Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The End.

Hi guys,

I leave Alaska tomorrow morning at 8a and head home, going through Chicago and landing at BWI at 10p.

I haven't been up to much lately which is why I didn't update last week. I've been working and hanging out with friends but not going to any new places or anything. I did see G.I. Joe, though, and it was ridiculous, especially the lines the boys had. Ugg.

I've been saying goodbye to people but I'm not really good with goodbyes. Not that I cry or anything, I just don't DO goodbyes. It doesn't ever feel like the last time I'll see someone, even if it is the last. So it's hard for me to make them feel sincere and meaningful. They usually just turn out awkwardly. Oh well.

Today/tonight I'm not sleeping. I'm going to stay up until I'm on the plane. I'm hanging out with Tuck and all my friends up here and wasting away the night. We're going to my favorite place (Knik, where we camped) and we'll hang out and skip stones (something I'm still perfecting...) and talk, etc. We're also going out to dinner and I'm baking everyone cookies so that will be an adventure as well.

Alaska has been amazing. I'm not looking forward to leaving, though I am looking forward to seeing everyone back home. I love it here, at least in the summer. I've learned here that I can make things happen--I can make whatever I want happen, the hardest part is just figuring out what I want. It's a valuable lesson to learn and I doubt I could have learned it in a better way.

Everyone asks me if I'll be back and I don't really know. The winters definitely intimidate me and I think I need to give Colorado a try first before I commit to Alaska. I did make a pro and con list, though, as I plan on doing for all places I consider living long-term. It is as follows:

-Its wild, unrefined beauty
-Perfect weather
-The feeling of possibility that permeates
-Fun wild animals
-Higher working wages
-20 hours of daylight in the summer
-Crisp, perfect winds
-Soft, cool, black sand
-Small earthquakes
-Even the weeds are beautiful
-Endless hiking and camping opportunities
-Being able to drive 30 minutes away and be in the middle of the wilderness
-Makes me not want to settle
-Everyone is unbelievably nice, but not annoyingly so
-Small town feel
-Big businesses feel accessible
-Berry picking
-There is a state fossil (wooly mammoth)
-Everyone has trucks and big dogs

-Scarcity of horses
-Scary animals
-High cost of living (rent, food, gas, etc.)
-Far away from family and friends
-No Chik-fil-a
-9 hours of daylight in the winter
-The need for snow tires, heated garages and automatic starters
-Rate of homelessness
-Makes me not want to settle down
-Skies are usually overcast and cloudy
-Have to fly to get anywhere –> expensive
-Ridiculous fishing restrictions

Thank you everyone for supporting me (even though none of you actually thought I would follow through on this) in my endeavour. Thank you Aunt Katy for coming up North with me to make sure I got settled here. Thank you Mom for coming to visit me and take me up to Denali National Forest. Thank you Dad and Heather for your contributions and encouragement to go visit new places. Thank you Granan and Grandad for helping me pay for the credit for my internship. And thank you to everyone else that contributed to my trip or even just read along about my adventures. I love you all and I wouldn't be who I am or do what I do without you.

I'll see you guys soon!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Small Update.

Just a little update because SOME people (KT) will bug me if I don't update each week.

There isn't much to say, but Sunday the Gold exhibit at the museum closed so Mark (my boss) asked me to work even though Sunday is my day off. It was really busy and I think we did well so I'm glad I could help and I'm happy we did so well. I worked Monday, too, and it felt weird not having the Gold shop upstairs to retreat to. After work I went hiking with a friend I met at the museum. We hiked up Mt. Baldy which is in nearby Eagle River. It was almost vertical the entire climb so we were wasted at the top and I was pretty grumpy. On the way back down, however, it was much nicer (even if it was scarier--loose dirt and gravel are not fun to walk down on a 35-degree grade!) and we even stopped to pick some blueberries for electrolytes. Mmm. I didn't even hurt much the next day.

