Posted by: gmelvin | July 10, 2014

Alaska Summer 2014

It’s hard to turn your back when you’ve left Alaska, and that’s one of the reasons I made my Lower 48 summer short. Going now into my fifth year of teaching, I left Oklahoma sooner than usual. One reason: Needing to spend some outdoor time in Brevig

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But first…

Last spring, my four-wheeler gave me issues. Creeping on its own when out of gear, start-up glitches, and odd engine noises had prompted me to get it to Nome for repairs. Unfortunately, on that icy road trip last spring, the machine “gave up” somewhere at the 45 mile marker on the Nome-Teller Highway. In case this happened, another teacher rode with me in a separate four-wheeler as back up. However, the icy road did not allow any traction when I tied both four-wheelers together for towing purposes. We left the machine on the side of the road and instead drove back to the village. The broken down four-wheeler sat out the road for about 3 weeks. Thankfully, the village pastor heading into Nome picked it up for me and brought it in to an atv workshop

Once I landed in Nome last week, I taxied over to the local atv dealership to pick up my new purchase – Arctic Cat 500XT. My plan was to drive it on the 70+ mile Nome-Teller Highway, and arrive in Teller to get picked up by a local villager with his boat. Brevig Mission sits across the bay (Port Clarence) with no incoming roads; so, villagers typically arrive by boat or plane.

I waited for over an hour (with my bags) at the dealership before the manager met me, but the wait didn’t matter much. I was getting there one way or another. After a quick stop at the Nome AC store for groceries and gas, I turned out on the road.

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Heading out of Nome

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Long and winding road

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Getting close…

 

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First sight of Port Clarence (in the distance)

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Part of the point got washed out in some storm last year

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The boat which took my four-wheeler across points (somehow)

The trip took over two and a half hours. It may sound like the story ended there, but it didn’t. Around nine or ten o’clock on the evening I arrive, I realized my backpack was missing. Ever lose a Mac Air, iPad, camera, and several notebooks at once? I just did…

I think I kept a cool head about the situation (ask my neighbors if you think otherwise). I made a number of phone calls to the villager who boated me over, and I asked a number of villagers working on their gill nets at fish camps along the point. Nobody had noticed any backpack, and I started to think somebody took off with it. And I did start praying.

The next day, I made a visit to the fish camp of the villager who boated me between points. He called a relative fishing on the other side (in Teller), and asked him to look around. Sure enough, the green backpack was there – along with the entire contents. I was amazed, relieved, and blessed for answered prayers.

Couple who boated me across points - and who made the call to find my backpack!

Couple who boated me across points – and who made the call to find my backpack!

Now, I felt I can start enjoying my summer. I made a call that Monday to Papa Murphy’s, and ordered pizza from Anchorage. They offer free delivery on Bering Air, and I only had to pay shipping from Anchorage to Nome via Alaska Airlines (relatively cheap). Add a nice coupon (buy one, get one free), you’ve got a nice cheap dinner for a couple of days. Other great times in the past few days have included late night board games, and outings in the tundra in search for Quivit – or musk ox hair. Musk ox shed some of their hair in the summer, and you can occasionally find the hair (quivit) stuck in the willows or on the ground. My neighbor and I are now collecting quivit to sell in either Nome or Unalakleet. Quivit can sell for a very high price. So other than downright irritating mosquitoes (and the backpack situation) – the summer started out quite well.

Quivit blown into willows along the local lagoon

Quivit blown into willows along the local lagoon

Not much, but still great to pick up

Not much, but still great to pick up

No quivit here

No quivit here

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