McCarthy home

After an almost 10 hour pilgrimage from Anchorage, my boss (Wayne, who was driving the van) turned to me and asked, "do you recognize those peaks?" I smiled my biggest smile and he said, "welcome home!" As I mentioned previously, I get to manage a souvenir shop in Kennecott, Alaska this summer. The owners are super-great and I'm really excited to get to know them better this summer, as well as their other employees. They also own a couple guiding companies (rafting, hiking, ice climbing, history tours, etc) and I rode in with about a dozen of their new guides. Here are highlights from the road trip...

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I got in to town around 11pm and my sister-in-law Maggie (nicknamed "Yaggie") was waiting for me with dinner. After a series of loading and unloading all my gear for the summer, we were finally together in her cabin (my museum cabin last year) by 1:30am finishing the meal and climbing into bed. The following are all the groceries I brought for the summer, except for frozen meats!

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I've been spending some of my time planning out the layout for the store and I'm posting here, "before panoramic"...

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Yaggie and I have a great time hanging together... Lots of laughs, bike riding, chilling at the museum, playing cards, exploring, and making new friends. Austin left Colorado yesterday at noon to fly up here and I believe made it into Canada today. Hopefully, he'll get in sometime tomorrow. Until then, I'm sharing Yaggie's cabin. The only other news is that our outhouse is out-of-order (isn't that ironic?!). Hopefully it'll get fixed next week. Til then, kind friends have let us use theirs--we also don't mind just using the woods. ;)

McCarthy after 46 flights in 5 months

As of Saturday, I will have flown on 46 commercial flights since January. Whew! That is one personal record I hope never to break. Denver, Seattle, Dallas, Nashville, Anchorage, Ketchikan, Wrangell, Portland, Kotzebue, Ambler, Kobuk, Shungnak, and Noatak. I have loved my traveling speech-language pathology job but I'm looking forward to spending a while in one spot... McCarthy, Alaska. Once there I'll rarely travel over 30 mph, stay within a 10 mile radius, and enjoy the "simple" life--the kind without electricity, running water, or perhaps even a reliable means of transportation. I will have an outhouse, a heat source, a handy handsome husband, and my trusty hound. I think that before I experienced three-and-a-half months of "bush"living, I would not have believed going without "necessities" could be relaxing. However, I've found that life really is much more simple there. A smaller house means less time cleaning. A shower only 1-2 times weekly saves almost four hours if the whole process usually takes 45 minutes daily. Limited internet and no data means no movie nights and little time on Facebook. No King Soopers means one large grocery run before the season and supplementing your stash only occasionally at our general store.

What will I do with all that time? Walk. Read books aloud with Austin. Talk with people. Draw. Trivia night. Hike. Yoga. Softball night. Dinner with friends. Camp. Nap in my hammock. Take pictures of nature. Ahhhhhhhhhhh!

This is the cabin where we'll live this season. Isn't it sweet?!

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This is the store I will manage. Isn't it great?!

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I will work 5 miles uphill from McCarthy in Kennecott Trading Company. Lately, I've been working on purchasing merchandise for the store and I'm eager to see it all come together! We will open Saturday, June 14th. Here's to another round of adventures!

News from on top of the world

ImageAfter commuting to work yesterday by plane, I rode from the airstrip to the school in a giant sled pulled by a snow machine (and I mean a GIANT sled--there were three adults with all our baggage in there)! I completed my first day of speech-language therapy in Ambler, Alaska. It's a sweet little town where "everybody knows your name," and perhaps a bit more than just that. As I walked around a bit of the village, people greeted others by name and knew that I didn't live here just because they didn't know me.

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The kids were fun to work with--lots of smiles. My favorite moments during school yesterday were (1) When a girl was describing a picture to me and said, "the boy is about to 'kutuk'." After asking her, "what is 'kutuk?", she looked at me as if I were crazy and gestured "fall down" and her facial expression said, "duh." (2) The posters around the school are different than those I remember seeing as a student (you know the type, "there's no 'i' in team"). One reads "if we don't lead the way, who will?" and another, "respect our elders." (3) During my first treatment, a student interrupted me and said "would you like to buy a birch bark woven basket?" to which I replied, "that sounds nice. I don't have a lot of room in my bag, though. Do you make them?" She explained that her mother makes the baskets. At the end of the school day, I had a call on line 1. I answered and the girl's mother had called to see if I wanted a basket.

image When I checked in at DIA, I checked one bag with almost everything I was taking: food, clothes, toiletries, sleeping bag, sleeping pad, groceries, etc. That bag didn't make my last flight from Anchorage to Kotzebue because the plane was overweight so they left mine and 40 other bags behind. After a series of events, it is now Tuesday morning and I still haven't seen my bag. They apparently flew it to Kotz but forgot to unload it. So when it arrived in Nome, Alaska (the next stop) they send it back to Anchorage as no one was there to claim it. It's supposed to return to Kotz this morning where it will be sent to the village where I will be later today! All that to say, I've been wearing the same clothes and without toiletries since 2 a.m. Sunday. But, last night the special ed director in Kotz flew me a bag full of food, toiletries, and clothes--I'm so thankful we're the same size! Of the treasures in the bag are packets of instant Starbucks coffee (Hallelujah!) and approximately six Snickers bars! Well, off to get caffeinated…

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First stop, Ketchikan!

Just like tourists on an Alaskan cruise, my first stop this winter is Alaska's southeastern-most town, Ketchikan. Known for salmon canneries and tourism, this coastal village boasts over 8,000 residents. And I'm heading there now! Austin's friend wanted experience landing at Denver International Airport in his 180, so he and Austin flew me to the airport this afternoon--I felt like a VIP arriving in such style! :) My flight to Seattle went smoothly and I'm writing from Seattle, Washington where I'm waiting to board my last flight to Ketchikan. Once I arrive to their tiny airport, I'll locate the rental car and drive it onto...the ferry! The airport is on an island; too bad I'll fly in after dark! I'll locate the vacation rental* where I'll be staying, go straight to bed and arrive at school at 7am sharp!

When I accepted the job, I was told that I would mostly be sent to rural school districts that don't have hotels. However, this assignment is different because this district has an SLP who is currently on medical leave. Another SLP and I will be splitting this month and next in coverage of her caseload at two schools. Thus, my living situation is different--my coordinator set us up with a vacation rental for the entire two months (same price as a hotel stay would be in the winter)! The house is situated atop a 165 ft bluff overlooking the ocean. It has a deck that faces the bay and is only minutes from the historic downtown!

Ketchikan has a movie theater, hiking trails, a cute downtown with coffee shops, and is usually rainy with temperatures ranging from 35-45 degrees in January. Ahhhh!