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Monday, December 17, 2007


About a week and a half ago the weather finally returned to normal and we have been in the teens or lower making the traveling for trapping and hunting better and better. Ron and I were going to go out on our trap-line Saturday morning and try to make to a cabin about twenty miles away where we would spend the night and return on Sunday. However, our trip was cut a bit short.

We had our sleds all loaded up with traps and gear when we finally left around 11am. We were about a half mile past the dump when I saw a bull moose standing in the trees about 75 yards away. I stopped and pulled my rifle over my head and looked at him through the scope. It takes a lot of effort to get the rifle sling over my head when I am all bundled up like I was. I expected the moose to move into the trees and I wouldn't have cared because we had big trapping plans for the weekend that would be ruined if I shot him.

Well, he didn't move into the trees and I knew he was a decent bull so I lined up and pulled the trigger. . .Nothing happened, so I tried again. Nothing happened. I looked down and apparently I didn't get the safety off so I fumbled with it for a bit, took aim and . . .nothing. I thought I was carrying a loaded gun, but apparently not! I put a shell into the chamber, pulled up and "click!" I pumped a new shell in, pulled up and "BANG!" I think I missed because I was rushing and by this point I was going crazy! I took a bit more time for the second shot, pulled the trigger, and "click!" Again, I pumped another shell, my last one, into the chamber. . . .The moose was gone.

Just kidding! He was hiding behind a tree. I could see his head and neck so I tried to put one through his head to knock him down, but he just stood there after I shot. My gun was empty and my extra shells were three layers down in a pocket. I frantically dug until I found a shell. I loaded it, pulled up. . .I took my time and leaned on my snow-go handle bars. . ."BANG." He just stood there! So I did some more digging, found another shell, loaded it, and . . . He looked hurt so I paused for a second, then he laid down. I got him!!

This all lasted for about 10 minutes of me shooting, digging for shells, waiting for him to show himself, all the while our snow-goes were still running. Ron said that he would have passed this bull up because of our trapping plans, but there is no way I was going to pass up an opportunity at a nice bull. In a way I hope we don't see another bull moose this December, but Ron still has a tag so I guess I would settle for seeing one just a bit smaller!!

My moose measured 53 inches wide, which I think is pretty good. Ron said that he thinks it is an older bull, which I think is also good. I guess I would say that I am happy.

Ron went to get Mike to help us haul out the meat and I began butchering. One of my students came by and helped while I waited for Ron to get back. It took us a couple hours, but when we were done there was nothing left but a few organs and the back bone. I skinned out the head and hung it at the dump for the birds to clean it up. Now comes the real fun. . .Cutting up hundreds of pounds of meat ready for the dinner table!

There are a lot of pictures of my moose added to our pictures site if you would like to see more.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Bad Weather

The weather and I have not been getting along this month. We had almost a foot of snow early, but then it all melted away in a short warm spell with rain. A week and a half later we started getting cold and got more snow. Little by little we made it up to another foot or so with snow falling and melting a little here and there. Then we had a week where it began staying below 32 all day and things where freezing up nicely. Ron and I went out and were setting traps for wolves and wolverines. We still needed more snow, but at least we were staying cold.

Then a few days ago, the temperature spiked up again and almost all of our snow has melted. The river, which was near freezing, is now flowing freely again and it's not looking to get cold until early next week. I can't even get out to check traps with my snow-go anymore. Everyone says that last year the river was already froze over by now and that this is a very unusual winter we are having.

I can't wait until we get some real cold weather so I can get out and do some trapping.

Congratulations to our Volleyball Girls!!

We hosted the district volleyball tournament here at Koliganek. It was fun, but it made for a very busy weekend with teams flying in and getting ready to play. Koliganek took first place in the district and is now in Unalaska for the Regional Volleyball Tournament. The top three teams form that tournament will go on to play at the state tournament next week. I have a good feeling that we will make it to state. The only problem is that the high school is very small while they are gone.

Seven of our 23 high schoolers left on Tuesday to go to the regional tournament and the won't be back until Sunday. If they make it to state, they will leave again some time next week (Wednesday maybe). Because the PFD checks have come out we are also missing several students who are taking trips to Anchorage or Dillingham. It's really hard to get much done in class when more than half of the students are gone. The nice part is that because Molly and I are the only high school teachers, we combined our first and second hour classes so we each have one class period off every day this week. Flexibility is great!

Friday, November 2, 2007

Crazy Week - Halloween/Sports/Snow

This week has been nuts! Monday was the only normal day we had. Tuesday we began planning the haunted basement, Wednesday we decorated and ran the haunted basement, Thursday it snowed and we finished watching a movie we had started on Wednesday, and on Friday the sports teams are leaving to go play. Because we have to fly to other schools, our teams sometimes leave as early as 10:45 am.

Right now we are in wrestling and volleyball season. There are 9 volleyball girls and 6 wrestlers. That means that every Friday when they are traveling we lose 15 of our 24 high school students. There are always a couple students gone, so we are usually left with maybe 7 students! It's not always that bad because most Fridays we try to schedule one team to come to our school and one of our teams goes to another school. However, lately it seems like both teams have been leaving to play in tournaments which last for a few days. I can hardly remember the last time I had afternoon classes!

It has snowed several times in the past few weeks, but has not amounted to much because it continues to melt. Yesterday it snowed all day and we have a solid 4 inches, maybe more. The kids, and myself, were so excited about the snow and when we heard snow-goes outside they all went nuts! A bunch of kids left at lunch and didn't come back because they wanted to go ride around. After school it seemed like everyone was out riding around, including myself. It's supposed to be warmer over the next few days, so we'll see if this snow stays or melts. Hopefully it stays and we can add more to it because it is not enough to go anywhere exciting.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Haunted Basement

On Tuesday, the day before Halloween, Molly, the high school, and I decided to have a haunted house in the school. We began planning that afternoon. The next morning we began rearranging and decorating the basement of our school. We decorated four classrooms and the entire hallway with spider webs, bats, spiders, streamers, and a lot of black paper. By the end it was a pitch black maze of terror! We announced on the radio for the community to come up it they'd like and had the two elementary classes come walk through. It was a blast! We did send a bunch of little kids out the entrance crying because it was too scary, but most enjoyed it. The best part was when it ended and all the students started cleaning up right away. They had all the classes back to normal in a matter of minutes! Not a lot of academics on Halloween, but a lot of good teamwork.

We saw almost all of our students out trick-or-treating and most came by twice. Molly and I were talking about how it is funny to think about us trick-or-treating when we were little because we would plan out how we could get to as many houses as possible in a night. Here, it doesn't matter because everyone can get to everyone else's house in 20 minutes! Molly dressed up as me and I dressed up as her to go trick-or-treating at our neighbors house, but I changed out of my costume right away after that. Her clothes were a little too tight. Hopefully, I'll get th pictures put on this weekend.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Congratulations Tim and Beth

Tim and Beth were married on October 13th and being that I am such a nice brother, I flew to Wisconsin for a week to be there for this. Of course it was a lot of fun to visit with friends and family and I was sad to come back to Koliganek. If I hadn't come back Anuska (my sub) would have killed me so I guess it is better that I'm back! That said, it is nice to be back into my regular flow of craziness. . .school, sports, water/power outages, weather. . .

I also got to see their new baby Della!!! And hold her!! And feed her!! And pretty much hog her to myself because I was only there for a week! She's very cute.


For those that did not know, Vince was hit by a four wheeler in September?? I was moose hunting for the weekend and Molly was with Vince when it happened. He had broken his leg so Molly flew to Dillingham with him and put him on a plane to Anchorage. In Anchorage a vet picked him up and did surgery to remove the bone fragments and insert a new ball joint to fit in his socket. Two days later he was on his way back home and we picked him up at the airport. For the next few days he didn't move much and would hide under blankets. After that he was back to normal except he didn't use his back leg much. Now he is using it almost like the accident never happened. It's not fair, my dog got to go to Anchorage and I didn't!!

