What is Living in Alaska Like?

Our preferred method of travel is to spend enough time in an area to get a feel for what living there would be like, and we were excited about our four months in Alaska because we thought we would really get to know the land and the people who lived there.  After a couple of weeks though I have to say, I can’t come close to answering what living here is like.  It’s always very clear that we are guests here, and the fact that it is very different in the summer here than it is in the winter is always front and center. Locals talk about things in that way.  Sentences often start with “In the summer” because the same rules simply don’t apply the other 8 months of the year.  So at this point I can only give you impressions and those impressions are only based on the tourist season.  Because of that I thought about holding off on writing these thoughts down, but I am not so good at remembering initial feelings after time has passed, and more importantly these thoughts are what I have to work with right now.  If this post ends up being all over the place, that is pretty reflective of where we have been the last two weeks, because Alaska is definitely its own unique place.  Seriously, I have had an easier time getting settled into foreign countries than I have here.

A big part of it is the weather. The constant sunshine (roughly 19 hours a day at this point) is mildly unsettling.  It hasn’t had the major impact on us that it has on some folks.  I can fall asleep when it’s so bright outside you feel like you need sunglasses (not exaggerating that), but I don’t sleep as long.  I tend to wake up at least once a night to go to the bathroom, and when I get up because it’s light outside it’s a little harder to fall back asleep.  The robins are crazy chatty at dawn (which happens to come at 4am here) and I am countering that by using my white noise machine which works well, but at this point I am unwilling to darken all the windows and live in a cave, so I just have to deal with the light.

The temperature is also strange.  In the sun it’s often T-shirt or even shorts warm, but the wind is generally cool and it often gets down to 40 at night, or cooler. Lots of layers are called for, and many days I am in jeans, then shorts, then back to jeans again and a T-shirt, fleece, coat, then back to T-Shirt again.   It’s also very dry here (to the point where you feel dehydrated if you are not careful), but it also rains quite a bit.  I know that doesn’t make any sense, but it’s true.  In the same day it can be blustery, calm, pouring rain, and hot sunshine, sometimes the change can all happen in a couple of hours.  I am not a  meteorologist, but I am sure a big part of that is the mountains. And the wind here is interesting.  Wind is your friend; it keeps the mosquitoes at bay, and since the wind is crisp, clean and sharp (almost like a fall wind but without the fall smell) I don’t mind it as much.

Oh, and speaking of the mountains, since we are working and have been very busy getting the grounds cleaned up (mowing lawns, weed whacking, planting flowers, etc) whole days go by when I don’t walk out to the road and see Mt. Drum. So when I do catch a glimpse of it my initial response is “Holy crap that’s big”. Here in our little corner of the world, you kind of forget about the wildness of the place.  We’ve been very focused on prepping this campground for the mid-June business spike and as such our focus has been a little narrow, but even a short drive outside of town and you are in the wild.  Speaking of town, Glennallen gives a whole new meaning to the word small town.  We’ve seen lots of them in our travels, but up here a small town means less than 1,000 people, and that is considered a town.  “The City” is Anchorage and that’s where people go for Best Buy, Home Depot, Walmart, etc.  Everyone else makes do with coming to the nearest town which is Glennallen.  So what does a town have here?  It’s a really short strip along the main highway, and we have a few gas stations (one with towing and auto repair), a cell tower, one radio station (light christian rock and local talk radio), a hair place, a tiny library, a tiny school, a post office, an IGA, a general store with a small Radio Shack section, a Tru Value Hardware store, a laundromat, a couple of RV parks and lodges,  two banks, two tiny churches, and two liquor stores.  It also is the hub of medical treatment in the area with a dentist, chiropractor, and a small urgent care. Because of all the tourist activity and proximity to federal land, it also has a visitor’s center, department of fish and game, and BLM office.

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IGA

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The prices are weird. Hagen Daz ice cream is $22 a gallon, but Tilamook is $7.99 better than I paid in Glacier

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The general store is a true hodge podge of stuff and their gas is 10 cents cheaper than anywhere else in town

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Pizza, greeting cards, clothing, some groceries. You name it, they might have it

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The Radio Shack section of the general store

