Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Flat Stanley back from Alaska

If you read the previous blog regarding Jaynee’s Flat Stanley project, then I’m sure you have been anxiously awaiting the results.

I am happy to say Flat Stanley is safe and sound with Medford second grade, and he most certainly took a grand adventure, thanks to my friend and former classmate, Tony Azbill, who lives in Alaska.

I put together a letter Tony wrote with pictures he sent and will take it to the class to help Jaynee present it, but I promised to share on the blog as soon as everything was in order.

The beginning is a letter Tony included with Flat Stanley on his return flight from Alaska, and then I went into the photos and their descriptions.

Again, thanks Tony, for taking so much time on this and making Jaynee the happiest second-grader on earth!

Here is the letter:

Dear Jaynee,

I am writing you this letter in response to the letter that you sent me along with Flat Stanley. I will answer your questions the best I can.

I think living in Alaska is fun, exciting, and beautiful. Most people live here in Alaska because they like to hunt, fish and be outdoors. Late spring, into summer and early fall are my favorite times of the year. That is when our fishing season starts and ends.

We have five different types of salmon up here that people enjoy fishing for. They are the Chinook (King), Coho (Silver), Sockeye (Red), Pink (Humpies) and the Chum (Dog) salmon. My favorite one to fish for is the King salmon because they can reach up to 100 pounds in weight.

We also have polar bears, brown and black bears, moose and caribou any many other types of animals.

Alaska also has the biggest mountains in the United States, and the biggest one goes by two different names. The original name given by the Alaskan natives is Mount Denali, which means great one. The official name is Mount McKinley.

Before I talk about where I work, I just wanted to let you know that Flat Stanley got to come to work with me. I work at a place called Prudhoe Bay, which is the largest oil field in the United States and North America, and it is located by a very small town called Deadhorse, here in Alaska.

I work for Purcell Security Services. We provide security for the pipeline and the rigs that drill for oil and the various camps that people stay at while they are here.

I work 12 hours a day, seven days a week for two weeks with no days off, and then I have two weeks off that I get to spend at home.

I have to fly on an airplane in order for me to get to work. Once I am at work that is where I live for two weeks. We live in what we call camps, but they are more like living in a barracks. Some people have their own rooms, and some have to share a room with someone else.

Most camps have a big dining area for people to get their food. It reminds me of when I was school and how we would have to go through the lunch line to get our food. That is what we do here.

Our weather up here can be very beautiful to very harsh. During the winter time the temperatures can get down to -60 degrees Fahrenheit, and we can have wind chills down to -135 degrees Fahrenheit. The coldest wind chill I have ever experienced was -96 degrees.

In closing I want to thank you for writing me, and it was a lot of fun being part of Flat Stanley’s journey.

Tony Azbill

This is the presentation I (Korina) put together for Jaynee’s class, mostly as written by Tony through e-mails he sent along with many fabulous photos.

When you think of Alaska, how do you picture it? I picture it being cold and snowy and freezing, like these first couple pictures.

The first picture shows the temperature at -50 degrees Fahrenheit. That is the temperature it was last week when I went to work.

The second picture shows what much of Alaska looks like during
the winter time. I like how the snow
and ice are just hanging on the trees.

But Alaska isn’t cold and snowy and icy all year.

This picture was taken behind an apartment where I used to live. The river is the Knik River.

This photo was taken in 2006 at Bird Creek.
I like to fish in Bird Creek for silvers, pinks and chums,
which are types of fish I will show you.

Here is me holding a 33-pound female King (Chinook) Salmon in full spawning colors (red). Notice how long she is. She put up a good fight!

My brother, Don, and I caught two fish. Mine was a chrome bright female King Salmon. She had just come from the ocean and had not started to turn red. My brother caught a male in full spawning colors. Both fish weighed about 22 pounds each.

Here is me with some more salmon I caught in the Kenai River. What I like about this picture is it shows the blue color of the river.

The bears like the Kenai River, too! At right is a young brown bear looking for some food. Those people taking the picture across the river were way too close, and luckily, no one got hurt.

On another day, a young bear was feeding on salmon carcasses.
This same bear ended up charging a woman later that day
when she got too close to him while taking his picture.
We took our pictures from across the river.

Along with the bears and fish, you can see plenty of wildlife all year in Alaska.

I saw these two red foxes, a male and a female, at the checkpoint where I work. Almost all the foxes up here have rabies, and the red fox will kill and eat the Arctic Fox.

The Arctic Fox is
hard to see in the snow!

This is the biggest bull (male) caribou I have ever seen at work.
I wish I could have gotten closer when I took this picture.

This bald eagle was hanging out at Homer, Alaska.

Here are three fish we caught on the Kenai River. There are two brighter silver salmon on the left and a male pink (humpy) on the right. Only the male pinks get a hump on their backs.

This picture was taken of my brother and I at Montana Creek. I am holding three fish while my brother caught only one. The two salmon are silvers, and the green colored fish are called Burbot, which is a type of freshwater cod.


We also fished all day on the Talkeetna River. Here is my dad on the left with three Chum (Dog) Salmon. The next few fish in front of me are Silver (Coho) Salmon, and our good friend Chris is standing by more salmon in their spawning colors. Silver salmon are the brightest of all the salmon when they are caught in the ocean or when they first enter fresh water. They are chrome bright, just like shiny new silver.

Here is my dad, myself and my brother after spending a day on the ocean fishing for halibut. The biggest weighed 50 pounds and was caught by my brother. The others weighed between 25 and 35 pounds. Halibut can reach weights of more than 300 pounds!

Here are some pictures of some
drilling rigs used to drill for oil,
a big crane and a rig camp.

One camp is being moved with a big truck.

The camp makes the truck look small.

Here is a rig with the sun setting in the background.

And this one has a 60-foot tall crane.

I took this picture on the North Slope where I work at times.
Two walrus climbed up on the shore to catch a nap.

Here you can see the walrus’ tusks, which are
made of ivory and very valuable to many people who
like to hunt the walrus just to keep their ivory tusks.

This polar bear was resting after a long swim
in the Arctic Ocean. He was a big male.

Finally, I took this picture of Flat Stanley last week at the checkpoint where I work. As you can see it was negative 30 degrees that day, so I was quick with my camera so Flat Stanley would not get frost bite. A couple days later it was -40, and we had windchills around -70 to -80.

That concludes our show! :)


  1. Looks like Flat Stanley was thinking warm thoughts while wearing his Hawaian shirt.

  2. lol. that's kind of what jaynee said too. she thought it was funny he had on that shirt in the freezing cold.