Friday, July 31, 2009

Glaciers Really Are Blue

The longer I stay in Alaska, the more I am struck by the beauty! It’s real Alaska in every direction, just like the calendar pictures everyone buys at Barnes and Noble. Today we took a road trip south of Anchorage all the way down to Whittier. Getting to Whittier is an interesting journey. This small town is considered ‘bush’ Alaska since historically you can only get to it by ferry or train. The train goes straight through the base of a mountain that is a couple miles deep! Nowadays you can drive on that train track at certain times of the day when the train is off making other runs. This town has one of the best defensive locations I’ve ever seen! It’s also one of the only ice-free ports around in the winter, so during WWII and the Cold War it was safe-guarded pretty intensively. It’s a peaceable town now with a limited tourism economy, but it boasts a unique history. I can personally say they make good fudge, and they probably have one of the best USCG Auxiliary buildings in the country ☺

We drove along the Turnagain Arm and could see the Kenai Peninsula across the water. Most spectacular were the glaciers! The sky was still slightly overcast which actually turned out to be a great thing: it made the glaciers a vibrant blue that is only barely described in pictures. There are campsites all along the passes . . . you can camp next to a glacier and listen to it creaking all night! It truly is a completely different (and awesome!) way of life up here.


Thursday, July 30, 2009

Eagle River

My first full official day in Alaska, and what an experience already! I could live in the Eagle River area and be perfectly content to remain there forever (if only all my friends and family would do the same….).

My cousin David and I went for a quick trip around Mt. Baldy in the Eagle River area. It was gorgeous! The fireweed is really pretty. These flowers bloom from the bottom and work their way up the stalk. So the legend goes, once the flowers are at the top and then bloomed out, the first snowfall will be about 6 weeks later. Apparently this is a fairly accurate measure!

My cousins, their dog, and I went hiking to the Eagle River Visitor’s Center Beaver Dams today, and it was incredible. The sky was slightly overcast and it misted most of the time we were out, but that only made it that much more mystical. People told me I wouldn’t like Anchorage and that the city was way too big, but it doesn’t take that long to get to ‘real’ Alaska! We trekked to the beaver dams; alas, no beavers. We did see bear scat on the way there, though luckily it wasn’t fresh. We had bear spray just in case though, which is only one new and foreign piece of a new way of living.

Also, we saw a ton of Devil's Club. I don't believe there is poison ivy in Alaska, but Devil's Club is just as bad in it's own way. Not only is it poisonous, but the merest touch will send you into intense pain! There are tiny, sharp thorns on every inch of the surface . . . I plan to stay away from the plant entirely.

We had fried and baked wild halibut for dinner. Why doesn’t everyone live in Alaska? Someday I want to catch one of those fish myself! Road trip to Valdez next summer anyone??

(sidenote: Down in the L48 everyone pronounces Valdez like Val-dehz . . . think Exxon Valdez. It seems like this is just one more example of how much the L48 doesn’t know about Alaska. Alaskans pronounce it Val-deez. Just a piece of free random information for those that find that sort of stuff interesting.)


Wednesday, July 29, 2009

I Moved to Alaska

Today was the big day. I moved to Alaska today, generally speaking. I’m in Eagle River now, spending a few days in the Anchorage area with my cousins. It was a very long day of traveling around the country. They just don’t make getting to Alaska easy! I learned quite a bit along the way

1. Sea-Tac Airport in Seattle is my least favorite thus far. Would it be so hard to label a terminal? Honestly, I have literally run across London-Heathrow with no wrong turns and yet I couldn’t seem to maneuver around the Seattle Airport. I made the executive decision to just follow all the other Alaska Air people, and they led me to the right place. Tricky tricky. Reminded me of the Vienna Trams….if everyone is getting off at a random stop, chances are you want to do the same. On the up side, they have really neat planes.

2. Leaving home isn’t easy when you like the people you are leaving. It’s hard to be emotionally stable during outrageous moves across the planet alone. Many times I thought to myself “I’m leaving a good life behind, and for what exactly? I’ve never actually met these people!” I know it will be a great year, but it’s hard to see that far ahead right now.

3. You should fly on the right side of the plane in a window seat on the way to Anchorage. It’s gorgeous!

4. It really is light outside in the summer at ridiculous times of the night.

5. Alaska is a very long way from Oklahoma.


Thursday, July 16, 2009

The Dawn is at Hand and Waiting

I leave for Alaska in less than 2 weeks, and it suddenly seems very surreal. This adventure has been planned for so long that it became one of those events that always remain in the future. Well, it is nearly the future and Alaska will wait only a few moments longer for me. I am excited about it, though I will miss my family and friends dearly. To be truthful, I think I’ll miss my dogs and cats the most (because you can’t explain to animals why you are essentially abandoning them, and you can’t really talk to them over skype). Like any other life change, this one is bittersweet. I am no longer a child and so must physically leave my childhood family, but I can see it is time for me to take on the world as an adult. With a little courage and faith, I am confident I will grow to love my new life in Alaska.

Of course, some childhood things will always remain. Case in point: Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince premiered this week in movie theatres, and my sister and I went to the midnight showing! I started middle school reading Harry Potter, and I spent the rest of my life going through school with Harry (in a sense). The midnight releases are always a fun time, and since the books are finished all we have left are a few movie premieres. The Harry Potter series is for my generation what Star Wars was for the last, and I fully intend to be an involved participant of the HP madness. My sister and I even made these crazy-awesome shirts for the premiere . . . and I will definitely wear it for years to come.

*Notice the lightning bolt earrings!*

*Getting ready for HP&HBP*

*On the way to the movie . . . 3 1/2 hours early!*

My life lately has been slow and restful for the most part, and I am enjoying it for what it is while it lasts. I am almost finished packing, and now I am busy planning first day/week of school and classroom management stuff. I think I’m more nervous about the first week of school than I am about actually living in bush Alaska. I just hope the tote with my work clothes in it arrives in Gambell before August 24th.

I promise my life will get much more exciting in the next two weeks. By early August, you can expect pictures, blogging, and the occasional video about my life in Alaska!

And in closing, a quote that comes to mind:

“Beginnings are scary, endings are usually sad, but it is the middle that counts the most. You need to remember that when you find yourself at a beginning. Just give hope a chance to float up . . . and it will, too.” (Hope Floats-1998)