Last Saturday, it was time for my folks to head back to Minnesota. Since our boat was done and ready for the water, we decided to motor over to Teller then drive the Nome-Teller highway. It was a beautiful day, the sun was shining and fall colors were in full swing.
It was sad to say good-bye to my mom and dad at Alaska Air but once again, we enjoyed their visit. They have been to Brevig enough times now that it just feels normal to have them around. They're getting to know quite a few folks around town, they go out and about without us, help with projects around the house and even volunteer at the school. I was surprised at how many times people asked if they'd be back in the spring. I guess everyone is used to seeing them on a regular basis.
Since were were in Nome . . . we took advantage of what the big city has to offer. We did some shopping, ate out and visited with friends. James and Amy put us up for the night, fed us, and all those other good hospitality sort of things. We were able to meet their beautiful new baby, Archer, and his big brother Justice.
On our way out of town, we stopped by the home of more friends, Melinda and Cam. They recently completed the construction on their house and had some left over flooring they were willing to donate to our cause. We are excited to see what we can do with it to fix up our flooring at the beach house a bit.
On the way home I couldn't stop thinking about how thankful I am for friends and family who make our lives so rich.
It's official, we've been one-upped! C.O. proposed to me on the beaches of Brevig Mission, which I've always thought was pretty special, pretty unique, a good story and all that. Well . . . last weekend one of my coworkers was married on the beach. Our seaside romantic proposal just can't beat that. =)
Lauren recently moved to Brevig in August from Colorado to be our 1st grade teacher. She wasn't here long when her husband to be, Chris joined her. I enjoy Lauren's company, she's a no nonsense, down to earth sort of gal. It was this practical approach to life that naturally flowed over into her and Chris's wedding plans. Their intent was to be married, in short order, without all the drama. And drama-less (but fantastic) it was. The ceremony started at noon-ish, a mile or so out of town and concluded with a cupcake reception at their apartment. Short, sweet and absolutely perfect.
There are some unique marriage laws in Alaska. Anyone can perform a marriage ceremony as long as they first obtain permission from an Alaskan court. Anyone, isn't that interesting? Lauren and Chris decided to ask one of our coworkers, John, to officiate at the ceremony. They asked, Steve and Angie, also coworkers, to stand up for them. Keep in mind, all these folks only met in August. Talk about becoming fast friends.
The wedding party.
The get away vehicle.
Congratulations and best wishes to the Votrubas as they begin their new life together.
More lovely photos from the wedding can be found here and here.
Here is a nice shot of our "new" boat. It is not really new, just newly in the water. I built the boat a few years ago and we used it a few times. It was unfortunately damaged (under 10,000 lbs of snow) and it took me a couple of years to find the time to fix/modify it.
The boat is just over 21' long and has a 90 hp Honda outboard. The boat is built from plywood and fiberglass. The front of the boat opens up with a ramp so that you can drive an ATV into the boat. The ramp also makes it easier to load and unload other heavy gear.
We will use the boat for hauling things back and forth to the nearby village of Teller and for occasional camping or hunting trips.
We took a boat ride up the river, east of Brevig last night. The air was warm, the water like glass, the scenery outstanding with every bend in the river more beautiful than the last. These are the days we cling to as the frigid winter weather begins to take hold of the far north.
As a family, we eat quite a bit of wild fish and game. Salmon, trout, ducks, geese, ptarmigan, reindeer, moose, and musk ox are all a part of our diet. Some of this game we catch ourselves and some we receive from friends in the village.
On Monday, AnnMarie's father, Roger, and I went out musk ox hunting. It was 55 degrees, partly sunny, and very windy. I drove our Polaris ATV and Roger borrowed a machine from our friend Amy (who later forgot that we borrowed it and thought that it was stolen.) We drove north from town and made a circle around the Brevig mountains. We were out for about 10 hours and covered 16 miles.
The only animals that we saw for the first half of the day was a pair of swans and small herd of reindeer. About 2 pm we made our way to a valley behind the mountain that has a few willows growing in it. We took advantage of the willows by using them as a wind break while we had a lunch of peanut butter sandwiches, ginger snap bars (that Cindy baked for us) and hot tea.
After our break we drove down the small side valley to where it joins a much bigger valley with a small creek at the bottom of it. At this point, we had to decide if we would go upstream for a much longer ride or follow the creek downstream back to Brevig. I checked my watch and noted that it was 3 pm, I thought that we wouldn't want to ride too much longer. We turned downstream and started making our way home.
We only made it a few hundred yards downstream when I spied a large bull musk ox walking toward us. I hopped off my machine, grabbed my rifle and waited for him to get closer. The bull noticed us, but was not alarmed at our presence. He continued to walk along the stream and I shot him when he turned broadside to me at about 60 yards. Luckily he dropped in the grass next to the stream and not in the ice cold water. A musk ox is much too big to move around, so you butcher it where it lays.
