A tale of mud, food, and water

No water, no food.  Lots of mud!  What did I get myself into?

But first – a pretty picture.  Because who doesn’t like a pretty picture?

Potter Marsh. Just outside of Anchorage is this beautiful wetland. I regret not going there more during my 5 weeks in Anchorage.

I arrived in the park on Wednesday.  Paying rent at $1350 / month, I was happy to leave Anchorage and come up here, where I live free.

For those of you who think I’m living in Paradise, let me paint a picture for you: the heavy snow is melting, and there are deep mud puddles everywhere.  Don’t even think about wearing nice clothes!  My property is still completely shut down for almost two more weeks, so I’m living at the McKinley Chalet, our other hotel property.  So I’ve moved yet again.  Between couch surfing, moving into an apartment, doing the two week drive to Seattle, moving to Anchorage, moving to the park, and then moving to my property on about May 4 – well, let’s just say I’m doing more than my share of moving in 2011!

But that’s an aside to my story.  Back to the mud and other fun. As the work day ended on Wednesday, I asked a co-worker “what’s the story for dinner?”  She got a horrified look on her face and said “did no one tell you?”

(AWKWARD SILENCE)

No employee dining room, and no way to cook food.  Shit! (sorry Aunt Pat!)  I did NOT come prepared for this!  I didn’t bring enough food, and I have no fuel for my campstove.  No grocery store – they don’t exist here until mid-May when tourist season starts.  Ever tried to survive on nothing but granola bars, apples and bananas?  Went to dinner twice at the restaurant in the nearby metropolis of Healy – my choices were the cholesterol special, the ultra-fat mega-bowl, and the tasteless salad.  Yummy.

Oh, and did I mention NO RUNNING WATER until about May 4?!  We have limited water currently.  All of us are using a community bathhouse / shower room.  That doesn’t stress me out, but let’s just say a middle-of-the-night bathroom run is not ideal.

I was able to move to the HR Manager cabin after initially being in an employee dormitory.  DEE-LUXE living!  Add a stove and this place would be a vast improvement on the studio I lived in in Carbondale for two years.  450 sq. feet, two rooms.  SWEET!  Longer walk to the bathroom, but well worth it.  And the view rocks.  The only bummer is that it will make moving to my permanent summer room harder.  Sigh.

The view from the deck of the cabin I'm currently in. The Nenana river is about 150 ft away.

But more important than that – FOOD!  Woo hoo!  Tonight we were served our first meal – 4 days earlier than anticipated.  Ahhh…. bliss.  Kevin is a happy camper now!

Turnagain Arm. Much of the drive to Seward follows this body of water. When I shot this, breakup was still recent, and there were lots of floating ice chunks. The black color is from the mudflats - at low tide the ice sits on top of mud.

In other news, I did get to Seward with a co-worker last weekend.  Besides getting away, our primary interest was the grey whales, which are finishing their migration up from Baja Mexico.  Our 4 hour whale/wildlife boat tour in Resurrection Bay was pretty spectacular.  Grey whales, sea lions, Dall Porpoises, lots of birds, glaciers, and mountain sheep.  But best of all – my very first sea otter!

I continue to be amazed at the long days here.  As I writie this on April 23, the sky is still light at 10:45pm, and the sun is up at 6:00am.

CAMOUFLAGE, GUNS, AND MOTORS

Had to work the “Alaska Sportsman’s Show” earlier this month as Aramark had a booth.  It’s primarily targeted at the hunting and fishing crowd so we felt a bit out of place.  Ever wonder why it’s always pronounced “huntin” or “fishin”  – why doesn’t anyone pronounce the “g” on the end?  Did we just decide to remove it from the words?

And now… a word from our sponsors

I try not to be catty about clothing options - I've certainly made some interesting choices in my life. But. Wow. Really? This is a good clothing choice?

Gotta love high fashion in Alaska!!

And finally… We started with a pretty picture.  Why not end with a couple more?

I drove into the park last night with a couple of co-workers.  No wildlife made an appearance, but the scenery was spectacular.

About 20 miles in on the park road. The open tundra and taiga is quite unlike Colorado.

Despite the challenges here, ultimately I’m happy.  The scenery is beautiful, I am enjoying my job, I like my co-workers.  I’m happy to be settling into the rhythm of living in a national park again.  I’m still very much adjusting to being without family, but it gets easier every day.

Panorama view at Teklanika River. I curse this tree in the middle of a spectacular view!!!!

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