Arrival in Dutch Harbor, AK



On the Bering Sea

I’m writing this in my living room, a large room with a Christmas Tree alive with white lights! I left the lights on all night.   I’ll post this at the library later this afternoon; no internet at the parsonage.  I have a huge house to myself, and I have decided that this is, indeed, an adventure. I think I am actually more adventurous now than I have been in the past – except for the inner terrain, as you know… This morning, I sat in the little front room off the kitchen and watched as the “sun rose – “ well, the light came to this northern place, with the white mountains beginning to appear behind the barge docked across the way. I sat there, looking out over the Bering Sea.

The reason I’ve decided that I am an adventurer has to do with the landing of the small plane – a 3 hour flight from Anchorage – that dropped me here. At the Anchorage airport, we were warned that the flight might be delayed or cancelled because there were strong winds in Dutch Harbor. But we took off on time, and the flight was uneventful, a full flight, lots of young men probably coming here to work, a few couples (the new city manager and his wife, as I learned). When we were on the descent to land, we dipped due to wind a couple of times, but then we were stable again. I watched as the plane flew lower and lower, and as the wings came about 10’ from the cliff to our left. On the right, only Dutch Harbor bay… Then, I saw the landing strip – only one on the island, this is it!
We dropped from the air over the sea onto the landing strip, smoothly.

What most surprised me was how excited I was – excited, instead of anxious! I thought it must be great to be the pilot and be able to land on that strip each time. Later in the evening, at a “girls night out” gathering at the cozy home of the concert pianist who will play on Christmas Eve, I learned that the flight from Anchorage later that day had to turn back. So I guess we do have to trust the wisdom of air traffic controllers!  During the flight instructions (given by a wool capped stewardess in jeans!), I paid attention for the first time ever about how to open your life jacket in case of a water landing. I did spend a few moments wondering where “under your seat” is!

I almost didn’t make it to the party last night, because it was after dark when I left home, and I drove in light snow in a car I had not driven before. After one mistake, I decided I would allow myself that one, and kept going, back on track. But I had to call the hostess when I was confused, about 3 blocks from her house. On the way home, no problems. It won’t take long to learn the “lay of the land” here.

What I learned today, though, when I shopped for groceries at the Safeway here, is that locals don’t like to go out in this weather – they wait out the snow and winds!I woke at my usual PST, and so I had several hours of darkness before I watched the light come. Later, I drove about 4 miles to Safeway on the one highway on the Island, hoping the road crew had really salted the road; sometimes, the lanes are right up to the edge of the Bering Sea! It was snowing, not heavily, the whole time. After I bought my basic food – a lot more expensive here than at home since it arrives by barge – I wanted to go to the coffee shop at the hotel on the Island. When I got out of the car, though, I experienced the cold wind, got back into the car, and drove home to have lunch here.

I live about 2 blocks from the old wooden frame Russian Orthodox Church, and about 3 blocks from the City Center, library, aquatic center, and United Methodist Church. If/when there is day with no snow or rain, I’ll walk there. Now, I cautiously drive, remembering the days when I drove in this weather regularly in Wisconsin. Sometimes, the smell of the air makes me nostalgic.

Remember that this is a retreat for me, and I love waiting for the Solstice here, when the light is so appreciated. I’ll check online for the exact day and time this year. Pray for me on my retreat. God is good, all the time… truly…

2 thoughts on “Arrival in Dutch Harbor, AK”

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