Saturday, March 22, 2008

Back from the Great White North!

Well, now that I'm back from ST Paul Island, I can finally fill you all in on what I was doing for the last three weeks. Due to some crew manning issues back here in Kodiak, I was the lucky winner of an extended vacation in lovely remote Alaska. For those of you logging on earlier in the month you saw what I was able to do the first week that I was in ST Paul, but after the first week the caribou season was over and I was resorted to trying to pass time other ways. It was probably a blessing that hunting season was over, as the second and third weeks I was there the weather was less then desirable.

Here is a picutre of the Loran Station where we stay while in ST Paul. The crew of this unit are sent here for one year at a time with a free trip home for 30 days in the middle of their tour. Needless to say, they quite enjoy having the aircrews come thru and give them a constant change of faces for the two months we are there. Besides the 18 stationed here, there is small village on the island that has a couple of hundred people that live here year round. Most of them either work for the native corporation or work in the fishing industry.

Here are some of the photos I took while delployed. Hope you enjoy.

Just a small amount of snow, there are windows in the building but they can only use them during summer months. This truck, if that's what you would call it allows them to travel on the roads when plows can't get out to them. They also got a snow cat halfway through my stay. The banks below give you some more prespective to how much snow there is, and how much it drifts.

In between the mulitiple days of blizzards we were able to get some ship landings done (unfortunately that meant yet another trip to Cold Bay), and also to hike around St Paul. You can see the overriding theme in all these pictures though is that it's cold. It averaged around -15 celcius.

When the sun did come out it was quite nice, and let us chase down some of the local wildlife (fox and caribou).

Lastly there is a picture of the real reason that we are here. The crab season in full swing. When the ice allowed the boats would come in to off load their crab. Hope you all enjoyed, and there will be more to come.


Monday, March 17, 2008

When will I learn?

When will I learn that I live in Kodiak and that dressing like I live on the South Shore of Boston is just silly? The good thing is, at least I'm laughing at myself about it, so I figured I'd share it with everyone else, too. Why not, right?

So, yesterday was sort of a major church holiday, Palm Sunday, and a day that I usually will get a little more dressed up than your average Sunday. Of course, come to think of it, that generally didn't turn out in my favor in Massachusetts, either, since we always started the service outside and I was always freezing... but I digress....
Saturday night, in an effort to get a jump on my Sunday morning, I tried on a bunch of different outfits to decide what to wear. I picked a Plan A, and followed it up with a Plan B. I then laid Plan A out, another timesaving mechanism, and headed to bed. Here's Plan A:

I didn't mean to make the shot look that artistic, but I wanted to make sure you could get the full effect of the heels. Yes, those are roughly 3 and a half inches with a platform. And that would be cute gray pants, a cute cotton/cashmere blend sweater, and fishnet knee-highs. Plan B wasn't nearly as fancy (pinstripe khakis), but still included heels. Anywhere else, either one of these outfits would have been suitable. I might not have wanted to wear the gray heels for Palm Sunday at our old church because of being outside in the grass, but, otherwise, perfect.

Well, I don't live in Massachusetts anymore. Xtra Tuffs are a way of life around here. It's not just because people are lazy and don't want to wear shoes that you tie, or that they're somehow adverse to looking nice. No, it's because they're practical. And 3 1/2 inch gray (suede) heels are not practical. They might not be practical anywhere, but they definitely aren't practical here. This is why:
By the time I took this picture, a lot of the snow had already melted, so it's not a totally acurate view, but you get the idea. I woke up Sunday morning, and took a quick look out the window to determine if I should go with Plan A or Plan B. Instead, I ended up having to go with Plan C, since the driveway was still covered and there was a wet, sloppy, slushy two inch or two of fresh white stuff. Plan C, by the way, was regular khakis (I couldn't wear JEANS on Palm Sunday!), a cashmere hoodie (cashmere means it's fancy!), a plain white t-shirt, and.... hiking boots. Yes, hiking boots. Nice, brown leather Columbia hiking boots, but hiking boots, nonetheless.

Meanwhile, I got a neat picture of Fred's footprints in the snow, so it wasn't a complete wash.
If only we could've gotten such good prints when we spent all that money on the ones in clay. Figures.

So that's my funny "getting used to living in Kodiak... STILL" story. Of course, by the time we leave here, I'll have the same problem getting used to the rest of the world!

With that, I'll leave you with one more shot. This one shows just one of the reasons I like it here. This is the view from my office window. Not bad, huh?

