Friday, December 18, 2009

Denver or Bust!


Sitting in Atlanta International Airport. Smells of fast food and floor cleaner flood my nostrils and a kid clips my elbow as he works on some resistance running skills against the leash his mother has committed him to. On the upside, gobs of military men and women are traveling too, most going home for the holidays. Felt really great to see so many getting the chance and made me think about all the others who aren’t able to connect this year.

We left Moab after two chilly days and made the final 7-hour push to Denver where Peace Corps alumni Tara and Lizzie were waiting with booze and food. The Moab Red Stone Inn had great winter rates and was conveniently located next to the Moab Micro-Brewery. Turns out, superstar Tara is running the Canyonlands half-marathon next year. Congrats and would love to make it out to see her run again.

Having never been to Colorado, I was constantly aware of the not-so-bland landscape. Rocky wasn’t “jaded” per-se but he was definitely amused with my frequent outbursts of wonder at the constant glory of nature. The drive included many passes and several ups and downs. It is the Rockies after-all. Gorgeous as it was, the stress factor was a little high. As I mentioned before, we’re driving a vintage Subaru. Until we hit the passes, she was great. We sang her praises all along the way and then knocked very loudly on any nearby wood. After Vail pass, where we’d been gunning it all the way and never really getting past 50 mph, we hit another incline and the little red bandit simply quit. Now, I’ve never owned a car. It’s a special point of pride having reached a quarter of a century…though that’s mostly due to the generosity of my parents and others. This was a great crash course in fluids, smells, noises, and feel. Perhaps this can be likened to puppy sitting before actually making the leap to that new spunky Labrador in a studio apartment.

After the DOT guy came and hollered a few things at us about fluid on the side of an 8-lane highway, he bumper-car-ed us off to a (thankfully) nearby service vehicle lot. Rocky quickly drew the conclusion he was tipsy, which I quickly seconded after he spit his chew out and left a sizeable amount in his teeth... the DOT guy, not Rocky. An angel of a tow-truck driver (I know, oxymoron) showed up out of thin air and towed us back down to Silverthorn, a good 2,000 feet lower. I went into a bookstore for a potty break and come out to Rocky zipping around the parking lot in the red bandit herself! Apparently, she just wasn’t acclimatizing well. Oh my, did I have a field day in my head with that one.

Our diesel-fueled angel then towed us back over the pass and down to the next town, in hopes it would be low enough to keep the car moving. We limped her the rest of the way to Lizzie’s, just outside of Denver and it was time for Margaritas! A great night out with Tara, Lizzie and Lizzie’s beaux were exactly what we needed. The next few days were spent recovering from that first night and just relaxing. It was my first time in both a Patagonia AND Prana store. Had to check my wallet at the door, no wonder those outdoorsy folk always look so put together! The best part was seeing my girls in the US, though I think it will always be a shocker to see volunteers I served with, outside of Benin.

Rocky dropped me off at the airport in Denver and we said our goodbyes for the next 4 months. Great road trip, great friends, and even better, great things to look forward to in the not-so-distant future.

Friday, December 11, 2009

the Wild Wild West

Currently in Moab. (12/10) Didn't really see myself getting to much of the country this winter but turns out the opportunity presented itself. Last week I flew to Washington State and started the drive out to Denver. What a great section of the country! The landscape is wildly different from the lush autumn of Ohio that I left. Endless skies, different color schemes, and significantly higher speed limits have all been pleasant surprises.

Speaking of speed limits, we're currently at the mercy of an '87 Subaru. I'm sold. It had some issues before we took off, obliging us to stay in Washington an extra day or two but for a car that's almost as old as I am, she's doing great. And mom and dad can rest easy knowing we couldn't max out in Idaho where 85 was slow.

Moab is a great town! Winter rates on everything and the snow gives a great contrast to the rust red sandstone that attracts fat tire enthusiasts and climbers. Rafting and touring companies abound and I'd love to get back in the fall when it's not too hot to really use the landscape. Arches National Park is here and we took a day to check out another one of Mother Nature's wonders. What an incredible sight to behold. Pieces of rock have simply fallen or melted away leaving gardens of rock formations and graceful forms framing the sky. Wish we had more time but we're on a bit of a time crunch to get to Denver where Peace Corps friends and famous margaritas await. Speaking of bevys, Moab microbrewery is recommended as much for the food as the booze. A hummus plate, beer cheese soup, black bean soup and house salads more than filled us up. On to Denver!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

on the road again!!

