Thursday, September 29, 2011

The weather is Changing and an the Earth Trembles

Last Friday was the autumnal equinox and while Saturday still felt nice, Sunday marked a distinct change in the weather.  Winter is coming.  The leaves have been off the trees for a couple of weeks now and on Sunday I had a bit of a surprise.  I was getting ready for church when I heard a sound like a European ambulance.  There IS an ambulance in Kobuk so I looked out my door to see if it in fact was the ambulance (I live in the former clinic building and so the ambulance which is parked outside the clinic is very close to my house), but it wasn't.  The ambulance was sitting there not in use (and actually it isn't an ambulance in a traditional sense and I don't think it even has a siren).  I then proceeded to call Sarah (a missionary here in town) and ask her.  She told me that it was the alarm signaling that somewhere in the line the water was freezing.  It hadn't been cold enough before, but she said it was a sound I would hear often.  Thus, we had a literal signal that the weather was changing.
Today, it started snowing.  It was funny everyone was so excited.  The students wanted to go outside in the snow and everyone was busy watching it.  It was enough to make one think that people never see snow around here. It's not yet October, there will be plenty of snow yet to come (the snow wasn't sticking at first, but by lunchtime it was sticking, but by the afternoon it had melted).
Today was an exciting day for another reason too.  We had an earthquake.  In the Anchorage area earthquakes are very common, but apparently here they aren't.  I was teaching my middle schoolers and I was kneeling down and leaning against a table when the room started to shake.  Now, I've told my parents before that since everything is built on stilts because of the flooding one could easily experience and earthquake in Kobuk and not even know it.  That is kind of what happened today.  It shook for probably 15-20 seconds and you could here things rattling around. One of my students said the top of my Smart Board where the projector is connected was shaking.  However, after it stopped I said to the students, "that was an earthquake," and they responded incredulously.   One student told me that earthquakes were rare here.  Several insisted it was someone on the stairs outside.  I insisted that it wasn't.  One even had to go outside and check (there was no one outside at all).  Others wanted to call the other middle school/high school teacher and see if they felt it.  She missed it, but her students, said yes they had felt it.  I decided it was a good time for a brief science lesson (I am the science teacher afterall) and so we went to the USGS website and found that the earthquake was a magnitude 4.4 and was located 33 miles from Kobuk with a depth of 11.8 miles.  We also filled out the survey on reporting if you felt the earthquake.  The kids were pretty excited by it and I have to admit I was too.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Trip to the Clinic

I went to the clinic yesterday and was very impressed.  I haven't been feeling well for quite a while now and on Tuesday I couldn't talk very well.  On Wednesday I had no voice and by Wednesday night I decided that was it, I was taking a sick day.  So I came back to school Wednesday night and laid out substitute plans (keep in mind that going to school involves walking about 40 yards!)  On Wednesday morning I went to the clinic.  I had been sick long enough I figured I should seek medical advice (My general rule is if I still don't feel well or something hurts after two weeks, it is time to see a doctor).
So I walked over the the clinic (maybe a 40 foot walk from my house, I live in the old clinic building) and when I got there they asked why I was there.  As soon as I tried to talk they had a pretty good idea.  Since I had never been to the clinic before I had to fill out the regular questions and then after they processed my paperwork I was called back my the health aid.  She did the regular beginning of a visit procedures - blood pressure, and weight.  Then we went back to an exam room.  I was really impressed by her professionalism and skill.  Health Aids only have a few weeks of training and so they rely on a manual that they use to get the symptoms and then call a doctor in Kotzebue for a diagnosis.  She also, gave me a rapid strep test (it was negative) and examined me.  She noted the scar tissue in my ears from all the ear infections I've had over the years and I felt did a really good job on the examination.  Then I left and she called the doctor.  I got a call back that afternoon and they had diagnosed me as having a sinus infection and bronchitis.  They also had the prescription meds filled for me (remember the pharmacy is officially in Kotzebue too, but they have a system set in place for this too...) I don't know all the details of how it works, and of course if the situation is too bad patients get sent to Kotzebue or if needed to Anchorage, but I think it is a good system for dealing with small things in such a remote location and even as a stop gap for large issues (the health aids also respond to emergency situations where the medivac flights are called in).

