Thursday, January 31, 2008

Pictures again!

I am back in the picture business. I borrowed a camera. We have lots of snow again. A bulldozer is plowing the town roads so we have lots of white here. It is about zero and it seems warm. We have not had a lot of wind which makes it seem mild.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008


We had 60 high school students in Emmonak, sleeping in the school so they could play in our basketball tournament this past weekend. We also had a big funeral and a lot of people flew into town for that.

We had storms blow in this weekend too. Yesterday, Tuesday, we finally got all of the basketball players out of town. Planes could not fly in or out during the storms, so they were stuck. We had our kids and the extra 60 who were crashed on the hallway floor. We had to walk over kids to go from one part of the school to the other.

All students were flown out on Tuesday morning! We have about 4 teachers who were to go to a conference in Anchorage but they could not fly out. There was a storm in Bethel where they were to pick up more teachers. HOPEFULLY, they will be able to fly out today, Wednesday. (One teacher is buying supplies for a Super Bowl party bash - important stuff.)

Tuesday, January 29, 2008


It is the end of the month and TIME FOR A FIRE DRILL! It is zero degrees outside and we have 5 foot snow drifts outside the door the Elementary kids have to go out.

With a fire drill - you go outside, fast. No coats, no snow gear, no snow boots that kids have in their locker.

We had the whole Elementary stacked up at the door because of the snow drift and no shovel.

We stuck our head and the door and then went back in.

Monday, January 28, 2008

I am a New Grandpa for grandbaby #4.

I would like all to know that Gar and Tricia have a 2 day old baby girl.

I think she will be named Rana. Ashley just emailed to say that Tricia says she looks beautiful and is a cuddly little girl. So now I have 3 grandsons and 1 grand daughter.


Sunday, January 27, 2008

Link to Ash/ Brian wedding blog.

We have lots and lots of snow right now in Emmonak!

Joshua Tree with Tricia and Shad

Camera down - Contrast time: Here is a photo of Tricia and Shad hiking in Joshua Tree'

Shad hiked on his own for over 1.5 miles on a regular trail. He did an amazing job on this hike. (Joshua Tree is a great desert area about 50 miles from Palm Springs, CA.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Anza - Barrago

My camera died and I can't put up new pictures so here is a picture from Dec 20, 07. Gar, Tricia, Shad and I were camping out here in Anza - Barrago. It was 70 degrees in Anza. It is a most impressive desert. Great winter camping area.


Today, I bought some handmade slippers made out of seal skin and beaver for $100.00
They look like works of art.

ANYWAY, I WAS TALKING TO THE STORE MANAGER ABOUT LOCAL CRAFTS, ETC AND THE WEATHER. He told me that this is the weirdest weather he has seen and he grew up here. He said it is warm and weird. He said Emmonak never has rain in Jan like we had last week. HE SAID ABOVE ZERO NEVER HAPPENS IN JAN IN EMMONAK. I asked him if Global Warming could be the cause and he said yes. The change is much too drastic for anything else.
he said that the ice should be at least 5 to 8 feet thick and it is only about 2 feet thick.

I bought the shoes and talked to him about a beaver hat for my cold head and ears. I think I will buy a doll or two. I plan on buying one or two items a month. I might see if Maureen wants to display and maybe sell them in her store. These things are made by locals and I like that. The boy I gave the check to for the slippers is the son of the lady who made them.

Hope all is going well. It is -10 here in Emmonak. My camera died though - yuk!
My computer is working again. I put the Panther into my computer.

Beautiful Sunrise - 9:30 AM

Guys, I was out this morning to take a picture of the sunrise, which is spectacular.
My camera stopped working though. The lens opened up but then died. It was such a great picture in my mind though. It was also cold as crap. It was probably -15 or so. I walked about a mile through the new snow, 8 inches. The snow is so powdery. It is great cross country skiing snow.

I walked to the store but it was closed, so I walked back on the river. I saw that Husky dog again and it is an awesome dog.


Have a good day!

Friday, January 25, 2008


Planes were flying in from town from all over Alaska. We had 3 BIG EVENTS going on today and this weekend The BIG EVENT was the funeral. It was so big that they could not have it at the church. The family alone would have taken up the whole church. They had to have the funeral in the Community Center. Lots of planes bringing people in to this. There were at least 60 snow mobiles outside the funeral.

