Lots of travelling

Even though I only have three weeks left working at LKSD, I’m determined to make the most of it. There’s a big project building up for the summer with a large scale Open Directory deployment going on district-wide, with 40 or so Xserves that have come in to the department along with three Promise RAID arrays, fibre channel switching and other network gear. I’ve taken the opportunity to put myself up for travel duty to install Xserves at our village sites.

So, on Monday I flew in + out of Kwethluk, Tuesday I hit up Toksook Bay and flew back to Bethel via Newtok, then Wednesday I flew down to Kwigillingok and then on to Kipnuk where I camped out overnight at the school before coming home on Thursday. After getting things squared in the office through Thursday afternoon and Friday, I then helped figure out next week’s installs 🙂 So, this Monday I fly to Mekoryuk (where it wouldn’t be awful I got stuck overnight…) and then Tuesday I’m scheduled for Kasigluk to do installs at Akiuk and Akula, before then heading to Atmautluak on Wednesday. Phew!

It was really nice to get back to Nelson Island again and spend the day in Toksook Bay, and then getting down to Kwigillingok and Kipnuk on the coast was great after being out here 4 years and Tunt being fairly close to them. It was quite, quite different to what I expected. It was a lot more desolate than I thought it would be – pretty much every day direction was completely flat and devoid of shrubbery or elevation change. The climate was also totally different. Kwig had 4ft high snowdrifts alongside the boardwalks where they’d plowed the way, and Kipnuk had boardwalks impossible to walk on at times because of the snow! I rode a snowmachine back to the airport on Thursday and really got cold in howling winds, before then driving around in Bethel not two hours later with sunglasses on, window down on the truck, and no snow to be seen at all! I’m quite intrigued as to what Mekoryuk will look like, as Nelson Island was still covered in snow.

Where did April go?

So, it’s now the end of April; Saturday ushers in May. The days are rapidly counting down to leaving Bethel on May 30th, and Alaska itself a week later. Hotels, rental car, and day trips are all booked for that, as are our flights. I’m all moved out of my old house, got the deposit back and banked, sold my snowmachine, have sold my truck but am thankfully getting to keep it until we leave, and today have pretty much sold my boat. As of yesterday I’ve mailed out 24 boxes and have a running total at the post office hitting $650 now. I guess it’s a little too late to change my mind!

I’ve got one final paper to write for my GOVT101 class, and finished off my PHIL101 class a few days ago. I’ve got ENGL111 and SOC101 coming up this Summer for 6 weeks, and I’m registered for four classes this Fall at St Louis Community College which I’m really looking forward to. Not quite sure how I’ll handle 12 credit hours whilst (hopefully) working full time, so we’ll see. I’m sure it will be okay, and will at least know to only try 9 for Spring if it’s too much.

I’m definitely loving my iPad which I bought on our way through Anchorage a few weeks ago 🙂 Combined with the Kindle app, it’s fantastic. I’ve read half a dozen books on it, and it’s great to have Whispersync go between my iPad and iPhone so I can pick up on one device right where I left off. I’m eagerly awaiting Barnes & Noble releasing their dedicated iPad app, and think it’s very smart Amazon and B&N are focusing on still delivering eBooks to the iPad, which is where their primary market should be (selling books).

At the moment, we’re looking at figuring out plans for June. It’s starting to look pretty busy! The plan is to be moved in to St Louis by the start of July 🙂

Fairbanks trip

Last week Bethany and I headed up to Fairbanks for a few days. Checking in to our flight on the Wednesday morning, they had a full body 737 so were re-assigning seats to balance it out. Bethany was upgraded to First Class as is an Alaska Air MVP, and I was shuffled to row 9. We asked to try and sit together, but they couldn’t then figure out how to downgrade Bethany again to sit next to me. No worries, so I went to park the truck. Came back in and Bethany had a First Class ticket for me as the check-in staff just upped me too to make it easier 😀 I could get used to flying First Class…

Anyways, Fairbanks was a little different than we expected. Was good though once we got used to the layout. Downtown was pretty run down and not much going on, but elsewhere was fine. We headed up to see the Trans-Alaska Pipeline, something I’ve wanted to see for a long time:

Trans-Alaska Pipeline

Something else we both wanted to see was the Northern Lights. On our way north of Fairbanks, I stopped to watch the Ice Road Truckers make their way home:

