Friday, August 27, 2010

Trains, Planes and Francois?

"I wanna be a school bus driver..."
~Trampled By Turtles

(That one's for you Rodney;)

So my contract reads something like this: Rachel will be a teacher for the Lower Kuskokwim School District fulfilling all her teacherly duties to the best of her ability so help you God etc. then in fine print it whispers.... "and all other duties as assigned". This week I met one of my 'other duty as assigned'. I recognize this isn't so difficult to imagine for those of you who knew me in the days of the yellow Escape (not so long ago, I know). I'll even admit I felt right at home in the only school bus existing in Quinhagak, Alaska..okay that's not even true because the other fishing guide outfitters in town have a bus they use to transport clients to and from the runway. BUT it's the only bus we have at school and you are looking at the newest school bus driver! Yup, add that to the resume. Connie and I are on AM pick up duty. We cruise the village looking for kids in the weee hours. We often double as wake up calls and assistance in dressing our riders. Living here is a lot like having a family of 200 kids and 400 relatives, everyone taking care of everyone.

Speaking of transportation let me just take you on a stroll through the highways and byways of Quin, come on let's go. As we meander along we greet Alyssa, Jordan, Linds, and the Petluska twins riding by on their bikes, they yell out a cheerful HI!! Just past the honey bucket hopper, creating a make shift jungle gym out of the fishing boats flipped over for winter storage are a half dozen kids or so, who stop to watch us pass by. The local water and sewer guys are zooming all around in their Ford Rangerish pick up trucks (they remind me of the doozers off Fraggle Rock, if any of you remember them:) Then flying by on a well loved 'honda', armed with shotguns and looking like something off a news reel investigating gorilla warfare in some foreign land are Frank and David. Not to worry they're just headed to the tundra for an evening hunt before they have to crawl into bed so they can get up for school in the morning. Several more 4 wheelers zing past us some caring up to 5 or more people. People going to steam, going to the washeteria to do laundry, going to the store, going up river, maybe going home, just people going places. Then Lily or Kevin passes us with a wave and a honk headed to the airport in their taxi-esq Dodge caravan that has proved it's durability, long surpassing it's better days and still cruising the dusty roads of Quin. In the mist of all this hub bub of village rush hour we can't help but do a double take when spinning out of a drive just ahead of us is: 'Francois' at least that's what its creator calls it. That's right, here for the first time on our very own roads of Quinhagak we are witnessing its virgin unveiling: the genuine-original-renovated-taken-apart-then-put-back-together- because-his-mother-told-him-to-except-he-welded-on-a-few-extra-pieces-and-put-things-back-in-different-places-4 wheeler! This fine specimen of vehicular potential is like nothing we've ever seen before. Danny, the creator/designer is quite happy to stop by (Flintstone style of course, since his contraption is lacking in the brake department right now) but this doesn't phase him. He doesn't think of it as much a drawback as a unique selling point. Just wave him over he'll tell you how this Francois came to be. Like I said he accredits much to his Mum, who directed him to put it back together when she found her little man had taken apart the family 4 wheeler unfortunately she wasn't specific enough on 'how' he was to put it back together so he took in a little artistic liberty and voila! "Francois."

Cucuklillruunga! I Voted! Last week was the primaries...did you? I was pretty dang excited to get to use my Alaskan Voter Card, woooooo whoooo I was all official. They even had my name on the address list as: 1/2 Mile From The School. Kinda like how my driver's license reads: General Delivery. As we were leaving the 'Polls'/Bingo Hall, in the giddiness of just exercising my voting right, I enthusiastically asked a young man who was obviously walking past the Poll, "Hey, did you vote?" He turned around to see who I was talking to. "Yes, you," I asked again "Did you vote?"
"Ah, No?" he said in reply unsure of my sanity.
"Well, are you 18?"
"Do you live here?"
"Well, you should vote. Right in there." I pointed.
"Hum, okay. Thanks." he said as he turned and headed in to exercise his voting right.
Satisfied at fulfilling my civic duty, I smiled at the sticker on my jacket. "Cucuklillruunga!"

(A mask found at the dig site)
A team of eager young students from all over the world Sweden, Scotland, South Dakota have been excavating at the old village site 4 miles down the coast from Quin.
They brought many of these amazing pieces of history to the school today to display. Some of the artifacts they unearthed while they were doing this archeological dig for the past 3 weeks are incredible and estimated to be 700 years old! (To the right my friend Mary's daugher, Lynn, who worked at the site.) The site being studied is owned by the village as are the artifacts which will be temporarily taken back to the university to be preserved and will then be returned to Quin to be enjoyed for generations to come. (To the left a wash basin and dipper for the steam bath house) They have to keep all the artifacts in water since most are made of wood, allowing them to dry would cause immediate damage and cracking. One of the professors explained to me that in the house they worked on this summer (they were here last summer as well) they believe that the people inside were being attacked as there were many arrow heads found in the house. It also seemed as if the people in the house were retreating to the back of the house which contained the steam bath room. There were many arrows found in the steam as well along with human hair. He said it may be why the steam/house burned down (which they could tell somehow). Isn't that just unbelievable that after so much time, the tundra has preserved these pieces and from them we learn a story, part of why we are here right now.
(Ivory seal carving, the last artifact found this summer!)

So that's the latest all ya'll and oh, I'm back in Bethel...a-gain. Thanks for the computer time Anya. Kinda funny for the last 2 weeks either I've been staying at her house here or she's been staying at mine in Quin (she had a week's worth of work to do at the school). Well until next time Adios. P. S. Josh and Chris are coming up to visit next week! My first family to visit me in the wilds of the Alaskan tundra. Stay tuned.

"Show me how you work, God;
School me in your ways.
Take me by the hand;
Lead me down the path of truth.
You are my Savior, aren't you?
Mark the milestones of your mercy and love, God;
Rebuild the ancient landmarks!" Psalm 25:4-6


  1. Hey Kid, What kind of stipend do you get for being the bus driver??? So does this add into your retirement??? I am always so amazed when I read your blog, but knowing you this is something I would expect!!! Blessings to You!!!

  2. Lol, yeah right I wish that duty came with a stipend! Come on up and visit Joe! Thanks for the vote of confidence;)

  3. Thank you for sharing pictures of the exhibit! I really wished I could be there for that. When's the annual Bethel cross country meet?? Expect me there again this year cheering on my Seahawks! Deanna

  4. It was really interesting! The meet in Bethel is on the 18th! Thanks for being our cheering section:)

  5. Just heard bible study starts tonight. wish i could be there. :(

  6. Gwen, I wish you could be here too! But do me a favor. Would ya enjoy the trees for me:) I wish I could be there too. We didn't start the study yet. Gonna wait until after labor day. We are going to do the Daniel Study by Beth Moore. It'll be good. You should join one! Rach

  7. i should huh, think i'm gonna ask one of my coworkers if she goes anyplace. my goodness the trees are turning color already. this summer wasn't so great; there was too much rain.
    lol, i just looked at the picture of u and anya? and the dog, and ani looks like he's about to mark his territory. funny how i notice the odd things. haha. Pray for me and my family, we're thinking of moving to another apartment (either upstairs or a new place) and we're not sure when or if it's a good time right now.