Our once free dog has become one of our most expensive possessions!! It wasn't as bad as it seems because we have had to fly him to Dillingham anyway to be neutered and get some shots, but he had all this done in Anchorage.

Molly in Juneau

I had to fly home after Tech Camp, but Molly flew to Dillingham, to Anchorage, to ???, to ???, and to Juneau. She is in a program taking a set of math classes to get her math certification. She'll have to tell more, but she went to Juneau for these classes and it sounds like she had a great time learning and getting free stuff! She was supposed to come back yesterday, but was weathered in in Dillingham so hopefully she will be back today.

Only two planes came in yesterday and they were filled with our volleyball girls and wrestling boys coming back from tournaments. They told me that they were flying really low and could still only barely see the ground because of the fog. Scary!

Tech Camp

Last week Molly and I went to New Stuyahok with the entire high school for two nights for a technology camp. We flew there on Sunday and went to different technology sessions during the school days on Monday and Tuesday. We learned about podcasting, web design, book making, and photography. The sessions were great and we learned a lot. However, the evenings were not so much fun.

We slept in three classrooms in the school which was ok, but we had to pack everything up each morning before classes could begin. This wouldn't have been too bad, but it is very hard to get all the high schoolers to go to sleep by. . . ever! In the future I hope we have our own tech camp at our school because this was a bit of an overload for Molly and I.

2007-2008 School Year

School has been cruising along since mid-August now and we just finished the first quarter. It's a little different from last year because the middle schoolers stay together all day with one teacher and the high schoolers switch between Molly and I. It's funny to think about the fact that Molly and I are the only high school teachers. It's really nice on days when we want to rearrange the schedule because we don't have to worry about anyone but ourselves.

All in all there are 24 high school students that we share. I teach physical science, government, algebra 2, health, and keyboarding. Molly teaches English (1,2,3,+4), art, pre-algebra, algebra, and Russian. It's enough to keep us busy.

Thursday, October 25, 2007


The day before I shot my moose, we saw a heard of about 20 caribou crossing Cranberry Creek. As the ran up on to the shore I shot this small caribou from about 3 yards away. It was really neat to see the caribou so close, but it isn't exactly what I imagined when I though of shooting a caribou. The picture shows Ron's son Conner who was with us that day.

Moose Hunting

I was fortunate enough to get moose this fall!! He's not exactly a monster, but he sure tastes good! I got this moose in the last hour of the last day of the season. Ron was driving the skiff and I saw him up a small slough. We approached to about 75 yards before I was sure it was a bull. I lined him up in the scope, pulled th trigger, and heard a "CLICK." Crap!! I didn't have a shell in the chamber!! I frantically put a shell in and opened fire. He ran 15 yards back into the willows and I had him!!

Friday, July 27, 2007

Picture Update

I finally have all the pictures posted and they are organized into different albums. Because I was taking pictures from three different cameras, the pictures in each album are still jumbled. And because we had a bazillion pictures to post, most are not labeled. Don't worry though, you will get over it! I'll let ya'll know if/when I label all the pictures, but for now you can practice finding all the different fish we caught.

Just like a word find, here are the fish we caught and have pictures of.
Rainbow trout
Dog/chum salmon
King/chinook salmon
Red/sockeye salmon
Dolly varden/arctic char
Cooked salmon
Northern pike
Pop can (there are two varieties of pop can)

Happy picture hunting!

Monday, July 23, 2007


Our Photo link should now be working again and I am uploading pictures from the fishing trip as I write this. Hopefully, I will have time to label and arrange them tomorrow as they are currently a bit jumbled.

Fishing Trip!!!!

Alright, we are picking up where we left off after "Where to Begin." I will do my best to take you through our day to day fishing.

Day 1:
We fished off the beach and caught lots of grayling. They are a lot of fun to catch, but it is even more fun watching these guys try to get good pictures of them. They are a bit slimy and squirmy sometimes! That evening we went down to Cranberry creek where we caught a few rainbow trout a small king salmon and a few chum/dog salmon. It wasn't quite what we hoped for, but an OK start.
Day 2:
I may be off by a day, but I think today we went back to Cranberry creek where we caught a bunch of dog salmon, a dolly varden/arctic char, and some more rainbows. We made a fire on a beach and ate dog salmon with butter and seasonings all wrapped in aluminum foil (not tin foil). Yum!! We also caught several grayling from the beach. . .They are still fun to catch, but the fun is beginning to fade.
Day 3:
I think today was the day we went up river with Molly and Vince (our dog). . .I give up on the days.

One day we went up river and we found spots where the kings were jumping. Tim lost a really nice king in one spot, but we were all thinking that the possibility of catching kings was not likely. While having a shore dinner with Molly and Vince, Dad hooked up on a 20 pound king in the current, which we had to chase down the river in the skiff! Being the brilliant guide that I am, I went back into a slough to fish where I caught three smallish kings in about five casts. . .Booyah! After eating we all went to this spot and caught more than 40 kings between us. The largest in here were around 15 pounds. It was a blast! Finally, around 12:30 am we decided to go back home.

Our pattern turned into a sleep really late, tour the village, hang around, and fish from the beach for the early afternoon. Then fish until midnight each night. We went back to this spot several times and each time we caught more fish. It was a great find!

On the last full day we traveled up into the Nuyakuk River, ate lunch at a cabin, and the went way up the Nushagak River. We saw a large bull moose and several cows, caught a bunch of rainbows, a red salmon, some dog salmon, and a couple king salmon. We did find a couple good spots to fish, but they are a long drive up. Our last day ended with a couple of 20 pound kings caught in our spot.

Thrown in to each day, we caught dogs, reds, kings, dolly vardens/arctic char, lots of rainbows, even more grayling (Grandpa is a grayling king by the way!), Tim caught some nice pike, and Dad caught a whitefish.

The day they had to leave the weather was bad and no planes were flying so they missed their connecting flights and had to do a lot of rearranging. . .Welcome to Alaska!

For a better rendition of the facts and excitement from the trip, talk to my grandpa, dad, or brother.


Our old picture archive is being removed and we have to start a new one so we will let everyone know when we finally figure this out and can show all the fishing pictures.

Where to Begin?

It has been more than two months since I last posted and a lot has happened! Molly and I were in Florida for a week in May, then Wisconsin for three and a half weeks of June, and in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness for a week in the middle of it all. Basically, our trip was a lot of fun and it was great to see our family and friends after being out of the loop for a while. On July 1st we were on our way back to AK and spent a excellent night in Anchorage. . .I will let Molly tell all about it because I think she already started.

Now to the important stuff. . .FISHING!! I had only a few days to find some fish to catch before my dad, brother, and grandpa came to visit/fish. Ron and I spent many hours fishing for king salmon, but never really found a good way to catch them. There were not many fish in the river yet because they began coming up river very late this year. It also turns out that the total number of kings was at about 20% of what it was supposed to be. Despite this, I new we would be able to catch some fish.

The day they were supposed to arrive our power was out, we didn't have our VHF, and we were expecting Dad, Tim, and Grandpa to arrive around 3pm. That reminds me, the reason we did not have our VHF. . .The day Molly and I came back we caught a ride from the airport to our house and upon arrival we were told, "I hope you guys have some where else to stay." WHAT!! Our house was torn up because we were getting a bunch of work done like new carpet, paint, and new windows. Somebody was supposed to let the workers know that we were going to be back on July 2nd, but they thought we were going to be gone all summer! Crap! Our principal had told us that if we needed to, we could use her house when our guest came so we moved into her house for the time being and scrounged for stuff as we needed it from our house.

Anyway, I was out fishing and Molly was going to call the airline we thought they were flying on, but without notice my family showed up at the door. They got a ride from one of our students! Needless to say, I was very surprised when I got back from fishing! The good part about all this is that our principal has a larger dining room table and three single beds in her place so everyone was a bit more comfortable. . .Except Molly and I because your own place is always better, but it worked.

