Bethel Get’s a New Road System

Tom’s riding his bike to work now that the road work is finished to the wildlife refuge headquarters. The city is putting in a new road on the entire highway, 6 plus miles, and including a bike lane. Everyone is enjoying the paved bike line, joggers, strollers, bikers and walkers. The bikes are a huge advantage over a car now. It has taken me a half hour to go to and from work because of the construction traffic. That seems for a 3 mile drive. Maybe I will use my bike next week too. While we still have daylight and the road work continues.

IMG_0797.JPGWe added a Saturday bike ride to our routine. Here I am biking along the river. We are enjoying the 60 to 70 degree heat. We stopped at the V.I.P restaurant on the way home for a drink (nonalcoholic of course). I ended up enjoying sushi and Tom had a burger. Never guessed you could get sushi in Bethel. They even offer a fried sushi roll on the menu.

Dirty Jobs – August 28th

Make sure to watch the August 28th episode of Dirty Jobs.  YK Delta refuge staff are featured swabbing bird buts. This segment is called “Wild Goose Chase”.

Mike Rowe goes on a wild goose chase literally! After traveling to the tundra, Mike joins forces with a team of workers that round up a flock of wild geese with airplanes.

Some of the only positive press for Avian Influenza. The crew was so impressed with Bethel they are coming back to do a show on cleaning sled dog kennels.

Omega 3’s


We just put up 110 lbs of coho salmon for the winter. It feels good to have these in the freezer. The fish is fabulous here. We broiled a big salmon on Sunday and we are now enjoying salmon salad sandwiches. Had salmon hot dish last night. Please email with any good salmon recipes.

Berry Picking for 2

blueberriesBerry picking is a big activity here. This is one of the best berry years on record. This is the first place we have lived where berry season and picking conditions are covered on the TV news.

A local tip is to pick in the rain or on a windy day when the bugs are not out. They have not been too bad while I am here. Tom hasn’t seen anything worse than Wisconsin. But he won’t go in the tundra without bug dope.

We have a couple of pints of blue berries frozen with more to come. They are huge here. Soon the black berries (crow berries) and cranberries will be ripe.

Eating Well

IMG_0772.JPGSo far we are eating very well here. The district had a traditional feast for the first year teachers. It was the opening for our culture class that is to meet all year. I had my first taste of Aqutak (Eskimo ice cream), seal oil, stink fish, whale and sour dock. There were also some more familiar dishes of fish, caribou, moose and duck. I liked the smoked salmon and the aqutak made of crow berries and sour dock. I made sure Tom joined me for this special meal too. They fixed silver salmon for us the next night. They were caught that morning. Yumm!

IMG_0762.JPGTom’s boss had has over for Halibut Friday night and then took us fishing on Saturday. We could only sport fish but Doug and his family could net. We have been told that the Kuskokwim is so muddy that you need to net fish. They caught one silver salmon and gave it to us. It was really too windy to fish. They caught 30 in an hour earlier this week. Most families net fish for their freezers and live off of this supply through the winter. We can net next year when we are residents of AK.

IMG_0789.JPGFor now we will go to the local grocery store for supplies. Here is a picture of one of the 3 stores in Bethel. The typical mud puddle is in the front. Note Tom is wearing his Alaskan sneakers.

Andrea’s First Days

Today was my second day of new teacher training for the Lower Kuskokwim School District. I think the most profound piece of advice I heard in the last two days was that if you weren’t already a patient person you will learn patience. I will try to keep this in mind as I meet the challenge of my new job. Science won’t be the easiest subject to teach on the Video Network. And I have already meet a few skeptics among the staff at school. I hope that I can convince folks that teaching over the network provides opportunities for kids. And while it isn’t a perfect replacement for live classes, it can be a good option for rural communities.

I enjoyed the Yupik culture class that started today. I am very impressed with the commitment to culture and Yup’ik language that the district has made. In most villages, the students are taught entirely in Yup’ik from Kindergarten to 3rd grade. Once they can read and write well in Yup’ik, they transition to English. The school stands by the research that shows the students should learn to read and write in one language. They will be able to transfer these literacy skills to their second language(English) and ultimately score better than ESL students who try to learn literacy in two languages at once.

I hope to learn as much Yup’ik as I can while I am here.


Andrea Settles into Bethel

The Dogs and I arrived in Bethel after 16 hours of airport and airplane time. The dogs traveled well. We had a 6 hour layover in Anchorage and I was able to claim the dogs, walk them and play ball with them in the baggage claim area. Tom took us on a walk outside of town when I got off the plane and we found lots of birds and blueberries to amuse ourselves.

I can’t imagine not having rubber boots here. There are puddles and mud everywhere. I guess they decided to tear up all of the roads in Bethel all at once to redo them. The traffic is horrible. People drive like New Yorkers. They even have Bethel belt line traffic reports. At least I am not the only one with a dirty dusty car in the parking lot anymore.

We are spending most of our time unpacking the rest of our boxes and walking the dogs in the tundra. Nolan found 8 Willow Ptarmagin on Sunday. The season opens next week. Reason # 46 we need a boat, I am told.