Category: Summer 2011 Alaska

Yup, so it’s Thursday.  Made it.  that’s good.  With flying colors? Hahaha, now we’re just asking too much.  So, let’s see….today: well, I started it off with a trip to the post office, which of course did not have a package, so I ‘ve got two packages of my stuff somewhere in the US, floating around and going nowhere near Healy, Alaska.  Then, I lolligaged my way to work so as not to be early because I definitely will not get paid for any over time, and made it just before the downpour.  My boss showed me the new work schedule, in which he switched me to nights without any prior warning, including having me working this Sunday…..which I explicitly told him I couldn’t do.  So, another point in his favor for being one of my favorite people.  I then had to ask someone else to come in on their day off and work for me and that I would pay them back next week by working on one of my days off….which also means that I am going to be here until at least next Friday.  I’m going home.  It might not be for another two weeks as I finalize stuff, ship things back home, figure out plane tickets and stuff, but I’m definitely leaving.  I think I might try to wander a bit around the states before getting back to Vermont and then possibly spend some time (or the whole summer, who knows) with my great aunt at the New Jersey shore.  I just have to make it through the next few weeks…..yeah, keep those good thoughts coming.  I also found out that a coworker who I had told last week I needed to switch shifts with still hadn’t found a babysitter, so I won’t be able to meet my byfriend’s bus tomorrow, but was able to switch shifts with someone else so I am at least getting off at 5:30 pm.  It isn’t too bad, but I am just really angry that I won’t be able to spend the afternoon getting him settled and showing him the town.  At this point, every minute counts since he’ll only be here for a few days.  Also, his plane got delayed, but  he should still be touching down in Anchorage around 10:30 pm Alaskan time. 

Either way, I’m just trying to hang in there for a few more weeks and then I’ll be packing up all my baggage and changing adventures.  Did I happen to mention that planning and Stina don’t mix together?  Alaska is still neat, beautiful, wild, and very largely unexplored by me.  I would actually like to come back – just in a more jobless fashion.  It will just have to wait for a return trip, hopefully less epic and a little more……relaxed.  Onward and upward then: look out mid-west, you’re in for a Miller-style adventure! 

Hopefully more this weekend, with *fingers crossed* good pictures, better adventures, and a more enjoyable read, but if I don’t get to it, it means I’m having too much fun to worry about writing until Monday……so maybe it will be a good thing not to hear from me for a few days 🙂  Chow for now, but please keep those good thoughts coming.  I can’t tell you how much it means to have all of your support and believe me, it’s not wasted.  Thanks.


So, it’s Wednesday now, and frankly I haven’t written sooner because I wasn’t sure I could.  I’m not really sure what to say or how to say it because I’m still swinging between such conflicting emotions.  I’ll recount all the I guess highlights of the past few days, more for myself I guess than anything else, but I’ll preface it all with this warning: I’m seriously considering a trip home.  I spent about two hours last night crying and searching flight tickets, in between trying to convince myself that I can handle this, it’s all a learning experience, and that there really is still more to Alaska than I am seeing.  I’ve decided on one thing though – I hate my job.  I know, who doesn’t right?  But this isn’t some backwoods survival after college deal in which I need the job and can’t afford to quit.  Unfortunately, I don’t really know how I feel about finding another job.  Plus, I would have to find a new place to live as well, which is incredibly hard around here.  I am so split with myself right now – Stina, you’ve only been here two weeks, you haven’t  seen a tenth of what there is to see in Alaska, you hate quitting anything and will probably regret nto sticking it out.  On the other hand, you hate your job, you are exhausted and sick of being here when you don’t really need to be, it would be so easy to book a flight home within the next two weeks, maybe see some of the country first or go spend some time at the beach with your nana.  I haven’t a clue what to do and I am rithing on the inside with indecision.  I guess the plan for now is to try and survive the rest of the week, enjoy as much of the time as my boyfriend and I can this coming weekend, and then make a decision on whether I am going to stick things out for a while longer or whether I am going to throw in the towel and start heading for home. 

