Friday, December 15, 2006

Tasting the night life

Well, I'm sitting here in the school waiting to hear from our plane to see if they will fly in the current weather. I kind of feel like I'm in an airport. Most people leave from the school when they fly. My first flight was already canceled, so we are waiting for the next one. Might have to wait until tomorrow morning.

Last night I went out to look at the night sky and met up with my friend Brett (guy with the dog team). The Aurora Borealis was showing itself in the late night sky and Brett actually got some descent pictures of it. It was about 15 degrees outside, so I didn't stay outside too long in order to not freeze my keister.
The Aurora isn't usually very visible this far west, but we had a pretty good show last night. A few shooting stars as well, but we didn't get any pictures of those.

In case I don't get another posting up before christmas, I hope everyone has a fantastic holiday season and a wonderful new year. I'll be back in Toksook by Dec. 30th hopefully. Thanks to everyone for all the support you have given me through this first part of my 1st year. I think of you often.
Happy Holidays,

Sunday, December 10, 2006

sled dog pics

Here are the pictures of my friend's dog sled team that I meant to attach to a previous posting. He has nine dogs total, but has only been running six of them for now. Brett has taken them out about three times now. The dogs love to run and it helps keep him sane.

It is a pretty expensive hobby, but it looks worth it. Brett usually draws a small crowd when he is hooking up the team. He usually is just trying to keep people from reving their snow machines around the dogs.

Here is a picture of my house. It might not look like much on the outside, but it is warm and spacious inside. The plumbing system however, has been a little bit of a nightmare. I recently had my water turned off again because we discovered a leak. Turning your water off in Alaska is a risky deal, because if your pipes freeze, you are looking at being without water until summer. You just can't thaw pipes in 0 degree weather.

Overall, it has been a great living space for me though. I have my mountain bike set up on the wind trainer in my bed room with my TV, so that I can watch classic cycling races while I ride. It's a little too snowy for biking outside right now. I'm told that the snow is going to be in six to seven foot drifts in front of my door. Nothing like a little manual labor to relieve some stress.

It's about time I get to experience a real winter though. I'm psyched! Willamette Valley, eat your heart out.


Finding my ski legs

Well, I have almost made it through the first part of year number 1 here in the village. I tell it hasn't been easy and sometimes I feel like it's my first week of work. This week should be a little lighter with Christmas celebrations going on in the school and all. Friday will include some movies and we have Santa's workshop on Thursday. I also get a break from the after school program this week, which is a huge relief.

I''ve been really enjoying my new x-country skis lately. I've been out three times in two weeks and look forward to many more adventures to come in the new year. Yesterday was absolutely beautiful in the morning with perfect snow, but I decided to get some work done before I played. By the time I got outside the weather had turned my beautiful day into a windy, frozen, low visibility, ominous day to be out of view from the village. People get lost in bad weather and literally disappear up here every year.

I didn't get lost though. I am still trying to master my downhill turns on x-country skis. The snow gets so inconsistent when the wind starts cranking at 20 - 30 mph and drifting snow in some places and uncovering ice in other places. Any secrets you may know, please email me your advice.

Hope everyone is doing well.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

snow machines and dog sleds

Well, winter is officially here. Most of the four wheelers have been replaced with snow machines (mobiles). The snow machines are considerably louder and people drive them a lot faster. I'm not sure if there is a legal age for driving a snow machine, but it seems like it is around 7 or 8 years old here in the village. People go tearing up the hill with snow boards and sleds all day and most of the night, especially on the weekends.

I helped my friend Bret get his dogs hooked up for their first venture out in Toksook Bay this year. It was pretty awesome to watch his team of six take off across the tundra towards the frozen bay. Pictures coming soon!

After Bret took off with his dogs, I headed out for my first x-country ski venture in about six years. I was pretty psyched to be breaking trail across the Alaskan tundra to get back into my form, which is pretty sloppy. I only went about 1/3 of the way up the hill (please refer to previous blog postings and imagine snow everywhere), and I had a pretty good wipe out as I tried to negotiate the terrain coming back down.

Teaching is a constant struggle but going well in general. I'm looking forward to getting down in the lower 48 for a couple of weeks. It doesn't seem like I've been up here for 4 months already. The year is about 1/2 over. I hope everyone is doing well and enjoying their winter.