Finally, it's been a while fellow bloggers eh? It's been a wild couple of months. Just so we're clear, I am STILL occupying my sister's lovely twin bed on Casement Island in Paine Falls, Ohio...since September. Though time at home has been well punctuated with much needed excursions. Since my last whirlwind road-trip down south and back north, job hunting has become something of an obsession, not necessarily applying for everything I see but learning more about what's out there. It's been really interesting to see how helpful people have been when they hear I'm on the hunt. Even my flight instructor with whom I'd met only a few times hooked me up with some contacts. The more resumes I send out the more I learn about how to present myself. Apparently even time on a fishing boat has its merits and it's consistently surprising what employers will ask me about from my letter and resume.

Right before Thanksgiving, the Miller household had a visitor. Rocky the raft guide, whom I met in Alaska, came out from Washington to meet the family. Turkeys were brined, fires sat around, friends invited, and the Cleveland area explored. Great time was had by all and made me once again appreciate my friends and family as the most important thing I have.

Rocky is snowmobile guiding in Colorado this winter and needed a fellow road warrior to tame the pavement. I flew to Seattle two days ago and we're currently gearing up in the small SMALL town of Ephrata to make the drive. The landscape here is wildly different and beautiful. Big sky, sunshine, cut out rock canyons, and rolling hills make for some picturesque days, if a bit monochromatic. Currently freezing here and everyone who walks back in the house looks like they've been slapped in the face by mother nature a few times. Hitting the road Monday, we'll be taking the southern most route to hopefully avoid snow and bitter cold...though it's supposed to drop to 8, yes eight, degrees tonight. Going through Oregon and Utah while forgoing Montana and northern Idaho should be slightly kinder on our bodies and the car.

Friends await in Denver, the dynamic duo of Lizzie, Tara, and maybe another Tara are on standby for a night of reminiscing and introductions. Look out D-town, could get slightly out of control.

That's the post for now, feels good to have something to write about. As it stands, I'll be getting back on the fishing boat Jan 7th until April then back to the frontier land of Alaska to guide. That real world I keep hearing about manages yet again to elude me.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The last few weeks, an abridged version...but long

I did it, I hit New Orleans and am undoubtedly going back. What a layer cake of life! Rolled into the hostel in the afternoon, grabbed some beer and made plans to go out that night for music. They post the nightly shows to help poor out of town-ers wade through the overwhelming options. It was decided to go see the Cottonmouth Kings, a swingin' brass and strings band who even played the classics like "It don't mean a thing" The crowd was eclectic and I was in love with the city. Everyone talked to everyone and the walk home was hilarious, that kiwi just didn't want to go straight back to the street car. Between getting twirled around by a huge rugger and watching the group of local dancers take over the floor, I didn't know whether to feel wildly inadequate or super cool. Hehe, take that as you will.
After a few days in and around the city, I had seen a glass blowing workshop, most of the French quarter, lucky dog stands (yum!), the street cars, the river boats, a Mardi Gras exhibit at the museum on Jackson Square, Bourbon Street (never need to go back), some great music, University of New Orleans (peace corps fellowship!), and lots of rain.
It is HUMID down there! My stays in Voldasta and Pass Christian were amazing, but was really excited to have a/c in the car. Got caught in the rain more than once walking around the city. Don't know what came over me leaving without a rain jacket or umbrella, I just came from Alaska for pete's sake. Mmmm, nothing like steaming in your own skin when the sun comes out with a vengeance after a down pour. Bottom line, lots to fix in the city and lots to preserve. The Katrina fallout is still very prevalent and it's right on the tips of everyone's tongues. It was so interesting to hear personal takes on what we all just heard about on the news.

Leaving N.O. came a bit too soon but what came next was just as good. Met up with a Peace Corps friend for lunch while Nissan changed the oil in the new cruiser. Haven't had the car that long but in classic Miller family tradition, we're working on beating the hell out of anything remotely new we own. Lunch was great and the conversation amazing. It's a priceless friend who understands exactly what you mean when you say you need to "smell Africa" again. Late in the day and full of sushi, I began the drive north to Milwaukee.