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The fishing section

So what don’t we have that almost every small town in the lower 48 has?   There is no “over the air” television of any kind,  no McDonald’s, no Dollar store (which is really surprising because those seem to be everywhere), no fire department, no local police (state trooper barracks is down the road a bit), no bars, and no town government. In the lower 48 you would consider it a spit in the road, but it’s not here, because this is the place people even farther out come for services. The nearest Ford Dealership is 3-1/2 hours away and the nearest grocery store is Safeway in Valdez about 1-1/2 hours away.  Which is actually all kind of cool.  It is not “Everywhere USA”. You know, the homogenized, strip mall version of the United States that is all too common.  And the people who live here are used to making do with what they have.  They consolidate their trips to “The City” as they call Anchorage.  They live off the land and they take advantage of the revenue from tourist season to get by.  What we have been told by more than one local is that there is a shortage of labor here in the summer, but in the winters work is difficult to find.  It depends on your skill set of course, but the “real oil money” flows out of the state and back into Texas.  The Athna people do have some funds though.  Because of the 1971 Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act, there are 13 regional corporations that administer the claims and manage the funds, and which essentially provides income to the natives through privately owned  stock in the corporations. The corporations manage the funds, the remaining tribal lands, and the resources and in this area Ahtna Inc. is the biggest employer in town.  The Ahtna  people also have the right to subsistence hunting and fishing that the non-native locals do not have.  There is an interesting relationship between the eskimos and the other locals and frankly I am still trying to get a handle on it.

You would think in this environment that everyone knows everyone, but that is actually not the case.  Dale, for example, who has worked in the Visitor’s Center for the last 4 years didn’t know Bob, the local who has been working on our propane issues here at the campground.  That I don’t get at all, except maybe that people largely keep to themselves.  But they don’t always.  People who have been around for 20 plus years all seem to know each other, but the more recent transplants haven’t met as many people.  Maybe it’s the weather that keeps people inside most of the year, maybe it’s the personality type of people drawn to this place, or maybe I keep expecting Mayberry and simply not seeing that.  Either way, I can absolutely say at this point that “normal” rules don’t apply.  You simply can’t assume anything here. And again that’s largely OK, but the combination of all these factors does leave a person from away feeling vaguely unsettled.  It’s still early and maybe by the end of 4 months we will have it all figured out, but honestly I doubt it.

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Really nice visitors center here. Hopefully I will get to volunteer a little

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Nice display of the Athna people

So now that I have set the stage on the area, what have we been doing since I last blogged?  Well, we are both very busy getting things organized for the season.  We have had a slow start to the summer according to Marc and Darlene and we actually think it may be due to the weak Canadian dollar.  Dale in the visitor center says he is seeing far fewer Canadians than usual, and that appears to be having a big impact on business.  Plus, we learned the salmon are running a little later this year than usual and many folks visit the Copper Valley region for the fishing.  Princess Cruises even has a lodge 12 miles down the road so people can come here and fish. We haven’t seen it in person yet but the pictures look really nice.  We are taking advantage of the relative slowness to get things organized and trim back some of the grounds.  You can’t just indiscriminately cut stuff down here.  There are blueberry bushes, raspberry bushes, wild roses, and many other flowering species that you want to let live, but you also want to get rid of the weeds.  We are still learning what is what, but as more things bloom it gets easier and easier.

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Office before

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And after

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Particularly proud of this. We setup a book area and a DVD free loan area (with donations for us and Marc) and so far it’s been a hit. Since there is no TV we can offer DVD’s instead which people seem to appreciate after a long travel day

The roses are blooming everywhere and so pretty

The roses are blooming everywhere and so pretty

Amazing to me how different the prickly rose is from what we are used to as a culitvated rose

Amazing to me how different the prickly rose is from what we are used to as a cultivated rose

These propane mosquito eaters fill up with thousands of mosquitos in no time and one of Lee's jobs is to empty them. Battling mosquitoes is a full time job here!

These propane mosquito eaters fill up with thousands of mosquitoes in no time and one of Lee’s jobs is to empty them. Battling mosquitoes is a big time job here!

Then towards the end of our second week, Darlene the owner had an abcess and Marc had to take her to Anchorage for an emergency root canal. Thankfully she is fine and it was great that they felt they could trust us alone with the place.  We really enjoyed those two days (after we worked through “you are not the boss of me”) and it really proved to us that we can do this!!  And luckily she felt well enough to stay in their house in Anchorage while Marc came back and gave us our days off.  Jim and Barb were stopping by on their summer long tour of Alaska and we were so looking forward to it.  They have been traveling in a small truck camper they bought used just for the trip (they plan on selling it as soon as they are done) and because they can go almost everywhere and love to fish they spent two months making it to this point!  Jim writes one of my favorite blogs and we adore their little dog Daisy so it was a real treat to get to see them.  Since the weather was the coldest it’s been when they arrived, we went down to Caribou Lodge in town and had lunch.  People often ask me where they can get a meal in town and I wanted to try to to give them a first hand review.  Turned out it was really good and we all loved our meal, plus it was a nice warm place to get caught up.  And they have a really great gift store with lots of local artisans displaying their work there.

