News from on top of the world

ImageAfter commuting to work yesterday by plane, I rode from the airstrip to the school in a giant sled pulled by a snow machine (and I mean a GIANT sled--there were three adults with all our baggage in there)! I completed my first day of speech-language therapy in Ambler, Alaska. It's a sweet little town where "everybody knows your name," and perhaps a bit more than just that. As I walked around a bit of the village, people greeted others by name and knew that I didn't live here just because they didn't know me.

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The kids were fun to work with--lots of smiles. My favorite moments during school yesterday were (1) When a girl was describing a picture to me and said, "the boy is about to 'kutuk'." After asking her, "what is 'kutuk?", she looked at me as if I were crazy and gestured "fall down" and her facial expression said, "duh." (2) The posters around the school are different than those I remember seeing as a student (you know the type, "there's no 'i' in team"). One reads "if we don't lead the way, who will?" and another, "respect our elders." (3) During my first treatment, a student interrupted me and said "would you like to buy a birch bark woven basket?" to which I replied, "that sounds nice. I don't have a lot of room in my bag, though. Do you make them?" She explained that her mother makes the baskets. At the end of the school day, I had a call on line 1. I answered and the girl's mother had called to see if I wanted a basket.

image When I checked in at DIA, I checked one bag with almost everything I was taking: food, clothes, toiletries, sleeping bag, sleeping pad, groceries, etc. That bag didn't make my last flight from Anchorage to Kotzebue because the plane was overweight so they left mine and 40 other bags behind. After a series of events, it is now Tuesday morning and I still haven't seen my bag. They apparently flew it to Kotz but forgot to unload it. So when it arrived in Nome, Alaska (the next stop) they send it back to Anchorage as no one was there to claim it. It's supposed to return to Kotz this morning where it will be sent to the village where I will be later today! All that to say, I've been wearing the same clothes and without toiletries since 2 a.m. Sunday. But, last night the special ed director in Kotz flew me a bag full of food, toiletries, and clothes--I'm so thankful we're the same size! Of the treasures in the bag are packets of instant Starbucks coffee (Hallelujah!) and approximately six Snickers bars! Well, off to get caffeinated…

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First stop, Ketchikan!

Just like tourists on an Alaskan cruise, my first stop this winter is Alaska's southeastern-most town, Ketchikan. Known for salmon canneries and tourism, this coastal village boasts over 8,000 residents. And I'm heading there now! Austin's friend wanted experience landing at Denver International Airport in his 180, so he and Austin flew me to the airport this afternoon--I felt like a VIP arriving in such style! :) My flight to Seattle went smoothly and I'm writing from Seattle, Washington where I'm waiting to board my last flight to Ketchikan. Once I arrive to their tiny airport, I'll locate the rental car and drive it onto...the ferry! The airport is on an island; too bad I'll fly in after dark! I'll locate the vacation rental* where I'll be staying, go straight to bed and arrive at school at 7am sharp!

When I accepted the job, I was told that I would mostly be sent to rural school districts that don't have hotels. However, this assignment is different because this district has an SLP who is currently on medical leave. Another SLP and I will be splitting this month and next in coverage of her caseload at two schools. Thus, my living situation is different--my coordinator set us up with a vacation rental for the entire two months (same price as a hotel stay would be in the winter)! The house is situated atop a 165 ft bluff overlooking the ocean. It has a deck that faces the bay and is only minutes from the historic downtown!

Ketchikan has a movie theater, hiking trails, a cute downtown with coffee shops, and is usually rainy with temperatures ranging from 35-45 degrees in January. Ahhhh!