Thursday, September 27, 2007

Trip to Umqumiut

I got home from work absolutely exhausted today. I let Katja out and them we laid on the couch where I tried to get a quick power nap. Katja had other plans however. It only took about 90 seconds before she was at my face licking and nudging me awake. I rose and put on my light rain gear and running shoes and we headed to the beach. I didn't think of bringing my camera, because I wasn't aware of the adventure that I was about to embark on. I'll try to get some pictures some other time. Upon arriving at the beach, I noticed that the tide was really out. Normally, I can only run up the coast around a couple of points (about 1 1/2 miles) because the high water, but today I decided to see how far I could go. I was filled with excitement as I rounded the farthest point I had been to since. I skipped over the rock strewn sections of beach and around the rockweed until I found smoother beach and headed to the next point. Eventually, I rounded a point and saw small buildings in the distance. Again, I was filled with new energy despite the almost constant head wind that I was bucking the whole way.
The beach leading to Umkumiut, the small fish camp just south of Toksook, was almost stone free. We continued to pushed the wind, but it didn’t bother me. I almost decided to turn around once I was in sight of the village, but my sense of adventure urged for onward. As I ran along the village, I passed fish drying racks, small smoke houses, and slightly larger houses. Only a couple houses, out of the 15 total, had heaters or electricity. We made it to the other end of the village and stood up on some boulders to celebrate our arrival.
Before we turned back, I decided to find a nice skipping rock to bounce of the breaking waves that hit the coast. Katja had wandered out in the smaller waves and got a little taste of salt water. As I skipped my rock, Katja followed it out into deeper water. Pretty soon after that, she took a five foot breaker right on top of the head, which I’m sure surprised the shit out of her. I just about fell over laughing as she bounded out of the water seemingly on her hind legs trying to get her head as high as possible. After we recovered, we let the strong wind push us back to Toksook. With the tide coming in, I had to pick it up and the tail wind helped a lot. I still had to play spider man a couple of times and race some small breakers into the high spots on the cliffs. Katja just splashed through the shin deep water with out regard.
We eventually made it back to the house, worn out but wearing smiles. Once again, I am thankful to have a companion to get me off my ass and outside exercising. As we ran the smooth section of beach from Umqumiut, Katja found a burst of energy and started running circles, literally circles around me. It was fun watching her race in circles and then turn and scream down the beach at full tilt. By the end of the run, we were side by side and sometimes Katja was trailing me, which means she had a good workout. It was the perfect way to end the day.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Visions of Berry Fest

Although it's been over a week ago, I thought I would give you a few highlights of the Blackberry festival that occured here in Toksook this year. I actually can't give you highlights that occured in the village, just highlights of my weekend in particular.

Thanks to having a dog now, I have been forcing myself outside more often to explore and exercise my furry ball of energy. I've been hiking up the hill more times than I can count and recently been exploring more areas off the beaten path. I've been amazed at the number of berry patches that I have discovered by walking off the trail system. I have over a gallon of blueberries frozen in my freezer this year and last year I had less than a quart.

It's also been a great year for cranberries and red berries. The cranberries are darker red and the red berries are, of course, bright red. I haven't tried the red berries yet, but supposedly you can eat them.

And of course, you can't mistake these for berries. I haven't seen a live Musk Ox in the wild yet, but they leave signs all around the island. My 4th grade friend Coby said that he saw some just over the hill a couple of weeks ago. He's such a lier. Can you tell I'm jealous?

This picture is actually taken just a couple of days ago and long after blackberry fest. This is my friend Erin from Oscarville with her little dog, Macey and Coby, the 4th grader, giving Katja a little hug. Judging from the picture, I think that Coby will make an excellent dog sitter some day.

Well, that is all for now. I hope this doesn't seem like a desperate and random post. Stay healthy and live it up!


Friday, September 07, 2007

My humble abode

Well, many of you are probably wondering what my home life is like up here in the most rural setting I've ever lived in. So I've finally gotten around to taking some pictures of my most humble abode. This building actually houses my boss/principal and family on the left side and me and Katja live on the right side. Yes, the walls are thin. As you can see, I also have a lawn, if you want to call it that. The landlord doesn't make me mow, which is fine by me. The big black drum outside is my oil tank for my heater. I have a board walk that goes right up to my front door which is kind of nice. Step off the board walk and you will most likely be in mud. Supposedly there is a small river that flows under my house when it rains alot, which it does because I live on the west coast of Alaska.

The house is quite a bit smaller than my old home. It is also quite a bit more rustic and closer to the center of the village. I did have a little fly problem, but that is slowly being taken care of with the coming of colder weather and my dog is a master fly catcher, although she leaves dead fly carcasses scattered around the floor. Good dog! Living closer to the center of "town" poses another problem that I didn't have last year. I get a lot of visitors. I think this is mostly due to my proximity to other families and their kids and also that Katja is such a friendly and sociable dog, kids just love her. I guess that isn't a bad thing. Almost everyone knows her name by now, so I just have to ask kids to hold her leash while I duck into the school quickly for something or they can tell me which way she ran off towards if she sneaks out of my sight. I like kids and I like my job, but usually, whatever you do for work is the last thing you feel like doing when you're not at work. (a.k.a. entertain kids) I rarely invite kids in for visits, but they are always asking to come in. Sometimes you just gotta be stern.

Anyway, back to the house. It's cozy for Katja and me. It does have lots of storage space, which is nice because I'm such a gear head. I don't have a real good place for a TV/VCR and such besides my bedroom, but I can drag the computer out to the living room to watch movies with Katja.

I have three windows in the house, but the screens are all torn out. Luckily there aren't bad mosquitos in town. Actually, I haven't seen any in or around my house despite the grass/swamp outside.

I am using every square inch of my house. One nice thing about the size is that it will heat up quickly, which I will be doing in another few weeks. I haven't turned on my heat at all yet, but it is noticably colder in the morning when I wake up and Katja is almost always cuddled in her crate instead of sprawled out on the floor next to my bed.

I have recently purchased some hardware to make Katja a little tether outside so that she can spend time outside when I am at work. Hopefully she will grow used to it quickly. Here you can see her little dog house, which my friend Brett left for me. She is a little co-dependent yet, so we will see if she tries to break her neck to get off the tether or not. She already climbs right into the dog house without hesitation. We will have to work up to spending long periods of time left alone outside.

That is pretty much it though. So when you are kicked back on your couch with an ice cold beverage of your choice, watching the football game on your wide screen, listening to the fire in the wood stove crackle in the background, just think of me in my humble abode and remember, I live in Alaska.

Thanks for reading.