Wales Day 4! Last Day…Flight back

Today was a slow day, I had lots of time to sit around in the morning waiting for patients. It seems that everyone stays up very late here–usually till 1 or 2 in the morning, and then wakes up late. Kids have a hard time getting to school, and clinic mornings tend to be slow and afternoons very busy.

I got to see a baby and a mama today! I added them into my schedule since my other patients weren’t showing up. I had extra time with them, since I had completed everything for all my patients–one lesson that I learned from my last village trips! It was a much calmer exit this time around than last!!!

I even got the airport early and had time to take some pics (last time I barely made the flight–the plane was taxiing to take off and came back to get me! :)). It was super busy at the aiport today!!! 😉 I haven’t seen this much traffic in a while. Ryan Air was there, then the chopper from Diomede came in–for the first time in a week, because of the bad weather. (see video)! The principal of the Diomede school was stuck here in Wales. Then Bering Air (my flight!) came in. Before these village trips, everyone says good luck and hope you make it out! Or “weather permitting” when speaking about any travel plans, because the weather is frequently bad.

Chopper landing (there must have been some blade-bending force in the universe when this picture was taken):
Diomede Chopper

Video of the chopper and Bering Air:

Since no planes could fly in the last 2 days due to weather, there is a lot of traffic for this little village in the middle of nowhere!

So much air traffic Wales!

Sunset at the air”port”
Airport sunset

The mountain down on the right is the Cape Prince of Wales. And out to sea are Little and Big Diomede Islands–and the mainland of Russia can be seen on the horizon!
Wales Diomede aerial

The Cape of Wales is the westernmost point of the North American continent!
Wales mountain sunset aerial

mountains sunset

Amazing Alaska Autumn! Trip to Council (Day 3 in Nome)

There are a few unpaved roads out of Nome (granted they don’t lead to any bigger civilization), and today I got to go on a field trip with the other new doctor Tim and his lovely wife Sarah Miller, we went East along the coast to Council “City”. This was the first thing we saw on our road trip this morning:

kissing moose

kissing moose

The drive was stunningly beautiful with the tundra painted with oranges, reds, greens with a backdrop of blue mountains and blue streams running through it. I learned today that along here (the Safety Sound) is a bird-watchers paradise, with rich wetlands throughout the tundra. Also, this where the Bering Land Bridge used to connect this continent to Russia! And last, but not least, this is where the home stretch of the Iditarod trail passes before ending in Nome.


We got to see the train going to nowhere:

Train to nowhere

On the sign in front of the train: “Rusting Legacy. These locomotives and flat cars are remnants of the unsuccessful attempt to build a railroad to gold mines near Council City. the locomotives began service on elevated railways of New York City, then became the workhorses of the Council City and Solomon River Railroad (CC&SRR) in 1904. The great storm of 1913 destroyed the Solomon River Railroad bridge, stranding them here.”

Then we chanced upon a herd of musk-ox. They wouldn’t let us get very close, which is probably for the better. :)

Two of the larger musk-oxen

Two of the larger musk-oxen.

There is a lot of road work, which seems surprising out here, but I guess no place is immune to summer road construction. My friend in Anchorage (Kieara) told me a joke that there are four seasons in Alaska: Winter, Winter, Winter and Construction.

We stopped a few places along the way, just to enjoy the jaw-droppingly beautiful scenery.


And then we arrived at Council City, now a small end-of-the-road village, that used to be a city with up to 15,000 inhabitants during the late1890s, but most of them moved to Nome around 1900 when more bigger, better gold was found. Part of the town is perched on a rocky bank overlooking the river and the sandbar, where we picnicked.

Standing in the river in front of the town. I love my Bogs boots (a warmly insulated, waterproof must-have for Alaska)!

me in council bluffsAround here we saw a lot of these outboard jet motors, since the rivers are so shallow–just like we used to have on our river in New Guinea!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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…