Bush Alaska

Our week: We’ll start with Christmas. Mundane, and good. But woke up with a sinus infection starting. Blech. Blizzard warning out since Friday through Monday afternoon. Sustained winds all weekend of 50 mph. Gusting up to 60. North wind, blowing sea spray onto the village, at or below 0 temps.

Sunday: Skip church, don’t feel that great. Winds are nasty. Power flashes on and off all evening.

Monday: Get a phone call at 4:14 a.m. “Do you guys have heat and power?” Why, yes, we do. “Can I come over. My place is cold.” Another teacher. Uh, sure. The couch is yours. Can I go back to sleep now? Wake up to discover that the whole ENTIRE village lost power overnight. Except us. (Apparently our circuit is a direct one from the old school that used to have a generator that would backfeed electricity to the rest of the village when the main line went out. Lucky us.)
Monday: Amidst random power outages, our power stays on. The rest of the village, not so much. Some people have generators. I call the clinic. No power. No appointments. Make an appointment for Tuesday morning hoping power will be restored.
Monday night: The school has a backup generator that 1/2 powers the school so essential functions (heat, limited power, limited water) can happen. People flock to the school for a warm place to stay. FEMA authorizes water and chips to be distributed from the school store. Slumber party with remaining teachers at my house. ๐Ÿ™‚ Levi was excited to have house guests.

Tuesday: Go in for my clinic appointment. No appointments due to no electricity and heat and water. Linesman arrives from AVEC (power company) to restore power to the village when it gets light enough for airplanes to land. Random outages, most of the village remains in the dark. Try to get ahold of my Family Doc to to a virtual house call. Cell phones are down. Internet not working properly. 12 transformers are blown due to sea ice and wind. On the plus side, the ocean is now frozen over so salt spray is no longer an issue. Teacher housing power is restored in the evening by the old school. New teacher housing, not so much.

Wednesday: Much the same as Tuesday. Send more linesmen out. Most/some of the village power is restored to residential units. Clinic, school, store, all still out of power. Frozen pipes everywhere. People still being housed at the school. Red Cross is supposed to be bringing in emergency provisions and supplies.

Thursday: Finally get through to my doctor in Nome to get meds out to me. After several dropped skype phone calls, get the pharmacy to send the meds COD to the Post Office. Winds pick up again. 3 transformers still down. By evening, one was fixed. Flights got cancelled from Nome on account of winds. That means my meds did not make it in. ๐Ÿ™ Thursday around 5, Keith hears arcing in the laundry room. “Get the fire extinguisher!” (Note to self for future reference: the correct response is not, “Why, what’s going on?”) Dryer is on fire!!! Extinguisher located, fire extinguished. Washer/dryer unit now outside. Wet clothes in tub frozen outside, awaiting new washer/dryer unit, since teacher housing, though they have heat and electricity, don’t have water due to it freezing in pipes and bursting. Except my house. Showers at my house. Thankful that I still have a house.

Friday: Winds have died down again. Haven’t heard any planes yet, but hopeful that the planes and my meds make it today. Hopeful that new washer/dryer unit comes today. Trying to make contact with all the teachers who are out of town to let them be aware of the situation here. Keith is trying to help restore water to the teacher housing. School still out of electricty. Store closed for at least a week. Clinic indefinite: emergencies only.

News articles about Savoonga: Alaska Daily News
Apparently, we made CNN news I’ve heard, but can’t find an article.

Merry Christmas Eve

We’ve started a tradition with Levi that the night before Christmas, he can open two presents: one containing PJ’s and the other a book, so he can be all snuggled into bed.

This year, thanks to Grandpa Doug and Grandma Deb, we let him open a third that seemed to fit the bill perfectly. Enter Clifford, who in Levi’s own words:


All snuggled in:

And lest we forget the dog:


Outside our kitchen window today, there was a pod of belugas, about 75 feet offshore, just swirling in circles. There must have been about 20-30 of them, just swirling. It was a pretty awesome sight. Keith shot some footage of it; you can see it here.

Early Christmas Present

Introducing the first pictures of baby girl Crawford.

We were glad we got pictures. The printer was being tempermental, so we weren’t sure that we would be able to get any pictures before we left Nome. However, the next day we went into Radiology and they were there waiting for us.

Fist pointing downward
Waving to the world
Hello World!

We still don’t know where we are going to deliver. Nome has many advantages, such as proximity and that they are very used to unmedicated and natural deliveries, but there are disadvantages as well. We shall see what comes.

It’s beginning to look a lot like…


Got a pretty good storm last night, lots of wind and snow. Levi was thrilled to get out his snow gear. I would venture to guess that the new superintendent is not so thrilled with being stuck, literally, in Gambell. Flights in and out of Nome have been cancelled for a couple days as they are experiencing worse weather than we are. Luckily for the Superintendent, we have a district plane with an ace pilot who can bypass Nome and get him and the rest of the administrative crew back home.

Fall photos

And we are getting ready for Halloween. ๐Ÿ™‚ Levi got his costume and loves it, except it’s too warm in the house. He’s going to be the cutest Tiger on the planet!

And getting into the fall spirit! Thank you, Aunt Rebecca, for sending the pumpkins and gourds. They are a rarity here!

2/3 of the way there….

My family is in MI, and I start the first leg of my journey today. It’s been so beautiful here, I’m not sure I wanted to leave. But God certainly has a way of prodding me out, as I wake up this morning to the ice all moved back to shore… and snow!

Off to Unalakleet for a week of work, then on Friday I start making my way back to MI with a much anticipated stop in Seattle to have brunch with my bro and family. ๐Ÿ™‚ Can’t wait!