Jim and Barb are here!!

Jim and Barb are here.  There truck camper is really nice.

Got them settled into a dry camping spot in the back for $24.30 a night with Good Sam discount

Got them settled into a dry camping spot in the back for $24.30 a night with Good Sam discount

Daisy loves playing with any rock she finds. She's so cute!

Daisy loves playing with any rock she finds. She’s so cute!

Caribou Lodge

Fireweed Grill at the Caribou Lodge

The restaurant

The restaurant

Loved the counter!

Loved the counter!

Jim and Barb

Jim and Barb

My $11 BLT was a triple decker and really very good

My $11 BLT was a triple decker and really very good

I bought this cool $8 coffee cup made locally from Alaska clay. Love, love it!

I bought this cool $8 coffee cup made locally from Alaska clay. Love, love it!

Because it had rained the two nights before they came and we couldn’t mow back there, the mosquitoes were a little crazy, so we made a campfire for them, provided some bug spray and pulled out these mosquito sticks which seemed to work pretty good.  We were going to cook dinner, but Barb and Jim insisted on making us some fresh trout they had recently caught and cooked it with butter on the grill.  I’ve never had fresh trout before and it was pretty good.  I liked it much better than the salmon we tried a few days prior.  We had some baby potatoes to add to the mix and we sat outside until it started raining.  Then Barb showed me the cake she made me because she remembered I liked it so much in Quartzsite.  It is a white cake with jello in it and I am definitely stealing that recipe for desert nights here!

The next day Lee had to drive to the Ford dealer in Wasilla (home of Sarah Palin) and get the left front brake repaired.  Despite our having a platinum warranty with Ford the dealer said it would be $1100 because the brake pad wasn’t replaced in time and the rotors were ruined.  When Lee called me to let me know, I was instantly mad.  We had the brake pads checked in Rock Hill right before we left, and according to them they were fine, and now my platinum warranty wouldn’t cover it??  I don’t think so.  I called Ford and they said it was covered and gave me a claim number for the dealer to call.  The Service Manager didn’t want to bother with it because he “was sure it wouldn’t be covered”, but guess what, it was!!  So mini rant here.  This is not the first time this is happened.  Every time we go in for our 100% covered pre-paid service intervals, they try to charge us for fuel filters or some other nonsense, and when we have other covered service work done they are always trying to charge us extra. I don’t know if it’s intentional because they want more money than the warranty company reimburses for, or just not understanding what the plans cover, but it is starting to make me very angry.  $1,100 is a pretty big mistake to make and if we had taken them at their word once again we would have had a huge hit to the monthly budget.  OK rant over, as it turned out OK, but I really should write a letter or something.

While Lee was dealing with that (it took 15 hours all in to drive there, wait for the work to be done, and drive back), Jim, Barb, and I did a little exploring. We went over to the visitor’s center for Wrangell-St. Elias park and watched the movie, and took a small 1 – mile hike.  It was still pretty blustery in the morning but that was a good thing as the mosquitoes are pretty bad on this particular hike normally, and we all enjoyed the 22 minute movie on the park.  Wrangell-St. Elias is the largest park in the United States (larger than Switzerland) and holds 9 of the highest mountains in North America.  Unfortunately for us, very little of the park is accessible by car and most of it can only be accessed via boat or airplane.  So, watching the movie in this case was great because you got to see pictures of the amazing vistas.  Several companies in the area sell helicopter and airplane tours and we may have to do one of those at some point, because it truly looks amazing.  Oh and interesting story, the ranger asked us where people where from and mentioned she grew up in Dublin, Ohio!!  I grew up in Grove City which is about 20 minutes away.  When she was a teenager her family farm was taken to build the outer belt and she decided after college to move to Alaska because of the impact the urban growth had on her.  She has been here ever since and what a small world it is.

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The big skull is grizzly bear

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You could feel all these pelts, my favorite was the marten which was super soft

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The ranger from Ohio

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Views on the hike of the valley were pretty

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The copper river

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Barb made us peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for lunch! She even added a little chocolate.

Then afterwards we drove down to Copper Center which is a tiny hamlet where many people died during the Gold Rush years.  They ended up getting scurvy because there was no vitamin C in their diet, or many froze to death.  Little gold was found in the area and the only reason the town still exists is the military used it as a supply depot.

