Saturday, September 19, 2009

Back at home

Yesterday was utter HELL.

I woke up at 5am, still hungover from the going away party the night before, to pack the last of my things. At 6 my even more hungover friends went with me to get breakfast, and as we sat in the cafe we looked outside, watching the sun rise, and started to feel really, really bad. Not sick bad, but scared bad. Because while there were clear skies over the town, the direction I needed to fly in was covered over in fog. So I get to the airport at 6:30, thinking I would be flying out of Skagway at 7. Except the plane that was supposed to take me to Juneau? It hadn't left Juneau yet. The weather was too bad.

See, in a tiny little town like Skagway, where the biggest plane that can land seats 12 people, bad weather means you don't get to fly. And in September in Alaska, there's bad weather almost every day. So even though the big Boeing planes in Juneau were taking off, the one that was supposed to come to Skagway to bring me back simply couldn't make it through.

I spent 2 hours napping in the airport. Then at 8:30, two of my coworkers with a 9am flight came in. They joined me on the couch to wait. By 10:30, my flight in Juneau had already left me. My coworkers were panicking about making their flight at 1. One plane had taken off from Juneau, made it about 15 minutes in the air, and had to turn around.

Luckily one of my coworkers, Megan, has connections with our often hard to reach managers. She called the boss up on his cell and said, "Steve Funk, get us out of this town!"

At noon we were seated on a ferry, luggage piled all around us in a cozy den, and headed away from our summer home. For the next 4 hours we played card game after card game, drinking beer, and when we ran out of beer we cracked open the bottle of whiskey in my suitcase. By the time we got off the boat in Juneau at 4, we were good and drunk.

We'd made friends on the boat, so we hitched a ride in the back of someone's truck to the airport. But all three of us had missed our scheduled flights, and the next one leaving for Seattle was at 8. So we sat in a covered bus stop and polished off the last of our whiskey.

Ten minutes after we'd loaded onto the plane, all three of us fell asleep on each others' shoulders and slept through the whole flight. The actual plane ride was only 2 hours and 30 minutes, but it had taken us 12 hours just to get 100 miles from Skagway to Juneau.

It took more time to fly from one state to another than to get to Peru in South America. Does anyone else see a problem with this??

Friday, September 11, 2009

Back from the dead

Well, hello there!

It's been rather silent here for a while. As in, I turned 22 and vanished into the ether. I have a good excuse, though! You see, right after my birthday I ran headfirst into Dead Week and Finals. It was a disaster. There was crying, screaming, flying glass and a fair amount of blood. And once it was all over, I peaced out of there so fast that I (intentionally) forgot to lock the door behind me. Less than 24 hours later I climbed onto an airplane and disappeared into the wilds of Alaska.

I've been here ever since.

Internet access is shaky at best. I haven't streamed a video or downloaded new music since June. This town that I live in? No fast food. No movie theaters. No franchised stores. No indoor swimming pools. It was surreal at first, but in the end it's been good for me. I thought for sure I would die without my daily dose of Hulu. Turns out, there are plenty of other things to do in the day.

Up here in Skagway, Alaska, I spend most of my day driving a 40 foot tour bus up and down the mountain passes, shuttling tourists up to Fraser, B.C. and back. Wake up at 5am, get off work by 6pm (hopefully), crack a beer or two and cook a community dinner with some coworkers in the hotel's kitchen, then fall exhausted into sleep by 10pm. I'm in love with this routine. On days off, I can do anything from spend the day watching cable television, to hiking out to a glacier, to bear hunting and whale watching. I've cuddled a 2 week old Alaskan Husky pup in my Columbia vest while he burrowed his nose into my neck. I've video'd a grizzly catching salmon from less than 30 feet away. I've hiked above the tree line to an alpine lake. I've taken the train out into the Yukon Territory and walked the tail end of the Chilkoot trail. I've traded dirty jokes with a couple from Alberta, Canada. I've blacked out at a company party and found myself fully clothed but soaking wet in my bed the next morning.

I've had the time of my life.

But I'm starting to miss y'all. So I'm heading home soon. See you in 10 days!