Sunday, August 31, 2008

Slower Sunday

Today was pretty slow as well. After a morning of television and fried bologna sandwiches, Samara suggested a walk. This time we reversed my route from yesterday. We took the path to the beach on the next road over. (Did I mention that these are all gravel roads?) Anyway, we got some nice pictures this time. It wasn't too horribly cold, but the wind sure blows hard around here.

Here's Samara standing in the wind.

These are the flats that I took a picture of in the dark yesterday.

Here are the windy seas.

Here I am sitting on the sea wall.

This is a tug moored at the harbor.

Two common sights in Dillingham: a shipping container used as a storage building and a "dry-docked" boat.

So that's a visual tour of Dillingham for the day. Hope you enjoyed it. Have a good Labor Day!

Saturday, August 30, 2008

A Slow Day

Well, we didn't do a lot today. We woke up late, and watched a bunch of television.

Lunch was good. Samara fried up some bologna and onions. We made sandwiches on Alaska brand wheat bread with some American cheese. It was actually pretty tasty.

Before dinner, we figured out we needed a can opener. We headed into town and bought some bread, a can opener, some soy sauce and a pork steak. We also filled up the rental car with gas, so that we could take it back early this next week. We'll be car-free for a while, since renting a car is just too expensive.

Dinner was a really great stir-fry that Samara made. We had a candy bar for dessert. A Snickers is 95 cents in Alaska. Crazy. Samara bought an avocado (manager's special--$1). Even though she carefully selected it, it turned out to be bad. Kind of disappointing.

After dinner, I decided that I should take a walk. Yesterday, we took a walk down toward town, and took a left down a side street that seemed to go towards the harbor. We made it down to the beach, and then turned around and came home. I wanted to make it a little further, but Samara wasn't feeling up to a long hike tonight.

I headed off down the street, and made a left again. Almost immediately on the right is the yard full of containers. I guess that's where they offload stuff when it arrives on the barge.

To the left, there's a small, unkempt cemetery.

I also saw a not uncommon sight in Dillingham--a boat sitting in a yard.

When I got down to the beach, I took a few more pictures. There's a retaining wall along the beach, and above it are the bluffs that our apartments (Beluga Bluffs) are named for.

I walked along the path on inside the retaining wall for a while. It was getting dark, and I wanted to be able to get back before it was completely dark. On the other hand, I wanted to see if I could get around to the end of the point, beneath where our apartment building is. I made it around to where the retaining wall ends, and there was an area of flats where the tide was obviously out.

To my relief, there also seemed to be a road leading up the bluff. I walked on up and ended up on the next road over from our street. I just had to walk down to where there's a street that cuts in front of the Moravian Church, and I was able to get back home before the light was completely gone. I think I'll see if I can get Samara to go walking with me tomorrow.

I did see some wildlife, by the way. It was seagulls. That's it so far.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Care Packages

Oh, you want to send us a care package?

That's so nice of you!

Seriously, though, we would be very happy to see some packages full of dry foods. We spent almost all of our money coming up here, and the sticker shock at the grocery store is killing us.

So, here's what we bought today: some kitchen trash bags, a big thing of lemonade mix and a plastic pitcher, american cheese, bologna, peanut butter, diced tomatoes, baby carrots and fig newtons. That was $50.47. Then we went to the other grocery, since we knew some things would be cheaper there. We bought a bag of chips, a small bottle of generic mustard, microwave popcorn, and two frozen pizzas. That was another $24.12. So that's $75 worth of food, here in Dillingham.

Here's what I'm getting at: I'm sure some of you lovely people are missing us. So if you really want to, go to the Dollar Store and see what you can send us. We'd love some ice trays, some more microwave popcorn, laundry detergent, fruit snacks, assorted candy, and well, whatever seems like it would be lightweight and ship well. Just bear in mind, you've got to send it by US Mail PRIORITY MAIL. If you ship it by parcel post, it takes 4-6 weeks. The post office says it takes 12 days. It lies. So you've got to use priority mail. It'll probably still take a week, but until we get some paychecks rolling in, we're just sitting around watching TV, playing on the internet and staring at our empty kitchen cabinets.

Did I mention that we love you people?