Copper Center

Copper Center

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Jim really wanted to see the river closeup though, so we stopped and walked back a little ways to the river.  Holy cow!! I don’t think I would have ever done that, and because we did had one of my best Alaska experiences to date.  There were at least 6 eagles flying along the beautiful river and they were swooping down and trying to catch fish. Absolutely, positively fantastic!!

The river

The river

Must have been pretty deep because this boat drove by

Must have been pretty deep because this boat drove by

Folks were out fishing

Folks were out fishing

The flowers were beautiful

The flowers were beautiful

Jim spotted this two year old juvenile bald eagle right away

Jim spotted this two year old juvenile bald eagle right away.  We know it’s a juvenile because of the white mottling on its chest

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It was across the river so best closeup I could get

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Another juvenile in flight

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A mature bald eagle

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Loved, loved this shot.  Can’t wait to get a better one of an eagle diving.  Since this spot is less than 15 minutes from where we are staying I think I will get the chance again!

The best of the day

The best of the day

I was giddy with excitement during the period they were active around us, and then they all wandered off.  It was absolutely amazing.  We walked around a bit and then drove down to the bridge and watched the fishermen for awhile.  The fish don’t eat when they are “running” so fisherman try to hook them and yank them out of the water.  Kind of interesting, and we went into a cool little fisherman charter business and talked to a very knowledgeable young woman Miranda for quite some time.  She knows her fish and her and Jim talked for quite some time.  I didn’t understand much of what they said, but it sounded interesting.  If the annual fishing licenses here weren’t $150 I would give it a go, but that’s just too much money.  Plus, more than one fisherman said that when the fish are running you can easily catch your limit (5 salmon a day), in under 5 minutes or so.  Not really my thing, but it was great learning about it with Jim and Barb and they may stop on their way back and give it a try.

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It was a really great day.  Amazing animal sightings, being with good friends, learning about the area, and picking up some flyers for our guests from Copper Central. Plus we ended the night with a spaghetti dinner and Barb and Jim really liked it.  Spaghetti is my go to dinner to fix for folks and I figured they would like it because it’s not something they would fix in their truck camper.  Looking forward to reading about their adventures as they continue across the state, and again was so grateful for the visit!  Now that the truck is fixed we can take our own day trip on our next days off, and I am looking froward to doing more exploring.


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First Time Work Kamping in Alaska

Here we are at Glennallen and what I call the third phase of our full timing experience is now beginning.  Since we don’t have investments or pensions to rely on, we always knew we would have to continue working.  Initially, I  kept my corporate job and our travels and choices revolved around that. Then I was offered a buy-out and for a pretty terrific five month period I had paychecks coming in without needing to work.  OK, that was awesome!  Now we start a new phase in which we work seasonal jobs, hopefully in beautiful places, and see if we can make enough money to support our budget.  What better place to start this phase than in Alaska??? When we were looking for a position many of them were geared toward retired couples who were looking to supplement their retirement,and the schedules were setup to maximize downtime.  That makes perfect sense really, and our friends Kelly and Bill have a position they are sharing with another work kamper couple that is 7 days on and 7 days off.  This will give them lots of time to explore, and was perfect for their situation.  Ours though was different.  In order to make the finances work we wanted to have a gig working 40 hours a week, and luckily Marc and Darlene, the owners of Northern Nights Campground and RV Park, were able to make that work.  More importantly, they were very interested in us as people with unique skill sets.  I spoke to many potential employers when looking for a summer position who in my estimation were looking for “warm bodies.”  There’s  nothing wrong with that as they have a business to run, but not something we were particularly interested in.  Marc and Darlene were the only people I talked to who truly seemed interested in what we had to bring as individuals and definitely were the only folks who expressed an interest in hearing our ideas for improvement.  Since I spent years building a career revolving around process improvement, this was the deciding factor for me.