The other big events are basketball games: EMMONAK Jr. Hi. sent 3 teams to other schools to play games. Those 3 teams had to fly out. WE ALSO HAVE BASKETBALL TOURNAMENTS HERE IN EMMONAK: So we have 4 teams that flew into Emmonak today.

PLANES WERE FLYING IN AND OUT ALL DAY! I have to watch halls at the school from 8:30 - 10:00 PM.

POWDERED MILK: I have eaten lunch at school 3 or 4 times but I could swear that the milk is powdered milk. IT IS POWDERED MILK!! The cost of shipping refrigerated milk cartons is cost prohibitive, we get powdered milk. Most of milk is water - lots of weight and costs a lot to ship.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Burial in Winter

A 60 year old Emmonak man died last weekend of a heart attack. The funeral is tomorrow. I asked if they buried the body since it is so cold. This is what happens:

Usually, they put the body in a locally made casket. They then have the ceremony and then take the body to the burial spot. They usually put the casket on the ground and let it sit there until the ground warms up.

The home made caskets: Locals build them and the women make it comfortable and nice looking. The local I spoke to about it said it is quite well done and the cost is reasonable.

For those who insist on store bought: People can buy and ship a casket here, but it does not happen often.

WE HAVE HAD SNOW, SNOW SNOW! All day long. The wind has not been blowing so it really has not been too bad. It is about 5 to 10 degrees and no wind, so OK really.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008


I did not have long johns, snowpants, heavy gloves or a cap going to school today. It has been kind of warm so I have lightened up on clothes. (My body also seems to be a bit more acclimated to the cold now.)

It was about zero when I went to school and windy too. When I got to school, I could hear and see the wind increase and the blizzard shooting snow sideways.

When I walked home with no hat, MY EARS WERE SOLID, and it is only a 7 minute walk.


Sunday, January 20, 2008

Rain water on the river

LATE BREAKING NEWS! At school today, the kids told me that a Snowmachine sank because of the water. Guess the kids driving it were ok but they had to fish it out. WATER IN THE MOTOR

Do you see the water from the rain last night! Do you also see the kid playing in the water? THIS IS ONE BIG RIVER - MUCH BIGGER THAN THE COLUMBIA! Also, this is only 1 of many fingers of the Yukon River Delta.

water line marks

Here is a water line mark. Each mark lists the height of important buildings in town.


Moose hunting is big here. I have been told that it tastes great. Today is the last day of Moose season.

State Trooper Building

Here is a better picture of the state Trooper office. It is taken during an hour of sun today. There is no wind today and the temperature is about 25 degrees above.
It is very icy today. The rain yesterday froze and it is slick.

When the sun came out, people got out and were moving around. I saw whole families out. The mom and dad were on the snow mobile and 3 kids were in the basket being pulled by the snow machine. I wasn't fast enough to get a picture.

Here is a house on the stream that runs through town. It is actually over the stream.

Ashley and Brian are getting married!

Ash and her fiance Brian are getting married in Las Vegas. They are looking at possible dates now.

I tried to get them to come Emmonak, AK to get married in the community Center. She thought I was kidding. Lots of salmon, carabou, eskimo dancers who would like to perform for her wedding. She and Brian could ride off on a 4 wheeler instead of a limo. It would be a beautiful thing.
Saturday, a dog with rabies was shot and put out of its misery. It was walking around sideways and foaming at the mouth and threatening people. Another teacher said she was walking by and saw the dog being put down.

There are dog problems here. There is no spay or neuter person and the dogs have litter after litter. There is one dog under the school and she is having litter number six soon.

Saturday night in Emmonak: I had a salmon dinner with a few other teachers and we talked about travels, etc. At 10 pm, I went home and the streets were filled with kids. Something was going on at the Community Center and the kids were outside playing. It was very windy, rain/snow mix and pretty bad weather. The kids were happy and throwing snowballs. Since the rain, you can make snowballs out of the snow. Before the rain, it was powder snow and it did not make snow balls. There were probably at least 30 snow mobiles outside the community center last night

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Fine AK Teacher Housing

This is a picture of my living room. People tell me constantly how terrible teacher housing can be in Alaska. It really is OK here. I pay $300.00 per month rent and that includes utilities.

