Sunday, September 23, 2012

It's Gettin' Real

When I interviewed for this job I was told that I might be sleeping on schools floors; be sure and have a good water purification system; and I'd have to take my own food with me since not all the villages have grocery stores.

Turns out that my travels all last year were first class and I didn't even know it! Run-down dormitories, hotels, and bed and breakfasts -- all 5 start accommodations comparatively. My goodness, in Adak I have an entire town house to myself!A mold-infested town house, but still!

Two weeks ago I traveled to the Southwest region of Alaska. This is the trip where all those warning about bring your sleeping bag and pad came true. None of these villages are on the road system so all travel is by air. Here's a map of the places I visited: Southwest Region.

This is how my week went:
Monday: Leave Fairbanks on the 6am flight to Anchorage. Fly to Dillingham. Fly to New Stuyahok.
Tuesday: Fly to Koliganek on the 4pm flight which was supposed to be the 1pm flight.  Spend night in Koliganek.
Wednesday: Fly to Dillingham in the afternoon, wait at Grant Air for two hours until flight to Togiak. Spend night In Togiak.
Thursday: Leave Togiak for a ten minute flight to Twin Hills. Spend night in Twin Hills.
Friday: Return to Dillingham on the 5:30ish pm flight. Leave Dillingham at 7:30 for Anchorage. Return to Fairbanks 12:15am.

Every night of that trip I stayed at the school in that village. A few of the schools are gorgeous. Far nicer than any public school in California! Some of the other schools are in desperate need of being torn down and rebuilt. For the most part, it really wasn't a big deal. What was hard was getting up in the morning before the first people started arriving! I had my sleeping pad Big Agnes with me. Sleeping on Big Agnes isn't nearly as fun when you aren't camping. 

At every village, someone from the school would typically pick me up. I didn't have cell service in any of the villages so the challenging part of the week was staying in contact with the gal who was arranging my flights between villages. Usually she'd call the school secretary who would get a message to me. It was a bit crazy though when a plane would be delayed because it had been weathered in and she'd be trying to get me on a flight with a different airline but we weren't exactly sure when that flight would be arriving.

Here's a pictorial tour of my week:
Cooking dinner in the home ec room at New Stuyahok.
Broccoli salad with chicken sausage. Yum!
Berries picked that day in New Stuyahok.
Jam made by the home ec students.
My bed at the school at New Stuyahhok.
My bed at  Koliganek School.
View from the front of the school in Togiak.
Sleeping in the nurses station at Togiak.
The weight room at Togiak. New Stu also
has a nice weight room.
Togiak airstrip -- waiting to leave for Twin Hills.
Not my plane.
*My* plane at Togiak.
Leaving Togiak.
First class seat from Togiak to Twin Hills!
It was all I could do to not touch anything.
At the airstrip in Twin Hills. The school was a 2 min
4-wheeler ride away.
My bed in the Twin Hills school library.
View of Twin Hills village from the library window.