Thursday, October 20, 2011

Gig Harbor, WA

Welcome to Gig Harbor, Flat Claire! You've traveled a very long way to get to Gig Harbor. In fact, it's almost 2000 miles to get from Kaukauna, WI to Gig Harbor, WA!

Gig Harbor is located on Puget Sound in the state of Washington. Puget Sound is an area in Washington that includes Seattle and the cities that surround Seattle. I live about 40 minutes from Seattle. Lots of boats travel through Puget Sound and it's a very pretty area to live in. There is lots of water in Puget Sound and it is very close to the Pacific Ocean. This area of Washington is very damp and rains A LOT! We're going to have to get Flat Claire a raincoat and some rain boots so she can stay nice and dry. It doesn't get as cold here as it does in Wisconsin and it only snows in the mountains but the winters can be kind of chilly. I'll check Flat Claire's suitcase to make sure she brought a warm jacket and some warm clothes.

To get to Gig Harbor I have to go over the Tacoma Narrows bridge. It's a long bridge and it is super fun to go over. It is the 5th longest bridge of it's kind in the United States. There is a pathway on the bridge where people can walk, run or walk across the bridge. I haven't run across the bridge yet but I'd like to soon.

The Tacoma Narrows Bridge didn't always look like this though. In 1940 the original Tacoma Narrows Bridge opened and was nicknamed Galloping Gertie because of how the bridge moved and swayed during high winds. The bridge eventually collapsed during a very high wind. Here's what the old bridge looked like when the wind was really strong. The new bridge is very, very safe and doesn't move at all.

For a long time the people in Gig Harbor earned a living by fishing, building boats and logging. They don't do that so much anymore. There are many tourists who come to Gig Harbor because it is so pretty and so close to the water.

I live in a house that is very close to the beach. My yard is outlined in blue and you can see the beach and the water from my front porch.

I can walk down to the beach to fish or kayak.

The other night I was out in my kayak and saw a harbor seal in the water. The seal was floating around on his back and would dive down deep into the water when I came close to him. He was very cute and looked kind of like this:

Welcome Flat Claire!

The other day I received an envelope addressed to Auntie Erin Kavanaugh. Inside was my very own Flat Claire!!! YAY!

I immediately had a friend take a picture of me, Flat Claire and my dog Macy!!

Here we all are! My next post will be about Gig Harbor, WA where I live.

Let the Adventures Begin...

The other day I received a wonderful letter in the mail from my niece Claire. Claire's class is doing a Flat Stanley project and she colored a Flat Claire and sent it to her Auntie Erin!!!

I am so excited to take Flat Claire on some adventures (and I already have)! What better way to revive my blog than to do it for her!!

So, folks, I'm going to be using my blog to write to the students at Park Charter School in Kaukauna, WI and update them on Flat Claire's adventures.

Hopefully Claire and her class will track Flat Claire's progress as we travel throughout the Pacific Northwest and Alaska (and who knows where else!).

So...let the adventures begin!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Camai 2011

Camai is back! There is a live feed of the festivities available if you'd like to watch the dance from a distance.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

It's A Book - By Lane Smith

A friend of mine received this book for Christmas and I thought it was pretty hilarious. However, it made me think about how I balance my love for books and my love for electronics and computers.

I love reading and I love how a book feels in my hands. I love holding them and I even don't mind the room they take up in my backback or bags when I travel. In fact, the weight of a good book in my backpack is almost reassuring. It gives me something to do when I'm bored, when I'm avoiding having to make idle chit chat with people, when I'm feeling down there's nothing like having a good book to curl up with.

However, it's also interesting to see how many electronic devices are available now designed to "read" books on. Books have never been more accessible and available for people. It always surprises people when I tell them I don't own a Kindle (and I don't plan on owning one anytime soon) and that I'm dead set against downloading eBooks on my iPad. I know, I know. I could approach it from a "eBooks are more environmentally friendly approach" and all that. However, many summer days of mine were spent in the local library and I've had countless days sitting on the couch relaxing and turning the pages of a book and now that I'm an adult I long for enough time to sit and read. I just cannot bring myself to abandon the feel and weight of my books to opt for electronic print.

This past weekend at ASTE one of the speakers emphasized the importance of being able to "unplug". His message was simple....take a few moments each day to "unplug" from the matrix and to step away from all your devices, computers and cell phones. I felt like that was the most powerful message of the entire weekend. Take some time to "unplug" and walk away and be OK being unconnected for just a few moments every day.

Anyway, I'm sort of rambling because I'm actually stealth blogging right now. I'd like to think that no one actually sees my blog window up but I'm sure that every one in the room sees what I'm doing!

