Thursday, February 20, 2014

2003 Summer in Dutch Harbor

A Russian Orthodox cross from the 1920's made of rebar

the restored Russian Orthodox church

Don't let the sunny photos fool you, most days looked like this

Hearing Ryan's stories from Dutch Harbor brings back the memories for me. It's hard to believe it was 11 years ago that I spent a whole summer there working on the Amaknak Bridge Site. Even harder to believe that I managed to entertain myself in my off-time (we only worked 40 hours/week) with such terrible weather, no vehicle, and NO INTERNET. Yes, it's difficult to remember that there was a time when internet was not widely available, let alone wifi. There was actually an "internet cafe" (do those even exist anymore??) right across the street from the Unisea motel (if you know the Unisea, you can feel my pain), but it was only open when we were at work. The library had internet and computers, but there was always a line and you could only use them for 30 min. It was super slow, but it's not like there was much to do on the internet back then anyway.

In hindsight I can't really remember much of what I did with my free time, so I guess I must have watched a lot of cable. There was a bar in the motel but I wasn't old enough, not even close. Surprisingly, (or not if you know how bad the alcohol problems are in a small town with such a large fishing port) they were very strict about checking ID's in Dutch Harbor (don't ask how I know this).

Being in college I was also on a strict budget. Our housing and food was covered but three months of eating at the Unisea fish processing plant galley got a little old (it wasn't just the food that got old - it was the lack of female company that made a few too many men a little too friendly). My big splurge was to walk to Safeway every Sunday morning, buy a bagel and chocolate milk (this was also before espresso stands were everywhere), and sit and read a magazine. It's funny to remember how frugal I was.

Despite the lack of entertainment, I had a fantastic summer in Dutch Harbor. The Aleutians are one of those places where those few blue bird days make you forget all the terrible weather; when it's clear there is nothing that compares to volcanoes rising straight out of the ocean. And the archaeology hardly has a comparison either. The Amaknak Bridge site was by far the coolest site I have ever worked on.


  1. What? Even cooler than the Amak Site. At least the Amak site has a better name. And hiking in Dutch is awesome! I have not been to the places in your photos in over 15 years, but i still remember all of them and know exactly where each was taken. Patrick

  2. I didn't mention I was lucky to get rides out of town (mostly with Nicole) and go on a lot of hikes on the weekends when the weather was tolerable. The hiking is so easy out there where the veg is only ankle-high!