To keep from an overly long post, I am going to stop and start a new one.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Wisconsin Trip

Our trip home was so wonderful, but it went by so quickly!

First, we had a bit of a reality check when we were in the Anchorage airport on our way to Minneapolis. Of course Brian and I were so excited to have a taste of fast food after our four/five month deprivation, so as soon as we arrived in Anchorage we began planning our pit stop at McDonalds. We planned that we would locate our gate and then stop at McDonalds to pick up a quick bite. As we passed McDonalds we noted that we had about 20/30 minutes before our plane would be leaving, so we continued to the gate just to make sure that it was fairly close before we got our food. Surprisingly the person working at the desk checking boarding passes was very excited that we had finally made it and rushed us onto the plane! Once we were in our seats it hit us that boarding is usually 30-45 minutes before the plane is actually supposed to leave! It's a good thing that we are getting out of the village once in a while!

On our way to visiting Wisconsin, we stopped in Minneapolis to drop off Sophie (our cat) with Brian's aunt and uncle while we continued on to Florida for a few days. After Uncle Pete had left with Sophie, we discovered that our large piece of luggage had not arrived in Minneapolis with us. Since we didn't know the address of the place that we would be staying in Florida, and we weren't sure when our luggage would actually make it, we told the airline staff that we would pick up our luggage when we came back to Minneapolis in a few days. So, we flew into Ft. Myers, checked in at our hotel, and immediately went shopping. We pretty much had nothing! I was just happy that I had decided against wearing my boots especially when stepped out of the airport in Ft. Myers; it was roughly 85/90 degrees! The warmest that it had reached before we left Koliganek was maybe 60 degrees! We bought shorts and swimsuits at Target (it was a "super" Target, and I was so happy to be in such a wonderful shopping facility finally!!!), and we were set for time spent on the beach with our friends Ross and Andie when they arrived in Ft. Myers the next day! We stayed at a condo that is owned by Ross' aunt on Sanibel Island. It was so beautiful! We had such a wonderful time soaking up the sun on the beach that was bordering the property of the condo!

When we finally made it back to Minneapolis (after an extra night stay in Miami due to issues with our plane in Ft. Myer) where we picked up Sophie and then rushed to La Crosse for my cousins graduation party. Brian and I were so happy to see our families again, but only a few short days later, we left for a trip to the Boundary Waters. We went with our friends Ross and Andie as we do every summer, and we also went with a childhood friend of Brian and Ross, Adam. We put in at Kawishiwi and made our way to another lake that I can't remember the name. We had a great experience; we saw so much wildlife this time! A couple of the boys saw a moose right in our camp, we all experienced the Grey Jays eating out of Brian and Ross' hands, there were around 40 butterflies in one small area of our site, we saw chipmunks and baby turtles, we caught perch, walleye, northern, smallies, and suckers, and there was our returning friend, Gilbert, the 50 lb. snapping turtle that continued to attack our fish!

I was so happy to squeeze in a trip to the cities with my sisters while I was home! We had an interesting time getting up there; we got lost several times! But we finally made it about an hour and a half before the Mall of America was going to close, and we savored every minute of it. When the stores had closed, we found a restaurant that was still open and spent some time having dinner and chatting. It was really fun! The best part, however, was when we went back to the hotel and played a game that we loved as children! Of course we had to reread the directions, but we had a great time playing "Jewels in the Attic!" We were able to get in a couple more hours of shopping the next morning before we had to get Sarah home for work. We had such a wonderful time!!!

We were also able to sneak in a trip to Madison to visit Brian's brothers and sister. We weren't there for more than a few hours when my mom called about a problem with the bridesmaids' dresses. I had to leave right away to get it straightened out, but Brian was able to stay and get some fishing in with his brother and brother-in-law. He will have to elaborate on the fishing experience.

Katie (my sister) got married on June 22nd, so we spent some time helping prepare for that. It was a very beautiful ceremony and reception. There was a bit of an issue with the unity candles almost burning down the church, but one of the fearless bridesmaids stepped in to save the day by blowing out the candle! The reception was held in a place called the Party Barn. It was decorated beautifully thanks to the parents and everyone who helped put the decorations up! The food was amazing, and we danced all night! Katie looked beautiful right to the end!

The day of the gift opening, I took Sarah to the emergency room to have an ear ache looked at. Of course she had a case of swimmers ear where the doctor recommended that she not submerge her head in any water for at least a week. This was the day before we left on a family trip to the Dells. The entire family (my parents, both of my sisters, my sister's husband, my other sister's boyfriend, and me and Brian) stayed in an amazing room at Glacier Canyon. There are so many waterparks right on site that kept us so busy. One of the days, the boys went golfing, and the girls went shopping! We all had so much fun! On the last day, everyone except my parents went golfing again.

The time that we spent in Wisconsin went by so quickly that we weren't able to get in everything that we wanted to. However, Brian was able to sneak in a couple of quick trips to Cabellas, and I was able to convince Brian and Ross to leave me at the mall one day so that I could spend some real quality time shopping all by myself. I forgot to mention the crazy bachelorette party that Katie had; it was a luau with a Passion Party!

It was really difficult for me to leave when it was time. I miss my family so much when I'm not with them, but I know that I will be able to see them again briefly in October when we are back for Brian's brother's wedding.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007


I didn't realize how long it has been since I last made a posting! Let's catch up.

We signed papers for our half of a skiff (we are sharing it with Ron) and have been out cruising around several times since. The first time I took it out I saw somewhere between 30 and 40 moose along the river! I guess they all congregate near the river to eat the willow buds early in the spring. At that time there was still a lot of ice flowing down the river making driving a bit tricky, but that has all disappeared now. The moose are also disappearing now. Two days ago I saw only three moose even though Ron and I drove around 30 miles up into the Nuyakuk River.

A few weeks ago we ordered an Ally Pak canoe. It's made out of aluminum rods with a canvas-like shell and can be taken apart to fit in a large duffel bag. . .This way we could actually have it shipped here cheaply and now will be able to take it to the lower 48 if we decide to. We've been out in it a few times, paddling up river until we are tired and then floating our way back down through various sloughs. This river is swift! Molly and I are surprisingly strong paddlers, but even when paddling our hardest we do not move forward when in the middle of the river. The only way we go up is to stick right next to the shoreline, picking our way along and crossing only when we have to do so. It's a lot of work, but also a lot of fun. We are hoping to catch rides up the river in a skiff and then paddle down camping along the way if we are far enough up river.

I went duck hunting with some of my high school students. Although this seems like it would be very awkward because they are my students and will still be next year, I had a blast. I think that in a community this size everyone is so used to knowing everything about everyone already, not to mention that everyone is related to everyone else, this sort of thing works out a bit better than it would in a larger setting where rumors tend to start.

Our puppy, Vincent, learned to walk just a few days ago! Before this, I would say he was kind of crawling, but then he learned that he could get in and out of his box. Both puppies began going in and out, in and out, just because they could. Now he is able scamper about and it is very cute. The two puppies are also starting to play with and chew on everything. We visit them every day, play with them for about 10 minutes and then they go to sleep. We will be taking more and more pictures of them so expect more puppy updates soon.

I caught my first Alaskan fish! Ron and I went out fishing and I caught 3 grayling, each about 12 inches, an a fat rainbow trout. We only had to travel almost 2 hours up river to get the trout! Apparently, the trout are up rivers and streams spawning. . . I think they should be done now because I thought trout spawned under the ice just before it melted, but it could be different. I am told that in June the trout will migrate back down the river and we will start catching them next to the village.

To be continued. . .

Monday, April 23, 2007


Although we have not been writing much, there has been a lot happening as usual. Here is the super fast update starting with today and backtracking. As of today the snow is almost gone except for some old snow drifts. . .Yippee!! The temperature has been hanging around 40 degrees and I don't think it is getting below 32 at night anymore. The ice on the river is trying to go out and I try to help it as much as I can by watching it closely. . .This is kind of like watching water about to boil, but more fun. There is something fun about watching large chunks of ice float and crash into each other! The river has broken up in front of our house, but up and down still have ice. Somebody was out in their skiff yesterday! By the way, a boat is a vessel typically larger than 20 feet and probably can go in the ocean. Everything smaller is a skiff. That is the definition I have come up with for Koliganek anyway.