Tuesday I had a day off and I hung out with friends. We went to lunch at the mall, miraculously found the only size 14 non-slip work shoes in town for Tuck, and then played computer games until dinner. For dinner we went to a hibatchi restaurant called Kobe--it was pretty delicious. The best teriyaki sauce I've had, but they didn't use it in the vegetables so it wasn't the best hibatchi ever, just pretty good.

Yesterday I was at the Red Cross and finished the rough draft of my book. Today I actually finished it and emailed it to my advisor for revisions. It took me way too long to get the little ends finished today because every problem possible happened. Oh well, it worked out in the end.

Tonight is a barbecue for Tuck's mother who is moving down to California. I don't know much about the barbecue but I hope there is space inside since it's raining and has been for a few days. This weekend I might be going to Troy's (Christa's brother and one of my friends) cabin. I don't quite know yet, though, so don't hold me to it.

Love and miss you all! I'll be home soon, don't worry.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Weeks 8 and 9

Yikes, sorry for the slow update but I haven't had much computer access in the capacity where I could make a good entry including photos.

Mom came and visited. She arrived Saturday, July 24 in the afternoon and hung out in town until I finished work at 6:15. She rented a car while visiting--a red PT Cruiser. After work we went back to the house because she was exhausted. The next day, Sunday, we went downtown to the Weekend Market and bought some gifts for people back home and had a delicious sourdough fruit waffle--so good. Afterwards we motored down the highway to the Wildlife Conservation Center. It was a lot of fun, even if the animals weren't in the wild. Then we went out to dinner with my friend Tuck at the Spenard Roadhouse which was SO delicious.

Moose at the Conservation Center.

Monday I had to work so mom hung out around the town and did errands. She picked me up from work and we went grocery shopping for our adventure the next day. We got trail mix and other goodies for the car and for snacking on the bus ride into the park. That night we cooked dinner--pomodora and spinach.

Tuesday we woke up bright and early and hurried to Talkeetna, a VERY cute down 2 hours north of Anchorage and 2 hours south of Denali. It was such an adorable little town. Touristy, yes, but in the cutest way possible. We got to our sled dog kennel tour just in time at 10am. They took us to the kennel and hitched the dogs up to a cart then divided us into three groups so we could all have a ride. It was a lot of fun. It's hard to describe the event because it's so awesome but I have pictures so you'll get the idea.

Dog cart ride!

After the ride they gave a little talk about the Iditarod (the kennel was an actual Iditarod musher's) and drove us back into town. Mom and I then sought out lunch, eventually finding it at the Talkeetna Roadhouse (odd how anything with "Roadhouse" after the name makes the food better...) in the form of TO DIE FOR berry pancakes. Oh my god--I want some right now. After eating we finished our drive to Denali and checked into our cabin at the Salmon Bake (or, "the Bake" for short), a restaurant that also has a couple of cabins in the back. The lodgings were indescribable--not bad or anything, but certainly different. It was like camping in a room instead of a tent. We had delicious salmon at the Bake and went to bed.

Our luxury accommodations at the Bake.

Wednesday we woke up early again and went to breakfast at the Bake. Then we headed into the park for our shuttle bus tour. It was an 8-hour roundtrip tour and it was amazing. I didn't really feel the need to see wildlife but everyone else on the bus did. I wanted to see the beautiful landscape. Basically, I want to build my dream house in the middle of that park. It's the perfect landscape for me: trees, mountains, and open plains for galloping on a horse. We did end up seeing wildlife: 4 bears (3 of which were a mother grizzly and her 2 cubs) and 3 dall sheep. We got back to the car around 6ish and went back to the Bake for dinner (again).

Thursday we got up early (again) and went back into the park to catch the sled dog tour. Denali uses a dog team to patrol the park during the winter. They don't race so the dogs are completely different builds--big and stocky while racing dogs are small and sleek. The dogs were pretty friendly and we got to pet them. They also did a demonstration. After the tour we got in the car and speedily drove home, having an appointment to make. One of Mom's coworkers is from Alaska and her brother-in-law here is a pilot. Mom and I called him after her coworker said he'd love to give us a ride in his plane. I don't know how I did it, but we met up with him and he flew us on a harrowing ride around the mountains that border Anchorage. Again, it's another experience I can't accurately begin to explain. I definitely kept seeing our deaths but everything was fine.

