Wow… it’s been a month and a half since I’ve made a meaningful post. It is a little disturbing to think that time has flown by that fast.

For Thanksgiving (yes, it is celebrated here) I headed to Koyuk for 3 days to spend time with my girlfriend. It was the first Thanksgiving away from family for both of us and it will certainly go down as one of the most memorable for me. (Next year – the Turkey gets thawed entirely the day before – no waking up 5 hours before dawn to put it in the sink and change the water out repeatedly.)

An early morning alarm to start the turkey thawing followed by half hour naps followed a late night baking pies – lack of sleep took it’s toll on me early in the day, so I was a bit tired (maybe this is what my mom has always complained about) but there’s no cure like turkey, stuffing and cranberry sauce to perk a guy up. If I hadn’t found out about the Lions losing so early in the day, football might have been involved too. Needless to say though, Thursday night didn’t involve too much moving, just a light walk down the beach to shake the calories down into my legs and prepare myself for pie (both apple and pumpkin)!

Turkey time!
Thanksgiving dinner
Carving the turkey

Only in the Bush – mobile computer lab

So, I want to start a new section of my blog, that I’m going to call, “Only in the Bush”. It’s for those things which I run into and say, “Seriously? This only happens in Bush Alaska.” Today’s is specifically, “This would only happen in my school district.”

I’ve, uhmm… well I suppose some of you may think I’ve been ranting and raving about the Ed Tech department here at BSSD. They’re phenomenal, there’s no other way to say it. One of them even let me take his four wheeler into the foothills tonight. But, that’s not my moment.

Today in our training about setting up a digital Foxfire it was mentioned that the district has a mobile computer lab. We inquired a little about it and they offered to set it up and show it to us. Before I explain what it is, let me show you a couple photos I snapped (sorry about the quality, but it was my cell phone camera).

Mobile lab satellite dish


What you’re seeing is a cart that can be pulled behind a snowmachine or 4-wheeler that has a self-aiming satellite dish on it. There’s a set of cables that connects it to the a router, switch, Video Teleconference (VTC) equipment, phone for emergencies and even an Airport Extreme wireless base station.

You can haul this thing out into the bush with you, bring laptops for students to use, VTC with classrooms around the district or the lower-48 and have internet access over the equivalent of a T1. That’s actually faster than what the school sites get. It’s also used to cover the Iditarod race when it passes through the region. They set up a tent around all the routers and gear and use it as a base station to interview mushers as they pass through, stream live to the internet and even take viewer questions to ask the mushers. Talk about an amazing piece of technology built as a collaborative effort between GCI and BSSD. Oh, and if you wanted to set one of these babies up for yourself? It is a custom deal, so you’ll have to make a call to a friendly satellite internet provider.

Out of the U.P.

Well, I’ve left the Upper Peninsula for good now. College is finished, work is over and I’ve moved out of my apartment. Wednesday or so I start my trip out west. Today I packed 10 boxes with almost 300 pounds of possessions and I’ll fork over around $230 to the USPS on my way out of town so they’ll be there when I arrive. Tomorrow I’ll finish buying the last of the things to ship to Shaktoolik and/or need for my trip.

It’s been a great 5 years, I’ve made a lot of friends that will hopefully stay with me throughout life and made a lot of memories as well. It’s time to move on to the next adventure and make more of both.

Mackinaw Bridge-2006-2

I’ve driven across the Mackinaw Bridge more times than I can count. Yesterday, it was symbolic though. A bridge to the next phase of my life.