This is a photo of the hunting notice! It was at the post office on the wall. The post office and the stores are the hubs of information and activity here in Emmonak.

when I went to the post office today, I saw a great husky dog running around. He had chewed himself off of the rope holding him.

Bedroom Window

This is a picture of looking out my bedroom window. I am doing a lot of it today because the weather is terrible. It is interesting to see the snow and rain going sideways though.

We had a blizzard last night but then it started raining this morning.

State Police Building

This is a picture of the State TROOPER Building about 11 AM ON a blustery Saturday. We have rain/snow mix and the wind is blowing 30 - 50 MPH. I walked to the Post Office and got soaked. It is about 30 degrees but the wind makes it seem much colder.

All of the buildings are raised off the ground because of flooding caused by the spring ice break up.

The sign says: STUDENT PARKING

Here is a picture of old teacher housing. By the way, Emmomak is supposed to have some of the best Teacher Housing in Alaska. I was also told last night that we have some of the best furniture in Emmonak teacher housing.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Where are the keys?

Small things like keys are a big deal.

20 Below and I went to the store. (By the way 6 small bananas cost 4.00)

I got the to the house and had to find my keys. I had to put the groceries down in the snow. I checked the coat pocket - no luck. I unzipped my coat and checked the vest - no luck. (My gloves are off and the wind is blowing too) I checked my winter pants - no luck. I unzip those and check my pants and there they are - finally. I found out that placement of keys is a major issue in the cold.

Someone knocked on the door and I went to answer it. My door closed on me and I was locked out with no key. My room mate was in his room, so I walked in socks to his window and tapped on it and asked him to open the door. He did.

What if he were not there? The visitor was for the teachers next door.

Really warms up Feb and March

I was talking to a native Emmonak lady and I asked her about the weather. She told me it really starts warmining up in February and March. She said it gets up to about 30 and will stay there for days.

We got another inch of snow yesterday. So far, when it warms up, it is caused by clouds coming in and then we also get snow. Snow is not a big deal though. Everything is white.

I walked a different route to my other school and I got caught in a snow drift. You can't tell how high the snow is until you are in the middle of it and sunk waist deep.

Houses and all buildings are elevated from the ground. Even the school is up about 3 feet off the ground. I was asking when the last flood occurred and told a couple of years ago. Evidently, when the ice breaks and water starts flowing, the ice can dam up and cause water to go everywhere. So, buildings need to be elevated to keep the water out from the spring floods caused by ice breaking.

I guess they had Eskimo dance practice last night. They are getting ready for the Potlatch which is occurring in Feb.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

30 degrees

I am going to have to leave my long johns at home if this warm weather keeps up! This morning it was 22 degrees. At lunch it was about 28 degrees and when I left school at 3:30, it was 30 degrees. I has to drop by my apartment and get undressed before I went to the post office. I WAS TOO WARM! 30 degrees kind of feels what 50 degrees is in Washington and Oregon.

It is: P.O. Box 234, Emmonak, AK 99581

If you mail something and they need a ground address:
It is: 100 School Road
Emmonak, AK 99581

Mac Users: I think I am buying the new Panther Operating system for my MAC. I will probably but the family pack, which is for 5 installs. IF YOU HAVE A MAC WITH operating system 10.4, let me know and we can get you upgraded to Panther.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Hi guys,

PICTURES: I will try to put some pictures up this weekend! My computer crashed so I am now using a school computer. I have to send my computer to Anchorage.

It is warm today! 10 degrees above zero! I went for a walk to the store and bought a few groceries. We got 4 inches of new snow and because it was warm, everyone had their snowmachines out and running. I decided to walk on the river where there is much more space for walking with a lot fewer snow mobiles. It was quiet and peaceful on the Yukon River.

WIND: The howling of the wind is pretty amazing here! I walk to school in the morning and the wind was howling. It was very cold and the howl was kind of a ghostly sound. I have heard winds before but the bitter cold and the howl makes it more intense than I remember in the past.