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

4 Wheeling!

This post is a little bit late since I already posted about Sunday late afternoon and Monday and this was Sunday early afternoon, but oh well.  On Sunday it started off real cloudy and overcast.  We were afraid it was going to rain, but we had decided we were going to take the Hondas out whether it rained or not (as long as it wasn't pouring).  Nonetheless, we waited until the early afternoon in hopes that it would clear and while it was still quite foggy when we left town it ended up being an absolutely gorgeous day.  We went out to the end of the road which is at Bornite a mining site that had been inactive for about 40 years, but is starting to become active again (I'm not sure, but I think most of what they are doing is pretty exploratory these days).  Here are some pictures from that trip.
This is apparently a new bridge.  The old bride was very scary I hear.

Isn't that just an amazing view?  This is a little past the end of the road near the cabins seen below.

The cabins are a cool look back at history

This was a cabin where they kept core samples.  There were also cabins where they lived and so forth.

I just thought this old bottle of Raid was really neat.

Is this a cool vehicle?

Driving the Old School Jeep!

Yet another piece of neat old equipment.

The road on the way back.  Don't worry I wasn't driving when I took this picture (we were moving, but I was riding on the back)

My turn!

There are these mile markers all the way along the road.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Labor Day Weekend

So I had a friend come out for Labor Day weekend and he is much better at taking pictures than I am, plus I downloaded all of the pictures from his camera before he left this afternoon so I thought I would upload them.  As I said in my last post we had a carwash out at Dahl Creek which is where Nova Gold is renting out the camp and we washed their vehicles on Friday.  On Saturday it was kind of rainy and dripping and I did chores and worked on my course work for my Alaska Transition to Teaching program and then came Sunday and Monday; the days when I had fun!  On Sunday my co-workers and I went out on 4 wheelers to Bornite (which is about 15 miles from Kobuk and at the end of the road).  We had a beautiful afternoon (the morning was pretty sketchy so we didn't leave until after lunch) and I really will try to get those pictures posted this week (they are still on my camera, which I never did find my card reader for, but I did find my cable so I can at least download the photos).  On our way back, we got to an easement trail that the others wanted to take, but I had to get back to Kobuk because I had a friend coming in from Fairbanks and I needed to meet his plane.  So earlier the 5 us of (the entire teaching staff at Kobuk school) had been out on 3 Hondas.  Katie and I were sharing one and Rob had one by himself.  I took the one that Katie and I were sharing and came back.  Rob was all concerned "be careful, be very careful."  I reassured him again and again that I would.  Katie said she was getting text messages (we were only about 4 miles from town) and to text her when I arrived back (I did and she shared it with Rob who was apparently worrying). 
 Unfortunately, the Era flight came in early yesterday.  This meant, that unbeknownst to me my friend had arrived before I got back.  When I got back to town I looked at the airport and didn't see any agents waiting to meet the plane so I figured it was all good.  I stopped in the school to go to the bathroom and listen for an announcement of the plane's arrival.  I had just decided to go to my classroom (which is a portable; see pictures below) and look up the number for Era in Kotzebue to learning the planes routing and stuff when I stepped outside and one of the kids told me that a man named Chris had been looking for me.  I asked the kid if he had come on a plane (silly question.  If a stranger in Kobuk is looking for me and the kid has the right name clearly it is the friend that I am supposed to be meeting).  I ended up tracking him through town.  Basically, I just kept asking people of they had seen a stranger and where he went.  The first kid said he'd gone down the street in front of the school.  The next ones said he went to the store.  I asked which store and they told me.  I went to that store where the adults said, "oh he was just here" and one of the kids told me he was down on the beach taking pictures, which is where I found him.  Not exactly an inconspicuous trip (although in a village the size of Kobuk, I think that's kind of hard to have, especially when you're visiting the middle school/ high school teacher - we saw 75% of my students around town last night).  So Chris is a lot better at taking pictures and took pictures of all the important things that people want to see like my house and school and the beautiful fall foliage so here are those pictures for everyone to enjoy.
Transportation Kobuk style.  Chris left his stuff at the airport (which was mostly all for me anyway) and we went back with the Honda to pick it up.

My stores in my kitchen.  In addition I get fresh vegetables every two weeks from Full Circle Farms (a new box arrived today!)

