Oh dear! Our 11 AM fight is not looking too good right now. I am letting Kristine sleep….maybe she won’t notice what is going on outside her door!! We are becoming very good at creating meals out of our weirdly paired supplies. Kristine learned a new way of fixing salmon spread. We just added horseradish. It was delish. It is funny how we think about food so much over here! And appreciate it.
We’ll go for a hike today if the snow is not hitting our eyes too hard. When we were walking Wednesday night we had to turn back because it hurt too much! We both love walking on the boardwalk.
My visit to Akutan has been a lot of fun. The stories we have gotten so far have been great. There has been a lot of joking about who has a story and who doesn’t. I swear, everyone we talk to tries to point us in another direction by saying “I know who you should talk to…”
This morning we facilitated the much awaited conversation between April Dawn Pelkey and her husband Demetri Tcheripanoff. (Thank you April and Demetri, so much for coming in and allowing us to hear your story.)
After laughing (trying not to make any noise) and crying and laughing again, and watching April interact with her husband, and hearing about her life, it really got me in a pensive, thinking mood. I started recalling the stories from Hugh, Darryl, Joe, and then April, Demetri, and Christopher Tcheripanoff this afternoon, and I was overwhelmed by admiration for the love of place that was revealed in all of the conversations. As someone who believes, to the depth of my soul, that the best place on earth is the Aleutian Islands, and that I belong no where else, it was humbling to find the same sentiments here on Akutan Island. It is uplifting to know that everyone has worked so hard to keep Akutan vibrant and growing. And equally important that there are Unangax of the “young generation” stepping up to the plate to carry on the work and traditions. Believe me, if I wore a hat (which I can’t because I look really stupid in them) my hat would be off to this community.
Kristine and I had an absolutely perfect flight on the Penair Grumman Goose from Unalaska to Akutan. It was so smooth that Kristine’s window didn’t even get wet in the water landing. Pilot Steve Hakala is one of the best anyways. I told Kristine that I really didn’t know that many people in Akutan, but it seems that everyone we saw, I knew! April came to meet our plane, (Akutan- Village Life on the Rocks for you blog followers) then got us checked into our rooms at the Akutan Bayview Hotel. Dimitri Tcheripanioff brought our bags and equipment on a 4 wheeler which was very much appreciated.
We invited folks to come to our workspace, provided by the Akutan Corporation at the Bayview, and we were happy to get 2 people signed up for sessions. Hugh Pelkey came in first and spent 40 minutes talking with me about his life, with 2 amazing stories of survival. His descriptions of the events, as well as his discriptions of life in general, were vivid. We hosted Hugh’s bother Darryl Pelkey later in the evening. His story took us from Akutan, to the West coast of Washington, and back again, leaving us with a clear understanding of his appreciation of life in the Aleutians, and how you can make a difference in the lives of those living around you.
Our morning started with a trip outside to look at the calm beginnings of a new day. Yikes! Another gorgeous day. Our first session was a conversation with Mayor Joe Bereskin. Joe talked with me about Akutan and the importance of becoming involved to make where you live the best it can be for it’s residents. We touched on topics of politics, fisheries, hydro power, geothermal power, education, and the absolute beauty of Akutan’s boardwalks!!
Several of our conversationalists were unable to attend, so Kristine and I took a walk to the Trident plant. Oh my goodness. That trek was long and had a bit of mud involved! We hadn’t really planned on the trek, so we didn’t have our brochures with us. We had to come all the way back to town, eat our scrumptuous soup dinner and trek all the way back with our brochures in the hopes of getting some folks from the plant to participate tomorrow. Kristine and I were amazed that the Penair Goose made six trips today!
We are eagerly awaiting April’s and her husband’s conversation tomorrow morning. CB, if you are reading the blogs while you are on vacation, just know that April is enjoying some sea salt caramels from Unalaska!!!