Monday, May 18, 2015

Settling in

So now I’m in Coldfoot.

We arrived in the evening of May 13th, and gathered at the visitor center, still closed for the season.  (We'll open up on May 22nd.)  Bob showed us around quickly, but soon we split up to find our cabins and settle in.

Joe and I are staying in a cabin a short walk away, but other volunteers live a mile up one road or six miles up another.  A few employees live in Wiseman, 13 miles north of Coldfoot.

It took some adjusting, but Joe and I figured things out pretty quickly.  Our cabin has two bedrooms, each with a bunk bed, bookshelf, and dresser.  There is a common area with a kitchen and a table, four chairs, and a couch.  The kitchen has a sink that drains to the outside, a good amount of counter space, a dish drying rack, and a propane stove and oven.  We have no running water or electricity, so we fill up 5-gallon jugs of water at the visitor center and drive them back once every few days, and we have a refrigerator with a freezer, but it’s powered by propane as well, and kept in a little shed just outside our front door.

One of my first priorities was unpacking my clothes into my dresser and my food onto my shelves.  It immediately began to feel like home.  Keeping my hat, sunglasses, water bottles, Orange Cat Coffee cup, electronics, and other odds and ends on top of my dresser sealed the deal.  It’s a nice little place that keeps the mosquitos out, and was pretty clean considering it hadn't been touched since last September.  Well… our fridge did have mold in it that we had to clean out, and I found a mummified mouse in a bottom shelf, but other than that it was just a little dusty.

My standards of living have definitely shifted in the short time I've been here.  Online games, YouTube, and Netflix are unavailable, and I haven’t died of boredom yet.  Beer is pretty expensive at the truck stop, and I just had my first one today since the airport in Anchorage (I had a 3.5 hour layover!).  Alcohol isn't allowed in the cabins, as they are technically federal buildings.  I know I’ve only been here a week, but I really don’t think I’m going to suffer much over the next four months.

My first meal here, by the way, was rice and tuna.  The next morning I had oatmeal with some brown sugar that had been left in the cabin all winter, and for lunch I had Ramen with broccoli.  That night, or maybe the following night, I had macaroni and cheese mixed with peas and tuna, a childhood favorite.  I had enough left over for lunch the next day, so I just stuck the pot with the lid on in the fridge.

In other words, hot meals!  Cheap hot meals!  And the cabin has a percolator, so I can make coffee every morning!  I'm pretty sure I can even avoid vitamin deficiency with the variety of food I got.  So really, it hasn't been too hard to live up here.

The training schedule has been a bit intense, and I think once we open and get schedules a week or two in advance I'll have an even easier time.  Right now, with all of us working the same hours, we’re also all trying to use the one shower and washing machine at the visitor center at the same times, too.  We have one building with free, non-government internet access, and I’m writing this there now because I couldn't do laundry when I wanted.  C'est la vie en Alaska.

Next time I think I'll talk about hiking in the boreal forest, gotta get those pictures uploaded first, though.  Well, here's a preview:

Thanks for reading!



  1. I'm going to show the folks at Orange Cat your pic of your Orange Cat coffee mug! It may be the farthest north their logo has traveled yet. Love you! -- Dad

  2. I really intended to get a picture with it at the Arctic Circle sign and blew it! But tomorrow we're going to Toolik Field Station, which even further north than Coldfoot, almost to the North Slope, and I'll try to remember to snap a pic there!