That's all the news from here. Jason FINALLY gets home this week, so my life will get a little less boring, I suppose! Hope everyone got a good chuckle!

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Hunter Man!

This will be your fair warning... this post is not for the faint of heart. That means you, Mom! Given your reaction on the phone today, I'm guessing you're not going to want to see this!!

I'll try to take up enough space with the "talking" to make it so people have to scroll down to see the picture I'll be attaching....

Keeping in mind that part of the draw of Kodiak for Jason is getting back to what I like to call his "Northern Redneck" roots, he was in his absolute glory earlier this week. For those that don't know, he's currently deployed to St. Paul Island for SAR (Search and Rescue) stand-by for the Opilio Crab season. St. Paul is one of the Pribilof Islands, located in the middle of the Bering Sea, sort of North of Cold Bay (Jason's other favorite place) and West of, well, not much. It's very isolated and very small! Here's a little information, if you click on this link:

And, here's a map! This map came from this website. I just want to give them credit!

So, you can see, it's pretty much in the middle of no where! But, if you clicked on that first link, you'll also see that it's got a relatively diverse amount of wildlife, from fur seals to puffins, to caribou (or, reindeer). Here's where we pick up the story and incorporate the title of this post.

With being in the middle of no where and all, you can imagine that the guys might be just a little bit bored out there, and in search of things to do. For the group of guys out there this past week, hunting was that thing to do. Apparently, the caribou herd is a little large right now and the Native Corporation is concerned that they'll start to starve sooner than later. That means it's easy for the guys to get their tags for the caribou, and head out in search of the herd, which, incidentally, is not that hard to find.

Jason had some good luck his first real day out, strapping on some snow shoes and following the herd for a few hours. As he and his buddy sighting in on a couple of the hapless 'bou, something spooked the herd, and they took off. That is, they all took off but the juvenile male Jason was sighting in on. So, with one shot, he took his first caribou, which will likely fill out freezer for, and provide some of our friends some meat, until he goes back next year. He actually got a second tag to head back out before the season closes late next week, so there's a chance we'll have even more. Reindeer Wellington, anyone?? Seriously, though, Beth and Zach shared a caribou roast with us shortly after we got here, and, I have to say, it was quite tasty. So, if you can get past the obvious Rudolph and Donner and Blitzen references, he'll make good eatin'! Here comes the money shot - if you don't want to see a dead, slightly blood animal, don't look any further!!

Proud Jason with his 'bou!

I think it's safe to say NOW we're really assimilated to the Kodiak/Alaska way of life. He shot a strange animal - and my mouth is watering thinking about the meat! Anyone can go fishing to fit in - this clinches it!

That's the latest from here! I'd add something about myself but all I've been doing is trying not to die of boredom while he's gone!! I know, sad. That's it, though! Hope you enjoyed the story of Jason the Hunter Man!


Saturday, March 1, 2008

I'm an Aunt!

(And Jason's an Uncle!)

This is going to be a quick one because my dear brother in law apparently already has Daddy-brain and has neglected to take pictures, so I don't have any of those to share. But, I wanted to make sure I welcomed my new niece into the world!

Yesterday morning, Maryanne kindly woke me up just before my alarm went off for the first time at 6:10am our time. I probably wouldn't have answered the phone, but I saw it was her, and immediately got worried that something had gone wrong with Erin and the baby (I posted on the blog about our trip that she had gone into early labor, and was looking at bedrest for a while). Rather than the news being bad, though, the news was GREAT! Despite being on meds to try to keep her from going into labor, the baby decided she wanted to make her appearance anyway, and Erin had her early in the morning on 29Feb.

Luckily, they had given Erin steroids after the last scare, so the baby's lungs are developed enough, and she's doing pretty well. Jason got the chance to talk to Josh today from St. Paul, and Josh said she's still in an isolette, and probably won't be able to go home until at least Monday, if all goes well. Erin, on the other hand, will be cleared tomorrow, most likely, after her C-section. The baby was still about 5 weeks early, so she hadn't turned yet - I guess she was just anxious to see all the fabulous St. Thomas sun and sand!

So, welcome to the world Regan Vega!! (I really hope I'm spelling that right!) I can't wait to meet you!!! My little peanut of a niece weighed in at only 4 lbs and 7 oz, and was just 17 inches long! But, she's healthy and will hopefully start eating like a champ sooner than later. Josh said that's their big hurdle right now!

Congratulations, Josh and Erin!!! Your lives will never be the same!!

Now - let the spoiling commence!!!!!!!!!!!!