This week I had the opportunity to travel to the village of White Mountain and work on the next edition of my show Village Detour, a show where I put a single village in the spotlight and dedicate an entire hour to the song requests, dedications, and native music of the people living there. White Mountain will be the second village that I have done a Village Detour on, the first being Wales back in May. The people in White Mountain were amazingly welcoming and happy to see me and participate with my project; the weather was great, it was a bright sunny day with a cool breeze that kept the mosquitoes to a bare minimum. However as amazing as the people and weather were, what really grabbed my attention was the trees. In Nome we don’t have trees. Well we have willows, not your traditional weeping willow tree, but rather a scrubby kind of bush that grows on the tundra and in town; and some people in Nome have pines in their yards, but we don’t have “wild” trees, and in the 10 months that I have lived here now the only time I saw “wild” trees was the weekend after I arrived when a couple of my roommates, two of their visiting guests and I drove down to Council, a summer camp area where it is warm enough to sustain trees over the winter. But White Mountain, it has forests of trees, mostly pines, and it was gorgeous. White Mountain is right on the bank of a river, so with a picturesque water view on one side and forests on the other I was in heaven!
I spent my time in White Mountain walking around the village and talking to random strangers about their favorite songs; it could have been creepy, but it was actually a lot of fun! Most people were really excited to have the opportunity to hear their own voices on the radio (I record them saying their request and incorporate it into my program), and knew pretty fast what song they wanted to request or dedicate and exactly what they wanted to say. A few needed a little bit of coaching, or requested a song but didn’t want to be recorded but still wanted to participate.
One would think that taking a day trip to a village would be the biggest adventure that a single day could bring, but folks this is Alaska, we don’t limit ourselves to just one adventure per day! My second adventure came on the way back from White Mountain, where I found out that White Mountain was the first stop on a four village flight, so now technically I have been to Elim, Shaktoolik, and Golovin, even though I didn’t get off of the plane in those villages! The flight that took about half an hour on the way into White Mountain, took over 2 hours on the way back! Then as we got close to Nome in the plane, the pilot told us that Nome was fogged in, and we couldn’t land there. We had to land about 20 minutes away from Nome on a landing strip, then wait for a bus to come and pick us up! It was a rather funny ending to a pretty awesome day!
I’m hoping to get out to at least one more village before I leave Alaska in August, and deliver my fledgling Village Detour show into the hands of the next music director here at KNOM. I will probably try to take my family to a village when they are here, I think that it will be a great experience for them! Speaking of my family, only 6 more days until they are here!