Monday, June 30, 2008

My Trip to Marshall

**Warning - there are a few pictures that show some dead animals**

Well, from a previous post you should all know where Marshall, Alaska is. Our trip started out leaving Bethel at 9:00 am in a pretty small plane. The plane had room to fit roughly 8-10 people. We were the only 2 passengers on the plane. All the other seats were filled with cargo and our luggage. This was the first time for me being on such a small plane. I didn't know how I was going to handle it. Well, I handled it well. We weren't very far off the ground, so we were able to see alot. The pilot got us up in the air and set the auto-pilot and then he did something I wish I would have gotten a picture of. He pulled out a book and started reading!!!!

We landed in Marshall and got a ride to the river from some locals (very friendly people). We got a ride to the camp, which was held at the Fish Camp of Nick and Nastashia Andrew. The first picture is of the fish camp (the brown weather port is normally not there). The second and third pictures are views from the fish camp. We don't get those types of views in Bethel!
We spent day one getting to know the kids and elders. The guys went out that evening to try to get a moose, but it was too cold and drizzling out. On Tuesday the day started about 10 am. Eric gathered the kids and elders to talk about moose. Some of the kids were having fun with the collars Eric brought. Poor Mukluk (the camp dog) seemed to get the poor end of the stick on this one.
After the talk, he took the kids down by the water to have the kids try to track a collar that was hidden in the trees. The boys ended up finding the collar, but the girls gave up because of the mosquitos. Check out the mosquitos on the back of the red sweatshirt!
On Tuesday night the boys got to give moose hunting another try. This time it was a success. They went out at 8:00 pm and didn't get back to camp until sometime around 1:00 am. They just got a little spike bull, but it was delicious meat!
I've got a little trivia question for you. What looks like carpet, but is actually part of the inside of an animal? Don't know? Check out this picture and let's see if you can guess what it is.
Do you have any idea now? No, still nothing? Well, believe it or not, this is actually the stomach of the moose. You see, moose have 4 stomachs like cows do and it just so happens that stomach #1, the rumen, has the carpeting appearance to it. Interesting isn't it? That's the science lesson for the week!
Wednesday was our last day at the camp. We got to listen to some talks on diabetes, drugs and alcohol. Stuff that we as kids heard all the time, but they don't teach as much here even though it is a huge problem. We also had some down time so I got an opportunity to learn how to do some simple beading, while Eric got a lesson in how to string up a fish net.
Here's a picture of some of the fish that the kids/elders caught with the fish net while they were out. What they do is filet the fish, but backwards. They filet out the center/bones but keed the tail part intact for hanging. The will score the meat down to the skin without cutting through it and then they hang it to dry, all the while keeping a smoky burn going to give it the smoked taste.
On Wednesday evening, one of the boys whose nickname is Be-Bob, asked me why we had to leave. I told him that I needed to go back to work or I would get fired. He told me to get fired and then I could move up to Marshall and teach. I asked him what would Eric do and he said that he would "eat". How fair is that? Eric can eat and I have to work? Be-Bob was a pretty good kid. He was one of those trouble-makers that you can't help but love. We started the saying "you've been Be-Bobbed" (inside joke, kinda had to be there). Here is a picture of Be-Bop with Mukluk.

Well, Thursday came and when I woke up, I had a very strange feeling in my right eye. It was like I could only open it halfway. I asked Eric is there was something wrong with my eye and he said it was swollen. Apparently sometime on Wednesday night/Thursday morning I received some type of bug bite just below my eyebrow low enough to make my eye swell. It was like a black eye, without the black eye. Anyways, we left early in the morning to go back to Marshall and catch a ride home. This time the plane was even smaller then when we came out. I believe that this one was a 6 seater (including the pilots). Once again, we where the only 2 on the plane. This trip wasn't quite as pleasant as the first one. I think it was because I was starting to feel dehydrated.

So, in a nutshell (a long nutshell) that was the trip to Marshall!

