An Artist's Dream of Alaska

As a child I dreamed of going to both Africa and Alaska. I love animals and nature. I read about both places and imagined many adventures. I never got to go to either place as an adult. When I was working as a travel nurse in southern California I had an old car. I decided that when that car died I was going to Alaska. I checked all the web sites and magazines for jobs in Alaska. There were only ads for the more populated areas such as Anchorage. I wanted to be in what I then thought of as a rural area. I later found out in Alaska it is called the bush. I tracked down the hospitals in the more remote areas, the bush. I found two I was thinking of going to, Norton Sound Health Corporation in Nome and the hospital in Barrow. I picked Nome because they kept telling me there were a lot of nice people there and it has nice summers, a road system around it and the outside activities I wanted to engage in were available. I also thought there would be plenty of wildlife to paint and draw. Both areas had a large population of native people which was a plus for me. I am part Muskogee and although I am whiter than white I feel native on the inside. I always have.
I found a wonderful place to live and a wonderful landlord who also ended up being a great next door neighbor and friend. I explored Nome and found Carrs the grocery store closest to the village had produce that would not last very long. I always ate a lot of fruit and vegetables so this was disappointing. The other store AC had a produce department that was better, but more expensive. It costs a big chunk of money to buy food in Nome. I dealt with this and adapted. People taught me to use a lot of frozen fruit and veggies. I loved the snow, it was a welcome contrast to southern California and just about anywhere else I had lived. I was open minded and adapted to the differences, such as children staying outside to play until after midnight. This was a normal and accepted way of life. I called the police a couple times thinking it was unsafe and got laughter. Later I came to understand that the weather is usually overcast in the morning and gets nice in the afternoon and evening. A lot of people, especially natives survived by subsistence and preferred the better weather. It stays light 24 hours a day in the summer, so it really does not matter what the schedule is. There are some situations in which the parents populate the bars at night and this is why they sleep in.
I walked everywhere. This is one of the things I loved about Nome. I could walk anywhere. I had started walking when I had an assignment in Bakersfield. I decided to stay there a few months longer and take some engineering courses and continued my walking also. One of my favorite things to do in Nome was go for a walk in a big storm. People would keep trying to give me rides, but, no I was walking on purpose. I walked to work in the mornings and would end up walking down the middle of the road because I would be looking up to see the aurora borealis. Sometimes people would honk their horns and I would laugh realizing I was so focused on the sky I forgot where I was walking. In the summer I would walk down the miles of beaches. I would go out for hours. There is a lot of beach glass to pick up there and I just loved being on the beach. There are prospectors who camp on the beach. I stopped and talked to them. They were interesting and from all over. I learned about prospecting from them. All this time a dark cloud was forming over me and I tried to ignore it or laugh at it.

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