Oh yeah, and our address is:

Aaron & Samara Baker (or Dr. & Mrs. Baker, if you prefer)
PO Box 1248
Dillingham, AK 99576


Samara's edit:
Oh and I have an amazon wishlist because my birthday is coming up. Just if you need ideas. ;)

It's Friday and we saw wildlife...

poop. When Aaron and I went to walk down to the post office and the courthouse we found a present on the front porch.
I thought I would share this with you. It might be the poop of a wolf or a coyote. So yeah, that's the end of the wildlife part of this blog.

Just to get accustomed to the way the locals talk, I thought I should say that no one really pays attention to street signs. So when I was on the informal interview, they asked where I was living and I said that I lived off of "C" street. They looked at me like I had said something foreign to them. Then I explained that I lived past the satellites and they both went "oh." So here are the satellites.
We walked to the post office and we saw more of the mountains without all the cloud coverage. It was very pretty. We walked a little further to the Courthouse which looks a lot different than the courthouses we are used to.
Aaron went inside and met with Ruby, the law clerk he is replacing. He also met some of the secretaries and the magistrate. The judge that he will be working under has been out for the last 2 weeks, so Aaron will have to wait until Tuesday to meet him.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Tour of Dillingham and the shopping trip

Yesterday we decided to drive out to "Lake Road." It has another name, but the locals just call it "lake road." So, 18 miles out lake road, there is a lake. We're not sure if it was the right lake, but we stopped and took pictures. It was a pretty drive out there. There are some mountains along the way.

See, lake. Pretty. The only real problem is Aaron has been wanting to see a bear or a moose and our landlord told us that out lake road is where we might see one. We didn't. But as soon as we see some fun wildlife, we'll let you know.

As we went back into town, we took a few pictures. The following is a picture is the view of the mountain from the post office.
I also took a picture of the local Ace Hardware Store. They had a display of dyson vacuums. The DC07, which is what I have was $550.00. When I bought mine, it was priced at $400, but I had a coupon and ended up only paying $300. We went there to make a key for me for the apartment. They also had ATVs for sale in the basement. I kinda want one now.

I also decided to take a picture of the local Inn. If anyone wants to visit us and they don't want to stay on our extra twin bed, the Bay Inn is where you can stay. I believe that a night there is $110.00 for one night.
After a had what I would call a informal interview, we went to the grocery store to pick up a few things for dinner. I was shocked at the prices. I knew they were going to be high, but $10.99 for a 12 pack of soda was crazy. We had to pick up things like a set of pots and pans, plastic forks and spoons. As we were shopping we came across a few things that were a bit strange. For example Doritos Toasted Corn flavor. So this is basically just unflavored Doritos. Huh.
The last thing that amused me was a HUGE pallet of Vienna sausage. Did you know that you can buy bulk vienna sausage in Dillingham? Well, you know now that you can, if for some reason you wanted to.

We finished up our meager shopping spree buying mostly carbs since carbs are cheaper than anything else. We now have a set of the cheapest pots in Dillingham, another 12 pack of soda, 2lbs of rice, 6 cup of noodles, 8 ramen noodles, shampoo, dish washing liquid, cups, forks, spoons, an onion, a green pepper, a bag of chips, and 2lbs of potatoes.

Today, we are planning to buy pillows. We are currently using towels rolled up in a pillow case. It might be cheaper to have someone send us some pillows. But we'll see.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

More on the second day in Dillingham

First, I'll start by trying to answer a few questions. Although I can see Nushagak Bay from my living room window, there are no belugas visible from "Beluga Bluffs." And I haven't started work yet. I start September 2nd, the day after Labor Day. I have driven by the courthouse building, but I don't plan to go down and meet anyone there until tomorrow.

No, today was a mostly lazy day. We got up, and had a breakfast of apples. Then we watched a bit of television. Samara wanted to go shopping. I wanted to balance the checkbook. I won. Turns out, we're pretty much broke from moving, which sucks.

Samara called Shelley at the hospital to let her know that she was in town. Shelley seemed to react as though Samara was her long-lost friend. That seemed like a good thing. So Samara made a plan to meet with her at 3:30.

That gave us a few hours to kill. We started by driving to the post office and making sure our keys worked in the PO Box. They did, but it was empty, of course. I found out from talking to someone later in the day that the postal service doesn't know dick about sending packages to Dillingham. The promise of 12 days for parcel post service is a load of horse crap. It takes about 4 weeks, if not longer. Yeah, that's right. Our clothes that we mailed before we left won't arrive until about the time that our car does. Lame.