Inside, before take-off. Drew on the left, Mom on the right, me in the back.

Pretty, but scary!

Friday, Mom's last day in Alaska, I had to work. She came and visited me and saw my museum--I'm glad she got to see me in action. I can be pretty impressive when I work at the front desk and say my spiel. After work we went out to dinner at Leroy's, a diner similar to Jackie's but without the breakfast food spread. Then mom dropped me off at the house and went to fly back to Maryland. We had such a great time and I'm so glad she was able to come and share some of my Alaskan adventures with me. I will never forget it.

I went camping Saturday night and Sunday with my friends (it was awesome but this entry is too long to go into detail) and worked all week. Wednesday I started house-sitting for a coworker at the Museum (didn't I mention I was going to house-sit? No? Well I am). It's a little condo on the east side of town and it's pretty nice to have a place to myself. She has the weirdest cat, though. Oh well! I'll be house-sitting for 12 days (until Aug. 10) so stay tuned to see if there are any more stories.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Week 7

Another weekend (and week) update!

This past Saturday I went camping again--this time with a different group. A friend of mine from the museum, Thomas (who went camping with me last week), and a group of his friends came with me this time. Actually, I guess they took me since they drove and had all the gear, but I talked them into it. Anyway, we went to the Eagle River campground this weekend because the Eklutna Lake campground was full. We had a BLAST. It was really nice to be with Thomas's friends because they fit me really well too. In fact, I've sort of stolen them from Thomas as I've been hanging out with them almost every day so far this week but that will come later. We went for a walk along the water and they tried to throw me in (jokingly) and I resisted, sitting down hard on the ground and promptly ripping my jeans in the seat... It was a little embarrassing but definitely funny. I had to wear jeans with a hole on my butt cheek for the rest of the trip. We stayed up really late (4 am) talking, joking, and sharing embarrassing stories and even went on a little night hike. When we woke up in the morning we packed up and ate breakfast at a little diner-ish place called Jackie's.

Later that day we all got together again and had a cook-out. I brought frozen burgers and tater tots and we cut avocado and onions for the burgers. They were so good! My friend Tuck made them and he is trying to become a chef. We played pool and Apples to Apples and I went home late and tired. Oh well, it was worth it. Monday night we played Risk and watched 28 Days Later, much to my chagrin. It was sort of a good-natured hazing type thing because I mentioned while camping that I am really afraid of zombies so when I was the first one to be whiped out in Risk, I had to watch the zombie movie. It wasn't as bad as I thought, but it still made me jumpier than usual.

Today at the Red Cross I worked on the Penny Campaign, a fundraising effort we do in scho0ols that has students donate their spare lunch money. I worked on composing a list of donors who might donate prizes for the students who raise the most money. Then I wrote and mailed off letters to each of the donors. 99 donors makes for a lot of letters. I also have finished writing the text portion of my internship history book project. Tonight we are all going to see Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince and I couldn't be more excited. We'll probably get there early with everyone else in Anchorage and sit around talking, waiting to be let in to the theater and pick out seats together. We might get something to eat beforehand, too.

Saturday afternoon my Mom comes to Anchorage! We have our trip all planned out and next week I'll have pictures and stories galore for you. We will be going to the Saturday Market in town here and on Tuesday we will leave for Denali, hitting Sun Dog Kennels in Talkeetna on the way up for a Iditarod kennel tour and cart ride. Wednesday we will go into the park on a shuttle, probably hiking around for most of the day. Thursday we will come back to Anchorage, probably doing something else in Denali earlier in the day. I work Friday and Mom leaves Friday night so, while it's a short visit, I am really excited to see her and go on our trip together.

I'll be sure to take lots of pictures and have an exciting post next week so stay tuned!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Week 6

Hey guys! I'm reporting on my weekend.

