It's a strange feeling when you climb into an airplane fuselage that's smaller than a suburban. You start to question whether or not this is a good idea, and imagine a scene similar to Final Destination where the airplane propeller that is an arms length away from you outside, just randomly dislodges and slices through the side of the plane and your body in one fell swoop. I know, that was a bit graphic so I apologize
Our pilot, Big, who I think is about as old as me (but confidently states that he was born and raised flying) picked us up in a single prop coffin, I mean plane, with a little hole in the window (see video above). My skepticism for the safety of our lives continued to grow. The plane engine revved up, while Alysha prayed for our lives in the back, and we took flight. I was relieved that we didn't immediately crash or the wings of the plane fall off from our weight, and the stress of the trip was slowly replaced by the amazing landscape we were flying over.
The Arctic coast I'm sure has a totally different look about it in the winter, but during the summer it is a beautiful cascade of greens. We flew so low over some of the mountains I felt like I could reach out and high five a mountain goat, while other mountains looked like ocean waves that had been frozen in time. The water to our right was endless, and incredible to think that the only thing beyond that was ice.
Once we landed in Point Hope (thank the Lord), we clambered out of the plane like clowns. The gal picking us up immediately laughed, because it looked so unrealistic that 6 oversized people could fit into that small space. She drove us down a paved road (yes, paved!) and through the village to the house the boys would be staying at. The place looked like a normal house, with sofas, a TV, plenty of food and other household items. A sweet set up for a village of 692. She then proceeded to take us girls to our house. When we opened the door, we heard the buzzing sound of 20 flies taking off, smelt a mustiness that indicated the place hadn't been aired out in awhile, and when we flipped on the light saw an empty room with two dusty sofas and dead flies littering the floor. I immediately let comparison steal my joy and tried very hard to see the positives. Shaina remarked, "Well I haven't been camping yet this year," and we couldn't help but laugh.
Might I mention, I also felt pretty guilty, because the girls were with me in this little, unloved house because of my dog allergies (the "mansion" was also home to a large German Sheppard named Duke). Ugh.
Anyway, living arrangement aside, this little place is so dang cool. It is it's own little world out in the middle of no where, but the people we've encountered have been so kind and hospitable. An elder and one of the gals who works for ASRC took us on a four-wheeler ride down the coast where we passed two beached whales, a dead fox, and were warned we could pass the body of a young man who capsized in his kayak a year back. The Arctic is cruel.
We eventually arrived to an area where we could pick low bush salmonberries (high bush grow in the southern regions of Alaska). We all felt very Alaskan in that moment, even Garry who is from Washington D.C. and hesitates to share any of our experience with his fiancé until we've arrived where we are going, safely.
We are all curious to see the turn out of kids in a village that is 3 times the size of the last, and has a reputation for loving basketball. In fact, their girls team came to the UAA Team Camp and there were quite a few ballers on their little squad!