“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”
― H. Jackson Brown Jr.
When I look back on my life I don’t want to be that person that says “I wish I would have…” I want to embrace the opportunities I have been given. I want to learn and try new things. I want to explore, dream, and discover. This has always been my “motto” I suppose, to embrace the things that life throws at me whether it be good or bad. To be open to new experiences, and of course you have to try everything once. Over the last 5 years I’ve traveled all over the world. Italy, Germany, Tunisia, Austria, England, Scotland, Cozumel, Grand Cayman and the list goes on and on. These opportunities, these experiences have impacted my life forever. I’ve learned about culture, about adaptation, about making the best of circumstances, and above all about learning and embracing opportunity. (I mean you only die once as my grandma puts it). I believe these are the things that helped prepare me for bush Alaska. This past week has been full of embracing the good and the ugly, learning that it’s ok if things don’t go the way they should, and accepting that I need help and I can’t do it all on my own.
Week one of teaching was, well, for a lack of better words, tiring. I never knew how tired a teacher could get. I mean all you do is walk about 20 miles around the school each day getting your kids to and from lunch, recess, gym, and anywhere else you decide to take them. Then, you only walk a few hundred laps around the room answering questions, making sure students are on task and checking that they understand what is being taught. After that you teach all day, and while doing this you have to make sure the kids stay in line. Little Jimmy please sit down. We don’t spit on the floor. Please don’t play with your boogers or for that matter anyone else’s. I mean we teachers really have a pretty easy job. I do have to say my students were much better after that horrid first day but like I said you have to take the good and the ugly. I learned that you may have the best plans in the world but these kids we teach come to school dealing with more than even I can comprehend. That’s when I realized you can plan but always expect it to change. Some days you leave feeling like you didn’t do all you could, like you have failed, other days you leave feeling like you just conquered the world. What I have come to understand is that you can’t always conquer the world, as they say it, Mt. Rushmore wasn’t built in a day. You can’t expect things to be how they should be, you have to accept the hand you’ve been dealt and awaken that potential that lies deep within your students. After having this ah ha moment I wouldn’t trade these kids for the world! We may have some obstacles ahead but together we will overcome.
So by Friday I hadn’t had my realization, you know, the light bulb hadn’t come on yet, so as one would imagine I was in desperate need of a vacation. Thank goodness it was Labor Day weekend and this girl was invited on an adventure! Honestly, it is what kept me going! I had been invited by a fellow teacher, Ms. Jamie Loun, to go on a coast trip. I am from SW Missouri, I have no idea what a “coast trip” is, so I do the obvious and ask “what is this coast trip?” The response “a trip to the coast just for fun.” Most people would probably want a little more information but I was in at that point and didn’t care! So I packed up the warmest clothes I could find and Friday night around 7 we headed out. The first night we were supposed to camp out, and I guess you can say we got lucky because we forgot the tent, and when we did remember we couldn’t get to the tent so we stayed with some teachers in Kotlik. After a 4 hour boat ride in the rain and cold I was happy for a warm, dry place to stay. The next day was when the real adventure began. We left out of Kotlik and headed for the coast. A few hours later I was excited to learn I was on the Bering Sea! We finally stopped along the coast to set some nets for fish, whale, and anything else that we could. We then decided to go set up camp. A few families from the village fish near or on the Bering Sea every year so they have set up what is called a fish camp. Here are shelters with wood stoves, and raised platforms for beds and no running water. Compared to a tent we were living in the Hilton. This Hilton I speak of had a honey bucket, and for those of you unfamiliar with this term a honey bucket is a 5 gallon bucket with a toliet seat for your comfort. Let’s just say that was an experience in itself right there! But like I said earlier you got to take the good and the ugly!
Although we came home empty handed we did see lots of moose, a few seals, and I got the experience of a lifetime. To know I’ve been where very few have ever been is one of the neatest things I will ever experience. After a weekend of no technology, living off the land, and enjoying the company of five others I feel refreshed and ready to conquer week two!
Ready to get this trip started!
This would be the boat I traveled on with 5 others