Yesterday, Molly and I decided to get a puppy! We had tried to get one earlier this month, but the girls who owned them decided we couldn't have one after we had it at our house for about half an hour. . .Its brother was lonely. Anyway, we noticed that my favorite dog in the village, Luda, was pregnant about a week ago. She is my favorite because she loves to play fetch to no end. For example, Molly and I were walking and she came to see us, not having a stick she tried to take one that was still attached to the ground. Unable to detach this stick, she settled for a rock which she brought to me so I could throw it for her. I did. Molly thought it best to pick a stick for her so she went about breaking a stick off of a nearby bush. Seeing this, Luda got extremely excited and could barely contain herself while Molly fought with the bush for a very long time (maybe 2 minutes?). This is the dog that would put a particular chunk of ice into my hand so I would throw it for her earlier this year. I can only hope that her puppies will do this with ducks and geese!

Back to the puppy, I talked to my students to find out Luda's owner and told them to let me know if they heard that she had her pups. One of our students told us on Saturday that she had her puppies and where we could find them. They were three days old when we saw them and we arranged with their owner to let us take one when we get back from Wisconsin. Now we just have to pick which one we want. They are all black except one brown, which is already claimed. They are labs in case I did not mention this. We basically just need to decide if we want a male or female. Any thoughts? This dog will be part of my bear protection plan while I am hunting and fishing and will serve as a reason to go for walks every day.

As of sometime, I have a boat! Ron and I are buying a boat together from a friend in town. All we need to do is pay for it! Look out fish, here I come!

Molly had a birthday! I am uploading pictures as we speak that include the kids that came to visit her. They all sang Happy Birthday to her outside our window!!

We hiked to Ketok. There are pictures of this adventure as well.

I think that is basically all. I will put pictures of the puppy and boat on as soon as we take them.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Climbing Ketok

A couple weekends ago, just before all of the snow melted, Brian and I took our snow machine out on the river just to cruise around. As we went, we decided to try to get as close to our mountain as possible (it's about seven miles from Koliganek).

We traveled farther and farther and it seemed that we would never reach the mountain. As we got closer we found thick woods surrounding the mountain. We almost decided that we just wouldn't make it when we found a clearing in the woods.

We were able to drive right up to the mountain, and if there would have been more snow, we would have been able to drive all the way up. We parked right at the bottom and began climbing. The incline wasn't very steep, but it was covered with small rock that made it a little slippery. When we got to the top, we found some really neat rock formations that we took a couple of pictures of. The view was amazing! We even saw a group of moose walking along a tree-line. It was such a beautiful day that Brian and I had to leave our snowpants, coats, mittens, hats, etc. in a pile at the top while we explored. The only problem with the weather was that it was a little hazy in the distance. If it had been clearer, we would have been able to see other mountains in the distance really easily.

When we returned from our adventure, we checked to see what the elevation of Ketok Mountain is since it wasn't as high as we were expecting. We found that the highest part is about 1700 feet high. And if you don't know about our mountain, it looks like a pregnant lady laying down. You can see her head/face, her chest, her belly, her legs, and then her feet. We walked along her chest which is the second highest part from her belly. In the picture of me sitting on the rock formation, you can see her belly in the background.

We had so much fun that day! Now we have made plans to do lots of hiking this summer. We want to canoe down the Tickchik lakes and explore the mountains around there! It should be fun!

Thursday, March 15, 2007

World Class Summertime Fishing

I have been asked by a few die-hard fishermen to post the salmon runs in case they, or anyone else for that matter, can work out the funding to come up on a fishing trip. I would be more than happy to play the role of guide and help someone catch some salmon, trout, or pike.

Here are my guiding guarantees:
  1. You will go fishing.
  2. You will get something to eat.
  3. You will be bitten by many mosquitoes and other biting insects.
  4. You will see beautiful scenery.
  5. You will be given a place to sleep.
  6. You will enjoy my company while fishing.
  7. You might go for a walk, get lost, survive in the wilderness alone for a few months, get rescued (fly in a helicopter!!), write a book, and become famous. Maybe even rich!
  8. You might have fun.
  9. You might see cool wildlife (bears, caribou, moose, salmon, etc.)
  10. Lastly, I might even let you catch a fish or two.
Based on number seven, visiting us up here should be considered an investment! Anyway, I am looking into getting a boat. . .I think I have it squared away already. . .so I will be able to travel up and down the river to the good fishing holes and be able to go camping out in the wilderness!

Here are the general guidelines for seasons in Koliganek, Alaska. Keep in mind that I have not been here in the summer yet and am basing everything off of what I have heard and researched.

Rainbow Trout - As soon as the ice melts up to the time it freezes again. . .There are highs and lows.
Grayling - As soon as the ice melts up to the time it freezes again. . .There are highs and lows.
Northern Pike - As soon as the ice melts up to the time it freezes again.
Chum Salmon - Mid June to mid July
King Salmon - Mid June to mid July
Silvers - Early August through the end of August
Pink Salmon (even years only) - Late July through mid August

Berry Picking (blue berries, salmon berries, high and low bush cranberries) - Mid July through mid September

There you have it. I have been hearing of catching rainbow trout that are larger than 36 inches!!! I can't wait to get a line in the water! Depending on when school starts for me it sounds like mid August provides some of the best all around opportunities with berry picking and fishing for silvers. The end of June would be great except Molly and I will be in Wisconsin this June. . .Maybe next summer!

Do not worry if you can't make it up to fish with me this summer. . .I will post pictures!


I caught my first wolverine yesterday!!! Check out the picture in the picture archive.

Ron and I have been focusing on an area where we have seen many wolverine and wolf tracks. We have a few traps out that we have very high hopes for and finally yesterday. . .they didn't catch anything, but the set we put out almost two weeks ago with no success had a wolverine! Luckily for me he got caught in a snare on his way into the bait and then put his foot in a wolf trap. Between the two traps he wasn't going anywhere. I have been told how mean and wild they can be when in a trap, but I didn't quite realize how wild until I saw what he did to me snare. The individual wires were breaking from being twisted and chewed on. . . If he hadn't stepped in the wolf trap I may have lost him.

I have come to find that what takes Ron 5 minutes to do will take me at least 20! In terms of skinning anyway. I spent 3 hours skinning this wolverine last night and only because of Ron's help did I get to where I did! I just need more practice. Next time I will have to save him until a weekend so I can spend all day working.

So far I have caught 1 wolverine, 1 porcupine, 1 marten, 1 fox, 1 spruce grouse, and 1 ptarmigan! I am doing well with the variety factor!

Teaching in Bush Alaska!

Molly and I have come to find out that teaching in bush Alaska is truly an adventure. Every new week is different from the prior week and we never know what to expect next week! So far we have dealt with extreme cold and white-out blizzards, no water. . .twice, power outage, a fire, basketball season (remember, teams fly to their games and sometimes get weathered in there), sewage backing up into our bathtub, high winds (makes our apartment cold), and this week one of the generators broke down causing there to be very little heat in the school!

Last week the heat stopped working in the shop and we could see our breath during class! I asked my students if they wanted to go to my classroom and have a free day to work on other things, but they said they would rather deal with the cold. We spent three days wearing winter gear in the shop while handling metal tools for 55 minutes! It was cold! The gymnasium was also very cold and students had to wear their hats and jackets while playing basketball until they warmed up a bit! This was because of the wind outside combined with an old, drafty school.

