Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Word from the Coast

So remember how I mentioned yesterday that the winds were supposed to be worse down on the coast? Well, I got an interesting email today from our neighbor/Junior-High-teacher-extraordinaire Christina. Seems she has been in touch with Kendra Cleveland, a former student down in Quinhagak (where she, along with Sara, Carey, and a few other teachers here had previously taught), and got the story of what's been happening:
you knw what?? we have about 70 knot winds here...the church bell windows trying to break...wires cutting in half...shacks an all falling...four wheelers going across the roads...55 gallon drums going across....a teacher house got its window broken

I expressed my concern and got the following reply and extended description...

yea i knw...its like so bad... all the villages lights are out. im at the school...we're still having school...the winds came around lunch time.. kids have to wait for there parents to pick them up. not unless they stay here in the school.... since electrical wires are flying around we're told to stay here in the school...not unless our parents says its ok for us to go home or they pick us up... yea...the lil kids parents or grandparents are picking'em we're almost the ones left....and theres trash flying around....the wind got calm an now it picked up again..

And then later...

well winds went up to 100 around yea..we're still in in p.e. but i dont want to go to that class..the teacher said it was ok for me to be in his class with the 6th graders

Now Quinhagak is Internetless. I'm only assuming they are in school at all today. I'm not really sure. I'll let you know if I hear more.
Just to give a little comparison (weather geek that I am), 70 knots is 80.6 miles per hour. 100 knots is 115.2 mph. That's equal to a Category 3 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson scale. So yeah, pretty windy.

But hopefully things have died down there a little bit by now and not too much damage was done. And Kendra, if you're reading this, hope you're doing good and everything's ok...thanks for the info!!

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Windy Sunrise

I was at school this morning to sit in on the 3rd grade class I'll be taking over for a couple months (gulp!), listening to the wind howl outside, when I noticed a pink glow enter the room from the window behind me. I turned around to check out the sunrise (mind you, it was around quarter after 10), and immediately shuffled down to Sara's room to grab her camera. All kinds of funky colors that the camera didn't even catch. Cool, eh?

But as I poked my head out the back door to take a couple shots, I was having trouble staying still in the wind. And it's gotten worse all day...there's a "high wind warning" in effect, with a nice 40-something mph breeze gusting into the 60s. They're supposedly getting into the 80s down on the coast. That's in the hurricane range, peoples...and not at all uncommon. Perfect kite flying weather!

The nice thing is that the temperature's been really warm the last couple of days. It was in the upper 30s yesterday and mid 40s today, and it actually rained for a while last night. Crazy. But combined with all the extra sunlight we're seeing on a daily basis, it's almost like a little dose of spring.


Friday, January 26, 2007

Round 2

We had a pretty wicked blizzard going on yesterday...bad enough that school was canceled and everything in the village (read: the store and the gas station) was closed. We had a nice little snowdrift inside the back door of our house.

Then, it kinda let up last night and was fine this morning.

Then it kicked up again this afternoon. This is what it looks like outside right now (or at least 15 minutes ago, when I was walking to school):

Mind you, the picture doesn't really do the scene justice. For instance, that drift in the middle of the picture is about, oh, 7 or 8 ft tall. And it wasn't there this morning. I had to run home from school to grab the checkbook a little while ago, and in the 3 minutes I was in the house and started to walk back, the drifts had shifted and there were new little baby 2 foot drifts on the path I had just taken. Footprints and snowgo tracks just made disappear in minutes. It's pretty neat, actually. Except when you have to walk through it.

We're going to try to get some good pics this weekend...

Thursday, January 25, 2007




930 AM AST THU JAN 25 2007



Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Me, me,'s all about me

Here I am after getting back from the ride on Sunday. You can tell it's pretty warm out by the fact I wasn't wearing a facemask :-P

But it's a dry cold

Let me tell ya, there's just something about waking up, taking a nice warm shower, and then looking at the outdoor thermometer while you're getting dressed and seeing -21.7 that makes walking out the front door in the morning a little more daunting. But alas, here I am, subbing for one of the high school teachers today, which gives me a little time here and there (not to mention a solid internet connection) with which to compose a blog entry. Lucky you.

This past weekend was really interesting. It started out with lots and lots of basketball, as our school was hosting a few other high school and junior high teams for some games. Playing other schools here necessarily means traveling by plane and all the logistics that go along with it, so it makes sense to have a bunch of teams fly to one host and all play each other to get as many games in as possible. This makes for a tournament-like atmosphere, and while it's a lot of fun, it's pretty stressful as well...not only for the hosting school, but for all the people traveling as well.

