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Posts Tagged ‘Rural Alaska’

IMG_0947Yakutat is a coastal village, population 650 according to the 2010 census, (that number has since declined considerably). It’s #7 in the world for surfing with several beaches to choose from for a day of fun.

Here are some things that are worth mentioning. I will probably have more as time goes on, but for now…

Driving: Everyone waves. Everyone. To everyone, whether you know them or not. Locals will even wave in the pitch dark. If you don’t wave, you don’t belong. And that is that. (We are still getting used to this and when Tim was questioned by Chelsie why he had not waved in the pitch dark he responded with, “I waved in my heart.”)

I occasionally get the peace sign or a hand wag, but for the most part it‘s 4 fingers straight up off the top of the wheel. This is hard to get used to because I felt comfortable with hand positioning at the bottom of the wheel near 5 and 7. I am now forced to keep both hands as close to the noon position as possible. Luckily, there isn’t far to drive. Ever.

Beaches: Just at the edge of the woods the sand becomes very fine and feels good to walk on with your bare feet. The ocean washes over the sand beautifully and draws up shells, drift wood and (if you’re lucky) sea glass. Once we found an old lantern.
The weather is often better out at the beach. Usually on a cloudy day, the beach holds a break in the clouds for the sun to shine through. But not always! The storm seems a more beautiful scene at the beach and we like to go out just to watch the waves build and break across the sand. The summer we stayed here, we drove out to Cannon Beach during a storm. I couldn’t wait to see the ocean! I wanted to know if it really was different in a storm or if the movies just made it look like a troubled emotion for effect. It didn’t disappoint me. It was very intense and I was glad we had the safety of the sandy shore to stand upon.

The wind is more intense at the beach as well and a warm jacket is good to have on hand even on a sunny summer day. Once I was told about a friend’s daughter who caught her long hair on fire when the wind blew it into the driftwood campfire. I am sure that was quite the experience, but I wasn’t there at the time. I saw the hair cut afterwards. Yikes! Lesson learned. Have the presence of mind to keep your hair up (if it’s long) when at the beach!

Popularity: We are the first family to move to Yakutat in some time. The reports of how often people move out is alarming. The last family moved out of town because Boys Basketball was terminated. The determining factor being that there weren’t enough boys with passing grades to make a full team.
There are two schools and a handful of very talented teachers. Most of the grades are combined reminding me of the private schools from “our old town”. Friendly and close-knit.

Water: The city owns two wells, although I am not sure if both are in working order. The water smells very strongly of chlorine and has even burned our noses when holding a glass up to our mouths to take a drink. After a shower, my skin is dried out, my hair smells like I’ve been at the community pool and is even starting to turn red at the roots! We were given a brand new Brita, which we use to filter all our drinking water. Berky was recommended as the water filter brand of choice among the locals and I’ve set a goal to own the largest one.
On the upside, I don’t have to add any bleach to the rinse water while doing dishes or laundry, it already has plenty!
Fishing: I wouldn’t do Yakutat justice if I didn’t mention it’s fishing industry. Fishing is Yakutat’s economic foundation. Most of the population are fishermen. I have yet to meet someone who doesn’t fish. Some have jobs within the community and fish on the side. Others do what they want with their time and fish when it’s “worth it”. Hunting and trapping are also a big part of living off the land.

All these things are part of daily life in rural Alaska. It’s a blessing to be a part of such an experience.

 

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