Sunday, June 30, 2013

Rigorously Relaxing Routons

Ha!  At this moment Aaron is out finishing painting the eaves on our house, this morning at 4am he was out fishing.  When he isn't working in our yard he is training for one of the Sitka summer races, helping out his friends, fishing, working at his new place of employment, Sitka Young Life (a perfect fit for his ridiculously energized personality). 

Rigorous Relaxation is not something we have been able to do much of due to the endless days of sun.  Sitka summer 2013 has been more like living on a tropical Hawaiian island then in the Tongass national rain forest.  Rain hasn't been something we have seen much of, and because of that we may see a population boom.  I've always said Sitka would be a major metropolitan area if the sun came out more.  The entire town is sleep deprived and exhausted because of all the sunshine.  There has also be a serious heat wave.  The Routon household even turned off our heater 2 weeks ago, and lately have been sleeping with the window open and only a sheet on the bed!  It is currently 73 degrees in our house, sometimes I don't even know where I live any more.  Is this Alaska? 

When we aren't processing huge King Salmon (this might be an exaggeration, we are not great fisherpeople) here are some of the wonderful adventures we have had.  And we've got a lot more adventuring up our sleeves for the next 25 days until baby Routon appears... and then plenty of new adventures...

New best buds: Chena Puff and Puffin (their favorite place to play/ wrestle is on this foof)  Chena Puff is Emily and Ben's ridiculously well behaved new pup adopted on the same day as our Puff, and even had the same name... See the sun blasting in our windows!

Aaron and Puffin hangin out on top of Starrigaven Ridge

Ben, Emily and I again on top of Starrigaven... after a swim in an Alpine Lake
Our cooksight, the sunset was a dream!

The gang, headed down the mountain, never a fun thing to do on a beautiful day...

Unless when you return home you get to go on a beautiful boat ride! Aaron took this photo from a buoy

Aaron on top of the buoy.
Me and Aaron dip netting for Reds (salmon)
This is our friend David Bean on Gaven Ridge, a 17 mile loop he and Aaron did one morning.
Tanning in the sunshine.  Thank you Christener's for the use of your cabin! 

Aaron and Puff, leaving the Christner's cabin right before we went to float a river into a tidal lake.

Puffin living on the edge!

Puffin recovering after falling off the edge.

Puffin the wonder dog!
We do work a little sometimes.

Here I am scraping the eaves under the house.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Rural Alaska

I left last week on the ultimate Alaskan adventure... I went into Bethel and Chefornak to visit some dear friends and students of mine: charming Dolena Fox, goofy Larissa Flynn, and sweet heart Josephine Yohak, 3 girls that I've come to know really well over the coarse of my 3 years at Mnt. Edgecumbe High School.  It really was a trip to remember forever.  The Foxes, Flynns, and Yohaks were so hospitable, and would have given me the shirts of their backs.  (They did send me home with a whole backpack full of treasures.)
Truly bush Alaska is like visiting another country.  In the 5 days I was there I was offered: dried seal, dried ptarmigan, agooduck (Eskimo ice cream, totally delish: tundra berries and seal oil or in my case Criso), tundra greens, tundra eggs, bird soup, reindeer stew, bulga whale and blubber.  My cell phone did not work and all the people I met spoke to me in English and everyone else in Yupik.  My church service Sunday morning was all in Yupik and my students had to do some translating into Yupik to their siblings and parents when they didn't understand something I was saying in English.  Chefornak people took Mukays (steam baths) instead of showers and used honey buckets instead of toilets. 
Bethel is a hub village for the surrounding 56 villages, so it was a happening place.  Chefornak was one of those 56 villages and a 45 minute bush plane ride away.  It was hard to believe, looking out of the window on the flights that there would be any room for villages seeing all the water.  Some people call Alaska the land of 10 million lakes, and I think that maybe an underestimate.  Here are some of the highlights:
Dolena and her mother, Pauline at break-up.

Where village expectant mothers come to stay here so the can give birth in big city Bethel.

Bethel fuel prices.

Dolena, Kake and Pauline in their Bethel home.

A view of Bethel from the air.

My arrival committee and vehicle, there was only one car that I saw in Chefornak, and only one tree!  I saw 8 trees while in Bethel.

Dried seal, it was everywhere all over the village... so was the smell.

Josephine and Larissa on the boardwalk, the only road was to the airport, there was still lots of snow in some places. While we walked the boardwalk Josephine and Larissa were able to tell me who lived in every house in town! Totally wild!

The sun only went down a few hours out of the day, here is a Chefornak sunset, probably sometime after midnight.  Notice the snowmachines in the foreground, people were using their snowmachines when I was there to haul water back to their homes.

Spring had still just barely arrived, but we were able to go egg gathering on the tundra. I was informed that if I had come a week later we would have been able to get seagull, swan, and ptarmigan eggs, everyone's favorites, these they just call brown eggs.

We walked a long way off in the tundra. 

Notice how boggy the tundra is, even with extra tuffs on by the time we returned to the house my feet were soaked.

Josephine and her family: (from left) Nelson, Martha, Jimmy and Josephine.  Josephine has an older sister who doesn't live in town. 

Tundra greens that you rake out of tundra lakes.

Larissa's family: Darcy, Larissa, Mickel, Rosie (the puppy) Veronica, Martin, Natalia, and Ben
At the airport again, notice the lack of building, and here is the first car I saw my entire trip.