A few naps in gas station parking lots got me to my destination about 20 hours later. Not bad for a solo trip AND running into a ripping storm right about St. Louis. We're talking NO ONE on the road but semi's, good thing my gas almost ran out and THANK GOD b.p. takes credit cards when no one is manning the pumps in BFE Illinois. OH, and never NEVER go to Cairo, Illinois...I'm assuming it's Illinois, things are kind of fuzzy at that point. The sign promising gas and coffee whipped me a good 10 miles off the interstate and into a town with no lights on except the "after hours club and prayer group" and one guy wandering down the street in the pouring rain. Cairo Egypt - good. Cairo Illinois - bad, very very bad.

Made it to Milwaukee and fellow boozer with new found borders, Annie, was waiting with food. Love that! It is a good friend who greets the weary road warrior with a meal. Quick shower and out the door for a few hours at her job. Essentially, she is a wrangler of small humans. Wow. Much akin to my feelings for geriatric care nurses is my opinion of people like Annie. So happy they are in the world to do those jobs I know I could not.

After romp-a-room, we headed back to put some groceries away and await the Alaska friends slated to arrive that afternoon. It's only been a month since I left the Kenai peninsula but it feels like so much longer. Lifestyle and well, everything else, is so much different up there. Wasn't quite sure how things would go with my "Alaska friends" out of context. Not to fear, we had a blast. Happened to be a birthday in the crowd so we hit the infamous "Corner Pub" and brought in the big 3-0 for Shaun the best way we knew how, dance party and booze :) Speaking of out of context, it dawned on me that I had never known Annie in the US either. She did it right and was out of commission for all of Saturday. It's like we never ended the trip!

The next week was spent exploring Milwaukee, seeing UWM, what it's grad program had to offer, and spending some down time, well, down. This was a much needed and eventful aside to life here at Miller's happy acres. We continue to live large in Paine Falls but felt good to be on the road again.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Livin' large in the big easy!

Oh man, I've been in N.O. an hour and am in love. This may change should I be mugged but for the time being, we LOVE it! The hostel is, in fact, commune-esque. Quite a stretch for the US of A. I haven't felt this sense of community very often in hostels so cheers to the India House! $20 for a bed, free wifi, parking, and a whole fridge for storing beer. Who needs more? Ok, let's back up.
After peeling out of the Valdosta RV park with a soaking wet rain fly but freshly showered, I headed the few miles south to Kaleidoscope gallery, my actual destination. I spent the afternoon there and left feeling like I represented my mom well and dead-headed to Pass Christian where another one of her friends was awaiting my arrival so I didn't have to drive and hour extra to New Orleans that night and back track. Once again, I win!!!! Joanne has a fabulous house full of art that I perused for hours. She was great about me rolling in late...I misread my directions and suddenly 35.5 miles turned into 355 miles...awesome. Also - Florida has some crazy rest areas. Pulled into one looking for a quick pit stop and area to devour a can of sardines and ended up driving a half mile into the woods to some spectacular bathroom complex. Creepy. Some guy in a hawaiian shirt was skulking about with a toy chihuahua...never a good sign.
Made it to Pass Christian and after the intros, promptly passed out. I awoke to fabulous sunshine, brewed chicory coffee and a few hours to myself. Joanne and I talked pottery and headed to grab a bite to eta on the gulf, right off scenic drive. Her stories about Katrina are amazing. The empty plots of land, some with concrete front steps still standing speak volumes to the devastation that hit the area. "You don't really understand the meaning of 'gone' until you see something like Katrina come through." There is no way I could wrap my head around the loss that occurred but seeing its effects years later is a window. We had a great lunch, can't really go wrong with parmesan broiled oysters...
The drive over was full of moss covered oak trees and cow patches. Oh the south. Beautiful in its own right and people say things like "I'm fixin' to do this".
I'm in NO for the next few days checking out a school and just seeing the city. Sounds like there are some good bands playing tonight so I'm sure I'll have something to say about it tomorrow. Funny people here! Among them, floridian girl who just traveled to...wisconsin and proudly sports the shirt; and a kiwi named kairen (a guy) who accompanied me to get beer. Should be an interesting couple of days.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Porn...or was that Corn???

