Imagine you have a dog. You love your dog. His name is Mittens. You are walking down the street with Mittens when, suddenly, you encounter a huge herd of muskox. But wait, there’s more! There’s mama muskox, papa muskox, and even a little baby muskox (aww… baby muskox) and your dog is barking waaay to close to the muskoxen’s beloved little offspring. They are visibly upset… what do you do?
This is a question you don’t normally have to ask yourself if you live in the lower 48. It sounds bizarre, maybe a little scary, but it’s one of the many situations you may find yourself in while living in western Alaska. You won’t find yourself in this situation often but sometimes, you know, it happens.
In a way, I think my Adventure Safety Series was born from this scary place of not knowing what to do in new situations. The series helped me navigate through the ins and outs of western Alaskan culture, and though I’ve died in five of the eighteen episodes I’ve written and produced for KNOM, they have helped me find my place in a community that a year ago I knew nothing about. I now know what to do if I encounter a bear, how to operate a chainsaw, and even to check the ice when going ice-fishing.
Come next month, I’m ready to put the series to rest and start something new.
I’ve been on my share of Alaskan adventures this year (how do you pull a car out of a snow ditch, how??), and while being prepared is always great, there are some things you can only learn through experience.
Just this week I’ve traveled to the community of Gambell, cooked fresh Salmon for the first time, hiked a mountain or two, and welcomed a new member to the KNOM Volunteer House– who you’ll get to meet in upcoming weeks. Was I installed with the knowledge to cook and gut fish? Or ride around in an ATV, in a village I’ve never visited before? No, I wasn’t. But with a combination of common sense (Daynee, the oven needs to be on to bake the fish) and openness to learn (Daynee, the oven needs to be on to bake the fish) I turned out fine. And you know what? You will be, too.
I’m one of the most nonsensical people you will ever meet. If I can remember to turn on the oven to cook fish, you can totally remember to keep your dog away from mama muskox.
Stay safe, and enjoy your adventures.