So I was so pleased that on Monday morning (during our two hour introduction/orientation meeting) their philosophy of continuous improvement was evident in everything they said.  This may be a small, family-owned campground, but they are committed to making it the best it can be, and were excited about new ideas we brought to the table.  They also “inventoried” our skill sets during that meeting and started to build a summer plan around them.  For me, the most interesting part of the meeting was when we started to talk about what we had to offer.  Lee rattled off his very long list of skills and they got more and more excited.  He can work on almost anything, from electric and plumbing to painting and light carpentry, and his years of production experience give him a unique way of solving problems and looking at everything with an eye towards theater. His “MacGyver” skill set will be very valuable here.  I, on the other hand, had to dig a little deeper.  Certainly my Lean Six Sigma experience and process improvement experience will come in handy, but I had to think back to jobs I had very early in my career.  I left the meeting feeling great about our prospects for the summer but also mildly unsettled about where I fit in. I didn’t have time to ponder on it too much though because we spent the rest of Monday moving into the brand new site they had created for us and spending time with Kelly and Bill before they moved on to their summer jobs in Seward.

Our campsite. I actually like being in the front and since we have a front living room, the trees are nice. This is the roadside view

Our campsite. I actually like being in the front and since we have a front living room, the trees are nice. This is the roadside view.

And the campground side view

And the campground side view

As the next few days passed, my feelings of being unsettled grew.  Darlene was extremely patient with me as I struggled to grasp some of the basic elements of the job.  Let’s face it, some of my skills were a bit rusty (I haven’t been responsible for a cash drawer since I was 19, for example) and the campground business isn’t nearly as simple as it looks from the outside.  Quite a bit goes into just deciding what site to put people into.  As with most older campgrounds, the site sizes are not all the same and larger vehicles with multiple slide-outs can’t fit just anywhere.  We have plenty of sites to fit those rigs and love to have them, but it isn’t one size fits all.  Darlene knows the campground inside and out, and makes those decisions easily and quickly.  I needed to learn quite a bit before I even started feeling comfortable, and it involved many questions and some walking around the sites and acclimating myself.  As frustrated as I was getting with myself about the slow learning curve, Darlene seemed to take it in stride.  She knows how hard this is, and had no expectation I would learn it over night.  And for me it wasn’t just the office elements of the job.  I love getting outside and working also, which Marc and Darlene are happy to accommodate, but again, in this area I find my skills are sorely lacking.  I am able bodied and willing, just don’t have a ton of experience.  It wasn’t until Lee taught me how to use the weed trimmer and I spent a happy hour trimming weeds that I really started to feel better.  It turns out I like doing it (although my upper body definitely felt the workout) and I seemed to pick that up pretty quickly.  That boosted my confidence and more importantly gave me something I could do to contribute during the slow periods between guest arrivals.  I also spent some time organizing the back room of the office and definitely felt in my element as this was work I had done in the more recent past.

Welcome to Northern Nights!! Lee helped hang this new sign

Welcome to Northern Nights!! Lee helped hang this new sign.

 

The small office I work in

The small office I work in

Really comfy chair!! It's the little things

Really comfy chair and everyone loves the bear picture when they walk in. One of the things we’ve already done is take down the banner and replace it with a nice triple picture set of the local mountain, Mt. Drum.

Walk out to the road, look left and here's what you see. Wow!! Mt. Drum in all it's glory

Walk  a few yards out to the road, look left and here’s my view.Wow!! Mt. Drum in all it’s glory

 

Nice campsites with some tree separation. So glad it's not a parking lot.

Nice campsites with some tree separation. So glad it’s not a parking lot!

Showers house, modern bathrooms, and laundry room

Shower house, modern bathrooms, and laundry room.

The really nice cabins in the back have a view of the mountain as well

The really nice cabins in the back have a view of the mountain as well

This is a fish wheel which is used by the natives for subsistence fishing which is allowed by the government. Darlene tried to explain it to me but it seemed complicated. Can't wait to see these in action when the salmon start to run

This is a fish wheel which is used by the native tribes for subsistence fishing.  Can’t wait to see these in action when the salmon start to run.

While I was getting acclimated, Lee jumped right in with his usual gusto.  He spent three happy days cleaning out and organizing the huge workshop tucked away in the back of the campground, and when he put in electrical outlets and lights for them, Marc and Darlene were thrilled.  He also repaired some token operated showers (because water must be trucked in, the showers are 7 minutes long per token, but nice and hot, and the water is good), hung some signs, and fixed several small things.  You probably know enough about Lee by this point to get that he was perfectly content.  Marc and Darlene were smart enough to give him a prioritized list, say “GO!”, and largely stay out of his way, and he had a huge impact immediately.  I was so happy that it was going so well for him, but to be honest this did heighten my feelings of insecurity.  Once again, Lee seemed made for this lifestyle, and I was struggling to find my way. Thankfully, Darlene is a very easy person to talk to and I was able to share with her a little about how I was feeling.  She definitely got it because Marc is going through the same thing.  Until two months ago Marc held a high level job in an oil corporation about two hours away and had just retired.  Prior to this year Darlene managed the campground and Marc came out on every other weekend.  Now he was finding his place as well in the day-to-day operations and we were all kind of figuring out where we fit together.  This all could have been a recipe for disaster, but Darlene stepped in and brought us all together for a meeting near the end of our first week.  We finalized our rough schedules (they will change by necessity as the season gets busier) and our various areas of responsibility.  It was a really good meeting not only because it was collaborative, but also because at the very beginning of it Marc and Darlene gave us both raises.  Based upon what they had seen from us so far, they adjusted our hourly wage and wow, did that mean a lot to both of us.  We had made a commitment for a certain dollar amount, which we were going to make it work financially, it would just be tight.  Marc and Darlene didn’t have to pay us more, and the fact that they did says a lot about them as people.  And for me personally, it immediately showed that they value what I had to offer.  Very, very cool.

