Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Northern Traveler! (And Congratulations!)

First off, Congratulations to John Baker from my hometown of Kotzebue for winning the Iditarod, an 1,100 mile dog race that spans half of Alaska. Its the first time since before I was born that an Alaska Native has won.

John Baker
This picture was taken last year at the Kobuk 440 race, here in Kotzebue.

In other news...I've been out on Village Travel for the past week or so. Yay.

That means that my commute is in a Cessna Grand Caravan and I have the best-seat-in-the-house, which is pretty much every seat cause we have huge windows in bush planes!

My hometown from the air.

But when you're traveling to a place that everyone wants to get to, you end up taking the "milk-run" which basically means you village jump until you finally get to your destination two hours later.

Our villages are located on the River system.

Every morning I get up, pack my backpack full of things like food, water, a knife, a first-aid kit, a survival kit, extra underwear and socks, medication, my sewing kit, an iPad (to read and play angry birds) and my camera and set out to check out the country in Northwest Alaska.

My country

I always bring along something to hand sew so I can listen to music, read and sew at the same time. Sort of distracting me from the fact that I'm in a small bush plane with one engine. I usually end up finishing whatever it is I brought on the way back home.


Sometimes my friends and co-workers go with me to villages like Noatak where we find people who will hang out with us when we're done with work.

me and paulette

I always wear warm gear in the plane, or at least warm everything and pack snow pants just in case. Plus we do a lot of walking in the villages, so we need some comfy warm shoes to keep our tootsies feeling good.


And sometimes we end up being picked up by an Eskimo Limousine and carted around the village from here to there. I love riding the Eskimo Limousine...its what I grew up with.

me in sled

Lots of the places in the villages could be paintings they're so beautiful.


I always take the time to appreciate the hard work our people do to make things like sleds...


And baskets...


And other things that are important and much needed up here.

paulette and david

When I was on the sled out of Ambler with six other adults being pulled by a snowmachine with all our gear, I closed my eyes and listened to the strains and flexing of the sled. It was awesome to hear a wooden sled flex under and over snowdrifts carrying all that weight like it was nothing. I am in constant awe at tools the Eskimo's invented that are still here today. Sleds, Qayaqs (Kayaks), Ulus, etc.


Most of the time I like to just relax in the village. The life there is so much less fast paced than Kotzebue and even slower than urban cities. Its just peaceful and quiet. Perfect to read on a couch with your mukluks on.


basebell6 said...

this was a great post! i especially loved the pictures of your town and the village on the river from the plane. wow! you always say how you fly to the villages for your work but i somehow missed the part of what your job is(?). must be exciting!!!!! but scary having to fly in those crazy winters up there. i bet you get some "snowdays" from work??

Bethany said...

I've been a lurker on your blog for a while and I love it. I love that your hometown is the size of my neighborhood. I love that your 7 year old daughter shoots and knows her gun safety. I love looking at your little bits of the world so vastly different from mine. And I love your mukluks :)

ivan said...

YaxTraxs with Inupiat boots?????
Is this kosher????

John in Soldtna

Jani said...

My cousin just moved to Alaska from Michigan. I have always loved looking at your pictures and hope that now I can visit my cousin and see some of Alaska's beauty first hand!! Beautiful!!

Finnskimo said...

I am the Director of Communications/Media for our Tribal/Health/Social Services Corporation here in Northwest Alaska. We serve 11 villages plus Kotzebue. Those are the villages I go to all the time. :)

I always wear Yak Traks with my mukluks, I don't like to slip around and I really like to be warm! haha.