Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Visiting Nikolaevsk

Our kids attended a basketball camp at Nikolaevsk School this past week and weekend so we spent 3 days in a row driving from our place out there. The first day while it was raining in Homer the roads at the top of Baycrest were snowy, and out towards Anchor Point roads were icy and covered with snow. Many cars were in the ditch, being an early snow and virtually no one had their studded tires on yet. I ended up in the ditch as well, despite my 4WD, but got to meet the new pastor of a church in Anchor Point as he and his wife let me hang out in their vehicle while waiting for the tow truck.

Friday the weather had warmed up so the roads were clear of ice and snow, but it was pouring rain, dark and a bit foggy when we headed out to drop Denver off for the camp. By then we had our studs on as I'd made a dash to Tire Town for my changeover (more essential as the tires were at the end of their life and almost bald). 

Saturday it was a daytime run up to Niko, but it was still an hour drive from our place up to the village. The rain had stopped after pouring all night and amazingly there was still snow alongside the roads. Douglas and I decided to explore the town a little as we normally never have the time to do so or else the weather is horrible when we are there. Here is my picture journal of the main drag into Niko--past the school, Russian Orthodox Church, cemetery and water towers.

Nikolaevsk School, educating K-12 with a mix of Old Believers and others attending it
I have to laugh when I see playgrounds in Alaska: they all have sledding hills built into them.

I've never seen quite such a run-down post office before. It doubles as a local store.

This is the Russian Orthodox Church in Nikolaevsk.

A cemetery just up the road from the Orthodox Church

The water towers that supply water for the village, with the 4-wheeling (snowmachine in the winter) trail heading up the hill to the right

The main road through Niko is paved. We shook our heads that the school has an electronic readerboard (way out here!). When we walked by the Russian Orthodox Church I was surprised. I thought the Russians here were Old Believers like in Voznesenka, Razdolna and Kachemak Selo. We didn't see an Old Believer church but I am guessing there was one in another part of town.

We saw a sign painted on a rock, pointing down a road in the village to "RV, gifts" which we didn't check out but I want to sometime. An RV park in Niko?! Not something I would expect. There is also one restaurant in town with ethnic Russian food, open sporadically I hear but very good.

Further up the road, past the cemetery, we past not one but two small sawmills, which also surprised me as there are not a lot of large trees around to cut up.

When we reached the water towers (which explained the fire hydrants) I spied a trail heading off to the right. We'd heard there is a good 4-wheeling trail that can be taken to Homer and the Caribou Hills, and that was in the back of my mind when we went for a walk. I was hoping we would find it--and that was indeed it. There was signage for snowmachining in the winter as well. I think we'll be back! As we climbed that hill we got a good view of the village, and beyond that Cook Inlet. The mountains of the Alaska Range were obscured by clouds but I've been out there on clear days and know how beautiful it can be.

So it ended up being a nice few hours checking out Niko, and the kids had a good time at the basketball camp run by a college recruiter from the Lower 48. It is a long drive out there, though, so not someplace I'm going to be heading out to often!

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