This problem was fixed, but then on Monday the classroom portion of the school was somewhere in the 30's when we got to school. By noon with all the students there and the sun shining it got up to 45 degrees, but we let the kids go home early. It's very difficult to write with mittens on and even more difficult to write with cold hands!! This was fixed that evening and now all is toasty again. . .Although, I never had heat in my room and still don't so it is quite chilly in the morning, but warms up eventually.

The funny thing about these issues is that I kind of enjoy them! I like the adventure of it all and as long as nobody is hurt, starving, or freezing I will continue living each day as a new day. Living in the bush is kind of like having Christmas every day; I go to sleep at night not knowing what I will get in the morning!!

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Oh No!

When Molly and I got up on Saturday morning we were surprised to see a lake on the street in front of our house! Did the weather get warm? Nope. There was a stream of water flowing from under our house out to the street!! Ron and Rondee had been without water for a few days because of frozen pipes and we were worried that this just happened to us as well, but our water still worked so. . .

As it turns out this was from Ron and Rondee's house. Their pipes were leaking water in several places, and the water was flowing under the snow to our house. A lake formed under our house and eventually began flowing out to the street. If we hadn't noticed this right away, the water would have froze under our house, and we would have been without water until summer!! Whew, there is always something exciting going on in Bush Alaska!!

We also found out that because of all the situations with water and electricity we may get some money back from our rent!!


After caribou hunting for four hours Nick invited me to come steam with him and Roger. If you thought driving around a snow-go with a gun slung over your back is manly, try getting naked and sitting in a steam house!!! Anyway, I have learned a little more about steaming and how it is properly done.

When Molly and I steamed we just sat in the "hot room," it is like a sauna, to wash and relax. I now know that you are supposed to go in the hot room for a bit then back into the "cold room," this is like the entryway to the steam house and gets very steamy when the hot room door is opened. After sitting in the cold room for a few minutes, you go back into the hot room, then to the cold room, then to the hot room, and continue this for as long as you want. Each time in the hot room you may do some washing or just sit and relax. The very last time in the hot room Nick "bombed" the room by adding a lot of water to the rocks making it extremely hot. It felt kind of like pouring molten lava over my body! OK, so it wasn't that bad, but it was hot and did feel good in the end. The best part is sitting in the cold room with all the steam. It is interesting how for hours after steaming I still felt very warm and cozy, even when I went outside and my wet hair froze, I felt warm.

Last thing, if anyone has questions about steaming, school, trapping, hunting, or any other experiences we've had please add them as a comment. We try to explain anything that may be interesting, but it's easy to leave bits, pieces, and whole stories out because we see it every day.

Caribou Hunting!

I got to go caribou hunting yesterday!! Maybe I should call it caribou looking for and not finding because we didn't see any, but it was still fun. A friend in the village stopped by in the morning and told me he heard that a heard of caribou were moving our way and he wanted to go shoot a few. Of course I said that I would love to come too! He told me to bring my rifle and a thermos of something hot and to be ready in half an hour. We drove to the Mulchatna River and followed it for miles and miles, but found no caribou. We were looking for a heard of around 1000 caribou so I think they would be hard to miss if they were near. I did roll the snow-go over while trying to get up on a large drift. It wasn't very eventful. . .just a slow motion roll over which popped some screws out of my windshield. Other than that nothing is broken. I also got to see another 30 miles of country I hadn't seen before which was great and there is just something very manly about driving around with a rifle slung across your back!!

The season closes very soon so I hope I get the chance to go out again. . .This is a subsistence hunting season.

More Trapping Adventures!

Ron and I have been doing a bit of exploring lately and been thinking up great plans for next years season since this year is nearing its end. On one such exploration trip I found a den of some sort back in the brush. It seemed to big to be a fox den, not big enough to be a wolf den, and maybe the size of a wolverine den. In any case, I was going to find out and catch whatever it was! The den was oval in shape and the very interesting part about this den was that there was frozen strings of pee all over the trail coming out of the den. This critter did not stop to go, it just went as it moved and the pee froze on top of the trail! The day after finding the den Ron and I went back to set some wolf snares, wolverine traps, and one trap in this den.

I gave the set three days and when I returned I walked up to the trap cautiously because I didn't want to be surprised by a live wolverine or something like that. When I could see the trap I thought, "yeeessssss, I got a wolverine! Wait a second, something looks a bit funny. . .A PORCUPINE!!?? I was expecting a wolverine and the porcupine with his winter coat looked very similar until you touch him or look at his head. I guess I can say I am an expert porcupine trapper now! Apparently porcupine is very good to eat, but I didn't want to eat this one because he had been caught, killed, and left laying for up to three days. I also didn't find out about porcupine meat until I left him sitting in the shop for a day and a half, which isn't going to help the meat at all.

I am doing a pretty good job of catching one of each creature out here. . .I still think I will get a wolf and wolverine yet this season!

Ptarmigan and Spruce Grouse

While out trapping I carry the .22 pistol Ron let me borrow to put down animals and shoot ptarmigan and spruce grouse. Both birds are just like ruffed grouse we have back home, but a bit smaller. Spruce grouse spend a lot of time up in the trees and seem to be more solitary, while ptarmigan are always on the ground and in small groups. Ptarmigan are neat because they are almost entirely white during the winter and soon they will begin changing back to brown for summer.

I shot my first spruce grouse while snow-shoeing with Molly. There are always bird tracks all over the place and we were following fresh ones hoping to find them to shoot. I had given up on the tracks and said we should probably be going, but it was at that same moment that Molly said, "Brian, there is a bird right next to me in that tree." Sure enough, there was a spruce grouse about 15 feet from her in a tree just sitting there. Being the expert marksman I am, I shot six times, reloading and continued shooting until it finally fell out of the tree. I thought I was just a very bad shot, but it turns out that I actually hit it most of those times! I don't know how it stayed up there, but it was one tough bugger! I wanted to eat it, but being shot so many times made it only good for trapping bait. . .Which I needed badly.

The ptarmigan I shot was even more exciting! Checking traps with Ron I saw a few fly up as I drove by a patch of spruce trees. I stopped and drew my pistol at the sight of several ptarmigan walking around on the snow. With the first shot I hit it, but like the spruce grouse it somehow managed to keep going and proceeded to run away from me. I continued shooting as I chased it through the trees and across a crick before I caught up with it. I made a diving leap, grabbed it, and fell through about two feet of hollow ice on the creek! The important thing is that I got my first ptarmigan! I really need to get a shotgun up here!

Marten Trapping

I caught a marten!! If you are not sure what a marten looks like check out the picture in our pictures archive. They are basically like a really large squirrel except they eat meat rather than nuts. Although most of our snow disappeared during the warm spell, Molly and I went snow-shoeing a couple of times in the trees along a creek where the snow still ranges from one to eight feet deep. We found marten tracks all over the place! I told Ron about them so we set out to trap martens.

Here's how it works. In the area where I found several sets of tracks we looked for a leaning tree. Ron set one trap and I set another about 30 yards away. We set and wired the traps to our trees, put a ptarmigan higher in the tree, added some marten lure (very smelly), and hung a wing with fishing line to add some motion to the set. Simple! The next day Ron had a marten in his trap and the day after that I had one in mine! My marten was bigger of course and I claim the title of a marten trapping guide because I picked the spot. I wish everything else was this easy to trap. It's been almost two weeks since this and we didn't see another marten track until the day we had to pull out the traps because marten season is closed now.

Maybe I shouldn't have given away my marten trapping secrets, but as long as nobody plans to come trap them from Koliganek, I guess it is OK. Ron and I already have big plans for trapping martens next year because we have come across several areas with a lot more tracks. Last year a marten fur brought in around $80, this year only $30, so we are hoping the price jumps back up for next year.

Friday, March 9, 2007

I Have Been Busy

I know that it has been a long time since the last (and only) time that I submitted a posting, but after getting hired at the school, I have been so busy! My classes are going pretty well. It has been somewhat difficult teaching two art classes without many supplies. I have been trying to get a list of supplies approved or at least something approved so that I can order a few things, especially for my high schoolers, but I don't think that I'll get anything before the end of the school year. I've got some ideas for the rest of this year, though, and then next year I can get what I need.

