I left Togiak right after school on Tuesday to head to the convention. I took about a 30 minute flight to Dillingham, an 1.5 hour flight to Anchorage, a 6 hour flight to Minneapolis, and finally another 1.5 hour flight to Kansas City. It was a lot of flying, but I was excited for a change of pace.
I spent Tuesday night in Anchorage with the Petersens. Brother Petersen is our branch clerk. They have got to be the nicest people. They picked me up from the airport, leant me a car so I could go shopping, helped me back my bins full of all the stuff I bought, made me dinner (at 10:30 pm), made me breakfast (at 5:30 am), and packed me a lunch. I kept trying to think of how I could repay them for all their kindness. Nothing seemed appropriate. Then I realized the best thing I could do is “pay it forward”. I could make sure that I treat others like Petersens treated me.
Wednesday night I checked into Hotel Phillips. The desk clerk welcomed me “home” when I checked in. From what I saw of Kansas City, I quite like it. It is clean and the people there are clean and very friendly. Not one person was rude to me the entire 3 days I was there. I don’t think I can say that of any other cities I’ve visited.
The conference went from Thursday at 8:00 am to Saturday at 12:00 pm. There was more to do and see than was possible, but I did as much as I could. I was exhausted by the end of each day. Some of the sessions I went to were about computerized molecular models, newton’s forces, stem cells, hand-on atomic models, origins of the elements, and dissection. Some of the highlights for me were dissecting a mammalian heart and a fetal pig, learning about how the elements were formed from small stars, large stars, super novas, and cosmic rays, and seeing Bill Nye the Science Guy. Saturday morning I was sitting at a table having a bite to eat when I could hear a speaker in the next room. I thought to myself, man that voice sounds really familiar. That voice sounds like Bill Nye’s voice. That speaker has humor like Bill Nye. That speaker is goofy like Bill Nye. I think that speaker is Bill Nye. I finally went to investigate, and sure enough it was Bill Nye. I tried to get a picture, but none of them turned out very well.
I left Kansas City Saturday around 12:30 pm and got back to Togiak around 1:00 pm on Sunday (today). This was actually 3 hours earlier than I was scheduled. Once again, the Petersens generously hosted me for the evening, leant me the car to go shopping, made me dinner (at 11:00 pm), and drove me to the post office (at 11:30 pm) to mail my bins. (The post office next to the airport is open until midnight, probably specifically for us bush people.) We got to watch a fox who was hanging out in the post office parking lot for quite awhile. That was the first fox I think I’ve ever seen. I also saw one this morning in Dillingham.
I did get the opportunity to go to part of sacrament meeting with the Dillingham branch today. That was a exciting. It’s not often that I get to see anyone when I go to church or to actually go to church. The members in that branch are extremely friendly.
Tim was also out of town for Friday and Saturday this week. He took his wrestlers to their first match in Dillingham. I’ll let him fill you in on the details.
Short Short entitled “Taxi Cab” (don’t feel like you have to read this)
I’m a little embarrassed to share this story, but I think it’s humorous, so I might as well let some other people enjoy my stupidity.
I realized when I reached Dillingham that I left my computer charger at the school. I figured I could go 5 days without a computer. I live in bush Alaska . . . I can rough it. Then, with more thought, I realized no computer meant no lessons prepared for next week, which meant extremely high stress levels Sunday night. So after some reconsideration, I decided when I got to Kansas City I would bite the bullet and buy a charger. I found out there was an Apple store about 4 or 5 miles from my hotel, so I was planning on taking a taxi to the store Thursday evening. After checking my wallet for cash I saw that I only had $5.03. I don’t know much about taxis, but I was certain $5.03 was not enough to get me to the Apple store and back. So I paid attention and noticed that some cabs advertised that they took credit cards. I made a note to myself to make sure I got one of those cabs. After standing on the sidewalk staring at the cab down the street wondering what the correct procedure was for “calling the cab”, I gave up and walked back inside the hotel. Luckily, the bellhop came to my rescue and called the cab for me.
I was a little worried about how awkward this taxi ride was going to be. Do you talk to the taxi driver? Do you sit in silence? Who knows? The taxi driver noticed me excessively staring out the window and stated, “You’re visiting Kansas City.” This started up quite the discussion. I told him where I was from and what I was doing. He told me where he was from and what he was doing. He had moved from Ethiopia about 18 years ago and had been working in aviation. He lost his job a year ago, got a job driving a taxi, and hates it.
When we arrived at the Apple store he asked me if I needed a ride back, told me to call him, and gave me a piece of paper with his number. I wasn’t sure if this was normal or not, but I didn’t want to attempt calling a taxi on my own, especially in an area where they weren’t already waiting alongside the street, so I gladly accepted the number. As I went to pay him with my credit card, he informed me that his machine was broken, so he’d need cash. My heart sunk. He didn’t take checks and I only had $5.03. I didn’t know what to do. He said, “it’s okay, you can pay me later. You’re a science teacher, I trust you.” Now I HAD to call him for a ride home: I owed him money.
Unfortunately, the apple store didn’t give cash back. Neither did Barnes and Noble . . . or Starbucks . . . or the Jean store . . . or any other store on the whole plaza. No problem: ATM + Debit Card = Cash. I have never used my debit card, or an ATM for that matter. Unfortunately, I have absolutely no idea what my pin number was and my bank was closed, so I couldn’t call and ask. I try all the “usual” pins: my pin numbers, Tim’s pin numbers; nothing works. In fact, I tried so many pin numbers, that the machine kept my card and give me a receipt that said “Your bank has requested that we retain your card.” What?! I’m stuck in the middle of downtown Kansas City, I owe a random cab driver $15, I have no cash, I can’t get a hold of Tim, and I have no idea what to do. Finally I call the cab driver. When he comes I explain to him that I don’t have any cash. He tells me “that’s okay, I can run your card manually.” I was so relieved, yet frustrated that this piece of information was withheld for so long. In the end, I made it home, the taxi driver got his money and a large tip, I resolved to get a new debit card with a pin I remember, and to never leave home without cash (more cash) again. On a positive note: I did get a friendly “hello” from a taxi driver named Zee on Friday and Saturday as I walked back to my hotel.