Currently camping in a Valdosta RV park. Sitting outside with wi-fi and the lovely hum of the highway I can see from my front door. Nice. It's only for tonight and this means I don't have to drive to the Florida border now. Had a leisurely departure yesterday around noon, made extra smooth by our new car not starting. Sweet. Finally choked into life and I headed down to Louisville STOCKED with pots to deliver. Mom hooked it up with a friend to stay with and as chance would have it, BOTH her sons were in town so along with one's g/f we went out for some bevys. Not one to dress to the 9s, I had no problem sipping and dancing in my sweats...though I don't think that's how these guys roll, they humored me and I actually had a really great time. Nothing says "cool kid" like a dance party with complete strangers. Hit the road this morning with a starbucks and slight headache. 11 hours later, I am sitting here with a stomach full of canned herring and banana.
The south is funny. Along with the increasing frequency of porn stores, it's difficult to find a radio station that doesn't ask me to praise Jesus every 5 minutes. Two wrongs do NOT make a right...but this did lead to some great in-the-car monologues. The peaches are out and fresh pecans are everywhere though so I can't complain too much.
Should be in New Orleans by tomorrow for a few days. The hostel looks great ( so hopefully they can point out some things to eat, see, and do.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Bags are packed, SO ready to go

It's time! After almost a month of living the dream, and by that I mean living with my parents; I'm road tripping! Sure, the nightly dog walking has been great. My mom is SO good at hiding behind graves from our geriatric lab. It's a new game every day... for both of them I think. Nothing like watching your walking buddy scamper about on a crisp evening, chasing the deer we run into. Though Zeus the wonder dog is far above that, he's content to leave the antics to my mother.
Fall has set in and between savoring the crunch of leaves under foot and cooking up a storm, I have been looking to the future and trying to use these few months I'm home to the best of my ability. Thus far, I have thumbed through the GRE study guide, perused my choice grad school sites, (even signed up for an account on a few), Craigslist-ed the hell out of part time jobs, day dreamed about escaping for the month of November to warmer climates, and fantasized about moving to Alaska as a resident. Starbucks stock must have gone through the roof as I am fairly certain caffeine poisoning is on my agenda. Why do when you can overdo right? 2 pots a day has got to be better than 2 packs a day right?
And so it goes. It has been fabulous to see friends, most of whom are shocked to hear how long I'll be home. Never mind that this time last year I was traveling the world and conquering challenges on a daily basis. Who needs world adventure when a trip to a city council meeting is all one needs to feel the injustice in the world? Local politics have snagged my interest as I feel Painesville is a city big enough to make a difference and small enough to mobilize a movement. Check out the city blog on my links list. Shocking how many people post and how few actually show up to do something about the gripes we're all whining about.
I'm off Saturday on a trip down south delivering pots for the one, the only, Sandy Miller!!!! Ahhhhh! (check out her blog and site on my list) Anyways, I'll be making drops in Kentucky, Georgia, and Mississipi, rounding out with a nice stroll down Bourbon Street. As luck would have it, my once ever-ready friends are suddenly all committed to these things called full-time jobs. Though I respect... and maybe even understand their decisions, it's just not my time. A life in limbo, I will pursue because someone else can not! ...even if it means going solo

Monday, September 21, 2009

Hmmm, what now?

Salmon Party and hiking with mom...this is my sassy face. Art opening in Vermillion at a revamped movie theatre, super cool space!
That fabulous, wonderful enviro-campaigning job I was so stoked about? Yeah, SO done. My first day was great and the people I worked with are a blast. There is something about walking for 5 hours a day and asking for money that I just can not wrap my head around. Talking to people about the issues, seeing community support, and supplying resources for them to find more information was so much fun for me! That transition into the dig for cash? Nope. I think there are better ways to go about funding, though what I did learn about communication in that week is astounding. Glad I did it, will never do it again.
The pics posted are what's been going on since I've been home...a whopping 18 days. Mom is back on the ceramics scene with gusto, friends have come to happy acres to enjoy the delicacy of fresh wild caught alaskan salmon, hauled in by ME, fall has hit NE Ohio and I couldn't be happier. That walking on crunchy leaves thing is still quite an enchanting sound.
The fishing boat is back on for January so I'll be filling time until then with grad school apps, GREs, seeing friends, and actually being home to help with some projects. Extremely excited to catch up on some reading and cooking from our garden. And just in case anyone needs a chuckle, I've joined a spinning class at the Y to keep my girlish figure in check. Don't you wish we had a youtube of that???
I'm off to Georgia, Mississipi, New Orleans, and Milwaukee next week on a pottery run, followed by a bday party and grad school visit. I'm up for passengers!

Friday, September 11, 2009

please sir, can i have some more?