So went from the post office to get some lunch. We stopped at the Windmill Grille, on windmill hill, but they weren't taking credit cards yet--only local checks or cash. So we drove out towards the hospital, so that Samara would know how to get there.

Then we went for a drive down Aleknagik Lake Road, out to the lake. Actually, I'm not sure if we went far enough. We found a lake, but it wasn't very big. We took a picture or two, though, and then we came back. Maybe if we get bored this weekend, we'll take another drive.

When we got back to town, we came home and made turkey sandwiches, since that's cheaper than the restaurant options, and we're suddenly poor. (Now's a good time for another shout-out to everyone that gave us gas cards and money before we left--THANK YOU! We'd be really, really poor if it hadn't have been for these folks.)

After the sandwiches, we went to the local bank. There's only one, but thankfully it's a Wells Fargo. We've already got our home equity line of credit and home mortgage through them, so it was easy to add a checking and savings account. Samara had to leave to go see Shelley about half way through opening the accounts, though, so she took off in the car.

Mary, at the bank, was really nice. She's been here 19 years, with her family. It seems like everyone we've talked to here has been here for a long time. She said it's bear season, but that since they containerized the dump and starting burning trash, there hasn't been a big bear problem in Dillingham. To be honest, we're disappointed that we haven't seen any wildlife.

On the plus side, Mary at Wells Fargo said that there was a teller position open at the bank. So that's at least one option for her.

I walked home from the bank. I have to say, I think as long as the weather is good, I can walk to and from work.

Samara got back from the hospital, and she wasn't exactly thrilled. She met some nice folks, but there's some bad news. Apparently, the hospital has a native preference policy. That means that if any qualified native applies for the job she's after, they get it instead of her. It doesn't seem like such a bad policy, except that the job she wants only requires a high school education. It's a tobacco cessation program job, and that's what Samara wrote her Master's degree thesis on. So she's probably more qualified than anyone could be, but she won't get the job if someone with a high school degree applies. To be honest, that kind of sucks. Anyway, they said she'd find out in a couple of days. Apparently they already did offer the job to a native, but it was turned down. So maybe Samara has a chance. If not, that teller job is available.

So now it's off to the N&N Market, or perhaps the AC Value. We need some toilet paper, among other things.

Scenic Dillingham

Okay, here come the details.

We woke up at 5:15am in Seattle, and got our luggage together. Another Sikh driver pulled up in the shuttle, and we got our luggage loaded up. A short drive got us to the airport at the Alaskan Airlines unloading area. We went inside, waded through the check-in (the TSA is actually really good about flying with firearms in Seattle--I guess lots of folks take hunting rifles to Alaska), and then got to our gate.

There we got to see a lot of Alaskan Airlines planes. There's a face painted on the tail, and in fact, it's some random Eskimo named Oliver, not Abraham Lincoln, as someone told me.

The first flight went fine--we flew out of Seattle to Anchorage on a 737. Samara felt sick, but that was helped by some crackers on the plane. They also served Jones Sodas. I paid $5 for a digital entertainment portable device, and we watched the movie Juno on it. We also took some pictures out of the window of the plane as we came in for a landing.

Anchorage is really beautiful. We got off the plane, and picked up a sandwich in the concourse. We sat down and ate it, but I was nervous that we wouldn't make the next flight, as we hadn't found our next gate yet. In fact, we had followed some signs towards it already, and ended up outside the TSA security checkpoint. I thought we'd have to spend some time going through security again.

Nope. We got downstairs, and there's no security for Penair flights. Very weird. Also, there were about 20 people waiting there for four upcoming flights. The lady at the counter called our names, and when we went up there, she wanted to know what we weighed. Not really a good sign.

The plane itself was a Saab turboprop. We boarded by heading out onto the tarmac in the spitting rain and climbing the plane's stairs. We were seating in the second row, in the two right-hand seats. There was only one seat to the left, so it's not a large plane. We were given earplugs by the single flight attendant as we boarded, since the turboprop engines are a bit loud.

Samara promptly fell asleep. I read my book a bit, and watched the clouds out the window. It was an hour and fifteen minutes, and then we touched down in Dillingham. Now THIS is a small airport. We pulled up the the Penair hanger, hopped down and walked into the door off the runway. We were in the small lobby, where they do both baggage claim and security.

