Hey guys… I live in Alaska. Crazy, right? I’ve already been here for 4 days, but it’s still sinking in. I mean, I LIVE in Alaska.
The best realization I’ve had while being here was when the following photo popped up in my newsfeed:
I realized, first, that I hadn’t even known it was “only” Tuesday. And second, half of my life has been waisted waiting for the weekend, and now I love and live fully within every day of the week. I thought to myself, this is what it must feel like to love what you’re doing and where you are and who you’re surrounded by. I suddenly felt bad for the Sammie of the past two years who sat at her desk thinking, “How in GOD’S NAME is it only [insert every day of the week]?!”
Beyond my heart’s content ramblings, maybe you’re wondering what my life in Alaska is like and why it’s so amazing, so here is a compilation of thoughts, happenings, and observations over the last four days:
So, I live about a quarter mile down the road from the main camping area where I’ll be working and where guests stay. We call the area I live “Camp Camp” for some reason. (Dad: because I knew you’d want me to ask… I asked a few people who have worked here for more than a season, and they didn’t know why either. I’ll work on getting to the bottom of it.) Camp Camp consists of a bunch canvas tents that are big enough to fit two twin beds in them and not much else. After the two hour drive from Anchorage to camp, and after being welcomed at the main camp, I was dropped off at Camp Camp to settle in. I followed the map my boss had given me to a tent with baby doll in a bunny suit nailed upside down above the door. “Well, that can’t be a good sign…” I thought. I opened the door to my shack of a tent and found a bed frame that was obviosuly fashioned out of some extra plywood and whatever other wood happened to be lying around. My matress was not a mattress at all, but instead a large piece of foam. The floor, which was also plywood, was littered with dirt and twigs and pine needles.
FYI, the employee tents don’t have electricity, which means no charging stations and no heat. Which leads me to my next point…
Holy effing crap, it gets cold at night. It was beautiful the first day I arrived in Alaska, absolutely beautiful. I was comfortable in a tshirt and jeans! But once that sun started setting, the chill started creeping into the screen windows and canvas walls of my unheated tent. I went to bed with yoga pants, a tshirt and socks on, and woke up so cold that I ended up sleeping with my face in the sleeping bag. I think I might invest in a ski mask to sleep in…
The absolute worst thing about sleeping without heat isn’t the sleeping. I added multiple wool layers the next night and slept fine. It’s the waking up! Getting out of my warm sleeping bad while it’s still 35-45 degrees takes a lot of self-motivation and, frankly, courage. I’ve started adding 15 minutes to my morning routine in order to accomodate the time it takes to convince myself to get out of bed. Also, I’ve discovered putting on cold clothes is terrible. More specifically, putting on a cold bra. I’ve adopted an age-old camping technique and have started sleeping with my clothes for the next day in my sleeping bag. It works like a charm!
Today the sun will set at 10:55 pm. And it keeps getting later and later each day. And once the summer solstice hits in June, a day in which Alaska gets 22 hours of functional daylight, the sun doesn’t even fully set! It gets kind of dusk-like, and that’s about as dark as it gets! It throws most people off, especially those who like going to bed at 8pm, but I actually LOVE it. I feel like I get more bang for my buck each day. If we finish dinner around 7 or 7:30 there’s still enough time to go on a five mile hike, or to go read by the river, or to bike down to the little shop a few miles away that has ice cream, or to have softball practice for a few hours. Sure, I’m not sleeping as much as I probably would/should be. In fact most nights I have looked at my watch and said, “SHIT! When did it become midnight? I have to wake up in 6 hours!” But I’m doing so much each day, it’s worth it!
A few of my favorite moments in Alaska so far:
Being reunited with Grace and Elias who guided parts of my family’s trip in Alaska last year and who helped me get this job!
Sitting by the campfire after dinner and into the wee hours of the morning, drinking and making new friends.
Hiking near camp with my co-workers/new friends. Hiking though the woods for two hours and then having the path suddenly open up to this:
Discovering that my company has a softball team that plays other businessed around the area (which is great since I brought my softball mitt to Alaska with me on a whim…), and practicing with the team as the sunset. And then driving to this overlook and having a beer while the sun set.
It hasn’t even been a week and I’m in love. They warned me this would happen, that I would be sucked in. But I guess I already knew that since I decided to come back after being here for 10 days last year (inwhich it rained the entire time).
I have Tuesday and Wednesday off each week and I can’t wait to start going on adventures! I’m hoping to get in a lot of hikes, camping, maybe a few fishing trips, and hopefully even dog sledding!
It’s all just begun…