My job allows me to visit a lot of Alaska on a yearly basis. I wanted to capture the trips in one location!

Bonus Points if You Know Where the Pribilof Islands are Located?

on March 5, 2012

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If you watch Deadliest Catch (I have never watched it) you may have heard of St. Paul Island, where I find myself tonight after many, many hours of traveling. One of the first people I was shown in the airport was one of the captains, leaving the island for a bit, however, I did not recognize him b/c again, I don’t watch the show.

Started off the morning with a 1.5 hour flight from Juneau to ANC, followed by a lot of wait time in ANC.  Once in the boarding area for my flight to St. Paul (Pen Air) I was almost sure I wasn’t going to make it in,  A HUGE winter storm was heading towards the island but I was wrong as here now as I sit in the school.    Winds are blowing over 50 MPH and it is cold.  We had such a strong head wind flying out here; we had to stop in Dillingham (see earlier blog on that community) and refuel.  It took over 3.5 flying hours to get out here!  How far would you be across the country if you flew 3.5 hours?  I am 880 miles west of Anchorage and only 500 miles east of Siberia, Russia (less to the waterways of Russia) while I write this!

I landed and they were in such a hurry to get the plane off the ground and headed back to ANC that it took almost 1 hour for the 12 of us that flew here to get our luggage, but mine all made it!  As Mack, the man that took me to the school (along with Dan a teacher and John a refrigerator sales man) drove we were all blinded by the TOTAL white out caused by the winds and the blowing snow.  (I now am wondering why a refrigerator repairman is needed as it is sooooo cold here I can’t see the need now J).

Dan is a 2nd year teacher here, he and his wife (also a teacher) are originally from Michigan, huge MI State Spartan fans and most ironically, Amanda his wife went to Aquinas College, 4 years after I worked there, but still… that is pretty ‘small world’ if you ask me.

I went immediately to my meeting with the board and did not get a chance to even use the restroom; however, now it is 3.5 hours after we started the meeting and we are not even close to being done!  That is how tough it can be to select a new superintendent!    UPDATE, it ended almost 5 hours after we started.  WOW.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Because there are no planes that fly on Thursday I must stay until tomorrow and that flight does not leave til 4:15 p.m.  I will get a lot of work done since so far I have Internet and it is quiet in the School District apartment.  Though at 5 this a.m. as I was coming out of the rest room I ran into the guy staying in one of the other rooms.  This is how we roll in rural AK.  He’s here working at the radio station, AND no one told him to bring food.  Hence he spent $70+ on items over at the AC store, enough for a few days.  See my pictures for the cost of some common day items.

Spent most of the day calling potential candidates for the superintendent job, arranging their flights and working on stuff I need to get to them, so the windy and cold weather didn’t bother me too much as I sat inside.  I eventually took a walk but it was still windy and cold and it indeed was cold.  The blizzard was to subside around 5 so hope tomorrow is better when I want to fly. There is a common saying on the islands: “This is the only place in the world where you can experience all four seasons in one hour.”

A little bit of information about St. Paul Island:

  • No fewer than 248 species of birds have been spotted on the island. In spring, (May?) many rare birds are seen on the island.
  • Other interesting sites on the island are the fur seal rookeries, the males stake their spot our in late May and wait for the females to come!  If I were here after May 31 I would not be allowed to go to the rookeries, but rather only view the action from some blinds that have been built for viewing.
  • There are no dogs allowed on the island… mostly b/c of the birds.
  • However, there are grey fox that are rather pesky at times getting into garbage and leftovers at the processing plant.
  • Saint Paul is the largest of the Pribilof Islands and lies the furthest north.,
  • It is just over 7.6 miles wide at its widest axis and 13.5 miles and has a total area of 43 square miles.
  • The island was created by a volcano and so there are many cinder cones and volcanic craters on the island, the highest is Rush Hill about 650 feet above sea level.

Friday, March 2, 2012

I was to fly out at 4:15 p.m. but around 10 a.m. I found out that Pen Air had canceled the flight, NOT due to weather but because they did not have a crew, or as I was told later because of a mechanical.  I sent an email stating my concerns and received this from the Chief Operating Officer!  We spoke, but I still don’t have high hopes.

Scott Bloomquist asked me to try to contact you, I don’t see a cell number in your email. Please email or call me back and I’d like to see what we can do to make amends to you for screwing up your trip.

So I walked (slid) around town a bit, school, museum, etc, took some pictures and enjoyed the sunshine even if it wasn’t that warm yet.  I went to the school board meeting in the evening and spent the night back at the apt. reading and talking to Harry on the phone.  Thank goodness the apartment has a phone and internet.

Saturday,  March 3, 2012

At 7:30 p.m. I finally left the island and got to Anchorage at 10:30… I will got home Sunday morning, but will turn around and head back to St. Paul on Wed.  Hope the traveling goes better that time!

10 responses to “Bonus Points if You Know Where the Pribilof Islands are Located?

  1. Janet Lopez says:

    Wow – great story! And I love the pictures, Timi!


  2. Sharon says:

    Yep, I know where they are…have even been there under similar conditions. Great experience for folks with lots of tolerance for the vagaries of winter travel out there. (That would be you and me). 😉 Great blog Timi. Hope you and the candidates have better luck traveling on your next visit.


    • timistravels says:

      I did have a nice chat with Mr. PenAir and told him that I was not as upset this week, but next week when I have candidates with me I will be furious…so begged him to tag those flights as necessary, weather permitting. It is a beautiful place.


  3. Ley Schleich says:

    Fun reading, Timi! More fun reading than living the story, perhaps, but I’m sure you’re philosophical about it all too.


  4. Tina says:

    Keep this up Timi! I have been showing my students your pictures and sharing your stories with them. They love it! I love that you have maps of where you were, it helps them understand!


    • timistravels says:

      Tina, believe it or not I am back in St. Paul this week, the update will follow at some point. Glad you are liking it. I am trying to make it somewhat ‘educational’ with a flare of timi in it 🙂 AK is an amazing place and it is fun to share how unique we are with others.


  5. Nancy Beck says:

    Hi Timi,
    I was headed for the Pribilofs when we lived in King Salmon. Ready to board the plane and the weather went down on the Islands and they canceled the trip. Never had another opportunity to go. Loved your writting about it. My ex went there a lot. Thanks, Nancy


  6. Soumaya says:

    Hi, I was googling St Paul island to look for various info and found your blog. I am planing to go there is March of this year and since you have been mentioning some local teachers there, I was wondering if you can get me some of their contact info. I am a scientist and I will go there with another group of geologist and biologist, to this island to extract a core from one of the lakes in this Island (lake Hill). I am looking for some local contact to prepare the expedition. Thank you for sharing your stories on you blog, I am looking forward to go there.


    • timistravels says:

      I am glad you enjoyed reading a bit about St. Paul. I am not sure it you saw, but I also had 2 others, one about crabbing and one about the tour of the island I took this fall. I was out there leading the school board as they searched for a new superintendent. they only have 4-6 teachers and the ones I knew left with the Superintendent last year, so most are new. Sorry…. but from the state of AK EED website the superintendents address is listed so I don’t mind sharing what they have listed there as it is public information. She may have some information to connect you with someone.


      Pribilof Schools

      good luck and enjoy.



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