A few weeks ago I had the chance to go into Bethel for two trainings. One training (an art retreat) was Friday and Saturday and the other (about classroom management) was Monday and Tuesday. This meant I had a day free between them. So, I decided to call Segue and see if I could visit her. Segue lives in a semi-suburb of Bethel called Oscarville. Although it is a short distance from Bethel (less than 10 miles I'd say) there are no roads. So, nobody can drive from Oscarville to Bethel. Unless of course, you don't mind driving on a frozen river. . .
So, that is exactly what I did! Well, I didn't drive, I rode along (or followed as they say here). It was a crazy experience! The "road" was well traveled. We saw at least a dozen other vehicles on the river as Segue, another friend, and I made our way to Oscarville. The road is really just two tire tracks leading from Bethel to other villages. This is fine until you see a truck coming the other way. When this happens one person, has to drive in the untouched snow and try to get back in the tracks once the opposing traffic passes.
This happened a few times in my short trip. The whole trip took about 15 minutes. But, some people drive from Bethel to much further off villages, like Kasigluk, which is about 2 hours! There is even a business called "river cabs" that take you from Bethel to other villages.
For those of you reading this who think I'm crazy for trying this because the ice could crack, let me educate you a little further. The river here freezes from top down, but it also freezes from the bottom up because it's so cold here. At a certain depth, the ground never thaws. So, even if the top layer did crack, the water might not be too deep, like a few inches. Don't worry, Mom!
Although, there are dangers. For instance, on the way back to Bethel, I saw a snow mobile that had caught on fire and burnt to the frame. But, as the driver said, "Well, there are no bones, so the person must have gotten off in time". That's optimism. Enjoy the pictures below of the ice road and Oscarville!
This is the view going from Bethel to the ice road.
You can see there is a truck coming at us from the other direction.
Ice Road to Oscarville. A view of Oscarville from the river.
Totally a different topic-- This is the sunset in Eek!