Basketball is very popular up here, as I think I've mentioned before. Mostly, I think, because there are not a whole lot of sports that can be played indoors year-round. But whatever reason, games are a big deal in the village. Don't believe me? This is a picture of the "parking lot" in front of the school Saturday morning...

Anyways, the games were fun. My girls didn't do very well, result-wise...but I'm pretty proud of most of them anyway. They played hard and improved as the games went on, and that's about all you can hope for. Especially when you're playing a ranked team that's got a baby Shaq...but that's a whole other story. And even with some teams playing twice, all the games were done and teams cleared out and off to the airstrip by early Saturday afternoon, which left the rest of the weekend for some non-school fun.

A neighbor, co-worker, and hella-cool guy had asked me earlier in the week if I'd be interested in helping out with his dog team. Of course I said I would, as I'd never even seen anyone mushing, much less get to help, so he called me Saturday after basketball was over and we headed out. Seeing the work it was dealing with the 7 or 8 dogs he has...not only the harnessing and stringing up but the daily feeding and care, etc...I can't imagine how people have 20- or 30-dog teams. It's insane. He's the "dean of students" at the school and a Site Administrator in training, so I mused to him while he was attempting to hook up one of the dogs while trying to keep half a dozen others from chewing their harnesses or each other, that I didn't know whether to think that the dogs helped prepare him for dealing with students or the other way around.

Once we got going, it was a lot of fun. I rode ahead of the team a ways on my snowmobile to make sure they had a trail to follow and to help call them in the right direction if they got headed off the wrong way. It was actually a pretty warm weekend, in the 20s most of the time, which was nice for riding, but I think the dogs would have liked it a little colder. One kept getting balls of ice in the webbing of her's amazing the kinds of conditions these animals are evolved and bred for. I'm sure they're happy as clams out there in their boxes right now. But yeah, he took them out for a 10 mile run Saturday and then again for 6 miles in another direction on Sunday. They were pretty tired out by the last part of the second trip, but I'm sure they were happy to be out doing what they do.

In mushing-related news, the Kuskokwim 300 was this weekend too, in and around nearby Bethel...good stuff, good stuff. That means the Iditarod can't be too far away! You know, I think I could totally get into this dogsledding thing...

Thursday, January 18, 2007

How I spent my Wednesday

Or at least a good chunk of it, anyway.

When we returned from sunny, almost-tropical Wisconsin last weekend, we were reminded with no undue subtlety that it had, indeed, actually been winter in some parts of the world. The chief symptom of this "actual winter" condition (besides near-total lack of satellite reception...grr) being the crazy amount of snow on the ground. Which, all in all, is pretty nice - things seem a lot closer and easier to get to in the village when you can just travel in straight lines, not worrying about boardwalks and such. However, when you've been gone for a month and your snowmobile has been sitting outside, unmoved for at least that long...well...let's just say I was happy we could see part of it sticking out of the snow and didn't have to go searching for it.

So, after a couple hours of digging, I extracted it yesterday. And really, it was a nice enough day to be out...sunny and well enough into the 30s that water was starting to drip off the frozen powerlines. It was hard to get a decent picture with the shadows, but here's the crater from which the bugger was extracted. If I had been thinking, I would have taken a "before" picture, with just the windshield sticking out of the snow.

But, obviously, I wasn't thinking.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Obscenely Long Photo Post

I apologize (especially to those of you out there with dial-up or other slow connections) for the number of pics to load in this post...I just decided that I needed to get a bit of a photo essay out of the way before I could get on with more posting now that we're back in the good ol' snowy state of Alaska. So without further adeu, here are a selection of pics from Xmas break!!

Loki was quite relieved when the plane travel was over. He pretty much just passed out in a ball in the back seat of my parents' car for the ride from O'Hare. I couldn't blame him.

Of course, he later regained his energy to the point he could demonstrate his firm belief that despite being a 70+ pound Lab, he is, indeed, a lap dog.

George and I take our beer drinking very, very seriously.

My nephew Nathan got some presents for Christmas, which he enjoyed very much. He's a happy kid.

Our friend Katie came to Point for a New Years visit. Here she is apparently demonstrating that lack of alcohol causes her some sort of facial swelling.

The New Years Eve "Around the World" party was pretty crazy...definitely a cool idea with lots of different spirits in which to imbibe...

Which led to some interesting dancing, to say the least. If you want to see a couple really good pics from New Years Eve, check out Sara's post on the subject.

And of course we made it up north for a day. This may have been the only time we saw real snow for the whole time we were in Wisconsin. Sad, huh?

Back at the bar, our beautiful friends were out in style...

...and so were their respective Hamuses. Note the cans of bad beer...only the best for us Pointers. But hey, dollar cans of Hamms? I'll take it.

'Cuz hey, when you're in Point...there's always enough Elbow Room.