Lee's big workshop

Lee’s big workshop

Boy was he happy

Boy was he happy

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Shower token machine he fixed.  How did he even know how to do that??

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Each site gets two free tokens. Folks with showers in their RV’s don’t need them, but people in truck campers and smaller rigs love them.  I just have to remember to hand them out 🙂

 

Lee fixed the moose antler for me which was very cool!!

Lee fixed the moose antler for me which was very cool!!

The other really great thing that happened this week was they sent us to the local Copper River Valley Chamber of Commerce dinner.  This was a huge expression of faith in us and I took that responsibility very seriously.  Darlene wanted us to attend so that we could meet people and local folks would know who we were, but she also sent me with a list of questions she wanted answered. The event was great.  It was held at Tosina River lodge that is Russian owned, and the food was wonderful, and we got to meet so many people from the local school principal to the director of the visitors center.  It was different though.  Lee and I have both spent a fair amount of time in very small towns, we raised our kids in small towns, and Lee has attended many, many chamber of commerce meetings.  But as we soon learned, there are small towns in the lower 48 (25,000 or less) and small towns up here (1,500 or less).  Big, big difference!! The topics were interesting.  You could have heard a pin drop during the “Summer Highway Repair” report, for instance, which makes sense, since tourism is huge factor up here, but it was also very informal because everyone knows everyone.  As the new shiny faces in the group, people were very interested in talking to us, and I am so glad we had an opportunity to go.  I loved it, and definitely hope we get to go again.

The president of the chamber wore a different hat for each section of the agenda. I loved that he put a leather pilots cap on during the flight sight seeing section of the agenda! Oh and check out that huge bearskin rug on the back wall. Don't see that every day!

The president of the chamber wore a different hat for each section of the agenda. I loved that he put a leather pilots cap on during the helicopter sight-seeing section of the agenda! Oh, and check out that huge bear skin rug on the back wall. Don’t see that every day! Also the table (which is just a sheet of plywood on a couple of flimsy plastic sawhorses) behind him collapsed more than once during his presentation, but everyone totally took it in stride.  Very funny!

They had a full house, pulling businesses from as far away as Valdez

They had a full house, pulling people  from as far away as Valdez

This is how the helicopter touring company folks came to the meeting. Not only do they do sightseeing, but also precision flying for the drilling companies. And two of the flyers were young women who flew apache helicopters for the military. Badass!!

This is how the helicopter touring company folks came to the meeting. Not only do they do sightseeing, but also precision flying for the drilling companies. And two of the pilots were very young women who flew Apache helicopters for the military. Badass!!

One of our favorite people who owns both the local fireworks store, but also makes his own special flies which come with free fly fishing lessons. Definitely need to get Ben introduced with him when he comes up!!

One of our favorite people who owns the local fireworks store, but also makes his own special flies which come with free fly fishing lessons. Definitely need to get Ben introduced with him when he comes up!!

I'm talking to the local head of the BLM who was great. Every sense we worked for Stan and the BLM they hold a special place in my heart

I’m talking to the local head of the BLM who was great. Ever since we worked for Stan and the BLM they hold a special place in my heart

 

Oh, and did I mention the views?  The constant daylight made the 30 minute trip to the venue a joy and we stopped on the way back to take a couple of pictures.  After seeing this I am really looking forward to Sunday and Monday (our first days off) to get out and explore the area.  Can’t wait to see what happens next.

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Road to the lodge

 

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Oh and I forgot to mention my absolute favorite part of the job.  Rock is the puppy owner of the place and the one really in charge.  He is completely awesome, but a little bossy 🙂

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