I would LOVE to hear some words from people who have canvassed neighborhoods. This is by far one of the most interesting jobs I've had.

I've been employed for exactly one day. Campaigning and fundraising against building yet another coal plant in Meigs county. We touched the whole spectrum yesterday, from people who are fired up, have kids working for energy companies and understand that old technology coal plants fueled by mountain top removal ( are NOT the best way to power our communities. Unfortunately, with the good comes the bad...well not bad. That is a totally subjective term. However, when I meet a father whose kid just got over leukemia, doesn't think a coal plant has any effect on others lives, I'm baffled at this point. Verbatim: "I don't really care either way, it's not here and I gotta pay my utilities anyways." Sir, you already have coal plant in your neighborhood where there is an unusually high rate of childhood cancer...really? There's no connection? And if we do agree there is a connection, as long as it doesn't directly affect you, it's perfectly acceptable to allow this to happen to other communities? What is going on???? (of course I didn't say that but wow, my inner monologue was on fire!)

I'm off today to speak out against mountain top removal. We're trying to get letters written to John Boccieri, US House rep. to ban this invasive tactic. The bill is ready, we just need maximum support. Get ready doors, here we come!

I realize in the past few days I've sounded more and more like a flaming liberal. All cards on the table, I'm right down the middle. There can't be a little blue without the red. Hell, I'm all for purple! This job will more than likely burn me out. Constant passionate conviction about anything will make a person loose it. Until then I'll take the emphatic yes-es, along with the equally emphatic no-s, and continue to help swing the pendulum of indecisiveness. Without a cause we're complacent. A fate, to me, worse than burn-out. Onward and upward everyone!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

after that short intermission...

wow, September 10 eh? where was I???? August saw me guiding two more Explorer trips in Alaska, with stellar co-guide Randy. We had a blast and ended on a great note. Pretty sure we've got that trip down to a science, so much that we didn't even have to speak while setting up breakfast; grunting and pointing sufficed. I've posted many more pics, you just have to go to the site and select an album, though I'll change the sidebar slideshow. Facebook has its fair share too.
Alaska has 100% stolen my heart. It is truly the land of bigger and bolder. Everyone is doing something huge, be it heli-skiing, dog-mushing or just going white-water rafting for the day. An average day hike took me 1,500 feet above tree-line to gawk at the ridiculous landscape surrounding the oasis of Cooper Landing. If there is one constant underlying thought in my life right now, it's that I have to get back there next year. I love guiding and helping people get to know Alaska a little better. Every time a guest would learn something I usually would too. The evolution throughout the summer was really interesting to me and I was surprised at how quickly people can assimilate to the area.

As some of you know, I was scheduled to be in Vegas at the end of this month to start a year-long position with Ameri-Corps, building trails. I felt uneasy about it all summer and in the final weeks sent out a zillion resumes and decided I needed to circle the wagons for a bit and retreat to the homestead to re-evaluate some decisions.

A nomadic lifestyle is interesting. Every day things change and you really have to be on your game to make it work. Since leaving Peace Corps almost a year ago, I have visited different countries, friends, family, and explored endless options about the next step in my life. My favorite opportunity of traveling is the experience of meeting countless people and learning what they're doing. I've made some great new friends, kept up with the old, and thrown a little romance in there to ice the cake. The worst part? Leaving. It just doesn't get any easier. I really thought I'd be slightly jaded by now and be able to smile, give a little wave and say "see you when I see you". Not so, and I feel good about that, maybe it shows a bit of compassion or a chink in the armor so many of us put on to deal with the outside world.

My folks welcomed me with open arms...literally. Dad gives the best bear hugs! Canning season is upon us and our garden (that I helped plant back in May) is in full swing. Bring on the salsa and chutney! In other news, I took a position as a full time campaigner for Ohio Citizen Action (, an established environmental non-profit based in Cleveland. Yesterday was my first day and call us a public nuisance if you will but I love it. Fundraising gives a sense of accomplishment but what I really like is the door-to-door relationships we get to build with people. It's not just about signatures and pennies, it's really about spreading the word on issues these communities may not have even known about.

I'll be applying to grad school this fall for next year, and thus begins the next chapter. Looking forward to the holidays and experiencing an actual autumn! Walking on crunchy leaves yesterday, I exclaimed "It sounds like fall!!!!" How quickly our senses remind us of things we didn't even know we missed.

I hope everyone is well and eating as much sweet corn as they can (missed that too!!!)

