Airborne Over the Kuskokwim River Delta
My co-worker’s spouse works for one of the local adventure guide service companies, and he offered to take me up for a flight. He needs hours to be eligible to fly commercial flights, and I’m always up for a flight. It is a good match. He said its boring to fly alone, and I am happy to join up there. We flew the river, and had planned to land in one of the villages; however, the bumpy air near the mountains, lead to a change in plans. We saw a few boats, two moose (mom and calf) and lots of other airplanes. We flew over the orphanage, or Children’s Home, an abandoned building where local children were “taught” to turn their backs on their cultural heritage and to become more like caucasians.
It is an interesting landmark. As we flew over, I learned more about it. It is an orphanage facility that was founded by Moravian missionaries in 1939 three miles up river from the town of Kwethluk. It is located 12 miles east of Bethel. Moravian missionaries had been in the Kwethluk since the early 1880’s, establishing a congregation and other facilities like the Alaska Children’s Home. The Alaska Children’s Home ceased operations in 1971. I also learned that the local teenagers hike or 4-wheel out there to the building from town, and sit on the roof. It’s one of the highest places around, so apparently the view is fantastic for sunset.
As we passed over boats on the river, it makes me look forward to summer here when I get to go fishing. No ice fishing for me, but perhaps I’ll go out to see how they do it here, and how it compares to Phillips Lake in Maine.
As the river freezes over, it becomes the longest road here around Bethel. It will become a roughly 200 mile highway up to the villages. Soon my previous roommate here will have her car driven up the river to her home in Antiak. Hopefully I can get another flight in, and go the 50 miles downriver to the opening in the Kuskokwim Bay.