Fourth of July turned out to be more fun than I thought it'd be. I had a couple of friends from work over to my house. I made a blueberry muffin loaf (used a meatloaf pan instead of a muffin pan) which was delicious and then we grilled burgers, wrapped them up in tortillas with Mexican cheese and salsa and made a Mexican burger (I didn't have American cheese or hamburger buns...). So, even though the food was supposed to be all-American, it turned out to be more representative of America's diversity? I don't know, but it tasted good!

Then we went to the Anchorage Bucs vs. Glacier Pilates double-header game where the fireworks were going to be lit off at midnight. The baseball games were sort of slow but it was nice to be out doing something and there was ice cream so that made it better. The fireworks were great and we had terrific seats by third base (fireworks launched from behind second-ish).

Sunday I did some errands (grocery shopping) and laundry and hung around the house. Sunday night, some friends from work and I went camping! I didn't have work, but they did and they came over at 7, I packed up and we drove up to Eklutna Lake and set up camp. On our way there, we saw a black bear cross the road which, of course, made me a little nervous because it meant there were bears near where I'd be sleeping almost defenseless. We managed to survive unscathed, though. The tent we had wasn't large enough so we spread a tarp over the tent and the nearby picnic table and slept in the space inbetween the two. Before going to bed we took a walk down to the lake--it was beautiful, blue-grey glacier melt. Though it took a little while to actually get to sleep (hampered both by the never-ending sunlight and our propensity to talk), I was pretty well-rested the next morning. I had to work the next morning so I'm glad I got enough sleep. We've decided to keep doing this every Saturday night (most people either have off or work later Sunday) for the rest of the summer so I'm pretty excited. It'll be a nice addition to my summer.

That's it for now! Next week I'll have more information about my plans for when Mom visits.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Short Update: Week 5.5 (or so)

Saturday (June 29) I went to the movies with Michelle again. This time we went to Bear's Tooth, the dinner theatre and saw Xmen Origins: Wolverine. Mostly we saw that movie because it was the only one showing at the time we could go. Ok, that was the whole reason. But it was a pretty good movie and we had a lot of fun. Great burrito.

Also, I've been trying to bike ride more. I need more exercise and I do have a bike so when I have the time before work I bike down the Coastal Trail. About 5 miles or so--it's a pretty good ride. It's really beautiful and on the way back you can see Anchorage stretched along the coast.

Mostly I've been working again this week. My mom is coming to visit me later this month (YAY!) so I did a little planning for that today. I'm really excited for it. We're going to go to Denali National Park which is one of the last things to do on my list (the other thing is fishing).

I'm not doing too much tomorrow (4th of July) since I have to work, the buses aren't running, and everyone is out of town. I'm making blueberry muffins and hamburgers (All-American food, right?) and attempting to find somewhere to watch the fireworks. Except I don't know where they're going off. Or when. Oh well, I'll try.

That's it for today! I'll let you guys know what I ended up doing for the Fourth when I write next.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009


I actually did some stuff recently and I have the day off so I thought I'd update rather than waiting until next week (next Wed, actually) to write a new entry. Plus, I'd probably forget about what I did today and yesterday if I waited that long.

First off, Michelle, the girl I know from college who is oddly and coincidentally also up here for the summer, invited me to the movies with her housemates last night. We saw Up and it was really good, definitely a move into adult-oriented animated movies. I had a lot of fun, even if it was sort of expensive ($24 for the movie, 3D glasses and cab fare!).

Today I had the day off and I started it off by walking on the treadmill while watching the Sex and the City movie. I walked for 30 minutes of it and then just watched. Yesterday one of the girls at the ARC dropped my camera and it stopped working, giving me an error message, so I went on the Internet today to see what the error meant and how to fix it, etc. I found a site detailing the steps to fix it, got the tiny, tiny screwdriver and fixed my camera! I rock. Also, I painted the downstairs unit bathroom for Rob (the contractor). He gave me ice cream and money but I had fun so all that was just extra! I like to paint.

Just thought I'd share! Love you guys and miss you even more!