Monday my bike tire did come and after  work I managed to put it on without too much difficulty…..which worries me because….well, it’s me.  So far, it’s riding okay, except I think the tire got a little warped being folded into a box for a week so I’m not sure how good that’s going to be. I went next store to the 49th State Brewery CO. for the first time and had dinner.  THe place was a lot smaller on the inside and yet again, dissapointing.  I mean, the food was awesome and the people were really nice, but I can’t say I’m really missing much by not getting there more often for their over 21 things.  Still, it would be so much easier to fit in and enjoy Alaska if I could drink and attend these things.   The coworker I normally can’t stand was actually pleasant and friendly, chatting with me and not reprimanding me for everything (believe me, she still just about knocked me out of the way for everything and I certainly got shot down a few times, but not as often).  Tuesday, I survived somehow as well.  I took the bus into the canyon, crossed the street, and followed the trails into Denali National Park for the first time.  It is gorgeous!  The foot pathes are really nice and from what little I saw it was pretty cool.  I huffed it though, because I wanted to make it to the Wilderness Access Center before they closed.  I wanted to book bus tickets for Saturday all day into the park and had been trying all weekend but couldn’t seem to get  a hold of anyone or my credit card wouldn’t work online.  Unfortunately, they said they couldn’t book seating that far in advanced….I pleaded my case and one of the guys took pity on me.  It was fun and I really appreciated it – he definitly wasn’t supposed to do that, so he kept having to whisper and pretend it was for tomorrow, winking the whole time 🙂

After that, I took my time finding my way out, but didn’t explore as much as I would have liked because it was eight and looked like it might rain.  I headed back to the canyon and did what I seem to do best lately – I shopped.  Seriously, it’s the only thing I have enjoyed doing since I got here.  I bought a fleece jacket wicked cheap, some cheap t shirts, another stuffed moose because this one was even cuter, and more icecream because it is amazingly good.  I caught another shuttle and headed back to my workplace to pick up my bike.  Big mistake.  I found out while I was there that I would be reprimanded the next day by my boss for not cleaning the bathrooms well enough and for skipping my lunch break so I could clock out half an hour early and make it to the wilderness center before it closed.  I was also told that the big boss had seen me and another girl talking instead working (right at that particular moment) the other day and relayed to our manager that obviously we didn’t have enough to do because we were being lazy staff. 

So, I came home, cried for about two hours, tried to find plane tickets home and finally cried myself to sleep.  Wednesday was obviously a blast then.  I did get reprimanded for those exact things, as well as being yelled at for not being able to pack up about twenty boxes of stuff in time for the next shuttle bus (which was about ten minutes).  Also, we are now told that if we can’t account for any of our house account receipts at the end of our shfit, we may be liable for paying what’s owed out of our paychecks, which means hundreds of dollars because they are mostly gasoline receipts.  Yeah, that’s illegal, but “it’s just a precaution” to make sure we don’t lose any of them.  Everytime the bosses higher up crack down on our manager, the whip is cracked and the job tally towers a bit higher.  I’ve figured out why this job sucks so much more than others and why we are being paid so little to do soooooo much: they’re struggling to get this store on its own two feet and can’t seem to get it to a point where its not constantly breaking down or being solely held afloat by non stop maintenance.  Maybe in a few years, this might be a good place to work, but now is not the time.

So, I had plans to ride my bike into the park and check out the visitor center, but that closes at six, which means I never would have been able to make it, even if I went directly from work.  I’m exhausted from wantting to cry constantly and struggling to just make it through the day.  I don’t want to be this depressed or worn out for this weekend and I am going to try really hard not to.   I just don’t know what’s going to happen come Monday.  I feel like I am going to dissapoint so many people and myself most of all if I tuck my tail between my legs and run away from this Alaskan summer, but right now I can’t stop thinking about how badly I want to get away from here.  *sigh* I could really use some chocolate right now. 

Boy, this blog sure did turn into a depressing mantra of “Stina’s rants,” didn’t it?  I apologize for the long winded downside of Stina’ life.  It’s just that I am so used to having people at home who I can turn to at a moments notice to recount my day to or complain about work to.  Those people are still there, but it’s not the same.  I knew it wouldn’t be, but I also didn’t think I would be having this much trouble going it alone this summer.  Guess I’m not as skilled a pessmist as I thought.  This blog is the closest thing sometimes to connecting with home and just being able to explain all the positives and negatives of my day, right down to the pebbles that I trip over along the road.  Thanks for listening all, I can’t begin to tell you how much I appreciate it.  You are all like my open-earred sounding board, ready to lend a digital shoulder to my very realistic head.  Cheers, and please don’t stop listening.

