I’m writing this blog post in somewhat of a sleepy, jovial delirium, having just returned from my first solo reporting trip to Elim. It was quite the journey, and for just two days I was able to check a lot of ‘firsts’ off my Alaska to-do list.
First time flying Bering Air—hands down the smallest plane I’ve ever been on, though I found it far more comfortable and less nerve-wracking than any 737 jet I’ve traveled on. (Perhaps there’s something reassuring about being able to watch the pilot at work.) First time riding on an ATV—a breeze after the judicious instruction my lovely housemates provided. First, second and third bear sighting, all from a safe distance with a good chunk of river in between us. (In case you’ve been following the escapades, no, I did not bring bear mace this time…probably for the best considering our track record.)
I’m abundantly grateful for this challenging and exciting new job, to have the opportunity to travel and listen to some of the people who listen to us at KNOM. I’m not sure it would be possible to do this anywhere else.
And being in Elim itself was surreal. I spent the day out on a small boat climbing up the Tibuktulik River; we went about 40 miles outside of town and it really felt like being in the middle of a National Geographic magazine. Seeing salmon leaping out of the river while eagles crested overhead—the wind and water more powerful than all of us combined. And so the four of us on the boat were just enough for navigation, conversation, sharing of food and together marveling at this massive and beautiful land around us. We were on the river for 10 and a half hours, but time moves differently outdoors.
I’m back exhausted but refreshed and rejuvenated with a different type of energy, looking forward to a packed year ahead with tons to learn. And now Caitlin is here! The newest arrival of our 2014-2015 gaggle of volunteers. Francesca will be in this weekend, as we say farewell to Emily, the first 2013-2014 volunteer to depart from Nome. In this strange phase of transition and renewal, I’m trying to take moments to pause and appreciate the people around me and the slow shift of time.
For now, a few moments from my first journey eastward on the Seward Peninsula to Elim: