. Now they seemed too light to be a bear....but then again - I'd never heard a bear step that close to my head before. Then there was definitely the sound of sniffing...sniffing on my tent.....gulp.....then there was scratching - the kind of scratching I imagine precedes the ripping off of your skull by a large carnivore....Much to my delight however I opened my eyes to find a small black nose peeking under the edge of my tent. That small black nose belonged to "Tank" the Iditarod puppy that was camping with his owners and ran off to do some exploring.....Never has the presentation of a puppy been so terrifying!

So other than car camp - the big events have been having the snow tires installed on my Jeep and the new hard top that keeps me MUCH warmer while traveling. Things at the SeaLife Center are sailing along into winter. Work at Thorn's continues with several comical moments each night, compliments of the drunks.

The latest adventure was my trip to 2 native villages for some Environmental Education Outreach work. I left last Monday and came back late Thursday night. I traveled to Nanwalek - you can see a picture of me waiting for my flight at the Nanwalek airport above. There I got to experience what it is like to live in a totally isolated village - the only way to access it is by plane. And when I say puddle jumper - I mean really small, shaky, 4 person plane that would fit in most of your garages - that is a really small vehicle to fly over the mountains and ocean in by the way. After 2 days in Nanwalek it was off to Port Graham. There I was asked to play some kickball with the village children. They failed to mention it was Aleut Kickball - which is nothing like regular kickball - and resulted in me being pegged mercilessly by the ball while they laughed hysterically. In Port Graham, I also got to watch the Jr. High and High School kids train for the Native Youth Olympics - they have events like the one legged high kick, caribou wrestling and seal walk - pretty amazing stuff. It was interesting to see how a school with 3 1/2 teachers operates and visit with the local principal about what it is like to live in the school - literally she lives in the school! It certainly gave me a new perspective on tough teaching assignments! It was an incredible trip - I have attached a couple of pictures down on the right of this page - but the experience was hard to capture on film. Their lifestyle is so different than anything I could possibly have imagined. Really incredible people - their subsistence lifestyles and focus on family and tradition could teach us all a few things.

The temperature here has fallen below freezing and will probably remain there for some time. Daylight savings time has brought the sunrise time to around 9:00 a.m. but the sunset time is before 6:00 p.m. and we are loosing daylight each day. The snow has fallen several times - but hasn't started stacking up yet too bad. That should change in the next week or so.

One other item of big news - there was a bear shot shortly after he ran past my car. No - I wasn't driving. My jeep is parked in the alley adjacent to my apartment and apparently they tried to catch him in the alley - but he ran (right past my jeep!) and they shot at him on the other side of the alley. That could be a rude awakening one morning - a 400-600 pound black surprising me could replace my need for coffee on any particular morning.

Well - that's about it from here. Of course there are more details, stories and pictures to share. So hopefully there will be time for that when I am home visiting for the holidays. I hope this brief update finds all of you well and enjoying the coming of winter as much as I am!

Take care - Nikki