Click on any of the pictures to make them bigger!Our friend Alyssa sent us her Flat Stanley from Huron, Ohio. Her 1st grade class read the book Flat Stanley, then sent their Flat Stanleys out to visit their friends around the world. Avery and I got lucky enough to have Flat Stanley visit us in Bethel, Alaska. We took him out around town with us today. We had a really good time showing Flat Stanley around. Bethel is a city of about 6, 500 people in the middle of the remote Alaskan tundra. We are about 4000 miles away from Huron, Ohio so Flat Stanley really had to travel far to make it all the way here. Actually, we are closer to Rusia, Japan, and China than we are to Ohio! Wow!We started our day at church. Flat Stanley joined us for the church potluck lunch. Here he is having lunch with Avery and his friend Nate. Flat Stanley even tried some of the local native foods. I didnt think the Herring Egg Salad was very good, but Flat Stanley thought it was DELICIOUS! While Flat Stanley was here, he also enjoyed Moose Stew, Caribou Stoganoff, and lots of different kinds of Salmon. YUM!We stopped down by the river to show Flat Stanley the view. He was pretty impressed that we have the second largest river in Alaska flowing right through our town. It is the longest free flowing river in the United States. It is also the longest river entirely within one state in the U.S. It took a few tries to teach Flat Stanley how to pronounce Kuskokwim River, but eventually he got it down. (cus-c0-quim) Kuskokwim in Yupik is a loose translation of a Yup'ik word to English. It is a compound word meaning 'big slow moving thing'.Flat Stanley thought that the painted dumpsters in Bethel were a really cool idea. He thought it was neat that the people of Bethel were so artistic and had found an interesting way to turn something ugly like a trash dumpster into something beautiful like a painting. Some of the dumpsters even send out important messages to the community, like this one that encourages kids to brush their teeth. Bethel is the home of the biggest mid-distance dog sled race, the K300. The race starts in Bethel, goes up the Kuskokwim River to Aniak before the mushers turn around and come back to Bethel, where the race also ends. It is one of the qualifying races for the Iditarod. We get alot of big name dog mushers in town in January to run the race. We also have quite a few local dog teams and Flat Stanley got a chance to go visit some of the dogs.
Next, we visited the library and culture center where Flat Stanley learned a little bit about the native Yup'ik people who live in this area of Alaska. He found out that they have been living here for over 10,000 years and that they even speak a different language, where different clothes, and even eat different kinds of food than other people in the United States. He also learned that there are many people who live in small villages all around Bethel that come here when they need something. There are about 50 villages for miles and miles that use Bethel as a place to go shopping or go to the doctor.
Flat Stanley thought it was really cool and kind of scary how the houses are all built up so high off the ground on stilts. We explained to him that houses can't be built on the ground here because of the permafrost. He asked, "What's permafrost?" We told him that this was how the ground is frozen all the time because it is so cold here. That was when Flat Stanley figured out that he had forgotten his coat in Ohio and it was pretty cold outside. It's winter in Alaska already! Even though we don't have any snow yet, it was only 25 degrees today...that's below freezing! Brrrrrrrr.
We were really hoping that we could take Flat Stanley on a snowmachine ride, but there isn't any snow yet. We told him that during the winter when there's alot of snow, we can ride our snowmachine over to the other villages and visit our friends. Sometimes we just go out and ride the snowmachine for fun too, but we always wear our helmets. We told him that next time he comes for a visit we would have to find him a helmet that fits him so that he can be safe while he rides the snowmachine.Some streets even have snowmachine crossing signs because there are so many people that ride there snowmachines everywhere during the winter. Many people in Bethel don't even own cars because they ride their 4 wheelers in the summer and their snowmobiles in the winter. Flat Stanley also thought it was different that people here have to get water delivered to their house in big trucks instead of just having pipes to bring the water to your house. And all the roads were made of dirt instead of concrete!
We had fun with Flat Stanley. We hope he will come back and see us again! We're taking him to the airport in the morning so that he can get on an airplane and go back to Ohio. Flat Stanley was really surprised when we told him that there arent any roads that lead out of town, so you can't drive home. The only way to get into or out of Bethel is to take an airplane! Thanks for sending him to us, Alyssa! We miss you!