If anyone has ideas on teaching a first grader the letters of the alphabet and the sounds that they make, let me know. That has probably been the most difficult thing for me to teach. I'm really running out of ideas.

Another huge dilemma for me has been grading. I took over classes about six weeks into the quarter, so it's been difficult trying to figure out how to combine grades or what exactly I need to do. Today is the last day of third quarter, so that all has to be figured out by Tuesday. Eek!

Yesterday another one of the teachers and I rearranged our classroom. It was pretty exciting! It feels more like my room now than someone else's room that my desk is in. I'm getting some artwork on the walls, too, so it's looking brighter. A few of the students have made comments about how much nicer it looks now!

For those of you reading this who are not teachers, I apologize for so much boring school talk. Other than school, I have been trying to keep up on baking bread. I had ordered two five pound bags of whole wheat flour since the stores here don't carry whole wheat bread, so I baked a couple of whole wheat loaves last weekend. After they had been baked and I was slicing them, I noticed how white they looked. Brian and I discussed for quite a while about how interesting that was and that wheat breads must always have caramel coloring in them. It wasn't until a couple of days later that I realized that the flour that we had received was actually unbleached white bread flour. I was so mad! Maybe someday I'll get some whole wheat bread.

I have also been doing a little artwork outside of school just for fun and for something to hang on the boring white walls in our house. I have been painting on the brown packing paper that we have so much of since it comes with our groceries and just about everything else that we order.

Lately it has been very cold here. The temperature has been right around zero most of the time, but the windchill has been the worst. For a few days earlier this week we were really struggling to heat our house. When I woke up Monday or Tuesday morning, the thermostat was set at 72 degrees, but it was 52 degrees inside! It was quite a struggle to get the temperature up to the mid to upper sixties. There was one unit of teacher housing that the pipes froze. They haven't had water for a few days now. We have also had to cancel gym and shop classes because you could see your breath in those rooms! Hopefully it will be getting warmer soon. Of course the days have been getting a lot longer just like everywhere else. It is just so nice when we are finishing up with dinner at 7:30 and it's still light.

I'm not sure if we've mentioned this before, but we order most of our groceries online. This works out pretty well for ordering nonperishables (except for when you get the wrong flour!), but in order to get perishable foods, you have to pay a lot more for shipping. Brian and I have avoided finding out exactly how much more it costs by not ordering these items, but it gets frustrating after you've gone so long without salad, fresh fruit, or any other fresh produce. One of the other teachers went to Dillingham, our regional hub, over a weekend and brought salad to school for lunch when she got back. I told her that I was jealous, so the next day she brought in a huge bowl of salad for everyone to share! Then another one of the teachers went to Anchorage for a week, so I requested some spinach. When she returned with spinach and lettuce, our co-op got a shipment of produce! It was the first shipment that I had ever seen (in the month and a half that I have been here), so I hurried down as soon as the students left school. It had already been picked through, and there were no more oranges, but I got some green peppers, cucumbers, mushrooms, tomatoes, and lots of apples! Then next day Brian bought a kiwi! We've had salads, BLTs, and great snacks! Yummm!

Some more exciting news is that we got satellite TV a couple of weeks ago! Of course this has caused a couple of problems in getting things done, but we've been able to watch our favorite shows, some movies, and even the news!!! I heard today on the Today Show that gas prices have gone up again. They said that the highest prices in the nation are in California at $3 something a gallon. I found this amusing since gas here is $5 a gallon and this has been the price of gas for the past couple of years! Some people told Brian that the price of gas never changes in the village (or at least not like it does back home).

I'll try to write again soon so that it's not quite so long next time. If you have any questions or comments, please write them. You can leave them at the end of each of our postings. We would really like to hear what you are wondering or interested in hearing more about.

P.S. Brian and I will be home in June for my sister Katie's wedding on the 22nd!

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Continuation of the Craziness

There was a virus going around in Stu last week and since the carnival it is now going around Koliganek. Molly has been very sick for almost three days now and on top of that we were not allowed to let water go down drains or flush toilets! We had to walk to the school to go to the bathroom! I thought the toilet was clogged on Monday, but after lots of plunging I sewage started coming into our bath tub!! The next day and a half three different apartments couldn't use the drains while some people tried to figure out what was going on. Apparently it was a clogged air vent that was creating a vacuum in our system. Hopefully, we will be done having issues for a while.

The Good News:
The village water was tested and we can now drink it without boiling!!


I caught a fox! I can't really claim much credit because I caught it with Ron's trap, in a spot that Ron always has this trap, and with Ron's lure. . .But I was the one that set the trap! I also skinned, stretched, and fleshed the fox. We will freeze the hide until the end of trapping season and then Ron is going to teach me how to tan the hides. Hopefully I Will have many more pelts to tan by then.

This weekend Ron and I plan to set a lot of traps for marten, wolf, fox, and lynx so I hope to catch more soon.

Our First Steam

Steaming is something that is a large part of the culture here. Many families have their own steam houses built to use, but it is sometimes a social thing. I was told when I got here that it consists of a bunch of naked men or women sitting in a room and that I shouldn't go if I would feel uncomfortable in this situation. I was also warned that if I did go, I'd better go when invited by someone I trust because it is a tradition to try and burn out the new guy so everyone can laugh and poke fun for a while. They do this by making it too hot to stand for someone unaccustomed to steaming.

The Steam House:
The steam house, at least the one Molly and I went to, had a room to get undressed in and then the steam room. The steam room has a stove with a fire in it to make it nice and toasty! A bucket of water away from the fire, the cold water. A basin of water on the stove, the hot water. There are rocks piled on the stove, which when water is poured on them the room gets hotter. I think this may be where the term "steaming" gets its name. There are also several basins for individual water, places to sit, and a wing (possibly from a raven) for beating.

How to Steam:
Molly and I were invited by one of the teachers at the school and her husband to come steam in their steam house on our own for our first time. This was the day we got back from the carnival and they thought it would be less threatening for us to steam together on our own for our first time rather than with a bunch of less known people that would try to burn us out. . .At least the men do this to newcomers.
Once the hot water is burning hot you enter the steam room and fill a basin with a mixture of the hot water and the cold water. This is used to wash with by splashing and pouring. The wing is used to beat out on kinks you may have by getting it wet with hot water and hitting yourself or others with it. It actually feels very good once you get past the whole wing thing. Once washed up it is a place to splash some water and relax. I put too much water on the rocks and we had to open the door because of the heat, but other than that it was quite relaxing. It is just like a sauna, but with a wood fire going, no chlorine smell, a bird wing, and the washing thing.
When we were done we stepped outside into a perfectly clear Alaskan night. The sky was clear and filled with stars. Very beautiful. I'll add more as I learn more about steaming.


This past Saturday Molly and I went to a carnival in New Stuyahok which started on Wednesday and went through Sunday. New Stu is about 22 miles away from Koliganek and took us an hour and fifteen minutes to drive there on our snow-go. For a while people thought it wouldn't be possible to get there because of the warm temperatures and the multiple lakes, ponds, and swamps that needed to be crossed. Most of the snow had melted away, making for a very bumpy ride across the tundra, but we tried to stay on lakes and patches of snow.

The carnival had dog sled races, basketball tournaments, bingo, raffles, and McDonalds' cheesburgers! There were only five dog teams in the race and there are typically more than ten, but this is a fast disappearing activity. I talked with Gusty about before snow machines came and how there would be a line of dog teams seven miles up the river coming to Carnival. In this day and age it is much easier to fill up the tank with gas than to take care of 20-50 dogs for a sled team. It's a sad thing.

Our teams didn't do well in the tournaments, but I blame it on the refs. Molly and I lost some money at bingo, but had fun chatting with the older women at our table. . .They had to teach us how to play the different games!

