August 18th, 2011
I got back to Savoonga last Friday evening, after my first experience of craziness while traveling in the bush! There were multiple flights leaving the inservice on Friday. One flight was chartered and was supposed to go straight from Unalakleet to the island, dropping off Savoonga first then dropping off Gambell teachers. I was on the flight scheduled to fly from Unalakleet to Nome on the district plane, and then take a regular flight from Nome back to Savoonga. Weather in Unalakleet was not good, and weather on the island was even worse! Gambell teachers were told that Gambell was fogged in and there was no way the plane would land...they would have to sleep in Savoonga overnight. The people flying to Nome first were told that we might end up flying back to Unalakleet later that night if we couldn't get from Nome to the island.
Talk about confusing....I was just along for the ride, with no idea where I'd be sleeping that night and, since B had the phone, no way to let him know when I'd be getting back. I was a little stressed out but decided it wasn't worth it since there was nothing I could do anyway. The flight from Unalakleet to Nome was less than pleasant...the fog was pretty dense and it's a bit unnerving when you can see out the same window the pilot is looking out, and you can't see ANYTHING! But the district pilot is highly thought of and well respected, so I felt relatively safe! We flew right above the water the whole time, never reaching an elevation of 500 ft. ( I was close enough to the pilot that I could see the control panel and gauges :o) ) It was an adventure for sure, and the first time that I'd ever felt nervous on a plane. We decided we need to invest in some ginger or peppermint for our next bush travel...I was pretty nauseous by the time we landed! But, we landed safely in Nome where the sun was shining!
The weather turned and we were able to catch the next flight to Savoonga. I was home for dinner and it ended up being a beautiful day on the island! Sadly, this past weekend, there was a plane that did not reach its destination when leaving a teacher inservice from another district, and the pilot and a veteran teacher did not survive. While we planned on not telling Mom and Dad (didn't want them stressing...) the news made the local newspaper in Salem. Go figure! Bush pilots fly in much worse conditions and much more challenging terrain than commercial pilots do in the lower 48. I give all of them so much respect and credit....we have a lot to get used to if we plan on traveling a lot from here!
Since I've been back we've been hard at work setting up my classroom. So far, we've gotten the desks arranged, books sorted and put away and posters up on the wall. I was lucky to receive almost 40 boxes of brand new book sets that we'll be using this year. Opening all of the boxes felt like Christmas morning--it was awesome! I've also been attending inservice meetings and training, and we've been getting to know the other teachers. Brendan has been holding cross country practices, and hit a PR with 6 kids showing up yesterday! Go B! Hoping for more this afternoon :o)
I'll post pictures of my classroom when we get it finished, it's still a work in progress. I'm getting pretty overwhelmed with all that I have to do. Anyone who's taught already knows how tough the first year is....I'm trying to prepare myself for it! The great thing is that we don't have much else to do but prepare. There aren't any distractions here, we can't go out on the weekends and we don't have other jobs and responsibilities pulling us in every direction. We are finally getting enough sleep every night, and have time to just enjoy each other's company! We've been playing lots of scrabble, reading lots of books and being created with the limited food that we have until our big grocery order comes in. Last night was black beans, corn and peppers (frozen, not fresh) with rice, which is actually a typical meal for us. We can't wait to get our groceries, we don't even remember what we bought at this point!
The other night after dinner we went and explored on the beach by our house. When we came in around 10 pm, the sky was blue and the sun was shining. It's so peaceful here, I can't remember the last time I felt so at ease all the time! Even with so much to do, and the overwhelming feeling that comes and goes as I'm lesson planning, I think we are both more relaxed and NOT stressed than we've been in a really long time!
The rocky beach by our house:
Enjoying the p.m. sunshine...:o)
Home sweet home for the next few years!! (Unless of course we get lucky and the new teacher housing is actually finished in the near future ;o) ) The vice principal was pretty sympathetic the other night during our housing inspection, and is rallying for a new carpet for us...we'll see if it happens! We did get hooked back up to the main fuel source last night though, so no more 5 gallon bucket having to be replaced every other day! Hooray for heat!!
One more picture...this is the view from our kitchen window. There's a little cliff, then that's the Bering Sea!
Will write more after the next week of training!