Samara met our landlord's wife, who was there to pick up guests for her bed and breakfast. I went upstairs to the giftshop to get our rental car. After paying and getting the keys to our tan Kia, I went back downstairs and helped Samara load the luggage into the car in the gravel parking lot just outside. Our landlord pulled up in his beat-up pickup truck. We made some room for him in the backseat so he could direct us to the apartment.

It was a left onto the paved road, and pretty soon we were on the main road. We went over windmill hill and across the flats and into the town proper. There's not much to see. We passed the firehouse, with the single gas station behind it. Then came the two markets, the AC Value and the N&N Market. Up past the Nushagak Cooperative (electric, cable, phone and internet) and we got to C Street on the right. We take the turn and go past the Moravian Church and GCI satellite dishes. Down on the right is Beluga Bluffs, our apartment building.

We went inside, and it's pretty nice! The kitchen isn't nearly as large as the one in Lexington, but it'll work. The living room/dining room is plenty big, and has a large window that looks out over the bay.

There are two bedrooms, both with beds. The bathroom is pretty nice as well. I like the plastic tub surround. There's a stacked washer and dryer in there between the toilet and sink. The furniture provided by the landlord works for me. There's a brown leather couch and a green recliner. The television is huge.

We filled out a bit of lease paperwork with our landlord, and then took him back through town to his shop outside of town. He showed us the local schools, the court building, and the post office. After dropping him off, we made a trip to the post office. We got a PO Box, but our packages sent to general delivery had not arrived yet. Our new address is: Aaron & Samara Baker, PO Box 1248, Dillingham, AK 99576. So start sending presents, letters and postcards!

After that, we stopped by the Nushagak Cooperative and got our digital tv box and our cable modem. The folks there are real nice--but I already knew that from talking to them on the phone. At home, Samara went straight for the bed and a nap. I hooked up the tv, and we've got lots of movie channels since we get satellite tv over the local cable network. I watched a bit of the movie Rounders then took a bit of a walk around the building and checked out the area. We're at the end of a gravel road, and there aren't a lot of houses. We can see the bay on two sides. I doubt there's going to be a lot of noise from the neighbors.

Pretty soon, I realized it was quarter to five, and I didn't know what time anything closed. We didn't have any food. So I left Samara sleeping and went to the N&N Market. I spent nearly $90, and didn't get much. I got some pizza rolls, soft pretzels, hot pockets, sandwich fixin's, soda, chips, Oreos, a bag of apples, and a cable splitter and cable cord. Stuff is expensive.

Back home, I tried to the hook the internet, but the modem wouldn't connect. It was after five, and there was no one at the Nushagak offices. I left a message.

Samara woke up, we had some dinner, and then we watched some TV. We went to bed by 8pm.

This morning, we got up around 7am. That bodes well for me, since I'll have to get up early for work starting next week. We had apples for breakfast, and watched some more television. Nushagak called back, and now the internet is working.

Hopefully we'll have some more exciting news after another day in Dillingham.

Hi, I'm in Dillingham.

I'm sorry I didn't get a chance to post about the trip from Seattle to Dillingham yesterday. The cable guy had to hitch up his dog sled team and climb up the hill after a bear took out most of his team. Then as he was getting to our new place, he was gored by a moose. So we had to wait until today to get a new cable guy. Ok, so that's not quite what happened. We just tried hooking up the cable after 5pm which is when the cable company closed and we had to wait until this morning to get the internet up and running.

Aaron had a nice flight from Seattle to Anchorage. I don't fly well. Most of the time I was trying not to puke on the guy next to me. Aaron said the flight from Anchorage to Dillingham was loud--they gave us earplugs to wear during the flight. I have no idea, I was asleep before it took off and I woke up about 5 minutes before we landed.

Then I was awake for about 2 hours before I went back to sleep. I then woke up for about another 2 hours before I went back to sleep. Yeah, I'm lame, I went to sleep at about 8pm and woke up at 7am.

We will post more about yesterday and today a bit later on.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Day 5: There IS sun in Seattle

**Samara's comments are in italics.

We woke up this morning to find that it was possible for the sun to shine in Seattle. It was cloudy, mind you, but at least it wasn't cloudy and raining.

