Thursday, May 27, 2010

Day 2 in Kotzebue!

Weeks have gone by and a couple of people emailed to ask "What happened next?" I've been busy working on a commission, going back and forth to the chiropractor to deal with the aftermath of the rear ender that happened on May 1. But back to Kotzebue........

My roommate and I awoke to no hot water in the hotel. It was 18 degrees outside. I was bound and determined to proceed as normal, just in case we got to go to a village, just in case we were to get stuck, just in case I didn't know where the next shower would be-or if there would be one. So in remembrance of my one summer of commercial fishing at a set net site in Kodiak, I took a deep breath and took the plunge. Whew! Then I dressed in all the layers I could find to get warm again.

Our intrepid Captain Crabtree picked us up in the school bus and we headed for the Armory for breakfast. The cooks were serving grits- a favorite of mine- and so life was good. We spent some time photographing the eye exams and went to the section where eyeglasses were being made. They had brought in totes and totes of lenses and frames along with portable lens grinding equipment so that glasses could be made on the spot. Nearsightedness and farsightedness are big problems, and it was fascinating to see the machines go to work so that people could get their glasses made without having to wait weeks for prescriptions to be filled.

We got the news that we were to fly out to the village of Kiana, so we hustled back to the hotel to pick up our overnight gear and off we went to the airport to meet the helicopter. The people who had been trying to get out to Point Hope finally had a good weather day, and the National Guard brought in a Sherpa C23 to transport them and their gear. We caught a glimpse of the boxy aircraft as we drove by. A workhorse to be sure!

Our trip to Kiana, about a half hour away, was smooth and the weather was sunny. Instead of a study in values as was the day before, the landscape was bright with glistening snow and shadows. The Kobuk River Valley was picturesque. Traveling with us were Rick & Mick Vignuelle, a Christian ministry team from Alabama. Check out their website- They are fun loving guys who have a musical ministry designed to reach young people. While in Kiana, we learned about MREs- Meals Ready to Eat. MSgt Kiel was our personal chef, helping us to first get the packages open, add water, and wait for them to heat up. I had a vegetable cheese omelet which had an interesting texture, but was actually quite good. We had a short time to visit with the dental and veterinary teams before the helicopter arrived to pick us up. The commuter flight- a Bering Air Cessna Caravan-was sitting on the runway when we arrived at the Kiana airstrip, and snow machines began arriving from the village to deliver people for their flights to Kotzebue and beyond as well as pick up arriving passengers. We arrived in Kotzebue in time for dinner at the Armory. From there we went to the hotel to get packed up for our early flights home.

I've been putting together a montage of images for a painting of as many scenes as I can remember which I hope to have available in print later this summer. As soon as I finish the commission, I can get back to work on my Air Force pieces. The memories of the trip as well as the interaction with all the people we met are ones I hope to retain. Time seems to fade these memories away, and I'm so glad to be able to remain in contact with several of the people on Facebook.

No comments:

Post a Comment

I welcome your comments and feedback.