Posted by: gmelvin | June 25, 2015

Brevig Return

Walk_IceWell, I’m back to some blogging…hopefully, for a longer time frame than just the summer. It’s nice to wake up (for once) each morning without the needs of teaching hanging over my head. Don’t get me wrong – I enjoy the work, and I wouldn’t trade it. But work can cut into spare time opportunities.

I typically take the earliest flight possible when school closes for the summer. This year…due to various reasons…I hung around for awhile. A great friend worked on my ATV just before I flew out, replacing the primary clutch that broke off my Arctic Cat. This hasn’t been my year for riding out. Various breakdowns and trial-by-error lessons on operating snow machines (and one atv) made for some frustrating hours. I now have a better idea on what to do…and what not to do…

I took off around the outskirts of the village before my flight home. Well..I actually ook off two…or three times. Give or take. The freedom to go about anywhere you want on an ATV in Alaska is something nonpareil. And it’s much cheaper than driving for a pricey theater ticket into Muskogee, OK. The sea ice just started to break up, and the white hue of the ocean had now morphed into blue. Many villagers took off hunting or cleaning seal. Many even went “egging” – an actual hunt for wild bird eggs out on the tundra floor. Various birds lay their eggs on the ground (remember – lack of trees here), and it appears to be a very popular activity. I haven’t tried it out yet, but I wouldn’t mind if I was invited by a local.

Sea_Ice_1Ice chunks along the shoreline of Grantley Harbor


Our school is in cleaning mode now. In addition, two new units are being constructed for our growing staff numbers. It’s quite likely that I’ll move into one of these single units, since my current living quarters is designed for two people (and I’m the only human being in there).


It’ll be a bit smaller than my current unit – and the only downside is that I’ll be away from some great neighbors. They are in walking distance, but for me…that’s something to consider when you think about the kind of weather we have.

I’ll be back. In Brevig.


But I won’t be alone. My family is coming with me for several weeks, and they’ll get a taste of bush Alaska. For all but one, it’ll be their first time here. I hope they get outdoors, fall in the ocean, buy life at village prices, & help me set the gill net.

Something new for this year – I’ve bought a boat from a departing teacher. It’s an 18ft long boat with a 55hp engine. With accessories. This will be a very new experience for me, as I have very little boating experience. It’s in great condition, and I’m hoping to find someone to teach me the basics. I’ve been told that, particularly around Brevig Mission, boating can be a bit of a challenge. But it is fun, and it’ll be a first.

Site for new teacher single-unit complex

Site for new teacher single-unit complex

Finally, bush villages know about the difficulty in connecting to reliable and fast internet. Many rely on satellite internet, which has its own pros and cons. Last January, we got connected to a new service provider with “Lower 48” comparable speeds. It’s Exede, and they offered a plan that allowed for unlimited internet (but it does have a soft cap at 150GB). And ever since…we streamed Netflix.

The customer agent said that, at that time, our village was the farthest north they ever reached. YouTube is no longer a problem. And at peak speeds during midnight hours, I’m able to stream 2k on my television set. I really never thought I would see this day come.

The only drawback is an occasional, & seasonal, change of dish alignment. My dish is located about 5ft off the ground, and is subject to some interference issues. Any slight change in the dish direction constitutes a signal loss. Major winds. Weather. A 5-year old hanging off the dish. It happens – we adjust.

We' a few dishes

We’ve…got a few dishes

Fortunately, the installation guy left us with instructions on how to realign the dish. Basically, it’s trial & error until you get the dish correctly pointed.

I’ll start reposting more once I return. Hopefully, nicer pics will be available. Got an iPhone 6. Take it easy.



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