My Commute

Rob and I work part time in a small outpatient clinic in the community of Metlakatla, which is home to about 1,400 native Alaskans. Metlakatla is approximately 15 miles from Ketchikan, where we live, by water, via ferry, or about a 10 minute ride in a float plane.

I often grumble about the rainy weather of SE Alaska, but we do get postcard days as well. This was my commute a couple of weeks ago when I flew over for the day, via Pacific Air, a float plane company that provides service all over SE Alaska. I got the co-pilot seat, and this was my view. The first and last images are of Ketchikan, the community mid-way through the photos is Metlakatla. Really, this is the way to go if the sun is out and the sky is this blue!


Mid-town Ketchikan


This is a fishing community, lots of boats here!


We start to tilt making the turn…


Here we go!


Flying over the muskeg.


Muskeg and bogs.


Cockpit view, Pacific Air.


Blue water out my window.


A little clearer view.


Metlakatla in the distance.


Getting closer…


See the peaks coming into view?


Tilting again.


Shooting through the propeller.


The horizon rights itself.


The airport, Metlakatla style.


Pacific Air sends a van to pick up and unload; my ride to the clinic.


No wonder it’s so expensive to ship something here!


The fish plant, mountains in the background.


Whales play here in the summer.


Water and sky are the same blue.


Float plane dock.


Close up of the fish plant. Love the mountain backdrop!


Coming in!


Smooth landing.


Churning water.


Taking off…


Heading back over islands.


Small islands are everywhere!


Sights of the Inside Passage.


Colors are amazing!


Looking straight down…


More peaks…these mountains are all around.


Back to town.


Coast Guard base is below.


Ketchikan downtown docks.


Getting a little reflection here.


Water, homes, boats…it’s all here.




Perfect view of Deer Mountain.


Mountains across the Tongass Narrows.

I realized I didn’t get a photo of the clinic in this series. This is the Health Center of the Annette Island Service Unit. As you can see, the day this photo was made, the sky wasn’t quite so blue! This is the more typical weather-look for this region.

AISU Health Center

AISU Health Center

I’m home!

Ah, the pleasures of coming home! After a week away, working, it is good to be in my kitchen again. Rob says I’m a nester…he says even when we were doing an extensive RV road trip a few years ago, I was gathering twigs for my nest at every stop. Well, not exactly true! But there’s probably some reality there.

The only negative thing about coming home today is that I came home by myself. Rob is working an extra day, so he’ll be here tomorrow afternoon. That’s nothing, really. We’ve spent lots of time apart at various stages of our lives. But we’ve been mostly joined at the hip for a while now, so a night alone seems a little quiet.

Still, it gives me a chance to catch up. Catch up on some reading, catch up on my blog, catch up with blogging friends whose posts this past week I’ve mostly saved to read later. It’s become a regular pattern for me. In my “normal” routine, I read a bit every day, and can even find time to write a bit most weeks. But when I’m out and about, traveling and working, I fall out of my rhythm. But I’m coming to terms with this. It’s the best I can do.

This past week I was working in Metlakatla, Alaska. There’s a beautiful health clinic there that is operated with funding from IHS (Indian Health Service). Rob worked there for a time when we first lived in Ketchikan, but now he just does an occasional week or so. I’ve picked up some projects that I’m assisting with (always in a non-clinical role, thank you very much!), so we spent the week together at a little apartment that the organization keeps for visiting providers. The small community is on an island about 15 miles from Ketchikan, but there is no road, no bridge, so you have to ferry over, or fly over. I took the car and ferried since I was spending the week.

The island is very small. Less than 2,000 people…I think it’s more in the range of 1400…live there. There are a couple of very small mom and pop restaurants, a convenience store that sells burgers and chicken strips…that kind of thing. There is a basic grocery store. That’s pretty much it. Locals come over to Ketchikan to go to Wal-Mart or some of the other retailers here. To people who live on other small islands in this area, Ketchikan is “town.” This is where you come for any kind of health care that requires more than a clinic or urgent care visit. This is where you come to give birth. This is where you come to connect to Alaska Airlines, to see a movie, to go to McDonald’s. And yet, in so many ways, Ketchikan itself is just a small outpost. Well, it’s all a matter of perspective, I guess. After being on a really small island for a week, Ketchikan looked pretty big and busy this afternoon.

Well, I did bring something else home with me. Guess what’s for dinner this weekend?

Alaskan King salmon, caught this morning, in my fridge tonight!

I mentioned to the Director of Nurses at the clinic that I was hoping to get some fish while I was on the island. Just before I left this afternoon, I got these beautiful steaks. And about 15 more to go with them. I love shopping on the docks! Well, actually, these came to me in a cooler, I just paid for them at the front door of the clinic and did a quick transfer to my car. Most of this bounty is going into the freezer. But I’ve picked a couple of these to eat this weekend. You can’t freeze it all…you have to enjoy it when it is fresh!

So, home again, routine again, and fresh fish. Nice nesting!