Finally the highlight of my day. . .McDonalds' cheeseburgers!!! For the low low price of $3 you could eat a little McDonalds cheesburger that had been made at McDonalds, shipped to Stu, and warmed in a microwave until it was just right!! You can bet that I was thinking the same thing you are now, I want one! It's the little things that count. We were going to take a picture of us by the advertisement, but we ran in to the art teacher there and wanted him to show me how he does some carving. He showed us a moose antler that he had carved a lynx and a hare into. It was amazing! I don't think mine or my students' carvings will look like that, but we can try.

There was a pageant and a dance that night, but we opted to head home in daylight. Molly lost her goggles in Stu, which made for a cold not so fun ride home for her. Compounded with the fact that she doesn't enjoy riding around on the snow machine like I do didn't help. At least we made it home safely.

Sunday, February 4, 2007

The Bad Luck Has Passed!

It seems the bad luck has passed. The temperature is now about 20 degrees and the puddles have all frozen over. I also got a package from my students and teachers at Black River Falls!! Thank you so much! They sent candy, soup mixes, easy mac, hand warmers, thermal socks, student made cards, hot chocolate, tea, drink mixes, carmex, and few other things to help me stay warm and feel at home. The drink mixes came in handy while we had to drink funny tasting water! There is a picture in the archive of what they sent if you would like to take a look. It is great fun going to the post office and finding a package for me! On boring days, I go there multiple times because new packages are constantly showing up whenever a plane comes in.

Thanks again to the students and teachers in BRF!

One Crazy Week

It seems that Molly brought a whole lot of bad luck with her when she came, but I think we have survived the worst of it. First the water went out, causing school to be cancelled twice and let out early once. The school supposedly has a reserve water supply that can get us through a day without water, but this wasn't working which is why school was cancelled. Thursday and Friday it was finally working. Although, we can't drink that water and have to wait a couple weeks after we stop using it before we can drink any water at the school. This means that we have to have paper cups and jugs of water all over the school for drinking and use as little water as possible for cooking lunch. Craziness!

The water finally started working at home yesterday so we can take showers, cook, flush the toilet, etc. What a relief! One week without water is a pain! Luckily it has been unusually warm (near 40 degrees) so we have been filling totes of water up from rain running off our roof. . . It's pretty clean. I think there are some pictures in the archive of Molly filling up the toilet so it can be used. It's been like living in the Boundary Waters.

Now the downside of warm weather. Most people would be happy to have 40 degree temperatures in January, but not me or many Alaskans. Nearly all of the snow has melted, 7+ feet of it, making everything very wet, mucky, slippery, and it doesn't allow for easy snow machine travel. I want to be out on the tundra trapping!

Before all the snow melted I took Molly out to check a couple of traps. We had to drive across patches of snow-less tundra and across lots of slushy puddles, but for the most part it was OK. We found one trap with nothing in it because it had fell about two feet because the snow melted out from under it. On our way to the next trap we got a bit stuck in a fast melting drift, but it wasn't bad and we got out easily. Then came some more of that bad luck. We tried to cross a dip that had some water flowing off the tundra to the river. It didn't look too bad and it wasn't, but I didn't know how to water skip so we went too slow and I got stuck. The water was about knee deep under the snow and we couldn't quite get ourselves out. We may look in good spirits in the picture at the top of this entry, but we hadn't walked three miles across a slushy tundra yet!

When we were nearing home Oscar stopped and asked me where my snow-go was. I told him and he said he'd help me a little later. His machine, which is twice as powerful, flew across large ponds on our way out. When we felt the machine sink into the water he would open up the throttle and we would seemingly catapult out of it and skip across the water the rest of the way (water skipping). This is what all of the kids do for fun during break-up. I was pretty sure I was going to fall off the back end into a deep hole. . .I'm still here. Once there, I dug out the snow in front with a shovel, we lifted the back end onto fresh slush, and I shot right out. I ordered a shovel yesterday that I can strap to my machine at all times. Hopefully this will help me in the future. I also got my VHF radio in the mail yesterday so I will be able to call for help if I am in a serious situation.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Molly's Arrival

Hello everyone!

I finally made it to Koliganek after six different flights starting in La Crosse, stopping in Minneapolis, Denver, Phoenix, Anchorage, Dillingham, and ending in Koliganek! Sophie (our cat) only threw up on two of the flights! She was doing great by the end of the trip. We left La Crosse on Saturday at 12:40 pm and arrived in Koliganek on Sunday at 3:00 pm (that's 6:00 pm WI time). Spending the night in the Anchorage airport was probably the least fun of the whole trip. To get to Koliganek, we took a plane that probably seated about six people including the pilot, but it was only me, Sophie, and the pilot and several boxes. We dropped the boxes off in another village first before arriving in Koliganek. On the way we saw four moose. The pilot even swooped down a little so that we could get a closer look!

When we landed at the airport, Brian was there waiting with our new snow machine (Alaskan name for the snow mobile other times called a snow go) and a sled that he borrowed to carry my luggage. It was a beautiful day!!! I think that it was about 34 degrees! We hurried to our apartment, I got a brief tour, and then we were off to see the village. Brian showed me where the school was, the stores, the post office, and even the dump! Then we went out with Brian's trapping friend to check some traps. By the way, this was my first time on a snow mobile, and it was a little scary but fun!

Later that night we visited the principal so that I could meet her, and we visited Ron, Brian's trapping friend, and his wife Rondee who is one of the elementary teachers. They have two cute kids! Ron and Rondee have lived in Koliganek for almost two years, but they have lived in bush Alaska for seven. They were telling us stories about different villages where their running water had gone out for a month! We talked about how lucky we were to be in Koliganek!

The next morning we discovered that we had actually jinxed ourselves by having the conversation about running water. There was no water! It had gone out the night before at about 9:30. The village well had dried up! I went to school with Brian to use the bathroom because the principal said that the school had a small supply of water for the toilets to flush. I had really hoped to take a shower that morning after all of the traveling that I had done, but that had to wait.

Later I found out that school had been canceled since there was no water, so I had lots of visitors. First three elementary girls stopped by. I let them in even though I had been advised not to. They really enjoyed my mp3 player and my cell phone (no service at all in Koliganek-big surprise!). It was pretty boring in my apartment, and the kids kept asking for candy, so I told them to go with me to the post office to mail a letter for Brian. We got all bundled up, and one of the girls grabbed the letter for me. As soon as we stepped outside, the letter flew out of the girl's hand in the 50 mph winds that we were getting yesterday! One of the kids chased after it and caught it, but when the other girl dropped a five dollar bill, she chased that and dropped the letter again. After that there was no way that we would ever find the white envelope in the white snow in that wind! It was gone forever! I went over to the school right away (Brian had stayed there for teacher in-service) to find out how important the letter was. When I got there, Brian told me that it was the paperwork to get the title for our snow machine. Oops. I think that he took care of it today, though.

Brian came home for lunch yesterday to eat with me, and he told me that he and the other teachers had spent their morning planning a schedule for me since the superintendent said that there was enough money to hire me full time for the rest of the year! I'm not really sure of all of the details yet, but I think that I will be teaching two art classes, a math class or two, and tutoring some first graders who need a little extra help. I'm really excited!

After Brian got done with his in-service day yesterday, we gathered our totes and took them on a sled over to another teacher's house. He has his own well, so we filled up our totes with his water (in the rain and wind) and delivered them to some of the teachers in town. So for the last couple of days our water supply has been housed in a tote in our bath tub, and bucket in the kitchen, and a tote outside. We were able to do dishes last night with it, and I washed my self this morning from a pot of water that I heated on the stove. I'm happy to be clean! We heard tonight that we might have water tomorrow morning. We'll see. There was no school again today because of the water situation. There will be school tomorrow no matter what; they are all prepared to go through the day without water.

