We've been home for three months now--almost as long as we were in Alaska. After living in a place where one rarely rode in a car traveling more than 20 mph, reentering the lower 48 was more strange than we anticipated: fast cars, countless decisions to make in the grocery, and no waiting for a pilot to bring you strawberries you've been craving for weeks--they're at the store, less than a two-minute drive away. We've moved beyond the culture shock and are enjoying life in Greeley. Austin resumed his work with the roust-about company and I am working PRN (as needed) for the long-term care/subacute rehab center (where I worked prior to leaving for AK) and for the local hospital. Just prior to leaving Alaska, I got an email from one of my graduate school professors telling me of a possible job opportunity traveling in Alaska. Another of her former students travels to Alaska each month to conduct assessments across the state, mostly in rural school districts, and was looking for temporary replacements while she was on maternity leave. Fast-forward a couple of months, and here I am planning on leaving for my first assignment to Alaska sometime in January. I'll fly to Anchorage or Juneau and then take a smaller plane to other various communities across the state. I'll take my little Thermarest and sleeping bag and sleep in the schools (no hotels in the smaller towns) and conduct speech-language assessments for out-of-the-way school districts that don't/can't hire a full-time SLP.
I'm looking forward to: Experiencing Alaska in the wintertime (without the full-season commitment), watching the northern lights, commuting to work in a small aircraft (perhaps with skis!), observing seasonal changes across each visit, seeing widely diverse locations across the state, working with the native populations, visiting friends in Alaska.
I'm curious about: How I'll react to short days and the cold, the interesting characters I'll meet, how Austin and I will fare with so much time apart, how I'll enjoy working with kiddos again, and... I don't really know what else to be curious about, really. This is all so new to me!
I'm nervous about: Nothing yet. It still feels pretty far-removed and I know I'll be well taken care of.
Austin and Eddie (our sweet puppy) will be without me for about a week each month--WARNING--during these weeks you may find Austin on your doorstep around dinner time!
Here's to more adventures up North!