Feb 2, 2010
Vic is attending an Economic Development workshop which has emphasis in Rural Development. She was live blogging the day.
We had as one of the main speakers today a lady who has an extensive resume that also includes living in what she is calling a rural area. This lady is from an area that both Vic and I are quite familiar with in Washington. Where it can be hours to drive to a city over 10,000, get a decent outfit for a special event or even get certain specialty items in the grocery store.
This lady believes her rural area is pretty similar to much of Alaska because they do not want to drive an hour and half for a business class. They are getting an influx of people from bigger cities who want high speed Internet. Vic is trying hard not to burst out laughing.
This lady doesn’t really know rural, does she?
This shows how little understanding people have about what life is like in bush Alaska.
Let’s look at what it takes to get groceries and supplies to Ugashik. You can’t jump on a snow machine since the closest decent store is 80 miles away in King Salmon. It would not be safe to travel that distance via snow machine this winter. Most winters here in Ugashik do not allow the various lakes, rivers or creeks to freeze well enough to ensure safe travel of any great distance. It is local knowledge only to identify creeks which don’t freeze well, critical for people to know when traveling overland. This is an active volcano area and the heat has to go somewhere if not out a mountain top.
That limits travel via snow machine during the winter. You could easily travel 20 miles and then drop into a creek that wasn’t as frozen over as you thought and then you are stuck.
Planes? Call the Alaska Commercial Company in King Salmon and ask them send out some groceries, then pay the airlines 87 cents a pound to get them here. Friends who have planes are usually happy to bring stuff with them if they are in the area, especially if you bribe them with the promise of coffee and fresh made fry bread.
Realistically ordering from King Salmon is expensive and the selection is limited, so what next? The Internet provides many online grocery sites to order from.
Today I shopped at Span Alaska Sales where they offer grocery items in bulk. I can’t order a single box of Pilot Bread, instead I have to order a case. That’s 12 boxes of pilot bread/crackers for $81.99. I wanted tea which I had to order by the case so I now have 6 boxes of tea for $17.98. My order totaled 22 cases of food for around $900. Span Alaska prices have the postage included. My entire order will come via mail so it could take as little as a week to get here or, as long as a month. We only receive mail here in Ugashik twice a week.
It doesn’t take long to spend a lot of money. Thankfully, Rollie and Vic have a warm room in their warehouse which makes it possible to make large orders like this. If I were still in Nunam Iqua I could never place this type of order because I simply would not have anywhere to put everything.
In the late spring, summer and early fall some grocery shopping can be done via boat, or when we are flying fish out then we can have huge bulk orders flown in. Refer to our Feeding the Crew post.
Those are just a few of our measures of how we differ from others while considering rural vs really rural.