I want to get my random thoughts about this video up before I forget what I want to say!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Flying Wild Alaska

Much of last night's episode of Flying Wild Alaska took place in Bethel. It's strange for me to watch some of these reality shows about Alaska. Not only is Bethel tiny but the whole state of Alaska is really small. I've been here six years and it's amazing how many people I run into from all over the state where ever I go. If I go somewhere and meet someone new chances are very likely that we have a mutual friend somewhere and in no time we're chatting like old buds. So, when I watch the reality shows about Alaska most times I see people I know or even see on a daily basis. So when, I watch Alaska State Troopers or Flying Wild Alaska and they are filming in Bethel I usually know some of the people they show. Over Christmas break, when I was at home, I was watching Alaska State Troopers and watched someone get busted right in front of my current residence!

Last night my friend Brad informed me that another mutual friend of ours, K.C. was on Flying Wild Alaska. As soon as I found out the episode was going to be aired again at 11 p.m. I invited myself over to Brad's so I could see K.C's film debut.

Although they don't show K.C. in this clip this is part of the footage from last night's show. They got a few things wrong though. K.C. isn't a teacher out in Kwig, he's the Site Administrator (a.k.a. Principal) in the nearby village of Chefornak. Some of the footage is actually of them landing in Chefornak. You can tell because there was a "mountain" in the background. As someone who has recently been to Kwig I can tell you that there aren't any such landforms as far as the eye can see.

As we watched Flying Wild Alaska I turned to Brad and said, "You know, I do this crap on a daily basis and when I watch it I get much more excited about it than when I'm actually doing it."

What I love about the above clip also is that the pilot is that so much of it seems to relate to some of my most recent adventures. For example, high winds have caused me to get stuck in two villages, Nightmute and Quinhagak, the last two weeks. As some of you may know, my job the last two years has been as an itinerent Teacher Technology Trainer for Lower Kuskokwim School District. I'm based out of Bethel and I'm one of two people who's job it is to provide professional development, training, and work with students and teachers to integrate technology into the curriculum. I train on digital storytelling, SMART Boards, iMovie, podcasting with GarageBand, website design, etc. I went out to Nightmute the other week for a three hour digital storytelling inservice and ended up spending three days there. At one point I walked to the store to get some food and I swear I was walking sideways. When I was in Quinhagak I was working with some students on updating their school websites and using Pages to publish their school newspaper and meant to spend one night. While I was there the weather warmed way up and the winds kicked up making it impossible for planes to land for two days. Thankfully, my good friend Rachel Skime is out there and put me up for the three nights I was there. We played with puppies and visited with small children. It actually made me really, really miss my days as a village teacher.

When my pilot did eventually land on Saturday morning it had cooled off enough that the rain was turning into freezing rain. I was desperate to get out of Quinhagak as soon as possible to make another flight upriver. When the pilot landed I told him I needed to get out of there ASAP and I'd be more than willing to help him unload the cargo that was filling up the plane so we could get back in the air. Afraid of being grounded due to freezing the rain the pilot thought that was an excellent idea and together we had the entire 207 unloaded and were back up in the air in less than ten minutes. We got back to Bethel to find that Era had held my plane going upriver and I was able to make it where I needed to go that day.

The thing that I love about my job is that I get to meet so many people from the communities. Last night, as I was waiting at the airport for my flight in Kwig to land, an elder approached me. He asked where I was going and I responded that I was going to Bethel. During the next few minutes he told me he was 83 years old and had lived in Kwig all of his life. He pointed out where the houses used to be when he was growing up and waved his hand towards where the houses are now. He said, "None of that used to be there. The houses were all down there." He told me that when he was growing up they didn't have snowmachines and used dog sleds to get around in the winter and that they didn't have boats with motors but used qayaks (kayaks) to hunt and fish. My pilot then cut the engine and I thanked the elder for sharing before climbing into the plane. As we taxied toward the runway I smiled at the elder and waved. I could see him laughing and waving quite enthusiastically as our plane lifted off towards our next destination.

I also have to say that a friendly pilot out here makes all the difference on some of these flights. When you fly an airline often enough you get to know most of the pilots and it makes for much more enjoyable flights. On Thursday I met a really nice pilot and as we were preparing for take off he asked me how much I flew. I told him quite a bit. He got really serious and asked me if anyone had ever explained the various controls and how to fly the plane in case the pilot is unable. After telling him "no" I got a crash course in "pull this", "whatever you do don't push that" and "do this, but don't do that". I then mentioned, in a very joking manner, that I couldn't see over the dash of the plane and would have some issues landing it. He, still very seriously, said, "It doesn't matter, your pilot would just want you to keep the plane up in the air." Yesterday, as I was leaving Kwig, I was very pleased to see that the same pilot had come to pick me up. I crawled into the copilot chair, got buckled up, and after dropping some people off in Kipnuk, enjoyed the rest of the flight with my new pilot friend. As we landed in Bethel I said, "I hope you're my pilot every time." He looked at me and said, "I hope you're my passenger every time."

So there you go folks. A lengthy blog post. I hope to get back to blogging. I'm currently working on a blog post explaining my absence for so long. It's my goal to get back into the swing of blogging and to keep sharing my adventures!