Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Crabbing on the sea ice

Last week Bud and I went crabbing with Jess and Calvin. It was a beautiful day- the temperature was in the 50's and it was bright and sunny. There were several others crabbing and some watching for whales and seals. Although we traveled 12 miles on sea ice- I never felt nervous- even when I walked right up to the edge. The water was very calm and blue.

This boat launched off the edge of the sea ice. They were gone a few hours and came back with three seals.

The ice in the foreground is sea ice- no land anywhere.

This is the spot where the ice ended and the water began.

We stopped by the end of Cape Denby. Bud and Calvin are looking up at the cliffs where there are birds' nests. Later in the spring the people will climb them to harvest bird eggs (murres)

My first crab!!!!

In order to get the boats to the open water for whale and seal hunting they must be pulled across the ice by snow machine.

The sticks in the foreground are holding the crab lines.

At eleven thirty pm there is still plenty of light.

This is the reward for eight hours on the ice. Between the four of us we caught 15 nice crabs.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Elementary Ski Team

I took on the role of elementary ski team coach. It is more a matter of taking them out to play with a little racing time.
With no hills nearby, we use the snowdrifts. First we ski down to the river, then cross the river and ski on the drifts.
Beyond the snowfences in the background is the flat tundra that goes for miles and miles.

Snowdrifts in Shaktoolik

In a town known for its windy weather it is no surprise to find 8-10 foot high snow drifts. I took this picture while standing on top of a drift in the middle of the road. The road needed to be plowed daily with front end loader. Some days even snowmobile could not get through.

Buddy and I are posing atop a large drift on the beach. I have been tempted to ski down one, but would end up on the sea ice and it is rough in places.

A windy day doesn't stop people from going visiting.
This is a picture of a mentor teacher in her parka heading down the road. It was taken two weeks ago- today you would not see the building to the left due to drifts and plowing.

Yes, this is a house. If you look carefully you can see the door.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Our new toy

Although I have never been a fan of snowmachines, they do come in handy out here.
We bought this one last week. While it might be fun to drive it, it is not much fun riding on the back. I'll take a bicycle anyday. This summer I will sell my trailblazer in Montana and we will buy a boat and maybe a four wheeler (and a bike).

Bud is giving a ride to a guest. The goggles are a necessity and many people get frost bite while riding.

Iditabikers and Walker

Jose Diego of Spain spent a night with us after walking from Unalakleet on his way from Anchorage to Nome. He pulls a small sled with his gear. He shared some of his adventures with our students. He has traveled the world over- hiking, biking, kayaking and climbing- most of the time alone. He even climbed Mt. Everest two years ago.

Pete Basinger of Anchorage, Carl Hutchings of London with their bikes. Notice the large tires. Rok Kovat of Slovenia with two of our students

Not only do people travel the trail with dog teams, some even go by bike or even walk. The week after the mushers came through the bikers arrived. First two, then one, then two more. Although they attempt to ride their bikes, they often spend much time pushing them. It is interesting to talk to them as they rest awhile and catch up on some sleep in the school. The kids enjoy visiting with them, too.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Mushers have arrived!

The Heroes of the Day

At this point the dogs have travelled for 700 miles and have 500 to go.

The day before- for the past few days, bags of food and supplies have been air dropped in town . The mushers will pick them up when they come throughMany people anxiously await the lead mushers- this was taken 12:30 am Monday

Lance Mackey- last year's winner- is the first to arrive.

After having little sleep due the basketball tournament ( I will do a separate blog on that) everyone kept their eyes on the Iditarod website all day Sunday to track the leading mushers. Many can be tracked by GPS so we can predict when they will arrive in town. It is neat to watch their signal move on the computer. By midnight Sunday many people had gathered at the checkstation. Fortunately it was not a bad night- above zero and little wind. Around 12:45 we saw a light in the distance from a musher's head lamp. We knew Lance Mackey was in the lead with Jeff King two miles behind him. Lance pulled to cheers at 1:15 and spent 1/2 tending to his dogs. I was glad he was staying awhile- last year he checked in and kept going. Half an hour later Jeff King arrived. I did get their autographs and everyone stayed around until after 2 am- then left so they could rest. They each stayed about 4 hours, then headed out.
Mackey and King getting some rest.
Martin Buser arrived later Monday morning.

Another musher arrives.

The dogs are bedded down and after being checked by vets, go to sleep. They need to rest up for the last 500 miles to Nome. The lead teams should arrive in Nome by the end of the week.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Windy winter days

Snow buntings on our back deck overlooking the frozen ocean.

Bud leaving for the airport.
Part of our Coe-ed high school basketball team.
High school basketball team heading for the plane.

We have just had a solid week of windy, windy days- 30-50 mph. I wanted to take pictures of the drifts across the road, but it was too cold to operate the camera. I did get some video from the window. When the basketball left for a game last Friday, they had to get to the plane by sled and snowmobile because the roads weren't plowed. Bud was planning to leave Tuesday for a trip to Palmer, to visit his friend and go to a gun show, but the small planes would not fly due to the wind. He did get out Wednesday on another plane, then caught a larger plane in Unalakleet for the 1.5 hour ride to Anchorage. He is due back Monday. Today is not so windy so hopefully tomorrow will be OK.
We have had a lot of snow buntings visit our back deck this week once we started feeding them. They like wheat germ. I put crackers out today and they don't seem to like them as well. Also it is not so windy today so they may be elsewhere.
Buddy and I took a longer walk today. We have been going out on the sea ice a little ways. Today I did not look carefully where I was walking and stepped into a crevasse. My leg went in up to my thigh. No water though-just open space. I pulled myself out and have a sore knee on the other leg. I think I will stick to the beach for now.

Starting Thursday we are hosting the regional boys's basketball tournament. Eight teams from other villages will be here-staying in the school. Then we will have three days off for spring break.
Next weekend the Iditarod mushers will be coming through town. They left Anchorage area today. Look for those pictures next week.