So, it’s been a few days….and of course, so many things have happened.  Not completely major by anyone’s standards, but I’ve had enough conflicting emotions this past weekend, I feel like I should be checked into a hospital….which is scary because right now that sounds almost pleasant. 

So, Saturday went well for the most part I think.  I got up late, had breakfast (frozen muffins….really, that’s when it’s at its best). A coworker met me at the complex and we drove to the Mountain View Grocery store to search for balloons and other birthday-ish things since it was the 22nd birthday of another coworker.  She had to work that day, so we wanted to do something special for her.  We found some fun birthday gags, like a cap gun, “girls day out” package, which included a pair of sunglasses, a bracelet, a lollipop, and some other essentials, a kite, and bubbles.  Unfortunately, the only balloons we could find were water  balloons. We also found some Reeses peanut butter chocolate chips to stick in the cupcakes we planned to make.  We loaded up our stuff, headed back to her house, and set to work on the cupcakes.  They actually turned out well, which was a point for each of us non-cooking/baking types.  While they were cooling and before we could ice them, we took our incredibly sad balloons and drove up to the coal mine where her father works to see if we could find a helium tank.  It was a really neat trip!  The coal mine is off limits to anyone who doesn’t work there, so it was cool that her dad took the time to drive us around and give me the grand tour.  He even let us get out and take a picture next to the giant dump trucks and of the coal grinding shoots….of course, I only had my camera on my phone because I didn’t want to carry my good camera with me.  It was still cool though!  We couldn’t find any helium, which was a good thing really, because the little balloons never would have been able to handle it.

On our drive back, I was casually looking out the window as we crossed over the railroad tracks and thought I saw a horse walking down the tracks, only to realize it was a mother moose and two babies!  I practically screamed at Cori to pull over, which she did, and we raced back onto the bridge.  Unfortunately, they were too far away for me to get a good picture, so we did a little illegal driving down to the rail road tracks to see if we could get a better look.  Unfortunately she kept ditching us and finally we completely lost her.  Still, I’m glad I finally saw something bigger than a fox and Cori is proof that I didn’t make it up. 

That was pretty much my Saturday in a nutshell…I was feeling kind of good for most of the day, but afterwords I felt home sick.  After all, what’s the point of having these experiences if you have no one to really share them with?  I mean, putting them up here is all well and good, but it’s not the same as being able to run home and tell someone all about your day.  Plus, I got word that my friends were thinking of leaving Alaska.  I can’t blame them, because it’s exactly what I had been thinking for the last few weeks, but I can’t leave this soon, as I feel I never would be able to live it down that I was only here for two weeks.  Still, it was a sobering thought for the evening.

Sunday morning……I awoke to my roommate having packed all of her things while I was sleeping and telling me that she had booked herself on a blame tomorrow morning for home because she was too homesick and bored to stay for the summer.  I spent about an hour or so talking to her and sharing my own misgivings about staying the summer, all the while realizing that I was desperately wanting to trade places.  I was just starting to get to know her too, and although it might be nice to have a room to myself, who knows how long that will last before Cathi finds me a new (and probably less approachable) roommate.  I had also awoken two times this morning, thinking I was home, only to open my eyes and realize that, nope, still in Alaska.  Let’s just say that I was ready to jump on that plane as well.

Once nice thing though, my boyfriend did get his phone back for about an hour today and I finally got to talk to him.  I haven’t heard a word since my college graduation, so it was nice to have time to catch up.  That’s the only thing really going for Alaska right now – he’ll be arriving on Friday and will be here until Monday.  I’m trying to plan everything I possibly can into those few short days, so we can have the Alaskan experience together.  My friends are leaving for home on Monday of next week, so after that I will truly be with complete strangers.  *Sigh* I guess I am giving this lovely trip experience until next week before I start thinking about coming home.  Today was definitely a good test of my own will power not to completely break down and I am just hoping I can get through the rest of the week and have fun next weekend.  After that, my roommate and I went into the canyon to have lunch together.  We ate burgers at the Bake and then went shopping at a Dizzy Lizzy’s that’s on the strip.  She had to work after that, but I thought I would wander through some of the shops.  I’m glad I did because I found tons of postcards, a penny press (yyayyy!!!!), patches, a t-shirt, and a stuffed moose to make me feel better.  Hey, what can I say, sometimes spending money is theraputic.  I raced back to my apartment complex after that and changed into a swimsuit and headed back to the canyon because my friends were able to sneak me in so I could use the hot tubs with them!  It was by far the most relaxing part of my past two weeks, sitting in an awesome hottub outside, overlooking the Nenanna river and a mountain view.  We changed and went to Prospector’s Pizzeria for dinner and then walked down the boardwalk for ice cream.  Both were delicious, but I don’t think the pizza liked me.  Anyway’s, that was definitely a better end to my Sunday than the way it had begun, but I am still pretty exhausted.  Tomorrow, I plan to check the post office and see if my bike tire has come in yet, survive my Monday work day, and then finish making reservations for tour plans. 

