Ah, yes, where did I leave off?  Yes, well, the flight from Boston was long and fitfully boring – a child screamed for the entire five hours (there is an appreciation of lung power there) and you had to pay 7 bucks with a credit card to watch anything on the screen except satellite tv channels.  I finished a book instead, choosing to block out most of the trip.  We arrived in Salt Lake City on time and my next flight immediately began boarding, which was good but also painful.  The people were incredibly nice though – I had a wonderful conversation with a woman whose husband is stationed in Alaska…..they are planning on buying a house in Colorado when he can transfer.  I hope they get it!  This flight certainly felt the longest though – five more hours and the jet lag was really taking its toll.  My bodily clock was registering 4 am in Vermont when it was only midnight in Alaska, making my landing rough in more ways than one.  Nevertheless, it was still light out and absolutely gorgeous from what I could see!  I got my bag without much trouble and found a nice bench to spend the rest of the night on.  It was mostly deserted, but quite a nice airport and again the people were really nice.  I don’t know why I had always imagined Alaskan’s to be a lot like Vermonter’s: guarded, hard shelled towards outsiders, and perhaps a trifle surly from all the hard weather they have to endure.  Instead, I was greeted with smiles all around, genuine concern for my well being, and an actually desire to make sure I was comfortable in my new surroundings.

My bench wasn’t too bad, but sleep didn’t come easy.  Also, the PA system repeating its greetings and information messages every five minutes and the testing of the airport fire alarms at 2:30 am Alaska time weren’t all that helpful.  I think I managed about an hours worth of sleep somewhere in there.  Finally, around 4 am, I gave up, got some tea and breakfast at a kiosk, and watched the lights turn on in this new and foreign world I had intruded upon.  Finding my bus for its 7:30 departure was hard at first, but it eventually worked and I was once again on a grueling, but beautiful journey to my next destination.  Again, I met some truly wonderful people, all eager to talk about their destinations and previous experiences in Alaska.  The remaining half of our shuttle was inhabited by Serbians who sort of spoke english.  At one point we were allowed to stop at a huge supermarket and get any last minute supplies before things became remarkably expensive.  I found the Serb’s struggling to breach the language barrier with a very confused clerk.  They kept repeating “washing machine!” while one of them tried looking something up in their serbian-to-english dictionary.  I felt bad for both parties and asked if they were looking for laundry detergent, to which a hearty and accented “yes!” was supplied.  Unfortunately, that made me the prime target for “American translation,” as they kept asking me what brand I recommended and which one was good for colors.  I almost felt like telling them that even my english could stand some translating at times, but I think that would have just confused them further.

Finally, we arrived in Denali.  I found the grocery store I thought I was going to be working at and instead was told that I would be working at Miner’s Market in Healy.  They run the Camping and RV park, do gas, propane, groceries, deli, meals, and book tours in the park.  My new boss is extremely nice and funny (and english!) and the girls working the counter were really cool and I think I’ll get along with them.  THe other good news is that I will be getting free access on all tourist attractions within and around Denali in order to help promote the tours!!!! 

Unfortunately, my living arrangements are scaring me half to death, especially the woman in charge.  I’m in a slummy apartment building (which is nicer than the other arrangements at least). It has its own bathroom and shower and kitchen which is nice, but it’s shared between three apartments.  I have a roommate who I haven’t met yet.  I can’t say I’m looking forward to it – I don’t do well with other people invading my private spaces and my first impressions of her side of the room aren’t really promising (drinker, smoker, slob, room hog, shall I go on?).  Oh well, I know I am just being finicky because I have never had to endure dorm living before or the difficulties of roommates.  Just wish me luck that maybe, just maybe, we may actually get along. 

I’m exhausted, haven’t slept in 48 hours, am jet lagged, and sweaty (yeah, believe it or not, it actually got warm here today).  Unfortunately, I”m too over tired to go to sleep yet, and it won’t get dark at all.  I don’t really have sheets (which they didn’t tell me about) and can’t really un pack until my roommate gets back so I can try to get back some of the dresser drawer space (she used all five drawers). 

Tomorrow I’ll be heading back to the market to begin training and finish filling out paperwork.  I’m also thinking about maybe seeing if I can arrange something more private at the RV park if my new boss can swing something…..we’ll see.  For now, I’m just trying to keep calm and not feel so trapped.  It’s funny how different people are – most would probably find the open spaces and lack of population density in Alaska to be freeing, whereas I feel nothing but claustrophobic. 

Well, I have to just keep my armor on and my chin up because I’ve made it this far and its kind of hard to turn back now.  Wish me luck, keep sending those mental hugs, and I’ll write again as soon as I can!

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