It’s no secret that I love to travel. I’ve been on the road a lot lately, and we’re about to head out again. My adventures have taken me to some amazing places- some beautiful places.
On one recent trip, I had the opportunity to visit a village just one mile from the Bering Sea. To get there, I had to travel in a teeny, tiny little airplane. To be honest, these scare me.
But I’ve come to the conclusion that I really don’t get to choose how I leave this world, and I might as well enjoy myself while I’m here. (I am oh-so-brave!) My husband informed me that these bush pilots are the best on the planet, so off I went! We flew over the Yukon-Keskokwim Delta, and it was absolutely gorgeous!
At the airport in the Alaskan Bush, you don’t really have to have a boarding pass to get on the plane. In fact, they don’t even give you a boarding pass. They call your flight, and you have to meet your pilot at the gate. This makes it sound like there could be a mob situation, but when there are only 5 seats on the plane, it’s not that big of a mob! Also, in order to get on the plane, you have to get on a scale. Yup. They weigh you. So, you know, you gotta get over anyone else seeing that number!
Also, just because they offer a flight on any given day at any given time, does not mean that you are going anywhere. I had a friend on that trip who had her flight cancelled two days in a row. On the third day, we were to get on the same plane, which was making several stops- among them, her stop. When they called us to meet the pilot at the gate, she asked him if this was the flight that would take her to her destination. He said, “Yeah, but we’re not doing that today.” I laughed hard! She eventually got on a flight, but man-oh-man that was funny!
These little villages really don’t have the most updated of things. They have sturdy things. It’s remote. It’s cold. And it costs a fortune to ship ANYthing there. The Alaskan natives have, for as long as they’ve been there, relied on a subsistence lifestyle. That is, they live off the land. When it’s berry season, they pick berries. When it’s salmon season, they fish for salmon. When a moose wanders through town, it becomes moose season! They reuse as much as they can, because they can’t simply run to Walmart and replace things. It’s truly remarkable.
One of the things I admired about the Alaskan natives was that they take care of their own. If the elders become unable to hunt or fish, the community shares what they get with them. Nobody goes hungry.
At one stop along my adventure, I noticed that there were fish hanging from the fascia of the house. Turns out, it was Pike (fish) season. At my destination, a man brought a bag with 2 fish in it. I was told: You need to pay close attention. We are going to fillet the first fish, and you are going to fillet the second. Now, you don’t know me well enough to know that, well, I’m a weenie. I don’t like blood, or guts, or filleting fish. Awkward!
They also travel a little differently than we do. When someone picks you up at the air strip in a village, they could be driving an SUV, a 4 wheeler or a truck. If the truck seats 3 and there are 5 people, guess what? The extra 2 sit on the luggage in the back of the truck… When it’s 30 degrees outside. I only know this because I drew the short straw one day. I was sooo glad I had a long, heavy scarf to wrap around my head that day! They just do life a bit differently than we do down in the lower 48. I mean, how many places do you know that have a row of 4 wheelers in the parking lot instead of cars?
I love me a 4 wheeler! I don’t really have a need for one, on account of living in town. But man, if I ever live on a chunk of land… I am getting one!