Can you believe how fast the year is already going? I swear I just got back from Christmas break and now we have only 28 days left till I head home again! It’s crazy!
This month we had a fun adventure with 2 of my students. We attended the Academics and Athletics meet (AA Meet)in Newhalen, AK. Yes, we are in the process of changing the name. Haha my boys worked very hard the month leading up to the meet. They practiced the NYO events (Native Youth Olympics), created a Lead Vs Steel Shot Science Project (yes, we took them shooting … for research purposes of course)and wrote speeches. This was the first year for either of them to attend so it was very exciting and they were a little nervous.
We awoke this morning with the excitement of Carnival Day 2! The day started off with breakfast at 9am. With the band playing till late last night a lot of people mosied in and out till about noon for breakfast. We had very yummy biscuits and gravy with an egg. After breakfast we eagerly awaited the plane drop!
The plane drop is where a small local aircraft flies over us and drops candy, and cardboard money! While the weather is pretty chilly today (4 with wind chill), that didn’t stop the whole village coming out and standing on our frozen lake waiting for the plane to fly over head.
Once the plane came it was a frenzy of running in waist deep snow trying to grab as many card board pieces as possible! The card board pieces have money about a wrote on each one.
The pilot flew over about 5 times, scattering bags of cardboard money and candy. Everyone was racing to fill their bags!
It was so much fun and laughter echoed off the snow covered banks! I’m proud to say that I walked away with $21.21 as well as a free soda! Ben with just a little less but a free pretzel and a free smile!
The next activity is smelting, but with out homdas or snow machines it’s to hard for us to get out to the smelting ponds so we are sitting this one out. We don’t really mind considering it has started to snow and blow more.
After that we had a relaxing night until dinner. Yummy Turkey legs and corn on the cob! Such a great dinner followed by a live band and dancing!
We danced the night away till about midnight. Not to many pics since it was pretty dark in our gym.
Day 2 was a great success and we’re ready for the events tomorrow on our last day!
Okay, so I know you’re probably thinking… “Girl, where have you been?”. Well to be honest, since Salmon season has stopped we haven’t really had much going on, and I know you wouldn’t want pics of us laying on the couch watching movies. I’ll admit… cabin fever got to me! With the sun setting by the time we got off work we definitely got used to doing nothing. This weekend we finally decided to get off our butts and do something!
Today the sun was shining, and pretty much no wind so there was no better time to get out and do something! Since winter has hit we’ve heard all about how we needed to go smelting! Smelting? What’s Smelting? It’s ice fishing for small little smelt! See picture below! The weird thing about smelt is they strangely smell just like a fresh sliced cucumber!? Odd I know! Trust me they do though! If I could post the smell I would!
Friday night, the other teacher (Hannah) and I adventured out first on our own. Both are husbands we’re already committed to other activities when we got the call from a friend in the village. So we ventured out on the ice road/tracks in the snow on our own. We crossed over frozen ponds and tundra, snow drifts and ice.
We met with some locals that showed us the ropes. You take a small stick with fish line and a barbless hook, toss it in the hole, give a flick of your wrist every few seconds and bam! Once you feel the fish bite you pull up as quickly as possible. Give the smelt a little flick, he falls right off and you’re ready to do it all over again!
After our little adventure with just us girls we decided this morning to bring the boys! Now we were professionals and we could show them the ropes! 😉
After about an hour we brought home 19 good size smelts! Now to cook them up! To clean them all you do is cut the heads off just behind the front find and pull out the guts. We battered them in some fish fry mix and grid them. The good news is while they smell a lot like cucumbers they don’t taste like it! They had a light sweet taste and while they were good, there were a lot of bones that we couldn’t get passed so I don’t think they will become a regular dinner for us.
Have you ever tried smelt or do you happen to know a different way to cook them up? We would love to hear what you think!
