Rural vs. RURAL!


Feb 2, 2010

Vic is  attending an Economic Development workshop which has emphasis in Rural Development.   She was live blogging the day.

From Vic:

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.

A picture of where this lady calls rural.

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?

Nunam Iqua from a plane. The arrow is where my house is.

This shows how little understanding people have about what life is like in bush Alaska.

Nunam Iqua taken from the Yukon River last winter.

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.

One of many active volcanoes in the area with steam rising from its 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.

Fresh 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.


9 Responses to “Rural vs. RURAL!”

  1. Lisa Says:

    Love this! And here all this time we thought we grew up in the Rural areas of Washington! Hahaha!!! Well, we could never get pizza delivery or cable tv, I thought that is what rural meant!?!? LOL I love the lady comparing, invite her out for a visit. Take her shopping with you. I will send you something from the mall for some fry bread!

  2. River Bear Human and Canine Pack! Says:

    I did google earth and boy you are isolated. Not only that but there is water water water; bogs, creeks, rivers, ponds, inlets, and bays. YIKES.
    And here I thought going 30 miles by car to get to the store was bad.

  3. Mark Springer Says:

    Nice job of contrast!
    What conference is Vic at? Is this one of the USDA ones in Anchorage?
    Let us know so we can jack up them that needs jacking up!
    Mark Springer

  4. ugavic Says:

    I am attending a course, part of a bigger program, to teach certified Economic Development professionals.
    The umbrella organization is International Economic Development Council, IDEC.
    This course is run through The University of Alaska Center for Economic Development (UACED) and specifically deals with Entrepreneurial and Small Business Development Strategies.
    Just a little info – there is only ONE PERSON at this time who is certified as an Economic Development Specialist IN ALL OF ALASKA and she is in Ketchikan.
    So for all the hoopla on economic development, for all the CDQs that are supposed to be MANDATED to do economic development with Western Alaska villages, they have NO people who are certified on their staff to actually do this!!! (you can see just a LITTLE part of my pet peeve on this issue)
    The people at UACED saw a real need and started bringing these classes and the bigger certification program to Alaska about 3-4 years ago.
    Excellent classes overall and I believe more people are tuning into the ground work that must be done to even do the most basic economic development things.
    There are SOO MANY things we as villages, cities and rural boroughs can do in small ways to set a base for economic development. I am thinking and most encouraged about smaller, village based small businesses.
    Hope that helps!!

  5. Mark Springer Says:

    I know a couple people who are Certified Economic Development Finance Professionals here in Alaska and they are very close to Rural Alaska- shoot em an email and I can hook you up with them.

  6. thatcrowwoman Says:

    It’s all relative, isn’t it? How interesting to see from another’s perspective!

    When littlebird was young, her school friends loved to come over because we live “waaay out in the country” and have a flock of chickens and heat with a woodstove and dry clothes with our solar dryer (a clothesline out back, winkwink) and have a garden and bake bread from scratch….

    Once when I sent the young ones for a wheelbarrow load from the woodpile, one sweetie hugged me, saying, “I LOVE this place. It’s just like Little House on the Prairie!” I still get the giggles thinking of it.

    FRYbread! Oh, yummy…that takes me way back to the Great Smoky Mountains…Yours looks Beautiful and delicious, also,too, Ann.

    Quayana (did I say that correctly?) for sharing and for all that you and Vic do.

  7. tallimat Says:

    That photo of frybread is just flat out unfair!

    Well, my last order of flour came with zillions of weebels. So we been rationing the remaining flour till I gety hands on some more.

    Funny thing bout those weebels, since I live where are no schools, we homeschool and decided to make a science project out of the bugged out flour. Our question: at what temperature do they actually stop moving or wiggling around in the flour? So far it’s been -38 to 7 and they are still moving about. The kids are having a blast documenting this “bugged out flour project”. Your frybead photo does have us wondering when our good flour will arrive. sigh…

  8. UgaVic Says:

    I am laughing so hard at ‘the question’!!!
    Great deal for the kids and for you I wish a speedy flour devlivery!!

  9. notmensa Says:

    I’ve had something of the same revelation in my current job. I live in Sydney, Australia, but my work takes me around my state of New South Wales. I used to think Dubbo, NSW was rural… until I had to visit patients in the many small towns 5-6 hours drive further north west. It’s one thing to read about ‘remote’ and ‘very remote’ locations in research papers, it’s quite another to actually visit.

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