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Saturday, June 16, 2007

Hello from Alaska

Howdy folks!

As most of you already know and the rest of you just found out, I'm currently situated at the end of a 90+ mile dirt road in Denali National Park, Akaska. The place I'm working for is called Camp Denali and North Face Lodge. The former sits up on a hill and consists of about 20 one room cabins that guests come to stay in for 3-7 day stays and a whole slew of staff cabins, and common buildings such as the lodge, dining room, showers etc. This division of all the different buildings is more of the traditional rural Alaskan building technique because it reduces the risk of having everything burn down in the case of a fire. North Face on the other hand is more of a motel shaped structure that, as we joke, is only being held out of the black hole beneath it by the layer of permafrost located about 9-16" below the tundra surface. Over the summer I'll try to do my best in giving you a little bit of a tour around, so first off is where I'm living this year. The cabin is called Arnica (everything has a name out here including all of the vehicles) and it's probably one of the oldest cabins around and therefore sways considerably when the wind starts picking up. However that only makes for lying in the hammock an even more enjoyable experience since it swings itself in a very soothing yet sometimes unnerving manner.

Right now the view out the window looks something like this: looks like that if you take out the moose, throw in a whole bunch of gray ominous clouds, and add the imminent chance of rain. Actually, it's been quite overcast alternating with crazy localized weather for most the time time it seems. Just yesterday I headed to change out a huge propane tank at a cabin down the road (that you have to lug up 32 huge steps, I've counted) and was hit by the hardest rain storm that I've experienced in a couple of years including some pea sized hail balls hurtling to earth. Of course I had been "smart" and cleaned out the van the day before of all my random clothes that had accumulated over the last few weeks, so instead of hanging off the back of the driver's seat my rain jacket was hanging on a chair in my cabin. Yay! The really crazy bit is that while the cabin I was at is no more than a mile away from the rest of camp, nobody else knew about the rain or hail.
This year my weeks entail a combination of waking up at 5:30am to clean cabins twice a week, two days of serving morning and night with work running up and down the hill as trash and firewood woman (only the main buildings have electricity), a day of maintenance which can mean pretty much anything, and two glorious days off. And boy oh boy are those two days off glorious.
Tuesday night is our first staff fun night. We try to have one every couple of weeks to keep up moral and give people something to look forward to when their 10hr work day starts at 5:30 in the morning and doesn't get done until 9pm at night. So Tuesday we have our traditional Unbirthday party/Costume party followed by a contra dance (Woo Hoo!). Costumes are obviously encouraged and are commonly made out of everyday materials. A sample photo from last year:

Ok, that's about it for now, hope everybody's getting a chance to have at least a little bit of fun and aren't too bogged down with work/training/life in general. If you have any questions for me or suggestions of the sort of stuff you want to hear about, send me a message at
Peace out!

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