Hunkering Down!

The wind is wicked today, whipping around at 30 mph. The temps are in the 30s (feels like 23), humidity is 92% with a drizzle. All leading to a biting chill making people button down their coats and walk the streets hunched in the wind. I heard it howling all night long, with strong gusty winds (the last time I heard a sound like that was when fighter jets flew over). It’s not just the winter causing the hunkering down, but also the expanding darkness and contracting light; we now have another hour less of sunlight.  The sun today rose at 9:33am (!) and set at 8:03 pm. Even when I don’t have to be at clinic till 9am, I am going to to work in the dark. And we are still losing 6.5 minutes of daylight every day…

I got news that my container is in Nome now! Woohoo! It made it safely!!!  After looking out over the choppy seas and hearing stories of barges that have had containers fall off (and barges that have sunk), I figured there are no guarantees… Apparently it came in while I was in Wales! :) I went out to the shipyard to see it, and to see if there is anything I can easily access in it. There are so many things that I am trying not to buy, because I know they are in the container.

The wharf hunkering down–last barge comes in next weekend, before the sea freezes till June! It felt good to be out in the fresh, brisk air and to enjoy the daylight!


Port of Nome




Nice boat!


Big legos!


I love the brightly colored blocks!

 I found my shorty container (yay!!!!), but the doorside is against other containers, so I can’t access it yet to get my goods out. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I’m sure it won’t take much to flip it around, given all the heavy machinery hanging out in the yard. So now it’s just a matter of figuring out where to put it (the yard of our multiplex? *sorry neighbors!*), and how much to unpack now, or if I might buy a place and move soon… I’m still not sure what to do, and since I work every week day, I’m not even sure how I’m going to figure it out! [Feeling not quite settled yet, and not knowing how to go about getting settled in…]


Bus at the boat harbor. I wonder if someone lives here. There is a generator outside hooked up. Au gratin = French for browned crusty topping…this bus definitely has a crusted top.  (I think it might be insulation foam(?). :) Update: just found out that it is a food truck with delightful warm, southern food–see comment below. even cooler. :) 


The harbormaster’s cozy little house


No more dredge boats. Not sure what these platforms are.


The North beach dredge camp–there are still tents here. You can see the stiff wind in the flags and the whitecaps.



Alaska Logistics, my barge service




boat out of water


Nome-coming (Day 1)

I arrived in Nome today!!! With a one-way ticket in hand and a lump in my throat, and my family now 3,000 miles away, here I am!

Alaskan Airlines

The bird that brought me to Alaska.
Alaska Airlines.

The airportOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERANome looks entirely different from when I came here before. Before it was completely white—it looked the National Geographic photos of Antarctica; even the Bering sea was white and frozen over.

Nome ~ Tundra and the Bering Sea

Flying into Nome ~ over the Tundra and the Bering Sea

Today it is colorful, with the tundra shades of oranges, reds and greens, and the sun  glistening off the Bering Sea, the deepest shade of blue.

It’s a gorgeous, bright day!


Look at all those dredges on the water! OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I had braced myself for the worst, thinking that by this time of year, there would be only snow, freezing and darkness. In reality, the sun doesn’t set until around 9pm. (clearly I don’t know much about Alaska). I was met at the airport by lovely Sarah (—she is the wife of the new doctor, who also just graduated from residency) and her two kiddos, who are A-dorable! Since my apartment was still being cleaned, I got to hang out with their family for a while.


Lovely Welcome gift!

I also got to see Phil + Sara Hofstetter & Co. ~one of my favorite families of all time, who I met back in my interview (see post about what brought me to Nome)! Sarah brought me the sweetest welcome gift—a plant in beautiful pottery, and a card.

I was expecting to live in rustic housing, like the kind on Northern Exposure, but instead my apartment is lovely with big picture windows in the living room, fully furnished down to sheets and dishes. I had no idea. I don’t know what I’ll do with my container when it arrives, since I packed it full of furniture and household goods! It’s very warm and clean. I even have internet. According to the locals this is very nice for Nome, and not all housing looks like this:


My new apartment!

