Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Islands are not always tropical

In general, when we talk about living on an island, people automatically envision some where exotic, tropical, or both.  Most people in the US think about Hawaii, St. Lucia or other fabulous location where they can go party, enjoy life or just have fun but not all islands are like this.  I spend three years living on a remote island off the coast of Alaska, near the international date line. 
The island is little Diomede, off the coast of the small town of Wales, north of St. Lawerence Island that houses both Gambel and Savoonga. 
Image result for Pictures of Little Diomede

Little Diomede is a couple miles from Big Diomede which is under Russian control.  The 
international date line runs between the two islands.  Yes you can walk to Russia because the area between the two Diomedes freezes over in the middle of winter.  Big Diomede is Russian and Little Diomede is American.  The area between the two islands freezes over and when the ice is think is enough, it becomes a landing strip, otherwise the only way to get there is by helicopter.  Little Diomede at that time was the most expensive mail route in the United State.
 Image result for Pictures of Little Diomede

Historically people lived on Big Diomede and used Little Diomede for garbage and burial but eventually people moved to settle on Little Diomede.  Shortly after I got there, I had to clean out a filing cabinet and found lots of cards showing who visited the United States from Little Diomede.  It was fascinating. Right now, the only people who live on Big Diomede are Russian Soldiers.  There are no civilians there.
In the picture above you see a snapshot of the village on the island.  The village is located facing Big Diomede, away from Alaska.  The island is about 1 mile by 2 miles and is flat topped. The helicopter landing pad is just in front of the pink holding tank to the front left.  The school is off behind it.  The two indentations in front center are for barges to bring in things two or three times a year.
 You can climb to the top in the spring, summer and fall and on the way up, you can hear the birds calling from their nests built among the rocks  From the top, if it is clear, you can see all the way to the Siberian mainland of Russia and to the Alaskan mainland. It is so breath taking that you can't believe it.  More about this place later.

No comments:

Post a Comment