Today was even windier than yesterday! It was 60-65 mph winds today, so you know what that meant...Brian and I had to go for a long walk toward the woods by the river! Once we got right outside of the village, the snow was soft and deep, so it was really hard to walk. We saw some enormous moose tracks and lots of moose poop! I was really scared that we would see a moose! There was no running in that snow! The walk back was horrible; it was straight into the wind. I had to walk backward most of the time because it was hard to breathe with it blowing into my face like that. It seemed to take forever to walk the quarter of a mile back to our house!

I've only been here for a couple of days, but a lot has happened! Sorry that this message was so long; I'm sure that not all of them will be so long. Right now I'm exhausted, but Brian is making me stay up late (10:00) so that I sleep longer in the morning.

Snow Machine

Hello All,

A lot has been hapening in the past couple weeks so this may be a two or three or four part message.

First of all, Molly made it here safely on Sunday and has plenty to write about. . .You should be hearing from her soon.

Part I
Snow Machine, Snow-Go, Snowmobile!
About a week ago I ordered my very own snow machine! It's amazing what you can do from home with the internet. I talked to a sales guy once about what I wanted, faxed in some paperwork, and my machine was to be freighted in three days later from Anchorage! I was told that I need to bring gas and oil with me to pick it up from the airport so I had to rush around to figure out how to get gas. To get gas, I have to call a guy at his house and he will meet me at the pump to pump my gas. Gas is five bucks a gallon! Anyway, I was at school when it came in and Nick (he plows the runway) stopped by my classroom to ask if he could move it off the runway... They just pushed it off the back of the plane and left. With permission from my principal, I left school to go get it! Now I am free to roam the open tundra!!

It just so happens that the day I got my machine, it was 30 below zero. Not caring too much about the weather, Ron and I decided to go set traps. I now have a couple of fox sets out and am comtinuing to set more, hopefully I will start catching something eventually. Needless to say, 2 hours of 30 below while driving around on a snow machine, I got my first frost bite! I had my face completely covered with only a hole for my nose to breathe through. That hole was enough and I frost bit the inside and bottom of my nose. Ouch!! Basically a couple days of pain, then it scabbed and healed.

Trapping has been rough this week becasue of all the snow. We spend more time digging snow machines out of snow than setting traps. The traps we have set have been getting buried in blowing snow rendering them useless. After the one day cold snap, it has been warming up so I think the traps will finally survive a night and we might start catching things. Did I tell about the wolverine we caught on my first trapping adventure?

School has been going well and I will probably add Part II later today.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Brian's Second Week

Hello all,

Some of you have been wondering if I am still alive up here, well I am. . .just a bit busy. I am also having computer issues, which is making e-mailing pictures much more difficult. Anyway, I am in my second week of teaching and things are going well. Today was the first day I actually had all of my students in class. On Friday I had about 20% of my students show up because they were all out Slaviing (I am not sure of spelling here, but that's ok). They go to a different village each day, stopping to eat at every house along the way. They do this for a week between the Russian Orthodox Christmas and New Year. I am already wishing for some of my students to Slavi some more!!

It snowed for three days in a row. . .Not a nice snow, but more like a crazy blizzard! Estimates are between 4 and 7 feet, but I am not sure. The wind blew it around so much that we may have gotten only a foot, but some drifts reach above roof tops! I really should have had snow shoes to get to school on Friday. The first door I tried to get in was completely drifted in and I had to walk around the school, sinking up to my thigh in snow! It doesn't take long for everyone to pack it down with snow machines, so it isn't bad anymore. Because of the snow, no mail came in for three days, but I got my luggage on Sunday!!!!!! I now have my rifle, but forgot where I put the key to the gun lock! I also have real winter gear! Yippee!!

On Saturday I went out wolf and wolverine trapping. We didn't catch anything, but we did get stuck twice for a total of 2.5 hours of snow digging/snow machine lifting fun!!! Snow too deep for a snow machine. . .Go figure! I don't know what he would have done if he was alone, it would have taken forever to get out. He blamed us not catching anything on the snow covering traps getting in the way of snares. Apparently, a wolf pelt will get 300-500 bucks! I will have to get some of my own snares so I can try to catch some wolves.

On Sunday, before I got my luggage, I went for a hike. The snow was starting to get hard enough so I could walk on top, but I did sink up to my waist a couple times. Looking down the river at Koliganek, I found a great spot for a fort. The snow hangs over the hill above the river a good 10 feet or better. Dig that out some more and it would make a great hide out. I will have to do that later. . .

I took pictures of kids playing on a roof top. One kid was shoveling snow off the roof, so others climbed up some pipes and would jump off into snow. Jumping off looked fun, but climbing up looked quite scary!

Some middle school students stopped by and asked if I would coach girls basketball because there is no middle school program. This would be kind of fun, but I am bad at basketball and don't have time to coach it. Then a bunch of elementary kids stopped by and asked if they could visit for a while! I was forewarned that if I said yes, they would visit me every day. I told them I was trying to get some work done. . .so they begged. . .then asked if they could stop by when Molly gets here. That will at least hold them off for a couple weeks!

Last thing, for those that did not know or forgot. I am teaching algebra, geometry (these two at the same time), reading, wood shop, middle school gym, high school gym, and life science. There are 36 kids in the middle and high school combined. I have all eleven middle schoolers three times a day!! When they start to get on your nerves, there is no waiting for the next class. . .They are the next class!!

I went to the store tonight and saw that they had gallons of vanilla ice cream (no price tag). Being the ice cream fanatic that I am, I picked it up and proceeded to pile some potatoes and onions on top of it. At the counter I asked the owner how much it was. . . $19. . .!!! I would have put it back, but it was all dirty from the potatoes. It's OK if I splurge once in a while right? For more perspective, a frozen pizza is $9, a 12-pack of Pepsi is $11 and a five-stick pack of Juicy Fruit is $.79. I also bought expired eggs. . .they don't get here before they expire and they have been good so far. My phone still thinks it doesn't work. I can sometimes call locally, sometimes 1-800 numbers, and rarely long distance. It's a tough problem to fix when I can't always make phone calls!!

Hopefully the next time I write I will be able to tell about my snow machine that I am working on getting and have pictures of a wolf, but you will just have to wait in anticipation.

Monday, January 8, 2007

Brian's Arrival

Hello Everyone!I have finally made it to Alaska! So far my only hardships have been: losing my luggage, being frozen out of my apartment, all my boxes were locked in the town hall, there is no quick way to make copies of keys for me, my phone doesn't work, it was -45 degrees today, and I have been wearing the same clothes for the past four days!

I still don't have my luggage, which has many of my teaching resources and warmest clothes. I did get into my apartment today, but slept in a different place last night because my apartment door was frozen shut. I also got into the town hall today to get the boxes that have been reserved thus far. Be careful of the first breath you take when going outside in this weather. . . It stings. I don't know when I'll have a phone??? I think I might change clothes tomorrow, now that I have boxes!

I left on Saturday morning at 9am from the cities and was in Dillingham, AK around 8pm (Alaska time, 3 hours behind) that night. I stayed in a bunkhouse Saturday night which was fairly nice. On Sunday it was 25 below and some planes weren't flying, but mine did anyway. Not having my luggage I borrowed some long underwear from the superintendent and off I was. I saw about 15 moose in my 30 minute ride...Hunting anyone?

Last night and all day today I have been trying to get organized, but it has been tough since I only got into my apartment this afternoon. I did look through the school and picked my room where I will have a desk. It's about half the size of any regular classroom, but it will do. My apartment, now that I am in it, is surprisingly nice! It has a beautiful view looking across the river at some mountain unknown to me.

I did go for a walk today after I found some warmer clothes in boxes! I walked for about 45 minutes, and my eyelids were freezing shut occasionally, which is why I went back when I did. Other than the cold, it was a beautiful day!

Tomorrow is my first day of paid work!!!!! It's a teacher work day, so I will be busy getting my classroom ready. Today is the Russian Orthodox Christmas and this Sunday is their new year, hence the day off today. To celebrate everyone hops on their snow machines and goes to the next village to eat at others' houses. This is done in 45 below weather! I think this is all I have to say for now.