My new apartment!

I went to the grocery store today and bought a box of groceries. They cost me an arm and a leg! Then I was struggling to carry the box home, since I don’t have a vehicle. A super kind Mr. Kab (one of the two local taxi services) driver gave me a ride back home and wouldn’t accept any payment. Thank you!

Since the day was so gorgeous with blue skies, 57 degrees and sunshine, I went down to the Bering Sea and walked around town to take some photos of this rustic, little town.

This place will capture your heart so quickly! It’s so warm and friendly, and welcoming. People stopped to say hi and wish me a good day, or to ask me what I was doing here, or to do something kind~like offer a ride. I saw more artsy homes~ and some of the most creative homes ~than I have in a long time! I particularly love that there’s almost as much air traffic (mostly small bush planes) as road traffic…which isn’t a whole lot of either. It’ seems so peaceful here, and the air smells fresh and clean. :)

So far all of the things I have been apprehensive or worried about have faded away, and it is wonderful to be here. This will do, for a weekend, or a season, or a home.

Packing for Nome, Alaska

My 10 foot metal container for shipping to Nome!

My 10 foot metal container for shipping to Nome!

Packing for Nome, Alaska was difficult because:
1. I had to think waaay ahead (compared to renting a Penske truck),
2. It is logistically more challenging–there are no roads to Nome, only barge and airplane. It’s a two-part journey for cargo coming from the lower 48.
3. it’s way colder than any place I’ve ever lived,
4. I had no idea what kind of housing I would be moving to…
5. Everything is so expensive in Nome, so if a company is paying for the move, I recommend buying as much bulk in advance as possible, so I could buy it for cheaper and then have the shipping paid for.

1. I had to think months ahead since cargo has to be on a barge between July and September. The Bering Strait unfreezes in June (typically) and freezes again in October (typically). That means 9 months of frozen sea!!! It also means if you don’t get your cargo on the barge in this narrow window, you might not have your stuff for almost 1 year! The barge takes 1 to 1.5 month to go from Seattle to Nome, so in order to get my stuff by September, I had to get it to Seattle by the beginning of August. It’s especially difficult if you don’t have time to figure out what all you need. So even though I tried really hard to think ahead, I still didn’t get everything in the container that I need, and I ended up with 3 check-in bags on my flight.

2. Everything ships from Seattle on a barge, so you have to have everything packed in your home state and moved, but then also it must be properly packed and ready for the shipyard to put it on a barge to go to Nome. Most of the lower 48 moving services, like PODS are not available to go to Alaska. So in order to arrange it all, you have to have a container (palettes with your shrink-wrapped boxes, crates, liftvan, metal container) that you can pack and have it sent on a land carrier to a ship yard to jump on the barge to Alaska. It is very time sensitive. I had to work backwards–from the time I needed my goods in AK, to when they needed to be in Seattle, and figure how long they would need to get to Seattle. I also didn’t know how long stuff would be sitting outside, so I wanted it to be not in palettes. Simultaneously I had to call a lot of places to find a container. I considered building a crate with my Dad, because it would be a LOT cheaper. But realistically, who has time for that?
my packing list:

Household goods:
Living room: couch, chair, bookshelves, curtains (although in hindsight, I didn’t really need all these)
Books (heavy! Need to invest in a kindle!)

Dishes, towels, paper towels,extra storage shelves (collapsable from target)
TP, towels, washcloths, cleaning supplies, personal bath items, lots of soap, shampoo, conditioner, razors, electric toothbrush (enough to last one person for 2 years!)

Bed and dresser (again, didn’t need to bring these!), bookshelves, nightstands, sheets, blankets, comforter/bedding

Bogs, lots of wool long underwear, jacket. I still need a 800-fill, long, down puffy coat with a hood :), sweaters, wool socks

camera, computer, extra extension cords and power strips, 3 S.A.D lamps and one regular lamp, fan-heaters

To be continued…