June 25, 2013

Summer and Loving It!

I've officially been back in Denver for over a month now and I couldn't be happier. In addition to picking up some summer bar tending shifts on the weekends, Parker and I have been loving all the fun in the sun! I'll admit, I went through total temperature shock when the weather climbed into the 90s and refused to leave the air conditioned house for a few days, but eventually I got over it and am thankful that no triple digits have been sighted (yet!)

Summer is cruising by and I can't believe my June cell phone bill is already due! Seriously? Where has summer gone? May was spent getting settled into Denver. I bought a few new furniture pieces, including a HUGE dog bed for Parker, and unpacked all of my stuff. A lot of winter items have been packed away and quite a few of them will be making an appearance on Craigslist once the weather gets cooler. Can't wait to say goodbye to the parka!

Just ten short days after M. and I parted ways in Seattle she showed up at DIA for our annual vacation. We spent an amazing week and a half tooling around the Front Range, drinking our way through downtown and munching up all the food we encountered. including some amazing Brazilian BBQ that M. treated me to for my Birthday. We welcomed June with a bang, celebrating at our favorite concert venue with our favorite DJ and some delicious mixed drinks. Talk about starting the summer right! 

M. with some good ol' summertime hail!
I also introduced M. to some class III and IV rapids on the Arkansas river and tried to show her the beauty of the I-70 corridor... unfortunately M. does not enjoy a 6am drive as much as I do. 

We parted ways just as the first week of June was coming to a close with promises to keep in touch and meet up in London for Christmas. Since M. is moving to Kuwait for her new job Europe is the new logical meeting point. Darn ;)

The theme for the rest of June was establishing my new stomping grounds in the Denver area. I've staked a claim at a fun local coffee shop, found a gym between home and work, toured my new school and seen my schedule (full time world history teacher FTW!), and purchased a car to cover all the ground in-between. 

I'm hoping the theme for the upcoming month of July is going to be travel. There are trips to Los Angeles, Boston, and Nantucket in my near future to visit some of my closest friends and enjoy their new home bases that they've set up away from the Rocky Mountain state. 

I'm not really sure what's going to happen with this blog. It all started as a way to stay in touch with friends and family while I was in the north, and now that I'm back I don't know what I'll write about. So I guess for now I'll bid all of my readers a fond adieu and wish you all a wonderful summer!

May 16, 2013

Summer Vacation!!

Bet you didn't know this is what summer looks like:

I mean honestly, didn't anyone tell Alaska that it's the middle of May?!

Denver, I'll see you on Sunday =) I'll be that one and only person in passenger pickup wearing winter clothes. 

May 14, 2013

Wait! I have a Blog?

Apparently I forgot that I had a blog...

That's a lie, but I really just haven't had too much that I wanted to blog about. Some time around March I put myself on autopilot and decided to just power through until I could see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Since the last time I blogged (when we were in Anchorage for Aca Deca) the following major things have happened:

1. Winter Fishing
The weather was finally nice enough for us to head out to Smith Point, or just down to the river, and go ice fishing. I am not a huge fan of Pike (the fish we fish for), but there's always someone willing to take my daily catch off my hands. Really it's just nice to get out of the house and see the sun again, even if it's cold and windy.

2. A Trip to Colorado
In early April I used my accrued personal time to fly home to Colorado for vacation. It was a much needed break, even if so much travel in such a short amount of time made me a little loopy. While I was there I got to spend a little time with family and very close friends, enjoy some tasty beverages of the alcoholic variety, and cruise on up north to attend a job faire. I had 17 interviews in two days and by the end of it all I don't even know if what I was saying made sense to anyone.

3. Culture Week
I came back to Alaska just in time for culture week. I did not teach out of my home like I did last year, but this year instead opted to teach sewing to a mixed group of 7th-12th grade students. Some students made quilts, others made pillows, and some created some really adorable stuffed animals. I'm not sure how cultural it all was, but now all of these students can sew on buttons, make button holes, and create their own patterns.

4. Prom, Graduation, Senior Banquet
They happened, I survived. I feel pretty accomplished since this week of events always feels like the longest for those of us who work in the high school. I didn't count my hours of overtime, but I do know that the only reason I left school when the sun was still up is because it doesn't set until well after 11pm.

5. Robbery
Yup, you read that right. A group of middle school student broke into not only our house (they nabbed my phone, not much else is left to take since M. and I shipped out our stuff), but also broke into and vandalized our neighbors house, and trashed the school truck. My phone was eventually returned to me thanks to an honest student who noticed it was mine and stole it back for me (Student of the year maybe? I think so.) and it had lots of nice incriminating photos and video on it that I gladly handed over to the Alaska State Troopers.

6. End of the Year
This one hasn't happened yet, but it's coming up this Thursday and I'm psyched!

I head home this weekend and I can't wait to permanently ditch my rubber boots and settle back in to the Colorado lifestyle. I'm happy to say that my Colorado trip payed off and I will be returning to good ol' 303 as a high school teacher.  It only took four years, but I finally get to do what I love in my favorite state ever.

See you soon CO!