The time was 3:30, the shooting part is no big deal, the real work starts after pulling the trigger. We save the hide to be tanned later, so the first step is to carefully skin the animal. This was the biggest part of the butchering job. It took about 1 1/2 hours to get the entire hide off. We used ropes tied to the four wheeler to pull the legs out of the way while cutting. Once the hide was off, we separated the four quarters, remove the head, and dump the guts.
After washing everything off in the stream, we spread the hide out on the back of the 4-wheeler and used it to wrap the four quarters for the return trip. The ribs and backbone stayed in one piece and was strapped to the front rack. We managed to put all of the musk ox meat on one four wheeler. It was a big load, but we made it. It was about 7:00 when we were all packed up. We made it home about 8:00 p.m., tired out but thankful for a successful hunt.
The next morning we trimmed some of the waste off the pieces and hung them to age. In a few days the next round of work begins. We will cut the meat into steaks and roasts, grind some for burger, and can some for stew meat.
This weekend the Lutheran Churches from the Seward Peninsula met together for their annual Fall Conference. Congregations from Wales, Shishmaref, Brevig Mission, Teller, Nome and Anchorage gathered together for meetings and church business during the day and for worship services in the evening.
Those of us traveling from Brevig started by driving our 4-wheelers 8 miles down the beach to what we call "point", a narrow spit of land that nearly reaches across to Teller's point. It is only one quarter mile between the two sand spits, so from there Pastor Brian boats people across the water. Once at Teller point, a truck was waiting to drive us about a mile into town to the school gym where services were being held.
Friday's service lasted from 7:30 p.m. - 12:00 a.m. That's right, 4.5 hours of singing, preaching and sharing testimonies, this is not for the faint of heart folks.
Though we have quite a bit of day light still this time of year, it was pitch black out by the time we were climbing in the boat to return to Brevig. It was pretty spooky motoring along in wavy, dark waters. I have a feeling many safety prayers we being whispered for the next couple hours as group after group was shuttled across. By the time we made the journey back to our house it was after 2:00 a.m. Needless to say we were exhausted.
My parents are back in town for the week so I was pretty excited that they got to be a part of the conference experience. It was a chance for them to see that even attending church is extreme around here.
We have mentioned in past posts that ships and tug boats like to hang out in our bay to avoid bad weather. They also come in to Brevig to make crew changes. We have deep water right up to the shoreline and that allows some tugs and barges to get people on and off the boat without having to launch their skiff.
Yesterday I was out at the airport when a plane came in. One of the guys getting off the plane was obviously with the barge company, he had that salty look (and he was talking on a hand held marine radio). I asked him if he would like a ride down to the beach. He said that he would rather walk, probably the last steps he would take on dry ground in a while.
I picked up a couple other passengers and gave them a ride into town. When I went home I noticed a tug boat pulled up to shore near our house. I drove down to take a look at it and saw that they guy from the plane was trying to get on the boat. The crew on the boat lowered a ladder off the bow, but the end of it was still in the surf. The new guy did not want to get wet, but there didn't seem to be anyway around it. Eventually he decided to take his shoes and pants off and wade out to the ladder. The water sure looked cold to me, but once he was on board he did have his dry pants to put on (too bad he left his dignity on the beach).
Harold has spent quite a bit of time lately catching minnows in the lagoon behind our house with his buddies.
Notice these are some very tiny flounder. Flounder are one of those odd fish that hatch looking like a regular minnow, but their eyes eventually shift toward one side of their body creating a flatfish with both eyes facing upward.
How bizarre, how bizarre . . .
I knew this would happen, I just knew it! Two days after I wrote the blog post on losing Whaley, I found him. And much like the dream I mentioned in the post, I was doing the laundry. While folding clothes, I was about to hang something up in the closet, I parted the hangers and . . . there was Whaley. There was some serious family celebrating going on, hugs, kisses, cries of joy etc.
I'm guessing that while unpacking, Harold grabbed Whaley and just threw him, getting him caught up in the clothes. Harold has this throwing problem that we're working on right now. He's constantly throwing his toys and things around the house. Granted he has developed a good arm but enough already!
Anyway, we're very happy to have Whaley back. Harold had the chance to sleep with him for the first time in 3 weeks.
Since our little incident here we've decided that Whaley is going into semi-retirement. His traveling days are over and he will solely reside at our home in Brevig Mission. Eventually he will go into permanent retirement and join the few things in a box that we are saving for Harold.
Though he is not truly lost, I'm glad I was able to write the post on Whaley. If he wouldn't have been lost, I don't think I would have been able to write about his importance to Harold's childhood.