Friday, August 31, 2012

We Made It

We made it out to the island after a very uneventful (but beautiful) flight. Last night was a frenzy of exploration and unpacking, with a warm welcome from the community in the form of a potluck.

So much to write about, but for now, I'll share some pictures.

Our first glimpse of islands... not actually our island, but some neighbors.

I'm pretty sure this is Kasatochi Island, a volcanic island that erupted in 2008, and is currently inactive. It is very close to us. Another neighboring volcano, Little Sitkin, is on eruption watch this weekend.

Our new home! The pile of stuff outside is about a quarter of what we brought. Most of our totes and other shipments-- including the husband's dipnet and fishing poles-- have arrived, though I am waiting on one more tote. I am extra anxious about it, because it has a jug of maple syrup... hoping it hasn't gotten knocked around too much.

After we got our bags into the house, we went for a walk up towards the beach. I'm excited to show you more pictures of the island soon. Above is the old landfill, which is quite nicely covered over now (though I imagine still off limits). Below is one of the beaches, with gorgeous soft sand and gentle, but very cold, waves.

On our way back, we saw the plane taking off. It was quite a feeling to watch it fly away, knowing that it won't be back until Sunday at the earliest. We're here, and we're not leaving anytime soon.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Goodbye Anchorage (Maybe?)

Looks like our flight is going to take off as planned, so it's farewell to Anchorage until December.

Last night we went up to the Glen Alps trailhead and out to the overlook at dusk (around 10 o'clock, the days are still long up here!)

It was a gorgeous night, and the whole city was laid out in front of us-- a city of almost 300,000, bounded by mountains and the sea, in the shadow of Susitna and, far away, Denali.

Anchorage is where we first lived together, where we got engaged, where he deployed from and redeployed to. It's where we've gone to school, taught in schools, and worked crazy odd jobs to make ends meet. It's where we've found communities of faith, political action, outdoors endeavors, and historical preservation. Someday, it's where we hope to put down roots.

We'll certainly miss it, and its conveniences (things like banks, Target, even Olive Garden!) But it's time to face forward and lean into this new adventure.

Goodbye, Anchorage. See you on the flipside.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Silver Linings / State Fair

The flight delay led to the opportunity to spend a day at the Alaska State Fair, and also gives us time to tie up some loose ends. I am thankful.

Quite a backdrop, eh?
Ferris Wheel
The cabbages (and everything else) are actually kind of small this year, due to a cold summer.
This beauty weighed in at 771.5 pounds (and won for best looking pumpkin). The overall weight winner was 900-something.

It was such a gorgeous day. High sixties and sunny.
Another kind of rat race.
Hello cow.

Hello rabbit.

Prize-winning wild berries.

Sunday, August 26, 2012


Sometimes this happens when you're trying to get out to remote Alaska.

Apparently the instrument landing system (ILS) is out of commission, and the guy who can provide the appropriate weather readings is off-island. Sooo... we're probably in Anchorage until Thursday. Worse things have happened.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

What 4 Months of Grocery Shopping Looks Like (Part 1)

Costco run for non-perishables. Not pictured: Fred Meyer run, frozen food, chilled food, and freeze-dried food from REI.

Thursday, August 23, 2012


Last time I was here, I was enroute to Dhaka via Doha. Today? IAD-JFK-LGB-ANC.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

A Break in the Clouds

I went back to work briefly, to say some goodbyes. As I was walking in, I saw a break in the clouds.

It's never easy to leave.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012


I probably should have started here.

Why am I leaving a fantastic job, amazing friends, a wonderful apartment, and a city I love to move to a remote island in Alaska?

The most straightforward answer is that my husband has a job on the island that will advance his career, that I can do freelance work, that the complicated equation of salary and cost-of-living tipped in the right direction, that I want to go back to school anyway. But of course it's a little more complicated than that.

The reality is that this is the most wildly irresponsible decision I have ever made. Up until this moment, my path has been exceedingly steady, predictable, perhaps a little boring. College, career, positions of increasing responsibility, marriage. First drink at 21 and not a day sooner, a squeaky clean record without so much as a speeding ticket or parking violation.

This is an adventure. It's a step off the treadmill for a little while, a side journey into the unknown. It's not tubing in the Vang Vieng or BASE jumping, and sure, it involves health insurance-- how adventurous can anything that comes with health insurance really be?-- but it's something different, something I never expected for or of myself. And that's exciting.

Thanks for coming along on the ride.

Sunday, August 19, 2012


So how do you go about moving from DC to an island at the back end of the Aleutians? If you're moving yourself, the answer involves a trip to Target, lots of Rubbermaid totes, a drill, zip ties, and sharpies.

Fun fact: the USPS serves all communities in America, one way or another. The island has its very own post office, with delivery twice a week (or whenever the plane comes!) This means that you can ship flat rate packages just the same as you would to anywhere else, and parcel post for not much more. Amazon Prime also mostly works, though certain items that can't be sent via air are obviously excluded.

Unfortunately, with such a long way to go, the 4,542-mile journey can be a bit rough on packages, which is where totes, also known as tubs or storage bins, come in. Essentially, you pack each tote with up to 70 pounds of stuff, drill some holes, and fasten it with zip ties, like so:

In case the label falls off or the lid becomes separated, it's important to write your name and zip code on the side and lid of the tote in Sharpie. Given that our zip code has approximately 100 residents, I'm fairly certain that these totes will eventually find their way to us.

The total cost to ship the three 18-gallon totes, with weights varying from 40-60 pounds, was $126. Not too shabby, especially if you consider the baggage fees charged by airlines.

Goodbye, tote! See you in a little while!

The very friendly postal worker predicted three weeks; I'll believe it when I see it. I do have the confirmation receipts and will start tracking in a few weeks. It's going to be extra fun when they arrive, because I was in such a packing frenzy that I don't really remember what went in each one.

The other part of the equation involves luggage and the complicated calculus of food vs. clothing. General wisdom is to ship most of your clothing and pack your suitcases with food, which makes a lot of sense when a half gallon of milk costs $7. More on that later!

And now I have the UPS logistics song stuck in my head...

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