June was a whirlwind

I feel like a city girl! Today was my first day for which I had made almost no plans. After sleeping in and lazing about for two hours, Eddie and I walked to town. This took just a I little over an hour with pauses to pick flowers (me) and chase butterflies into the woods (The Ed). We came to the swimming hole where Eddie got to swim a bit. Once in town, I had a ball--(1) took a shower, (2) ate at The Potato, the one restaurant open in McCarthy from breakfast til 5 pm, a burrito stuffed with curly fries, sour cream, scrambled egg, and salsa, (3) downed a latte, (4) had the best massage of my life, (5) now am updating my blog by creating a hotspot from using my phone's 4G . This evening we will go to the saloon (the only place open after 5pm) where we'll enjoy listening to Jergen Ogrodnik play classical guitar. What a day! It's like I'm not living in the middle of nowhere!


In the days since I last posted, I have had many adventures--most of which included Maggie Robel. She took full advantage of her six weeks here... Ice climbing, rafting, jumping into a glacial pool, exploring glacier caves, staying up to see the sun set and rise in the same morning singing at open mic night, etc. What an adventuress! I miss her dearly as she left on Saturday. She did, however, get to experience McCarthy's Fourth of July celebration which is unlike any other. Boasting a slowest bicycle race, pie eating contest (in which you eat one pie with two others), paper airplane throw, egg toss, softball, bands, and a parade that circles the town twice and is just as fun for adults as it is for kiddos, the McCarthy Fourth is one that will captivate you and make you think, "I'll never spend Independence Day anywhere else." It was sunny with a high of 80--you couldn't ask for better!

Fourth of July is the biggest business day, in combo with those immediately preceding and following, of the entire summer. My store did very well which has left the space feeling a bit empty--but our pockets full. I've placed many orders for more merchandise and I eagerly await what might arrive on each mail day. I have loved all aspects of managing the store--deciding what and how much to put on the shelves, observing what folks pick up and eventually purchase, serving espresso while chatting with folks from Hungary/Swittzerland/Isreal/some-other-country-I-think-I might've-heard-mentioned-once (in the instances when they ask, "you know where it is?" and I want to answer "not really," I instead say "sure!" since I think I could guess the continent correctly and I'd hate to admit I know nothing about their homeland when they've visited the least traveled state of mine). The best sellers have been the small things--items easily stowed in a suitcase--locally made jewelry, soaps, books, as well as drinks (lattes, breves, americanos, espressos, hot chocolates, cappuccinos, steamers, London fogs, etc.)

My propane-powered espresso cart, Brew with a View, is probably unlike any other coffee stand anywhere. It is located on the front porch of Kennecott Trading Company which is five miles uphill on a loosely maintained dirt road from McCarthy which is accessible to the outside world via a footbridge which originates at a parking lot which is the end of an even more loosely maintained 60-mile dirt road which begins at Chitina which is about a six hour drive from Anchorage. Since we are a bit remote, the owners of the business (who also own the large guiding company around) have me make a list of items I need from Anchorage when they make their twice-monthly grocery/supply run. I'm learning to gauge how much milk, half and half, coffee beans, candy, snacks, and other impulse items I think I might sell in a two-and-a-half week period.

Aside from Austin (and the other pilots) who's view is constantly changing, I have the best "office" in the valley. An unobstructed 180 degree view of the Root Glacier, Donoho Peak, and Mount Blackburn (a 16,000 footer) all the way down the valley to the Chugach Range. I can watch weather rolling in or out and monitor Fourth of July Pass where the pilots go in and out taking people in and out of town. Spare five minutes in my shop find me staring into the beautify that surrounds me. I just love it here.

Next stop, Alaska's Largest Arctic Village

Ketchikan, Alaska was my speech-language job assignment for the months of January and February.  The second time around was much easier as I was already familiar with the kids, their objectives, the schedule, the town, etc.  Within the one month that I was absent, they'd gained an hour of sunlight on each end of the day!  No more leaving and returning from school in the dark.  It looks as though I will be returning to Ketchikan a few more times this semester, but my next stop is... Chukchi Sea VIllage of Kotzebue

KOTZEBUE, a native village (pop.3,600, approximately 70% native) located 33 miles of the Arctic Circle on Alaska's western coast.  Today, the sunrise is recorded for 9:18am and sunset will occur at 6:45pm; they are currently gaining 7 minutes of light each day.  Fast-forward to June 4th and the sun remains up until... July 9th!  The average high temperature for today, February 25, is 6 degrees while the low is 7 below.  Tourism, so says the internet, is limited as this is a working town.  However, native art made from mammoth and walrus ivory as well as furs and beadwork are of high quality and are 1/2 to 1/3 the price of that which is found in Anchorage.  "Cash is king" in Kotzebue and credit cards are often not accepted.  I stumbled upon a website's list of reasons to live in the arctic (http://kotzpdweb.tripod.com/reason.html) that I think is worth sharing: 

  • Thunder (and Lightning) storms are rare.
  • 70 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit are considered HOT days.
  • 24 hour sun for 20 days in June, 24 hour Dark for 20 days in December, equal 12hr sun/dark at March and September Equinoxes. Always changing!
  • The Sun is in a different position at any given time of the day. In other words, that morning commute 'sun in your eyes' will only be for about a week.
  • Aurora Borealis -the Northern Lights- always inspiring and viewable 6-9 months of the year!
  • No fleas, no cockroaches, no ticks, few spiders (unless you bring 'em with you).
  • Little chance of sunburn, sunstroke or skin cancer.
  • Less light pollution for viewing the stars and planets.
  • Less crowding, less traffic. You can usually walk where you need to go.
  • Cold air is heavier, so aircraft fly better in the cold (to a certain degree).
  • With Global Warming, the climate is only improving!

I'm not quite convinced--I love good ol' Colorado sun--but I'll try it for a week!  I believe that during this assignment I'll be staying in the school.  I've been told that when youth travel to towns such as this for school sports events, they spend the night in the school buildings as lodging is limited.  Also, the focus of my job will shift from treatments (my primary responsibility in Ketchikan) to assessments.  I'm excited about this--I love conducting evaluations.  Well, now you know everything I do about my next assignment.   Here's to my next adventure!

OF NOTE:  Austin's sister, Maggie, just confirmed that she will be McCarthy's museum coordinator for the first half of the '14 tourist season!  Yes, that's the job I had last summer--more later about my plans for this summer.  It's gonna be great to have her as a neighbor.  Also my two brothers, Will and Jesse, are planning on fishing in Cordova, Alaska (1 hour flight south of us) in August, along with our buddies Ryan and Forrest!  Thus, my parents are planning on coming up for a visit!  How about you?  We'd love to have y'all!