Building a School in Rural Alaska: A Photo Journey

Over the past two years construction crews have been working day and night in all types of weather to construct the beautiful new school we have moved into this past month. I have taken photos during the process and wanted to share them with everyone. Sadly the river view I had out my apartment window when we moved here is gone, but once I stepped foot in the new building that is blocking the way I knew it was worth it.

Enjoy the photos!

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To read a great article about the new school opening check out some great local coverage of the day-long festivities!

 

PFDs and Full Freezers

A full freezer is a happy freezer!

Almost 100 pounds of meat flew in on a tiny bush plane this weekend, with our name on it! I was excited to receive our first PFD this year. The PFD (Permanent Fund Distribution)is money given out each year to every qualifying Alaska resident. It stems from the fact that Alaska is an owner-state, and each resident receives benefits of profits off the land. Oil money goes into the fund and dividends are distributed yearly. You have to have lived in Alaska for at least one full calendar year, and be able to prove your residency before applying. So for teachers who move in August, it takes until your third school year to actually receive any benefits.

Many Alaskans (especially out in the bush) hunt, so their main supply of meat is wild game including moose and caribou among other things. Neither my husband or I hunt, (although he always talks about wanting to go- he just has to find the time!) so we either bring meat in with us in frozen luggage on Alaska Airlines, or we have to order it from a store to be flown in freight. This is an expensive option, as you have to buy in bulk, but it is certainly easier than packing and hauling coolers from the East Coast or Anchorage when we are visiting.

Last year I ordered from Span Alaska, and while there was no problem with that order, I found that ordering from Mike’s Quality Meats in Eagle River was cheaper. For those interested in numbers I have included the invoice below:

Yes you read that right. Shipping and handling is more than half the cost of the meat itself. Welcome to the Alaskan bush. Overall, I was pretty happy though. We got a large variety of meat for about $4/lb, and they gave us a bigger turkey than what was listed on the order form. Thanksgiving will be good this year!

The absolute best part of this though? I placed our order on Thursday when the PFD’s were distributed, and it arrived- wait for it- SATURDAY. Like, in the same week! It was at least a two week wait with Span Alaska, and ordering anything from Amazon is at least a week, sometimes up to a month for larger items. I couldn’t believe it when we got the call that our freight was on it’s way to the village.

When we decide to move back down to the Lower 48, it’s going to be nice to just walk into a grocery store and pick up whatever I want for dinner that night, but I do think I will miss the great feeling of having a full freezer. It’s like having the grocery store right at home! Do any of you shop in bulk? What is your favorite part about it? I would love to hear from you in the comments!