Flying over the Yukon River brings into sharp focus its status as the second longest river in the world. It is truly magnificent. I can only imagine what it will be like in the summer full of fish and boats. One woman in Ruby pointed out the area on the other side that they swim in when it gets hot.
Arriving in Galena, I was handed a note to call the school teacher right away and that I did. Ten minutes later she came to the checkpoint to welcome me. We visited for a moment and headed out for a walk. It was a beautiful day and Galena is a great town to walk in with its wide, flat, white roads. Mrs. Koontz explained to me that businesses in Galena don’t have signs on them because everyone already knows what they are, but it makes it a bit hard for visitors.
I picked up a book by Sidney Huntington, a native of this area, called Shadows on the Koyukuk. Sidney is roughly (no one can agree) 95-97 years old and the book tells about growing up along the Yukon. I was able to get it signed in the checkpoint where Sidney sits for a few hours everyday watching and occasionally visiting.
After our visit to the store, we headed to Galena Elementary School. Mrs. Koontz explained that the town is where it is largely because of the Air Force Base that used to be here, and that the secondary students go to school on the old base at the boarding school.
Galena Elementary is always open as it is the hub of the community. During bad storms it may be the only place to get heat, water, or a warm meal. They have two playgrounds, one of which is securely fenced to keep the moose out. Inside the school it is bright and warm with beautiful artwork covering the walls. They have two libraries (they share one with the public) and a gymnasium with a host of trophies to go with it. Basketball is very big here.
While I was in Mrs. Koontz’s room I noticed a chart on the wall that said something about how are you feeling, and when I asked about it, she explained that it was a scientific experiment to see if children were affected by the long, dark winters like the adults with depression, etc. Their conclusion is that they aren’t, but the process was a long one.
-38 degrees this morning. BRRRR!