Alaska In North Dakota
Cold, the word used to describe the location of my first duty station, cold. As the propeller plane took off from Denver on a dreary day, light snow blowing in fluffy clouds, the contrast of bright white blinding my eyes. Minot North Dakota, why not Minot is what they called it, a frozen tundra that shared a border with Canada. Temperatures are known to dip 50 degrees below freezing and colder for most of the year, with engine heaters needed to keep cars and gas from becoming blocks of ice. This place was gonna be my first experience of life on my own, as an adult, and an airman, once again it was about to get interesting.
The flight was surreal, the clouds were not a cover for the snow, I couldn’t tell the difference and I was amazed as the plane made her descent, that a town and small runway was now in view. What I would come to learn is that a day like today was typical, nothing to worry about, no weather restrictions. As I stepped down the stairs of the plane, the air instantly chilled my nasal passages and I shivered. Talley, my sponsor, greeted me inside the small airport. I noticed the light moustache on her pale skin, and the excessive chewing and popping of gum. At a glance I wasn’t sure she was black, yet the hair that rolled at the nape of her neck confirmed my assumptions. The cold is unkind to melanated skin, she looked much older than her mid thirty years.
I was taken for a meal of the local special, fried halibut and chips, amazed that military members could write a check anywhere, and saw bits of the town on the 30 mile ride to the base. Her chatter was constant and I engaged easily, thinking how laid back and cool she seemed. Next, she took me to set up my direct deposit and open an account at the base branch of Wells Fargo. After giving me a brief lecture on bad financial practices, she took me to the base exchange to get any needed supplies because it was a Friday and I wasn’t scheduled to begin work for another week. With the weekend approaching and me not having a car or any friends, this was her way of extending her kindness. I was shown the highlights of any base and told which chow hall had the best food, which is always the hospital, and taken to the dorm to get settled. I was told that I did have a roommate but she was on a TDY (temporary duty) and wouldn’t return for three months. Since I did not have the needed cold weather gear, I was advised to stay in until Monday and relax.
With the chow hall in sight of my dorm, having snacks, a few books and cable tv in the room already, I was good to go. After cleaning the room and scouring the shared bathroom suite which I would soon learn remained in a state of filth that I would never become accustomed, I found the laundry, washed my sheets, made the bed and settled down to watch the forecasted snow begin to fall from the big window that faced me. The beauty of falling snow placed me in a state of tranquility. I proudly identify as an island girl, worshiper of the ocean, so this marvel was new to me and I loved it. As I relaxed, I started to think back to the shit I seemed to have gotten myself into and wasn’t sure I would be able to fix it…………
Much love from the brown girl, sharing stories of life for Blogtober. Please keep writing, I promise you, someone is always reading! Enjoy
Airman Rhodes~The Unnerved Traveler