I walked to the post office and saw the state patrol office and another part of town that is new to me.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

DAY 2 of Teaching

I have some great kids to work with here at Emmonak. I had kids working steadily and trying hard - I am impressed. I have one boy who is trying to teach me the pronunciation of another local village. It is like Kuaukanauk, he laughs every time I say it. He says it and it sounds great, I butcher it. I am getting more used to the local dialect.


I forgot my hat this morning and I saw a father who was bringing his kids to school. My ears were frozen and I told him I forgot my hat. He laughed and said, "It isn't even cold yet."

The boys and basketball team go away to a tournament this weekend. They have to fly out to the other school for the weekend.


It is +7 degrees and it feels warm! I just walked over to the house to get my lunch (I forgot it this AM) and it was unbelievably warm feeling. I had my winter wear on and my winter boots but I was too hot.


People get hired here over the phone, with a phone interview or a series of interviews. A lady was interviewed and accepted a job. She flew to Anchorage and then to Emmonak, just like me. She got off the plane in her high heels and started walking to the airport buildings. Her heel sunk into the dirt and then broke off. She walked a little more and then turned around, got back on the plane and has not been seen since.

If you like high heels. you will probably not be here long.

Monday, January 14, 2008

I just checked the internet for the weather: HERE IS THE EMMONAK FORECAST!

Snow likely in the evening...then widespread snow after midnight. Areas of blowing snow after midnight with visibility reduced to near zero. Snow accumulation around 2 inches. Lows 15 below to zero. East winds 25 to 40 mph.

Snow in the morning...then snow likely in the afternoon. Areas of blowing snow with visibilities reduced to near zero. Snow accumulation around 2 inches. Highs 15 to 25. South winds 20 to 35 mph.

Tuesday Night
Cloudy. Areas of blowing snow with reduced visibility. Snow likely in the evening...then a chance of snow after midnight. Snow accumulation of 1 to 2 inches. Lows 15 to 20. Southwest winds 20 to 35 mph.

My computer crashed so no pictures for now. I will try to continue doing what I can with borrowed computers.


This was my first official day of teaching in Emmonak Monday 1/14/08. (I was supposed to be here last Monday but the planes to Anchorage were full and I could not get to Anchorage until 1/11/08.)

My first teaching day: It was -15 degrees with wind blowing 20 miles an hour. The wind chill factor was -44 or so. I had hoped to walk around the town a bit on the way to school but was freezing so I walked straight to school. I like the kids I teach. I like the 3 people I teach with in the same room. I have some kids who need to improve their behavior and called 2 parents today.

They are nice kids! Many speak yupik and English. The Yupik language is quite interesting to listen to. It has some interesting sounds which would be unusual for me to be able to say, but I am quietly trying to get the same sound.

I asked one 8 year old boy what he did this weekend and he said he and his dad and uncles went to get wood. They took 2 snowmobiles with trailers about 7 or 8 miles in -20 degrees and then cut wood. The loaded the trailers and went home. He said when he got off the snowmobile he could barely move his fingers. He had to run around to warm up. Then he said, "Do you see where I got frost bite?" He then showed me between his eyes and there was a red area. That was the result of frost bite. The skin had been exposed in that particular spot. He wore a hood and a face mask but it did not cover the area between the eyes.
It is so cold here that people need wood. I was out for about 40 minutes and I think I was getting close to frostbite.
GASOLINE HERE COSTS ABOUT $6.00 a gallon. Heating fuel is very expensive. They say we may warmer weather and snow.

BLOG DOWN - Temporarily

Greetings, fam. It's Ashley...Dad's administrative assistant. Well, as some of you already know, Dad's computer has apparently crashed. I suspect its something simple that he has yet to figure out. Either way, the blogspot will be out of service until further notice!! Thanks for ye patience!

Sunday, January 13, 2008

The boat that I shot earlier, which is also by my house. I noticed the name: Magic Carpet.

This is my neighbor. A snowmobile and a mushing trailer, right outside my door.

These are more fishing boats outside the second store. There are more boats beyond the picture.

By the way: Bush standards: Emmonak is almost a city with 2 stores and a restaurant.

Emmonak does not allow alcohol, it is dry.

That is a big deal in the bush. This one even has a deli. I only spend $15.00 here.

This is me, Rich Brisco, at -14 degrees in Emmonak, Alaska.

(My daughters dressed me, so blame them if I look funny.)