Hopefully, you can tell this is my living room.  I shipped up my 32 inch HDTV, now I just have to get the satellite and Internet set up at home and I'll be all set.

I think I posted a picture of this before, but I wasn't in it.  This is one of the two stores in Kobuk, O'Brown's.

I think this speaks for itself.  It is hunting time - I hope someone gives me some meat.

We had a gorgeous double rainbow yesterday!

This is the lake just on the back side of town (with the river side being the "front".

The lake again

The Honda's.  this is outside my building, but that's not my door.  My house is split into two and you can hear the other person sneeze!

My door (on the right side of the house from the angle of the last picture).  My house is about 100 yards from the Runway, but it is actually further from the runway than a good portion of the houses in Kobuk!

Me going up the steps to my portable.

Inside my classroom.  I teach so many different classes that I have one board set aside simply for keeping up with all the assignments.

I'm sorry, I can't find a way to change the orientation of the picture after I uploaded it and it is not all that easy to upload pictures out here so you'll have to either turn your screen or your head.  Whichever is easier. 

One of the classroom procedures.  We provide the kids with pencils and I hate the sound of the electric pencil sharpener during class.  Thus, why I have them simply exchange the pencils.

We had a little problem with my oven last night. I had made pizza dough in my breadmaker to have it ready for dinner and when we went to heat the oven last night to get the pizza ready it started arcing and smoke started pouring out of the oven!  We ended up cooking it in the school (which is where this picture was taken).  Today when I looked at it the heating coil was burned through and there was a 1-2 cm gap, which is why it was arcing!  Good thing the school is only about 50 feet (or less) from my house.

The cellphone tower and corresponding satellite dish, which are directly in front of my house.

The clinic.  The school will be building a greenhouse out on the clinic gravel pad shortly (hopefully we'll begin constructing that this week).

Another picture where you have to rotate your head.  Note that the high watermark is over my head (rather significantly actually)

This picture was taken this morning from the runway (I tend to walk the runway.  Sometimes along and sometimes with one of my colleagues).

Isn't it gorgeous?

Me in front of the main building of the school.

On the Honda!

Berry picking

It's really cranberry time now, but there were still some good blueberries left.

A small sand dune.  There is a big desert (see previous post) on the way out here from Kotzebue.

Dahl creek perhaps?  This is right by the Dahl creek camp.  Matter of fact there is a pump in here and a hose carrying water up to the camp from here.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Carwash Kobuk Style

Yesterday we had a car wash, yes a car wash in the Bush.  As far as I can tell only 1 person in Kobuk actually owns an automobile (we do have approximately 15 miles of unmaintained dirt road) and that is not the car we washed.  There is a company called Nova Gold which is operating a camp and runway at Dahl Creek (3 miles uproad from Kobuk - there is no down road though because Kobuk is the start of the road) and working on some other stuff up at Bornite (at the other end of the road).  They have 1 12 passenger van and 4 trucks.  They drove to Kobuk and picked the kids up and drove them to Dahl creek and then paid towards the youth center that a couple of my co-workers are working with a couple of students to create (this is not associated with school).
10 kids went and they had a blast.  I'm not going to post any pictures of this because I shouldn't/won't post any pictures of the kids.  Every time one of the vehicles was going to be moved 5-6 kids would jump in for the very short ride.  There was also a power washer and all the kids wanted to use it (in honesty so did their teacher and she got her turn because she simply asked them to hand it to her - I didn't use it long though just a few seconds.  I didn't want to take the fun from the kids).  They also provided us a barbecue dinner - huge sausage-like hot dogs, chips, macaroni salad, cupcakes, beans and mellon.  The weather was perfect and I think fun was had by all (I know I did).
Speaking of the weather.  Fall has definitely arrived.  The mountains and the tundra are all awash in yellow.  The overnight temperatures are dropping pretty rapidly, but the daytime temperatures aren't too bad.  I think we are still warmer than Anchorage.  I don't have a thermometer, but I would guess that it was in the low-mid sixties during our carwash yesterday (I know all the sweatshirts came off).
I will post pictures (I got some great one of the surroundings) as soon as I can find my card reader.  My card reader, my sunglasses and my keys are the 3 things that have always been a challenge for me to keep track of.