I know everyone wants to hear about the moose but I am still writing that one so you will just have to wait.
My parents got here on the morning flight Saturday the 5th. We have been having some beautiful fall weather punctuated now and then by extended clouds and rain. It had been raining and even dropped below freezing during the night prior to their arrival. But the sun was smiling for the first several days of their visit. They commented on their way in about the beautiful reds and yellows of the tundra and surrounding landscapes they saw on the flight in. I don’t think they really believed me when I said that it may look very different for their flight out.
We walked up to the cliff where I try to take pictures from just as often as I remember. I am trying to get 4 seasons from a few different points and I have them although I think I would like better ones for a few.
They got the full experience complete with poor water quality. For once it was not the town but our hot water heater. It was kind of funny because you could flip from hot to cold and the water would go from yellow to clear.
The next day we took the four wheeler out almost to the base of the mountains in the picture above. It looked like it might be cold but the weather warmed up and was actually quite nice. I estimate that the base is about 5-8 miles away which would not take long but the tundra is quite bumpy and wet and the four wheeler is only 2 wheel drive or I would throw off my passengers. With one person it is a shorter ride but with three the top speed is only 2nd gear for most of the way and in several places they had to jump off and walk a short distance to prevent sinking in the mud.
We stopped where the trail forked towards the mountains one way and Kobuk the other and found some blueberries. Normally I am told they are quite thick but this summer has been dry and therefore this year they have been sparse. This spot had a few more than everywhere else and I only wished that I had brought a bag. I thought I put one in just in case but oh well.
This then is were all the red on the tundra came from. We walked around a little and found a friend.
Actually in truth there were several and I put one out near the trail to pick up on our way back. This was especially funny as a few hundred yards later we began running into fairly large racks all over. We continued on until we ran into a stream that we felt may have been fordable but we did not really want to risk getting stuck and we were also starting to get a little cold. Somehow riding a bucking four wheeler is tiring and a lot of work. We had to stop to cool off and to recover from all the bumping.
We stopped to grab the rack that I had set aside and while tying on my new hood ornament I got another surprise. We were a mile or two out so I did not expect to see anyone on foot but over the next hill comes a guy with a huge pack. Apparently he was a teacher in Shungnak years ago and comes back every year to visit. He was headed out for the night so we had a nice little chat about teaching and village life and how things were different then and now. Then he went on and we finished tying on the antlers and continued as well. I must have missed the picture but the antlers were tied to the front and it looked pretty funny. We were joking about having four wheeler jousts and that maybe this would keep the kids from running in front of the four wheeler.
We got back and had the big huge pike I posted about earlier for dinner. It was so big I had to cut it for it to fit in the oven let alone on the pan. Needless to say we had some leftovers (still a week later).
That was Saturday and they had said something about checking online to see if the northern lights were any good. They were supposed to be the best that night until the next Saturday. I figured they were supposed to be the best at about 2 in the morning but they were out at 1 when I went to check and I almost didn’t get them up but I figured might as well and we can go twice if they are better at 2. I was so glad they came because they really were pretty good. I was able to take a few pictures on my camera that I will add later but I was even able to take one on my phone they were so bright. About 1:50 the clouds rolled in and did not leave for the remainder of their trip so it was a really good thing that we went when we did.
The next day a friend of mine took us out on his boat. He had a canoe with a little outboard on it. There was one place that was too shallow and he and I had to get out and push but otherwise it was a very pleasant ride. I had hoped to see some animals since we did not see any on our ride in the tundra but no such luck. Still it was a very fun trip. The fall colors were vivid in the sun and we got to see some local camps along the bank. It was impressive how quickly the river moves. I knew from watching it that it was quick but the difference in the hour and a half trip up and 15 minute trip back really put it in perspective.
(The view from my friend’s front porch)
Monday and Tuesday I had to work. Our class spent a little more time berry picking on Monday so that we would have enough to make jelly with my parents on Tuesday. They love being outside and what kids don’t? The jelly making was a lot of fun too! We read Blueberries for Sal and the kids made the connection that they were making jelly just like Sal. He was actually canning blueberries but the pictures looked the same. We told them Wednesday that they would get to try/ take home their jelly tomorrow forgetting that I had taken Thursday and Friday off. I figured they would not remember but several times kids we saw in the village asked when they would get their jelly. They did get it on the following Monday.
At some point and I honestly don’t remember which day we walked down along the river and did some fishing. We caught pike and a salmon, but more interesting was the drying racks with fish and nets hanging. We had to walk the long way around (all the way across town) because they took out the stairs near my house that lead to the river. The old ones were wood and rotting a little. The new ones are going to be metal and are apparently anchored by a huge block of concrete that was flown in. If you look closely in the picture below it says 2 pieces totaling 17400 pounds. The larger one was 14720 but I believe they were flown together.
This might have been the same day that we drove to the end of the new road which I have posted about before. We had just gotten going when mom asked how far it went and I pointed ahead and said that far… Right now it is a short road. We got off and walked up to the beaver lodge and a little past. We happen to see a duck and dad had brought the shotgun. He does not like to hit them on the water so I was going to use my .22 to get it to fly. I shot near it and there was a big splash and it wasn’t there anymore. For a second I thought maybe I accidentally hit it but then it surfaced a few feet away. It was a diver and it was fairly funny. Mom compared it to one of those carnival targets that fall over and bounce back. Sorry the picture is not really in focus. My camera decided that the background is what I really wanted to see.
We drove up and saw the cemetery and dump and gravel pit and coming around a corner happened upon some birds. My parents believe they were ptarmigan but I maintain they were a grouse or something of that nature. They couldn’t quite see all of them from their position but they heard me shoot several times and then they saw a couple making a break for it. They were shouting, “They’re over there!” And all I said was, “I have 4 already.” they thought that was funny. I guess they thought I was not a very good shot.
We saw a fox for just a moment on the way back, which was the biggest thing they had seen so far. When we got back I cleaned the birds and we inspected the craw which was packed with berries and leaves. My parents were laughing that so far I had a different type of animal that I brought home each day. Muskrat, birds, fish. I said it was mostly because they were there and I was out more than usual.
The next day was Friday… Moose day….