A crack in the ice. It goes for a long way. It is by the edge.

I want to say that the cold air sure feels good! I felt this kind of cold in Montana and Wyoming and the crispness of the air feels great.

This is another picture of Emmonak at 9:30 AM.

The smoky stuff is my breath - it makes a cloud instantly. -14 below zero.

The lights of Emmonak at 9:30 AM, Sunday. It gets light about 10:30 to 11:00 AM.

The constant dark is farther north, closer to the North Pole.

This is the boat in the Yukon River at 9:30 Sunday morning. Some lights of town are in the background.

This is the store! It has been in operation for over a hundred years. It is the oldest chain of stores in Alaska I am told.

(The 4 wheelers and snowmobiles are just outside the picture.)

I see snowmobiles and 4 wheelers driving by on the streets but then I came across this bunch of vehicles.

This is the restaurant of Emmonak.
Emmonak Catholic Church

I passed it as I walked to the store.

This is about $45.00 worth of food from the local store.

See the soup bones.

This is a bush outside my apartment.

A little frosty.
A picture of a log house which is not being used. That is my shadow you see. I am walking to the store at this time.

Another view of Emmonak homes and a street.

Emmonak Community Center:

I hear they have dances, potlatches and meetings here. The white sign says: Help Keep Emmonak Clean and I want to say that Emmonak is clean.

You do not see a lot of litter here.

This is about two blocks from my casa. You can see the school in the background.

Here is a boat in the Yukon. It is still tied up and waiting for the water to flow. I am told that the yukon is frozen until about June.

Here is a snowmobile on the Yukon River.
This is the Yukon River. You will notice the tire tracks, this is also a road. It is the main way of transportation from village to village.
Today is Saturday, 1/12/08 and a girls basketball team rode snowmobiles 7 miles to our village to play in a tournament.

This is another picture of my house. Notice the boat in the drive. There are boats everywhere here. The sun is very bright but cold. We do have dish network, see the disc on top of the roof.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

This is another picture of the airport.

Most people ride around on snowmobiles or 4 wheelers. The airplane is being worked on. One engine is apart.

This is the road outside my apartment! You will notice lots of snow and ice! It is solid white.
The shrubs have lots of frost on them.

Today was a very sunny but very cold day! When I first walk outside, I kind of got shocked at the first cold breath that hit my lungs. -25 is very COLD!! I did get acclimated after walking a bit though.

This is where I live in Emmonak!
It is a duplex. I live on the right side!
It is -25 below zero but it is warm inside. I have a room mate and there are 2 guys who live on the left side.

These houses were built so a teacher would live on one side and teach on the other side. Since those days, a school was built and this is just used as a teacherage.

This is the airport in Emmonak. It is the office for Grant Aviation which I flew on. It is quite warm inside and you get free popcorn.

The people are very friendly and they called the school and got me a ride to Emmonak School and eventually to my apartment.

This is a picture of the twin engine plane which got me from Anchorage to Emmonak. It was full with 8 adult passengers, a baby and the pilot and co-pilot. It was -25 or so when we arrived.

The airplane scared some moose that were grazing by the airport. I was able to see the moose run off. It is moose season in case you like to hunt moose.

My first day in Emmonak

1/11/08 - I flew from Portland, OR to Anchorage. It took 3 1/2 hours for the trip. I got to Anchorage at 1 AM. I spent the night on a bench in the terminal. (No picture though) It was -1 at Anchorage. All of the streets are white with snow and ice.

1/12/08: Travel to Emmonak was interesting. I flew for 2 hours on a 2 prop jet that goes about 250 MPH. The whole time we were in the air, we were over snow capped mountains - they were everywhere. It really was awesome to see.

We landed in Emmonak and it was -25 degrees, THE COLDEST DAY OF THE YEAR. There was no wind though, so it wasn't too bad. Cold and crisp. Everything is white with snow and/or ice.
Emmonak is right on the Yukon River and the Yukon River is totally frozen! The river is used for transportation. In winter people use snow mobiles and 4 wheelers to travel around. In the summer, after the thaw, people use boats to go up and down the Yukon River. There can be great fishing on the Yukon or there can be almost no fish. Many of the people here make their living with fishing. There is also a boat building plant and a fish processing plant.