Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Fading Summer on the Road System of Nome: Logistics

Blueberry season

Logistics are one of my fortes. It's how my brain works, figuring out how things work, how they fit together. In this instance, I am referencing making a temporary move to rural Alaska, to live in company-provided housing in the medical industry. Thanks to Alaska Airlines and their in state reward program, called "Club 49," I am granted three pieces of luggage (up to 50 lbs each) when I fly within the state. From a long distance hiker's point of view, 150 pounds is a ridiculous amount of weight, an impossible amount to carry. I learned to live off of 35 pounds for a week at a time, then resupply on food when I passed through town. However, when it comes to relocating to an unknown living situation, the requirements of work clothes and quarantine food necessities and the high price of food in rural Alaska, the 150 pounds must be allocated carefully. 

Norton Sound Hospital visible in far left corner

This time I decided to bring my bike, so that counted as one of my items. Reed carefully packed it into the bike box, tying the removed front wheel to the middle of the frame, placing the pedals and bike seat into rags and plastic bags alongside the frame. This was the fourth time it's been dismantled this summer, so we've both gotten practice. Reed figured a clever way to slide the box into our vehicle, standing up in the rear of the car, on top of the downturned back seat. The fitting the items into the vehicle is yet another piece to the puzzle of flying out to rural Alaska. First step is always to get from Seward to Anchorage, a 2-1/2 hour drive, and often, an overnight's stay in a hotel room before departing. 

Next up - work clothes, warm clothes, exercise clothes, berry picking and tundra strolling clothes, sneakers, xtra tuff boots, sleep wear, enough socks and underwear to go for 8 days to be prepared for an indeterminate laundry situation. In this same tote, I pack my toiletries, including medications for at least a month, creature comforts like epsom salt, my own washcloth and pillowcase, a small throw blanket, a few photos and cards, letter-writing materials, reading materials, my laptop, back-up battery and chargers. I knew that I was proceeding into a week's quarantine, during which I would need to keep myself engaged and learning.  

High above Nome, where musk oxen and the wind live

Final tote: foods that travel well. As it turned out, I ended up packing two of these. I just could not get all my other needed items into one tote, so they spilled over and didn't leave enough room for all the foods that I would be needing. I did some figuring, called the grocery store in Nome to price out a few items, recalled the price of foods when I had briefly visited their AC Grocery back in March and chose to pay the $100 for one over weight item. This allowed me to go big at the grocery store, and buy 2 weeks worth of food for ~ $240, plus the $100 shipping cost. In rural Alaska, produce is especially valuable, so I remembered to focus on bringing these items with me. I packed hard squash, sweet and white potatoes, onions, celery, carrots, cheeses, cured meats and pantry items into an 86 pound dark blue tote as both an investment and an insurance policy.

Now that I'm out here in Nome, I only wish that I had brought more. The dealing with luggage items gets overwhelming. The necessity of actually physically moving them around means there are real limits, even with luggage carts, a car, and Reed's help. I have now been here ten days, have eaten well and still have frozen meats and a drawer of produce, so I did ok. I've been able to clothe myself appropriately for 120 miles of bike riding, berry picking on the tundra, work days, sleeping warm and being comfortable during quarantine. I've had ample reading and writing material, and thanks to internet in our company housing, I've been able to use my laptop to do insanity workouts, write, read articles and do research. It's a glorious place out here. The weather is already quickly turning to autumn colors and the temperatures are falling into the 40s. I have learned much about preparing for various situations, maxing out advantages of what to bring vs what to go without. And still, the most crucial thing has been flexibility, openness and the ability to self-motivate and take advantage of what is available in each place. 

The density of the tundra plant life amazes me

No comments:

Post a Comment