I feel like I’ve been through too many emotional upheavals today that right now I don’t even know what to think or feel.  I guess I just need to get some sleep and try not to have any break downs or panic attacks. 

Never know until you try, right? Man, I miss home.

Lets start at the beginning…after all, as the Mad Hatter once siad, that is a very good place to start.  So, Monday (Memorial day).  THE craziest day of work yet…I think.  It was exhuasting and long, plus we had more computer glitches and also can add selling plants and tours to our repetuir of jobs that somehow manage to fall under “cashier.”  I’m finding that the one girl I work with on Monday’s and Tuesday’s is increasingly harder to deal with and I guess I’m not the only one.  After talking with a few other employees (both of which are incredibly hard workers with a great sense of humor…I wish I worked with them more, but they have the night shifts), we all agreed that this one other girl likes to be in charge, is possesive of her cash drawer (really, it’s scary), and will find faults in everything you do.  Makes the day just fly by after that!  Anyways, by four pm, it was HOT in the grocery store and the fire in the mountains had started up again, making everything smokey.  Even so, it was way more fun with the better company of the night shift, AND I made 20 extra bucks today because I refered someone to a local mechanic.  The local mechanic is Dennis, who is hilarious, really nice, and appreciates hard work.  So, whenever we help him by sending a customer his way, he personally pays that person a $20 commision for their efforts.  I didn’t even think I was really doing that much, but it was really awesome to have that money in my pocket today 🙂 

Also, because it’s me, I have to share my smart-ass moment of the day with y’all: this joker of a guy was hanging around in the store and he came up to the counter and asked “what’s the difference between regular water and ‘smart’ water?”  I stared him straight in the face and said, “Smart water has a higher IQ.”  I think the guy almost blew something laughing that hard.  I think he will now be calling me “smart ass” whenever he sees me.  Sarah, you should be pleased 🙂

No one else really got that when I explained it, but it made me happy that I actually had enough brain left during the day to make such a witty and dare I say, hilarious quip. 

Next, I went outside around 5 to fill three propane tanks (getting better at these, thank goodness), when my boss comes out and says, “give me the gloves and get movin’, you’ve got a plane to catch.”  I told him I still had half an hour and that the bathrooms wouldn’t take me that long.  “no, you literally have a plane to catch….Jim is fitting you on the next glacier landing flight, so get your butt moving.”…….AAAAAHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!

Needless to say, those bathrooms just about cleaned themselves and I was jumping for joy by the time my shuttle to the Healy Airport arrived.  Jim is a regular customer and incredibly nice.  Check out the pictures on FaceBook – I know there are alot, but really, I wasn’t going to put that camera down for a minute.  Jim is the first picture.  I met the other people on my plane ride, who were all really good humored and a great bunch!  Jim got me signed in, I weighed myself on their incredibly off (but in a good way) scale, and put on these booties for the glacier landing that are awesome!  I definitely need to buy a pair of these for Vermont.  I didn’t think I would be doing this today, so i didn’t bring any layers with me, so Jim let me borrow his vest (such amazingly nice people, it still freaks me out!!).  We all got acquainted and took pictures next to our plane while we waited for all the smoke to blow over.  It took about ten minutes extra because the fire was raging, but eventually it was okay to board.  I got to sit in the co-pilot’s seat because I was the lightest (see, it eventually pays off to be “skinny minny”).  Our pilot, Matt, was really cool too.  We all had headsets and he gave us tons of information about the park, rivers, mountains, etc, all until he realized that I was the only one who could here him because he was on the wrong channel.  Still, even when people could hear him, it was a pretty quite crowd.  I felt bad for the guy and I asked as many questions as I could, but it was also nice to just look out the window and take lots and lots of pictures!  It was gorgeous, invigorating, and definitely the trip of a life time!  We landed on Ruth Glacier, which is pretty much the base of Mount McKinley!  The landing was a bit rough, but soooooooo amazingly cool!  We got to walk around and take pictures for about 20 minutes.  We had a small snowball fight and I wound up getting on the ground in my t-shirt and awesome moon boots and doing a snow angel at the base of McKinley.  One of the girls got it all on video and should be sending it to me in an email, so as soon as I get it, I will post it!  