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

coming and going

This has been an insane month! In true alaskan form, we will all sleep when we're dead. Over the last month, I have:

led day hikes, learned the inner workings of safari planning, helped around base camp, learned what the fish folk do around here, taken a personal trip out to the back country lodge, learned the ropes of rowing a raft, gone on many a pleasure hike, taken part in an all-girl costume float down the river in prime fishing season (heh), led my first explorer safari (9-days), turned 25 (we had a duct tape lingere party :), caught my first king salmon at 39 pounds, read about 5 pages of a book, glimpsed at my Ameri-corps stuff, not called my friends and family enough, craigslist-ed about a million trucks.

Phew! I'll be up here until the beginning of september and that might be a good thing. Otherwise, I'd just have to keep going. Going on a two day camping trip to Crescent and Carter lakes tomorrow (google it). Should be a blast, and will scrape myelf together to get to work on Friday morning. I start two back to back trips August first and am pretty much clear after that.

I have computer access every day I'm in the office but just can't seem to wrap my head around anything enough to verbalize how happy I am. If only the beer were free..... OH, and new pics, check out the three or so new albums!!!!!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

going big: now.

Things have been moving along faster than I could have imagined here in Cooper Landing. Had a weekend off in Seward with my friend Trina and hiked up to the Harding Ice field that leads on to Exit Glacier. Glorious day, hitched back into town for burgers and a beer, crashed out by 10pm in my tent right on the water. We were awoken by a cacophony of magpies and ravens, though a noise I would far prefer to hear over the neighbors yelling about getting their guns. After a morning of seeing downtown, hitching home was painless and even made a friend or two.

Led my first hike today. I am utterly, totally, and whole-heartedly, in love with my job. I picked up a couple coming out of our back country lodge and after the usual get to know you chat, we sunk our teeth into an afternoon hike. The local flora and fauna aren't as daunting as they were a month ago. Saxifrage no longer looks like star flower to me and lichens are fascinating to no end. The people were, I feel, genuinely impressed with this company as a whole and seemed to have a good time, especially when we saw three bears on a back road. The best thing is I get to be excited about Alaska every single time I hike someone, shuttle people, or just have small talk on the deck. Seeing the world through their eyes, not to mention my own not-yet-jaded eyes has kept me in the highest spirits possible. Days are long but we'll sleep when we're dead.

Got an email today from a Peace Corps friend. It was a journal entry from a fellow volunteer who passed out of this world March 12. Day to day life over there is what we all write about. It's what is so different at first and what becomes so familiar it hurts to deviate. Reading about lunching with friends, spitting out local words and hauling water feel good. They feel comfortable and Kate's writing was so eloquent I was immediately back in my village. I miss it and just can not quantify that emotion. Trying to tie all these extraordinary experiences together in my head leads me to a thought I have been inadvertently chasing. Go big, live now, make it count.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

life of an intern

i keep getting questions from home like, "So, tell me about Alaska." or, "What do you do...exactly?"

First thing's first. Alaska and its islands can stretch from coast to coast of the lower 48. It is MASSIVE and I get to experience a chunk of it while basing out of the Kenai Peninsula. Pretty much anything you read, watch, look at, or hear will entice you to make your way north to the land of eternal sunshine, eternal rain, and final frontiers. There are no guarantees. It might rain for days on end. You might burn your skin off in the never-ending daylight. There may be no animal sightings the entire time you're in the state or a bear could stumble right into your tent at 3am. What a lot of people forget once they get up here is that this really still is the wild. Moose wander down the main drag in Anchorage and people do still live off the fat of the land.

The "What do you do?" question is still popping up, even here among my fellow staffers. Intern is a curious word that springs to mind images of coffee drips, fax machine faux-pas, piles of paperwork and wearing a shirt that says "gimme a job, any job". What I have come to love about my job here is that I get to be involved in every aspect of this company. I've been able to make it out to our two other lodges, see and take part in the workings, meet all the staff, and really just become aware of what we are selling our guests.

A day at base camp could include going to pick up a rafting trip, making welcome files, getting familiar with the upcoming schedule, hauling logs down a mountain and then stripping them, or a day of king salmon fishing. Paper piles be damned, I totally won this time around!

The other really cool plus that came out of nowhere is the opportunity to get guiding experience. I take guests out on local day hikes and I'll be co-guiding three, larger, 9-day trips this summer up to Denali Park and the area. Pretty stoked about that as my co-guide Randy is fabulous and good times will be mandatory...even if we do burn the little piggies in their blankets.