Friday, June 20, 2008

And Breathe

The kids are gone and we are all doing the happy dance! I'm glad this week is over, not just because of the trying kids, but for other reasons also. Yesterday was just not a good day. First of all I start the day off with a call from Washington DC saying that they are not happy with the numbers we have been turning in. Every Talent Search Program - no matter where you are or what the circumstances is - has to serve a minimum number of 600 students. We definitely have that many students here that need our program. The problem is we don't get any more money than the other programs. We have no road system between villages. I spent on average $300 per ticket for the students that we brought in. I'm spending $60,000 on room and board for the students, yes $60,000 and that's in the dorm with the dorm cooks cooking. So what does all of this mean you may be asking? Well, it means that they can pull our funding if they don't think we have given them a good enough reason why we haven't been giving them higher numbers. I spent all day yesterday and this morning putting together a report on why we haven't met our numbers and why we deserve to keep our funding coming. Oh, by the way, did I mention that my salary is strictly from the grant? I don't get paid any other way except for the grant funds.

Now if that isn't enough to spoil a day, we've had a girl at camp this week (returning student from last year) that has been suffering from major migraines. Imagine being 12 years old and suffering from migraines. Monday she had a brief 15 minute episode. Tuesday she had another 15 minute episode. Yesterday - a 30 minute episode. Talk about physically/emotionally draining. She gets them so bad that she's yelling, crying, almost passing out. She was using me as a back stop yesterday while holding my hand and squeezing every time she had a bad pulse in the head. This went on almost straight for the half hour. This happened about 1:00 pm. After this, I couldn't sit at my desk and type for a good 1/2 hour. I was so drained last night when I got home.

Okay, enough depressing news. I'm excited to go to Marshall on Monday to experience a whole new world of the villages. I am planning on taking the camera along, so hopefully I will take plenty of pictures and can post some next week. Well, signing off for now.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Free for the Taking

No, I'm not talking about puppies or kitties. I've got 21 students ages 11-13 that are ready for the taking. We've had nothing but struggles with these kids since they came in on Sunday. Monday we had to give them a stearn taking to twice. On Tuesday we had to talk to them again because one of them took a few dollars in tips that the local coffee cart had. Today I actually yelled at them! I've never yelled at any of my camp kids. I felt so bad doing it, but we have about 6-8 of them that just aren't listening. As of right now, they have their shopping privledges taken away from them. I will be so glad when Friday gets here. They starting leaving about 11:30 am for check-ins at the airport. I'm looking forward to next week.

Speaking of next week, I have the opportunity to go up to a Yukon River village with Eric and the Fish and Wildlife Service. My Program Leaders will be in charge of our camp kids on Monday-Thursday afternoon. I'm going to see if we can collaborative with the Native groups that are hosting these camps with my summer camps. We can't afford to continue doing what we have been doing with the way costs have risen.

Okay - I know this isn't the best map, but Alaska's so big I couldn't do it with any better of a map unless it was huge!!!! The smiley face represents Anchorage. The X marks the spot where Bethel is (that is where we live :) ). The star represents Marshall where Eric and I will be going. I'm going to take the digital so I will hopefully get plenty of pictures. This will be the first time I will be travelling to one of the villages so I'm excited about that. I'll post something about this trip late next week when we get back.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Oh summer where art thou?

Well, we are now into June and there really is no sign of summer yet. Today has been chilly and rainy all day and currently the temperature is 37. It is 10:15 pm, but that has been the temp most of the day. The warmest we have been in the past 2 weeks is about 58. I want summer! Or at least temperatures a little more above freezing. I have camps starting tomorrow and the kids are expecting to go kayaking. How can I let them go kayaking when temps are this cold? It would be ridiculous to even think about doing it. I know the water temps probably aren't much warmer. Guess I'll have to make that decision on Monday afternoon.

I'm not sure how postings will go for the next 6 weeks. I'm hoping I will be able to keep it up. I have the luck of having 4 helpers this year instead of 3, which should mean I only work 8 hour days instead of 12-14 hours like last summer. Well, I better get to bed. I have to work tomorrow at 2:00 pm, so I need to enjoy the rest of my free time!!!!!