Light trails

A little after midnight, we finally got to see the Aurora:

Aurora Borealis

We were like 40 miles north of Fairbanks and totally on our own. It was pretty awesome! We got a couple of short shows which kept us happy:

Northern Lights

On Friday we headed 20 miles or so out of Fairbanks to North Pole, which was quite a surreal place. The street lights were colored like candy canes, trees had lights and decorations on them, streets were named ‘Santa Claus Lane’, etc. No trip there would have been complete with going to Santa Claus House (though Santa himself was on holiday…):

Santa House

To get over North Pole, on Saturday we drove out to Chena Hot Springs, which was just awesome. It’s nestled away in the mountains all by itself, and has geothermal hot springs which feed a couple of pools. The outdoor rock pool was very, very relaxing. Surrounded by snow capped mountains and trees whilst in the warming pool was great, and it was about 45F out, so even lying on the rocks in the sun kept us fairly warm. It was also nice to then wander around the resort and check out all the old and rusty machines and gold panning area and stuff:

Chena Hot Springs

For more photos, check this flickr set of Fairbanks

Overall, it was a great few days. Felt weird once we landed in Anchorage and were waiting on our flight back to Bethel. Would be the last time I would be flying out here (assuming I don’t get roped in to helping with Cama’i for Pat’s final year next March). Plus, it matched up that 7 weeks to the day I would be flying back in to Anchorage from Bethel for the last time, and then 8 weeks to the day, I would be leaving Anchorage to the lower 48. I’ve flown to Bethel something like 20 times over the past 5 years, and will be weird leaving. Last night I sold my snowmobile, and have my boat up for sale too. Hopefully that will sell soon. I’ll be mailing off the last few boxes in a couple of weeks when I’m done with my desktop computer and winter clothes and stuff, and then that’s it 🙂

Winter boating

Didn’t get as many funny looks of “look at that silly gussack” as I was expecting when moving my boat last night:

Winter boating

I’ve got it parked at Pat’s house and will put it up for sale next week once I’m back from Fairbanks. Seemed weird to be towing it away knowing I’d be selling it. I always looked at life out here as experiencing things whilst I could, and buying a boat was simply a case of being able to buy a boat and use it until I moved. Was a good experience 🙂

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Movin’ out

The last few days have been a wash of events. Having made the decision to leave Bethel (and Alaska) at the of the school year, I’ve been slowly sorting out packing things up to ship out, sell, donate, or simply throw away. After a couple of fun trips to the post office, I’ve amassed twenty boxes and $500 in shipping fees:

Receipt

Has been weird shipping all my possessions off to Bethany’s parents, but figure they’re pretty trustworthy 😉 So long as Jericho doesn’t try to eat my Playstation or something… It’s also been a good excuse to go through things and get rid of things I just don’t use/wear. I donated 4 trash-bags of clothes to the Catholic church along with a couple of big blankets; have some canned and dried foods to donate to the Lions Club; and threw out 8 bags of trash. Some things like a mass of flying magazines were tough to get rid of (though the FAA has just adjusted their stance on medications meaning I’m not totally ruled out now), but overall it’s been good. Means I’m starting out a fresh. And have less things puppies will chew when we’re able to get a place in St Louis where we can have dogs.

So, as of today I’m now all moved out of my old house and living with Bethany for a few weeks until we move. It really doesn’t seem like a year ago I was moving in my old house! Other than the cost of heating, it was a nice house, and all the space and light was great. But, as much as I know I *can* live in these conditions, I don’t *want* or *have* to, so it’s time to move on. I have my desktop computer for editing photos since I have some Iditarod photos left, Cama’i photos, and whatever I end up with from our Fairbanks trip in a few days, but pretty much everything else has been mailed off or gone one way or another. I’m hoping to be able to sell my boat, snowmachine, and truck okay, I’m not stressed about it. I have a lot of money tied up in rental and utility deposits and vehicles, so will be a nice chunk of change by the time we head south.

Alaska Air were running a sale on tickets last week, so we got our plane rides sorted. We leave Bethel on Sunday 30th May and have a week exploring Anchorage, Kenai and Mat-Su Valley with a friend of Bethany’s from Phoenix, then fly to Minneapolis and drive down to Iowa on Sunday 6th June. The plan is to have a house sorted in St Louis and be moved by the 4th of July weekend 😀 Exciting times, just a lot going on at the moment what with my college classes too!

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