So, that, in a nutshell is what I'm doing. Has anyone been able to get to the pics? Just want to make sure they're working.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Finally Photos!

Geez oh man!  Finally had to make an emergency call to Annie (the other boozer without any borders) and she talked me through the Picasa linking.  Now, on the right of these posts is a flowing slideshow with the currently selected album.  Click on the show and it should take you straight to the Picasa album page.  I just uploaded a bunch of separate albums (some with video!!) so peruse away!

Monday, June 8, 2009

wool sox and suntans

A few days ago, a bunch of staff participated in the annual Russian River StreamWatch fencing.  It was a great way to see how the local forestry service works.  Essentially, we moved a ton of rhibar and plastic fencing further towards the bank in hopes of warding off overenthusiastic fishermen.  The fishing season opens in 3 days and I am a little anxious to see the mayhem.  Words like "combat fishing" don't bring warm fuzzy feelings about nature to my heart.  Major bank erosion is the result as the eager beavers throw themselves down the slopes to make it to the bank as fast as possible in hopes of catching "the one".  After seeing the intensity of our own fish guides as well as hearing stories about Alaskans just shooting things without even getting out of their cars, I believe anything is possible during open season.  Though this fence will probably just rope in the bears and fishermen together and some of the plastic and zip ties will inevitably be ingested by some curious moose or porcupine, apparently the good outweighs the bad...

After that invigorating morning, a group of day off-ers headed to the Juneau Falls trailhead for an 8-mile hike.  The pic of the falls just can't convey the feel of the spray and drop in temperature as we approached.  After sitting down to snack on some granola and grapes, it was time to head out as rain clouds were moving in.  I'm hearing that last year was soggy and grey the whole time.  Though the temp has been hovering around 55 degrees (yesterday it was 80!) and I'm still wearing many layers, I have managed to score some sun on my body and restored the fish belly look I took on while out on the Bering Sea.

A weekend camping trip out to a public use cabin was a  nice treat, as was the float down the river to get there.  One of the best things about this job is the perk of access to equipment and the locality of hot spots.  Places I've read about for years are suddenly extremely accessible.  The staff here does a fabulous job of ensuring employee satisfaction which the guests can almost certainly perceive.  

In other news, I was offered a position through Ameri-corps.  Come September, I will be working with the Nevada Conservation Corps on trail building among other things.  It's a year long position, 6 months around Vegas, 6 months around Reno.  This may make it necessary to get a vehicle...not too sure how I feel about this but I want to be able to see as much as possible while out there.  

Next up, tomorrow starts at 4am as I'm going out King Salmon fishing with some folks around here.  I've never caught many fish in my life and certainly not anything bigger than the little sunfish who frequent the Grand River.  More pics to come!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Here I am!!!!

Flight seeing.  This was part of my training for this sweet summer job (as a programming intern and guide) at Alaska Wildland Adventures.  We drove two hours north of Anchorage to the little former bush-town of Talkeetna and familiarized ourselves with what our guests will experience on certain trips.
Denali National Park is two hours north and we flew up to the base in less than 30 minutes in an Otter bush plane.  Actually got to land on the Ruth glacier and take a walk about.  Flew over some climbers' base camp and headed home.  
Also included in this training has been a trip to our backcountry lodge, via a float-raft down the Kenai River.  Tomorrow a group of us are heading to the newly constructed Fjords lodge.  Word on the street is the black bears are like cattle and it sits looking face to face with a glacier.  Again, this is my job.  I just have to keep reminding myself.  
Trying to digest the flora and fauna info as fast as I can.  There are some great resource people here who will talk about Merganzer and Harlequin ducks as much as I can take.  Learning what I can eat has been fun and learning what the bears eat has been even better.  One of the guys here takes regular scat pictures.  Did you know during the dormant or hibernation period, the bears don't poop so when they come out of the coma, it's potty time!  Actually called a rectal plug, these stoppers can get up to 10 inches wide and 20 inches long.  Holy fiber!
But enough about the nitty gritty.  Things are great and schedule is packed.  I'm still trying to figure out this photo posting thing but here are two pics from the flight seeing.  Enjoy :)

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

figure it out!

rainy day up here in Cooper Landing.  have a headache and figuring out how to post a picasa album is not helping it.