First things first, we had some breakfast. There was an IHOP down the street, so that's where we went. Once we got back to the hotel, we called the cab company to see what the rates were, and also called Northland Services to see what we needed to do in order to drop the Canyonero off.

Apparently my Google maps directions were okay, as were the Northland Services website directions, so off we went. Samara was a little mad that I had apparently misplaced her umbrella in the packing, but so far the rain in Seattle hasn't been too horrible. The thing is, I wanted to pack the umbrella since we were staying in Seattle for at least two days and would be without a car for at least one day. I was going to pack it into my purse, but I didn't want it in my purse for 3 days. So Aaron said that he would put it in the car so we could get it out in Seattle. So we get here and Aaron says he can't remember where he packed it. He pokes around for a bit and then says he can't find it. I'm annoyed because while it isn't all out raining like it was when we first arrived it was drizzling. So here I am in Seattle without an umbrella.

We got to Northland, and the guy at the gate handed us two orange vests after checking our IDs. We went across the scale, punching a button to take the weight ticket, and pulled into Lane 1 behind a tractor trailer. Basically we were now in a yard full of 40-foot containers, giant forklifts and tractor trailers. I donned a vest, went into the office, and filled out the paperwork to get our SUV onto the ship.

Back outside, I handed the paperwork to an inspector guy. Samara asked if rats would get into our car while it was on the ship. He said it would probably be okay, and then told us a charming story about finding a very large rat in his car one day. He swears it was from his home garage, not the shipyard. I told the guy about the time a opossum got in to my brothers Camaro. The guy looked at me like I was nuts and proceeded to ignore me.

Back inside, we paid Northland for the privilege of receiving our Canyonero in October. Then they called us a cab. When it came near, the license plate said "fresh" and there were dice in the mirror. Not really. But it was driven by a coughing Sikh. The cab itself had horrible shocks, and the Sikh took advantage of its dilapidated state by driving extremely fast. He also hit the hooka too much. He kept coughing and hacking. I was worried he had TB, but more than likely he just smoked too much.

Oh, but I almost forgot, in my haste to make a Fresh Prince of Bel-Air joke, that we had to wait a few minutes for the cab to arrive, so I made use of the porta-facilities, aka The Honey Pot. EW!

So we had the coughing Sikh take us to the Space Needle. We weren't about to pay $16 each to go up in the damn thing, but we did snap some photos. We wandered around the base, where there were some sculptures with homeless people sleeping under them, and an amusement park of "lame fair" proportions.

Also, there was a giant seagull. It was like the size of a chicken.

Then, tired of the fun, we decided to take the monorail! What's it called? Monorail! The monorail, for the princely sum of $2 each, took us from the Space Needle to the Westlake Shopping Center (a mall of some sort).

Update: Apparently we were riding this monorail. Yes, the red one that failed and stranded 190 people on Saturday. The blue one is actually out of service completely so that it can be refurbished. Wonder if we would have rode the monorail if we'd seen this news story first.

We ate there at the food court, which had Indian food. Mall Indian food and there was mall sushi as well. Amazing. After that, we decided it would be worth walking further downtown so that we could avoid as much of the taxi cost as possible. We walked about 10 blocks downtown until we decided that cabs were starting to look scarce. Samara called the cab company, and this time our cab driving was a more sedate Arab. He got us back to the Skyway Inn without scaring us too much.

We took another bath in the giant jacuzzi, and washed our hair--It was dirty from the drizzly rain. Pretty soon it will be time for some pizza and some more television watching. Our flight leaves tomorrow morning at 8am, which means we're taking the 6am airport shuttle to make sure we have enough time to check in.

Seattle, by the way, is full of hippies. On the news as I write this were two stories. The first was about a campaign to prevent a school district from cutting down some trees on its property to build a new school building to replace one that is unsafe and leaking. The second story was about the 20 cent grocery bag tax that the city of Seattle is trying to levy. That's some serious hippie stuff right there.

By 1:15pm Alaska time (4 hours behind Lexington), we'll be landing in Dillingham. I don't know how long it will take to get into our apartment and get things hooked up, so I'd recommend waiting until Wednesday to call us. But here's our new Alaska phone number for everyone: 907-842-5047.

And by the way, it is currently raining in Seattle and here I am without an umbrella.