Thursday, June 13, 2013

Teller, Alaska

On May 30th I took a drive with my native friend Francis...he is 72 years Teller, Alaska. The dirt road is 72 miles of bumps and dips through the Alaskan bush. There isn't much to do for the two hour drive except look around. Teller itself isn't very exciting. It is a town much smaller than Nome, if that is even imaginable! The trip isn't about the destination, it is about the path that gets you there. There is no reason to hurry, especially on these dirt roads. Some spots are great for driving and some spots are half washed away by the nearby creeks and rivers that are breaking up. It was a slow bumpy road and sometimes it was like driving on ice because the sandy road was so slippery. I saw reindeer and ptarmigan (the Alaska state bird) on the drive up. In downtown Teller I saw seal and beautiful blue ice water. There were loons and gulls flying too. Not like the loons on MN lakes. They aren't as beautiful and don't make the loon sound we all know! I spent the day with Francis at his brother's house. I saw his fish "camp" which is only 3 blocks from his regular house. His "camp" has no running water and currently no heat. Most houses in this area have honey buckets and pumps and reservoirs of water into the house. I cannot imagine! His brother is just as much native as Francis and possibly speaks less english. I am used to listening to the mumblings of an old eskimo so I could still understand most of what he said. His wife (a white woman) made goose and chicken for dinner with yellow potatoes. On the drive home I got to see moose again. I saw a small group in the fall and on the way home from Teller I saw a mama moose in the river and a new baby emerged from the willow bushes to join her for a drink. I was SO happy to see them. They were absolutely beautiful. A short 12 hours after we returned from Teller the road was completely washed out at one bridge close to Wooley Lagoon (if you feel like googling that!). The ice jams broke apart the colverts and washed away a 20 foot section of the road. People were stuck either in Teller or in Nome unable to pass by the 40 mile mark of the road. It took about a week to fix and now it is driveable again. 

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