February 21, 2013

The Big Decision

Earlier this month teachers in our district were officially offered contracts to return for the 2013-2014 school year. I was out of the village at the time (chaperoning some of the best kids I've ever worked with!) but I got word through the grapevine that my contract was also being renewed if I wanted it. I'm not going to lie, I'd been dreading this moment since we returned from Christmas break. The moment when I'd have to decide.

To return to the job I love, so far away from the family and friends I miss? Or return to the life and people I miss and give up my teaching job in Alaska?

After months of pondering this question, I've decided to decline my contract for the 2013-2014 school year. I have enjoyed my two years here in bush Alaska and will miss both the students and the staff very much. However, I have decided that I am ready to move on to my next adventure. I'm not exactly sure what that adventure will be, but I'm hoping it will be a little closer to home.

February 19, 2013

Adventure to Anchorage: Academic Decathlon

This past week I travelled to Anchorage with eight students from our district so that they could be competitive test takers in a state competition. I know what you're thinking: test taking is not a sport! But for thousands of nerds around the country who compete in things like Tsunami Bowl, Math Counts, and Geography Bee test taking is their arena of choice.

Let the testing begin!
This year I sponsored our district's combined Academic Decathlon team and spent countless hours locked in my classroom with a group of dedicated students studying everything and anything about Russia (this year's topic). We studied the space race, Communism, the Tzars, famous Russian composers, art, the Russian Market, and we even read Dr. Zhivago. Months and months of preparation culminated last week in Anchorage at the state Academic Decathlon competition where students spent two days testing in math, science, economics, music, art, social sciences, literature and language, essay writing, and the super quiz. They also gave two speeches and sat for an interview with the judging panel. 

Super Quiz Relay lineup
Our students took 15th in the state and 5th in their division. Although our kids didn't win any of the scholarships that students were competing for (over $30,000 in scholarships, how cool is that?!) we did have one student win an iPad mini for being a high scorer in his division. 

What a good looking team!
And in our down time we tooled around Anchorage, visiting college campuses and eating yummy food. 

Touring Alaska Pacific University
Enjoying the marine biology lab at APU
(She's playing with a baby octopus)
Rock Climbing adventure
Sushi was a hit, even if chopsticks were not. 
Playing "what is this?" and "is it edible?" with
the spring salad. 
Needless to say, I am absolutely exhausted. Five days of chauffeuring students from place to place really does get tiring. I think the next time I head to Anchorage it will be sans-students so that I can travel at a more leisurely pace and have a drink!

January 28, 2013


Today the weather is being downright spiteful. It's completely gray outside with high winds and a biting cold. 

The weather station down at our airstrip is reporting: -6, feels like -41

January 26, 2013

Sunlight... Almost

By the end of January we still aren't getting any direct sunlight here in Scammon thanks to the mountain. We are, however, starting to get an almost sunny sky. We've all been missing the sunlight for months now and it very disorienting to see that it's daylight outside but still not get any sunlight.

Talk about vitamin D deficiency!! I'm missing sunny Colorado a lot this month.

There's a sun behind that mountain!

January 24, 2013

When the Lights Go Down

In addition to our water shenanigans from the beginning of this month, we've been dealing with some  hissy fits from our generators. 

I don't know if it's because of the cold that suddenly hit or if there's a mechanical error, but it has become pretty common place for our lights to flicker on and off throughout the day. It wouldn't be too big of a deal for this to happen during the day down-states, but since the sun is still refusing to peak out from behind the mountains it presents kind of a pickle. 

Most of the teachers have stopped counting on technology when they write their lesson plans because it's about a 50/50 shot that the outlets will be functioning. So we make the most out of the emergency lighting and midday twilight and push on. 

Emergency Lights
Hopefully February will bring slightly warmer temperatures to keep our generators happy and functioning. 

January 07, 2013

Preparing to Lose Water

This morning our IL came over the intercom and announced the one thing that can turn my blood cold: the water pressure in the pump system is down to 6 PSI and we should switch into water conservation mode. We should also prepare to lose water at any time.

Many of you who have been reading my blog for a while may remember when this happened last March. If not, you can read about it here. The summary of it is that when I can't shower I turn in to a very grumpy person. I'm fully capable of preforming all other daily tasks without running water. I can wash my dishes with melted snow, flush the toilet with reserve water that we keep in totes, fine.

But the one thing I can't do is shower, it takes up too much water that we need to keep around for all the other stuff.

I'm hoping that since we are getting ready to host a basketball tournament this weekend that a lot of resources will go toward fixing the water (otherwise we may need to cancel the tournament).

Cross your fingers for us and hope we don't lose water!

Our neighbor, B., came over to house this evening with a glass of what we all assume was water. Apparently the water from her faucet started spewing out a light brown liquid... the sign that our tanks are on their last legs before they run out.

You see, we have to distill our water here to filter out a lot of heavy metals that accumulate in the water as it sits in the tanks. The picture below shows the different water available in teacher housing- B's, ours, and distilled water.

The good new is that some of the city water is being diverted to the school to fill the tanks. We may lose water for a while, but it should be back up by this weekend!!!! (it's the little things that keep you going)

And, in case you're wondering...

... this is a distiller.

... and this is what distilling does.