When I tell people we moved to Alaska to teach in a small, bush village I usually receive the same response…”How exciting” or “What an adventure”. While I agree that it is an adventure and the move itself is very exciting, after the first month, well it can get kind of boring. When you are in a small village where the most exciting news is a plane coming in with mail then you have to start being creative.
Ben and I always try to take walks on the weekends when the weather is nice. By nice we mean not pouring rain. We’ll walk in wind, sun, clouds, and drizzle (usually you will experience all of these on the 2 mile walk around our loop). I have also tried my hand at Crochet. I’m not sure if I have the patience to crochet as much as I would like but it passes time on some nights.
One thing that Ben and I have also decided to start doing is experimenting more with cooking. We usually have the same usuals from week to week. You know when it ain’t broke, don’t fix it goes along with the same measures as if it tastes good, keep eating it. haha A few things I have decided to start mastering is healthy eating while being on a creative grocery list. It’s hard to experience new recipes when you can’t just run to the local grocery store and pick up everything you need. Even though I will say, our store received a huge shipment this week, so we’re super excited about that! While fresh isn’t really an option up here, we do have plenty of frozen or canned options. All I have to say is thank goodness for Pinterest!
We’ve also started to coach our school’s volleyball team. By team I mean the 2 people that will be able to play and the 3 other students that are coming to practice for fun. (See even the students are dying for any activities) I know you’re probably thinking “how do you have a team with only 2 kids?” Well in Bush Alaska they will create teams between a couple small schools. We have teams of 3 or 6 and it’s a mix gender team. Our two boys will be put with students from another school to make a complete team. Now I’ll admit I’ve never actually played volleyball besides for fun like beach or mud volleyball. Youtube is pretty much my best friend for this and I’m learning along right long with him! It’s actually been super fun!You
One great thing with volleyball practice is it’s got me off the couch and getting me active again. I will completely admit that laziness is super easy to fall into when your in a village, and it has defiantly put it’s claws deep in me! My new goal with cooking healthier is also to get my butt moving! If I’m going to try to get creative with fighting off the boredom, I might as well get in shape as well!
So if you’re thinking about making the big move to working in Bush Alaska then start getting creative now! Also, if you have any creative, healthy recipes or work-outs that don’t require a gym send them this way!
We decided to take the students to go berry picking, then make some Akutaq with our bounty. Fields trips in the bush are very different from field trips in the lower 48! For one we don’t have a school bus so field trips consist of walking or loading everyone into the school truck. Since our trip today was going to be by the airport we had to take the truck.
After we arrived at our location everyone unloaded and started picking Berries! We were very lucky that a few parents let us borrow Alaskan Berry Picking claws! This is a big help because otherwise you have to pick each berry one by one.
We spent an very successful hour picking berries. We came back with 3 gallon freezer bags and 4 sandwich bags of blackberries. I think if the students had saved all the berries they ate we probably could have had 8 gallon bags!! We had a lot of blue/purple mouths when we were done!
After getting back to school we made Akutaq (also named Eskimo Ice cream). This consists of berries, crisco, and sugar. The traditional way of making it is using animal fat or fish instead of crisco. To love Akutaq I feel like you really have to have a developed taste for it. I have had it made with fish and it was a little rough for me to finish. I have also had it done with lots of berries and sugar and just a little crisco and it’s definitely better.
This is a picture of our blackberry Akutaq. It was fun making the Akutaq and the students are very excited to share it tonight at our community potluck!
Sorry it’s been awhile since I’ve posted…I’ve just been crazy with teaching and such but I definitely think it’s getting a lot easier!
While I’ve missed several things about being home, such as coffee shops, cafes’, small things, and of course my family and friends, I have been trying to keep busy here. I could definitely see how people could get stir crazy if they didn’t have the ability to entertain themselves!
Last weekend, the other teacher and I decided we needed to get some fresh air! So we took a walk.