We eventually all piled back into the plane, only to have a false start and at the same time Stina realizes her door didn’t close properly and started swinging open mid take off……awesome.  Typical danger prone me 🙂  Anyways, the pilot helped close my door and then we were off, back to the airport.  Apperantly, we passed over a flock of Doll Sheep, but no one but the pilot saw them.  Maybe he made it up.  Anyways, pretty much the best Monday/Memorial Day EVER.

The adventure is starting to pick up some speed, but even if it doesn’t, I can now say:

I, Stina Miller, have made a snow angle on a glacier at the base of Mount McKinley in Denali National Park, Alaska.  Pretty sweet, huh?  I thought so too.

I actually slept until about 11:30 today, which I was NOT planning on doing.  I guess it was good, but my sinuses are going nuts because, yes, it did finally rain here.  It’s kind of gloomy out, cloudy, and definitely has that rainy-day-chill going on, but it also feels wonderful.  I’m still wearing shorts and a t-shirt though, so it didn’t cool off that much. I’m glad it’s on my day off so I don’t actually have to go anywhere.  Of course,its now supposed to rain for the next ten days….ugh.  I’m not really looking forward to it…we need it and I’m sure it will help with all the damn dust, but I liked the sun!

Now, I am attempting a great feet of operating the coin-dispensed, one-and-only washer and dryer in my complex.  It takes only quarters, which of course I only had like 1 dollar worth and it takes 3.50 to do a full load.  The change machine of course is broken, so you have to go ask Cathi to make change for you and she keeps it all in her room… more reason I now have to interact with the lady.  I think I have managed to figure out the washer, so while that’s running, I am watching Bones on Hulu and hoping no one yells at me.  I just don’t want to leave my laundry unattended.  We’ll see how the dryer goes.  After this, I have no idea what I am going to do for the rest of the day.  Yesterday really wiped me out and although its kind of stopped raining, I’m not sure I really want to go anywhere today. 

I guess for now, this is where I’ll be, and I’ve certainly got plenty of books worth reading to keep me busy.  I’ll write more tonight if anything interesting happens…..which, you know, is code with Stina for “when other things go wrong.”

So, this morning started at about 7:30 when someone knocked on the door and came in.  It was Cathi, letting Courteny know that she was two hours late for work.  Yup, that was an interesting wake up call….but definitely could have been worse.

Next, I took a nice long shower, got breakfast, and started my days journey of wandering with no real purpose (it’s so awesome to be able to DO that now!!).  Today, I had wanted to finish exploring Hill Top road and find Otto Lake though.  DEFINITELY a good decision 🙂  Eventually it led to  a gulf course (I know, right?  It was hilariously sad, really) and the launch site for Denali ATV Adventures and Denali Outdoor Center.  It was still a beautiful day, but I kept seeing these huge clouds that looked like rain.  Well, Stina finally followed those clouds with her eyes until she realized that they were actually all the smoke from one of the fires up the mountain that had really taken off.  It was a bit scary and riveting actually, especially since the biggest cloud seemed to be hanging over where I knew my camp was. 

Anyways, I FINALLY found a spot worth writing home about: Lion’s park in front of Lake Otto. B-E-A-U-tiful!!!  I put the pictures on FaceBook in the Alaska II Album, check them out.  The sun was out, the waves were gently crashing on the shore, a breeze blowing, with plenty of picnic tables facing the water and looking out on Mount Healy.  I took off my sneakers, tested the water (which was actually warmer than most of the Vermont waters at home…one guy even waded in up to his chest before coming out), and then settled down on the picnic table for about three hours.  I have never tanned so fast, I was a bit shocked, but still pleased 🙂  I met a woman and her son who I had seen in the Miner’s Market a few days before and they offered me a ride to wherever I needed to go.  I said thanks, but that I was good with the walk. 

