Merrill couple?s summer job featured on Palin episode

Sarah Palin, former governor of Alaska and 2008 vice presidential candidate, is now showcasing the attractions of her home state through “Sarah Palin’s Alaska,” currently airing on The Learning Channel (TLC).
An episode which will air this Sunday, Jan. 9 at 8 p.m. features Cripple River Camp near Nome, the summer home of Merrill residents Marion and Lavern Yorde. Palin and her family came to the camp to try their luck at prospecting for gold, just like hundreds of other visitors do each summer.
Marion, who serves as kitchen boss of the camp, met Palin while the episode was being filmed this past summer and gave the celebrity a tour of the kitchen.
Palin also brought quite an entourage of film crew and bodyguards to the camp, Marion said.
The Yordes spend about 10 weeks every summer at the camp. During the six weeks that the camp is open, Marion and her staff cook for 150-250 people per meal, three times a day, seven days a week. Lavern, a retired heavy equipment operator, runs a trommel operation to get gold out of the ground and works away from camp most of the time.
The Yordes visited Cripple River Camp as participants first, and then accepted an offer to join the crew.
“We’ve met people from all over the United States up there,” Marion said. “They are our summer family.”
Lavern and Marion enjoy bringing their own children and grandchildren to join them in Alaska. Their son, daughter-in-law and grandson have joined them on the staff.
The camp is located on a remote 2,400 acres of the Alaska tundra. While the camp is rugged by design, Marion doesn’t miss the amenities of home with the possible exception of flush toilets.
“It’s something to see because it takes you back to years ago,” she said.
Alaska’s infamous 24 hours of daylight during the summer months takes a little getting used to, Marion noted. She doesn’t mind that there are no TVs to convey the rest of the world’s troubles.
“You really don’t know what’s happening, and that really relaxes you a lot,” she said.
The work isn’t easy, but Marion said she intends to keep her summer job for years to come.
“What better exercise can you get and have fun doing it?” she asks.

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