Friday, April 3, 2015

What is paradise?

I have been thinking of starting a second blog that is more general and one where I can cover a variety of subjects.  I've also given the question of "What is paradise?" a lot of thought.  It means different things to different people.  For some people it is about being able to live or visit a tropical place such as Hawaii, Thailand, Fiji, Tahiti or other exotic place.  For others it might be Alaska, Mexico, or perhaps the Caribbean.  Then there are the ones for whom paradise is living the life they choose in the manner they choose and not having to have a regular job. I've grown up in various places around the world and now live in the state of Alaska, in a small remote village a little ways from the coast.  I've lived and worked in this village for 9 years.
This is a view out my window at work.  It is a native village.  Although it is spring, we still have snow. What you see is the hockey rink that was converted to two basket ball courts by the carpentry class before it was discontinued.  Once it gets warmer, the kids will move the snow off the wooden platforms and start playing basketball outside.  To them, that is paradise because they can play basketball at any time rather than waiting for gym nights.  Right now, the sun starts to rise around 7:30 or so and sets around 10 or 10:30 at night.  In a few weeks, the kids will be playing basketball from the end of the school day to sun set or even a bit longer if the lights are working.
Beyond the basketball/hockey rink, there is a small shallow lake (waist high) that is currently frozen solid.  Everyone cuts across the lake to get to the post office, the stores, or even to the airport which is off the picture to the left.
This village like so many others in Alaska is not on the road system.  The only way in and out is by airplane.  You could snowmachine to the regional hub but you would still have to fly out by plane to reach Anchorage, Fairbanks or any of the other large cities.  Everything, I mean everything, is flown in or barged in.  Unfortunately, this means the cost of gas and heating fuel run over $6.00 per gallon.  If there is a medical emergency, you have to hope the weather's good so they can medivac the person out.
I know some people would consider the remoteness as hell and not paradise but for others it is paradise.  I know folks who enjoy working out here because they love to fish and hunt and there is lots of both.  Many of my coworkers go out after work to fish for smelt or tom cods.  They drill though the ice out by the volcanoes or up river a ways and just enjoy the time out there.  For me, I love the steams.  A steam is the local name for a sauna.  You go into a small room with a stove made out of a 55 gallon barrel and it has volcanic stones on the top.  Many have a reservoir to heat water at the end filled with water that can be moved to open the door for wood.  Once the fire is started, they close the door, fill the reservoir and head the water.  The small room heats up and once the stove is hot, you pour water on the rocks and steam is created.  <grins>  you sit in the steam, burning, until you can't handle it any longer and then you run out, to the dressing room to cool.  Off.  That is paradise in the middle of winter when the temp is -40.  It warms you up, makes your skin soft and you feel totally clean and balanced.  It is nothing like those electric saunas you find at hotels or gyms.  These make you feel so much cleaner and leaves you fully relaxed.  ahhhhhh.
More on life and paradise in the next blog.

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