I wound up making a list of all the tours I would like to do when my boyfriend arrives and I went into the Denali Outdoor center and talked to a woman about the rafting trips.  She was incredibly nice and helpful, just like everyone else I’ve met here.  I was a bit inspired by her kindness, so I walked back to camp and made a bunch more phone calls to other tour companies.  The biggest surprise was in calling the Fly Denali company, which offers a glacier landing and sight seeing tour.  I mentioned that my boyfriend was in the army and was about to ask if they did discounts when the guy told me he would fly us for free!  If we reserve ahead of time, we’d have to pay but it would be half price.  Either way, everyone I talked to today was making cuts left and right to accommodate us.  I can’t wait to start planning in more detail! 

After that, I took a quick shower, changed, and took the shuttle into the canyon for dinner with Kayci!  We ate at Prospector’s and had the Boreal Forest pizza, which consisted of reindeer sausage, feta cheese, their special sauce, and something else which I can’t remember.  It was awesome!  Thin crust, good flavor (the sausage was amazing), and crunchy.  We couldn’t pass up the dessert trays going around either, so Kayci got the cheesecake and I got the chocolate moose cake.  Both were delicious.  The place was packed, but fun to look at and we still had pretty good service.  It was neat that I actually knew some of the people because they come into Miner’s Market and they knew me which was totally cool.  I definitely need to make a trip to the canyon and look through all the shops – there are sooooo many and the variety of food and merchandise is really wide.  I caught the bus home and am definitely ready to tuck in.  I need to figure out the laundry situation tomorrow, along with a few other things, but I’m trying to leave it pretty open 🙂 I bought a combo lock for our door and almost wish I hadn’t.  The thing takes me like twenty minutes to get in because it’s cheap.  Oh well, I guess I feel safer that it’s on there.  On the other hand, if someone actually really wanted to break in, the door is made of really cheap plywood and wouldn’t take much, so really, am I actually preventing much? 

Peace of mind over practicality maybe.  *sigh* the brain has officially clocked off folks, I’ll write more tomorrow.  For now, enjoy the shotty pictures and fuzzy interpretations of life on the other side of the states.  Much love and dusty thanks for reading this!

FINALLY the week is over.  Today was actually pretty good…for the most part.  I didn’t have to go to work until 1:30, so I slept in a little later (7:15) and then headed off to sign up for a general delivery mailbox (just so you know, a prerequisite for postmaster must be “complete asshole”) and hiked for a bit.  I am so excited that my boyfriend will be visiting me for a weekend in June!!!!!!!  Definitely the highlight of my day.  After figuring out where he will be staying, I decided to see if I could find the place.  It was slightly more difficult then I thought, but still pretty easy.  After all, it may be Alaska, but it’s not hard to get lost in Healy.  I wound up talking to the woman who runs the place, who when I described who I was checking the place out for, she cried “oh, you’re the girlfriend, I heard about you!”…….most interesting and fun people 🙂 

Anyways, by that point it was abot 90 degrees out and I was going to be late for work, so I rushed back to my humble abode, ate, and rushed to work, just in time to fill two propane tanks.  It was incredibly busy, probably because its Friday, but also because it’s memorial day weekend.  I talked to my boss about getting time off or worked out for the weekend that my boyfriend is here and I don’t think I’ll have any problems.  I also asked him if he knew anyone that had a bike I could borrow and he said I could use his, I just have to see if I can replace the front tire that’s blown.  I’m going to try and check it out tomorrow and see if it’s doable.  My packages also came today (which was a bunch of fun to carry all the way back to base camp – definitely could have used a bike). 

More fires have broken out and the rest of the afternoon was rather smokey.  I was working the entire evening with this new guy who, ‘scuse my french, is an idiot.  Then, right as my shift was ending and I was trying to tally up my days cash, I couldn’t figure out this computer glitch so I wound up spending ten extra minutes just trying to close out my register.  On a positive note ( I guess) I definitely proved to know one in particular (boss wasn’t around of course) that I’m good under pressure and in a jam.  At one point, I was on the phone, ringing up a customer, AND trying to make camping arrangements while the idiot asked me how to ring up a propane tank.  Yup, busy and exhausting. 

