Sunday, October 18, 2009

Perryville... aka The Banana Belt of the Peninsula

A little clip from the shores of Perryville

It’s been over 10 days since my last blog entry and for good reasons. Knowing that winter is right around the corner, I’ve been taking advantage of the beautiful weather we’ve been having and spending my free time outdoors. Perryville is referred to as the banana belt of the peninsula. It’s been 50s-60s during the day and 40s at night, not too bad for Alaska. However, it does call for snow next week in King Salmon, where we’ll be for teacher inservice. School closes on Tuesday at 12:00 and all teachers and staff fly to King Salmon for a 3 day inservice. I imagine it costs quite a bit of money, because they have to pay for lodging, meals, and plane tickets, but It’s the only time we meet as a group. The excitement for the week includes eating and socializing at a restaurant and shopping. We’re also having a district wide “fun run” 5k on the beach, sponsored by the wellness committee.

Wellness is important to the school district. It makes sense to promote healthy lifestyles when health care services are very limited during the school year and if you don’t enjoy physical activity or at least walking, teaching in the bush would be a challenge. At the beginning of the year all staff received a pedometer and a LPSD Wellness team shirt. The pedometer measures steps and distances in miles. The recommendation is to walk at least 10,000 steps per day. A mile is approx. 2000 steps. It’s interesting to see how far you actually walk in a day. The purpose of the pedometer is to encourage daily exercise and we have challenges throughout the year. For example the last challenge was to see which site could walk/run the most steps in a week. Everyone recorded their steps for the week and then we calculated the average for school. The winner received a Pizza delivered by bush plane, great prize, but doesn’t quite fit into wellness!

10/6/09 leaving Perryville
On my way to Chignik Lake for the week... it was beautiful when I left, but soon after we had a fierce 3 day rain/wind storm that grounded the planes and kept me at the Lake until Sunday. 

Chignik Lake's mascot is a wolf and it sits in the lobby of the school.  It's a great reminder of what lurks outside in the wilderness and to be on the alert at all times.  The wolf population in Alaska is rather large and some believe they are the reason for the decrease in moose and caribou. 
There are only about 17 kids in the school and only 1 who receives special ed services, so I try to help out in other ways during my visit.  This week  I administered the high school exit exam and worked in small groups with students.  It's amazing the amount of learning that can take place with small numbers.  Most of the students at the Lake are involved in commercial fishing and have goals to continue that after high school.  Basketball is also very popular here, as it is in all of the villages.  Most schools have open gym from 6-9 and the community is welcome.  Since recreation choices are limited during the winter, just about everyone plays, and kids from a very young age are talented.  Even though I play with middle schoolers, I'm enjoying it and I'm actually quite fast and aggressive. 

Working hard to get the boats out of the water during the storm.  This picture doesn't give a good description of what it was really like.  The wind gusts were up to 70mph in some areas probably 50 where we were and the rain was relentless.
Being stuck at the Lake gave me lots of extra time to finish up the wedding gift I've been working on for my cousin, Meghan and her new husband, Greg...sure wish I could've have been there, but lots of time to fit in a visit this summer.  I'm thinking shipping the gift is not such a good idea, considering it's breakable and the halloween candy dish my mom sent arrived in several pieces...anyways
Congratulations Meghan and Greg!! : )

Chignik Lake is a beautiful Lake, cysrtal clear water and lots of salmon run in the rivers, even in October.  Having a skiff gives you the freedom to go to Chignik Lagoon and Chignik Bay.  A lot of people go to the Bay to get on the ferry to go to Homer and then drive to Anchorage, which is a lot cheaper than flying. It's only about $100 compared to $900+  round trip flight.  During the summer months until the end of October the ferry runs up and down the Peninsula all the way to Dutch Harbor and back to Homer.  You can actually take the ferry all the way up from Seattle.  It's also a cheap way to transport an ATV.

Finally made it home to Perryville, where I was greeted off the plane by 2 new friends.  They are loving their first milk bones, which are probably a little big for puppies, but village dogs aren't picky.

Pretty soon they'll be ready for their first beach run and begin basic bear guarding for dogs!

The kids caught a King Salmon off the beach and brought it to the school.  Dinner is served!  It's pretty amazing that I have a full freezer packed with halibut, salmon, crab, and berries.  Who would have thought I'd be eating healthier in Bush Alaska.  I guess it's easier because there's no Giant Eagle aka "dirty bird" or fast food to use as a resource.  Instead, you have the choice of nature or paying outrageous prices for online groceries that takes up to 3-4 weeks to deliver.  I prefer the latter.  Also, twice a month Full Circle Farms delivers a box of fresh fruit and vegtables.  Everything is organic and fresh when we get it, because we pay for special shipping and it's shipped the day it's picked.  I haven't had to order anything online since I've been here... it helps that mom sends good treats!

10/18/09... Hike around 3-Star

As I'm beginning my normal Sunday evening routine, which involves packing a suitcase and organizing paperwork for the week, 3 of the kids in the village stop by and ask if I want to go for a hike around 3-star. Anything to get out doing boring Sunday chores and how could I say "no" when the sun's out.  So we all pile on 1 honda and cruise down the beach to 3-star.  I know I'm getting old, when I have to remind them to slow down and I opt to walk up the big hill, rather than risk falling off the back of the honda!  We all arrive safely at the bottom of the trail and begin our slow climb... I had no idea what I was getting myself into, but it was no leisurely Sunday hike that's for sure!

Don't look down!! Too late to turn back so, I slowly begin the long slow climb down the mountain.

Careful!!! I must have said that a thousand times, it was a steep descent! To be a kid again with no fear...

A beautiful ending to a perfect sunday in the bush. 

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Hey Candice,
You have certainly experienced more in a few months of teaching in Alaska than Aunt Karen did in 27 years inside suburban classrooms! I missed out on the opportunity/and or joy of having a wolf as a reminder of dangers; however, I did have a "stuffed" wolf as a mascot for the kids one year. That's the closest I came to your "school wolf!"
Happy to hear the winds haven't blown you away, and you are finding time for memories for Meg/Greg. We married them off this weekend with Trent sharing this special time. You'll have to ask him about their "dancing with the stars" bride/groom dance. They surprised us all with this opening dance as Mr. Mrs. You can never understand that quiet Meg! Wish you could have been there, but it sounds like the kids in Alaska need you there. Love the beautiful of your pictures - you just might become a photojournalist - or a storm chaser in the future! Aunt Karen