Down the beach from us is the set netters camp. It’s almost a small village on its own that is abandoned during fall-spring, but during the summer I hear its booming. There are several small houses and sheds that the fishermen use during them peak fishing season.
Neither of us were brave enough to walk that far on our own (bear season is in full bloom) but we figured since we were together we would probably be loud enough. Plus we were on the hunt for Japanese glass floats, unfortunately we didn’t find any but we did have a good time. I took several pictures of the set netters camp and other things on our walk so even though we didn’t find what we were looking for it was still wonderful to get out and enjoy the amazing weather why we had a chance!
We’ve been in Alaska officially one month and so far we’ve loved everything about our small village. We’ve so luck to not only have each other up here (we were talking last night how were not sure we could do it alone…kudos to those that do), but we’ve been lucky enough to meet great people.
We’ve made great friends with my co-teacher Hannah, and her husband Cody. (She has a blog too… Middletons of Nowhere). That was a worry of ours, “what happens if we didn’t like this couple that we were pretty much were going to have to be with every day of our lives?” Luckily, they are great! We’ve had lots of fun going fishing together, picking berries, and laughing together about our mischief group of boys we have.
We’ve also made really good friends with a couple of the locals. Ben has especially taken a liking to one of the older guys, Al. Al and his wife Sue have taken us fishing, shown us how to smoke our catch, took me berry hunting (which is not hard since they are abundant right now) and have taught us so much about our village (did you know Johnny Cash visited little Pilot Point?). In fact as I write this Ben is at their house learning to can the salmon, I had work to do so I opted to stay home this time.
Every day, Ben and I wake up and look at the sunrise, and every night we watch it set. Each time we can’t help but think how lucky we are to get to be here in Alaska, doing what we love, and getting to see the beauty of our village every single day. The biggest down fall of living here in Pilot Point, Alaska is how much I miss my family and friends. I honestly don’t think that is something I will ever get over, the only thing I can hope is everyone will soon be taking their turns and coming to visit us soon. We do have a spare room if you wanna cross the REAL Alaska of your bucket list 😉 (Sorry invite extended to only people we know, just in case there might be people that actually read this blog that were not direct friends with haha)
So until you come experience this yourself…here some pics to hold you over.
So living in Idaho we’ve always had pests, mainly mosquitos and flys. But I can tell you that I have officially encountered the most annoying pest out there… The No-See-Um! They are a fly looking bug but itty bitty (hence the name) and they bite! Good lord they are terrible! The worst part is their bites itch for days but are almost painful to scratch. Seriously they are one of the worst bugs!
You have no idea how long it took me to get this picture. We have screens on our windows but the little buggers can get threw them! It’s like clock work at dusk when they start creeping to the Windows. It’s even worse when you take your dogs out and they think they need to prance through the tall grass. So while Pilot Point is green and beautiful, that green grass comes with these pests! But I guess it could be worse… Right!
Ok so for part 2 I’m going to show housing… Mainly for 2 reasons. 1 .For My family and friends who wanna know where I’m living and 2. For teachers thinking about coming up to Bush Alaska to teach. I know one big thing that was on my mind no matter what village I went to was, “what’s housing like?” So here is what housing is like in Pilot Point!
My house is a duplex. My part is a 2 bedroom, 1 bath apartment that for some may be small but for Ben and I just coming from our tiny house is perfect for us. There is a 4 bedroom house that my fellow newbie teacher to Pilot Point, Hannah and her husband Cody with their dogs, are living in. It’s pretty huge so we’re actually glad we didn’t get that one. The apartment next to mine is a small 1 bedroom apartment that is used when the principal, counselor or others from the district come to our school.
So here are pictures of our apartment. I took these right after we arrived so all our baggage and crap are in the way. After I get it fully set up I’ll try to take pictures of it looking more like home.
One nice thing is that the apartments are fully furnished, so everything you see here is everything it came with!
So that’s it! If there’s anything you wanna know or wonder just ask!