As I was leaving, I got a nice surpise though – all the smoke and fire today made the sun turn bright red, with gorgeous clouds on my walk home.  It was really cool.

So, I finally have a weekend.  Tomorrow, I plan on exploring a few more roads in Healy that I have been meaning to check out, look in on the bike situation, and most importantly, start planning fun activities for when my boyfriend visits.  It should prove (hopefully) to be a nice day and I should have things to write home about so to speak.  Here’s hoping the weather holds out for a little bit longer.  Cheers and g’nite all!

Ah, well, Thursday has been….ech, I can’t even think of a good word to describe it.  I didn’t want to wake up this morning, but managed to drag my butt out of bed and head over to the main plywood building for breakfast.  Unfortunately, Cathy caught my ear this morning.  Not to say that she isn’t nice, but….*sigh*.  Cathy runs the complex and is as scary as hell – she’s from New Jersey, a heavy smoker, frightening to look at (wouldn’t pick a bar fight with this chic any day) and likes to make you see her side of things no matter what.  So far, I’ve stayed on her good side and I hope I can keep it that way, otherwise…*shudders* I don’t even want to think about it. 

I went to the post office next to see if I could find out when my packages might arrive, but because I am sending them to the store’s PO box, I can’t even ask about them because it’s not my mail box.  I guess i am going to set up a general delivery mail box tomorrow for the future.  Zalim, our summer resident Russian technical person, who creates our employee ID’s (which he still hasn’t given me mine), helps with computer glitches, also picks up the mail.  Speaking frankly, I’m worried about my mail.  Oh well, hopefully I will be able to figure it out. 

Next, made it to work, checked in, fouled a few things up on the cash machine, the propane set up for our machines failed, the credit card machines are still down, and went through four angry German’s who didn’t speak english.  That was about 11 am.  At twelve….something awful happened to a friend and employee of Miner’s market.  Her sister died in an atv accident.  I don’t know anymore details besides that, but it was bad.  I’ve never been present when someone lost a loved one so suddenly and it almost literally ripped my heart out seeing this sweet, happy girl getting the worst news of her life.  Needless to say, the next few hours were rather stressful, as we all tried to help and be of comfort, while still trying to deal with customers and other technical issues of the day.  I guess it puts my stress and panic attacks of the last few days into perspective though – I can’t send enough thoughts and prayers to this girl, and I hope you’ll do the same.

The rest of the day kind of dragged on, but on a happier note, Kayci and Allison have made it!!!!!  They actually came into the store while I was working to buy a few things….I wish I could have spent a bit more time welcoming them to Healy, but unfortunately it was at one of those lovely 20-minute-rushes.  Hopefully, once they get settled in and get their work squared away we can hang out and share the experiences of this past week together. 

On a rather more humorous note, I finally got a look at my alternative living quarters – the recently vacated trailer near Miner’s Market.

……..hhahahahahahahahahahahahahahhahNO.  I was on the phone with my father at the time, describing the outside, how it looked like it was rolled down a mountain and then hit with a rock slide and a tornado at the same time, but maybe the inside would bee ok-…….”dad, I’m living in the complex. Just so you know.”  Yeah, so it hadn’t been cleaned out yet, so maybe there would have been a slight improvement, but man, I don’t think it would have made a difference.  It smelled so bad of cigarettes and pot, as well as looking like it could be a five star hotel for cockroaches-r-us.  I had an instant flashback to my Grandma K’s house as a kid, tinted yellow and thick with cigarette smoke, tinged with something….unidentifiable.  I didn’t even go in.  I closed the badly smashed door (which didn’t even have a lock because it had been broken off), walked back to the market and right up to my boss and said “Steve, thanks anyways, but I’ll be living at the complex.”  I promptly bought a combo lock for my apartment door and headed home with my greasy popcorn chicken dinner in hand.  Don’t worry, I’ve uploaded the proof of my horror onto FaceBook so that you may share in the pain of my most frightening experience. 

Okay, so maybe having a roommate wasn’t ideal and I’m still a little iffy on the whole thing, but obviously it could be worse and it’s an experience that I never got in college and everyone should have at least once in their lives…right?

No update on whether I’m going on the ATV trip tomorrow, but I might just hang out and enjoy the day tomorrow before heading to work.  I’m still adjusting and I’m not quite ready to stray too far outside my comfort zone, especially alone.  We’ll see, even if i don’t do anything tomorrow, I might try to do some hiking or trips on my days off. 

For now, I’m just going to try to keep my chin up, armor on, and plow through my first week in a very strange and new place.  Keep me informed about the real world, not much penetrates this place besides what I catch on CNN while I clean the laundry room.  Until tomorrow, brave thoughts little piglet.

Well folks, day two over with.  This one possibly felt even longer, getting up was certainly more difficult.  My roommates alarm went off three times at around 6:30.  She, however, slept through it andI finally got up.  Had my tea and toast, walked to the post office to drop off some postcards, and wandered as slowly as possible to work.  The day was rough – I made way more mistakes today for some reason and each one just made it a little more difficult to get the next thing right.  Anyways, I did fill two propane tanks by myself, so I guess that was good.   I can’t say I’m really getting the hang of things, but then again, I keep forgetting it’s only been two days (jeez, it feels longer than that already!).

I came back to the complex, dropped off some stuff, grabbed my camera, and headed back out for a walk.  I want to see as much of Healy as there is, not just whats on the surface.  I’ve uploaded them to Facebook, but I don’t really have time for making captions…I’ll just have to explain them all later 🙂  I have a feature on my phone that allows me to track how many steps I am taking.  I put roughly 9,800 steps on my feet today, around 2 miles.  It’s going to kill me tomorrow, but I’m hoping it will help me get into better shape.  The weather is supposed to be beautiful until Sunday, so I’m going to enjoy as much of it as I can.  More tomorrow hopefully, for now, it’s just another day in Healy, Alaska.

I’m kind of liking the 24 hours of daylight….I’m starting to get used to sleeping through it, but yet I haven’t wanted to sleep later then 6 am because it’s just too nice out to keep sleeping.  I’m hoping I can keep that up all summer and become a morning person….maybe I’ll even get really ambitious and start jogging around the town in the mornings before I go to work! 

So, off at six, but couldn’t punch in to work until 9, so I ate breakfast at the projects, which was actually not bad, and then slowly made my way to the post office to drop off a letter.  I’m guessing that by the time it arrives at its destination, the person will have kielled over from the wait.  Oh well, it was fun to make the trip!  I saw my first bit of wildlife this morning.  A fox crossed the road about fifty feet from me, right in front of two kids on their bikes who were trying to make it on time to school.  Still, can’t say I’m very impressed so far.  It turns out I have already mapped out all of Healy with my feet and I’ve barely been here for two full days.  The realization that boredom may just kill me this summer is sinking in.  It’s also kind of depressing – the weather is amazing, but its like living in a desert.  Everything is as dry as a bone, everything I own is covered in dust, I am surrounded by scrubby, painful brush, and pointy pine trees.  There isn’t anything here…..alive really.  You would think that Alaska in bloom would be lush, the rivers full, the landscape teaming with activity.  Instead, all of the creek beds are dry and everything feels one step from catching on fire…..which is actually happening a lot around here.  The fire warnings are extremely high and there is a fire a few miles away near the mine that’s been raging for three days now.  I hate to say it, but frankly, I’m pretty sick of the landscape.  don’t get me wrong, the mountains are beautiful and I haven’t been into the park yet, but walking around Healy is not helping to improve my image of visiting Alaska.  Oh well, I’m still adjusting and once I settle in, things should hopefully get better.

Still not sure about the living situation yet….I’m hoping this trailer will be cleaned out in two days and I can at least get a look at and see if I actually want to switch.  Right now, both the complex and the trailor hold really good pros and really bad cons.  We’ll see.

That was pretty much my day in a nutshell.  I probably have more to add, but right now, it’s about 9 pm and I just want some down time before I hit the sack and start another long day tomorrow.  I haven’t taken anymore pictures because frankly, I haven’t seen anything else worth taking a picture of.  Hopefully that will change soon too.

I miss home and people I know, but I’m hoping that I’m beginning to get used to this foreign state of being.  Armor on, eyes open, palms clasped.  Nite folks.