Transit, travel

Alaska

This week last year I was in Alaska for the first time. I traveled by plane to Fairbanks, by train to Anchorage, then Whittier, by ferry to Cordova, plane again to Anchorage and then of course by plane back to Minnesota. Loving both trains and boats, it was the perfect trip for me.

In Fairbanks I Couchsurfed for the first time and couldn’t have found more gracious hosts. Though I arrived pretty late in the evening the lady of the house stayed up and chatted with me for a good two hours. We quickly became friends and I continue to look forward to her Facebook posts about all they see and do up there. If you’re not familiar with Couchsurfing, it’s pretty much just crashing at a stranger’s place. Of course you read all about them and weed out the creepies first. Being that I love meeting new people, I highly recommend it but realize it’s not for everyone.

Early the next morning I was up to catch the train to Anchorage. It took me far too long to discover that I could hang out in the open air vestibule as much as I wanted, but upon that discovery that’s pretty much what I did the rest of the day! I now understand what a thrill it must be to hop a train. So far removed from roads, seeing landscapes few others will see.

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Reflections on the train.

It was the clearest, bluest sky I have ever seen and Denali was out in full the entire day. Absolutely breathtaking. It was tough to find an open vestibule whenever it returned to view but I managed to get a few good shots.

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The ride to Anchorage was a little over 12 hours but it never once felt too long. If anything, it wasn’t long enough. Should you ever visit (and you should!! now! and take me with!), make sure to add the Alaska Railroad to your itinerary.

I stayed one night in Anchorage at a hostel, also my first time doing that. I was looking forward to meeting people there but never really got that part of the experience as I wasn’t there very long. The only thing remarkable about my stay was that my phone died. Luckily I had the Kindle Fire I purchased for the trip so that I was able to connect when I needed to.

The next morning I boarded another train for Whittier, where I needed to catch my ferry to Cordova the next day. Another beautiful ride. I had read a little about the town and it sounded interesting enough to stay the night in but as I was chatting with one of the employees on the train he mentioned a catchphrase of those not living in town is “There’s nothing shittier than Whittier.” With that, and his belief that I could possibly catch the ferry leaving in 5 minutes, I ran towards the ferry terminal. Quite the sight I’m sure with a 30lb pack on my back. No real surprise, I didn’t make it. I briefly sulked but soon picked myself up and explored the little town. Not much to explore but large enough that it took a considerable amount of time to find a shoe I lost while wandering. (from my pack, not my foot.)

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Marina in Whittier

I found lodging with a bar and spent a large portion of the rest of my day and night there, chatting with local fishermen. So many stories! I don’t think you’ll find a group of guys with better tales to tell. I wrote down many of the details somewhere, but as I was recalling my dead phone it reminded me that the Kindle I brought with me has since died and may have taken my notes with it.

The next day I hopped on the ferry to Cordova, another amazing ride. To be on the water surrounded by mountains is my dream come true. I lived it for 3 hours or so that day.

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Cordova is a pretty neat town, only accessible by boat or plane. I spent all 6 nights of my stay there in a boat, did some hiking, danced at Salmon Jam, experienced gillnetting (pulled the salmon from the net with my bare hands!) and was pretty much awestruck every day by the beauty around me.

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View from my “bed” one morning.

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Just a glacier. And one of my favorite pics of the trip.

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I was told this boat is kind of a big deal.

I hadn’t really planned my departure from Cordova but enjoyed it so much that I decided I’d fly back to Anchorage so I could spend as much time there as possible. Though I didn’t consider it so at the time being it caused me to miss my office summer party, the plane I was supposed to take out of there couldn’t land and I was gifted with an extra day in Alaska. And over 12 hours in the Anchorage airport. In case you should ever have to sleep there, it’s a little drafty. Be sure to pack a blanket! (recalling that part reminded me I did hand write my notes this trip. whew! now to find them. so happy my brain is still able to connect some of the dots.)

Though I had long wanted to leave Minnesota, it was Alaska that ultimately set the wheels in motion. I knew I couldn’t live away from the mountains any longer. Could I live in Alaska? Maybe some day. I still loved city life too much. The decision to move to Seattle was largely due to its proximity to Alaska (in addition to having mountains, lots of water and a huge city), thinking I could more easily travel there. I thought I’d get back there this year but have been pretty smitten by this wonderful new city I have to explore. Hopefully 2015 will afford me the time to enjoy both of them.

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moving

Moving Again

I started my search for a place a couple of months before I moved here. I found a couple of people who were also looking, some men who seemed to be looking for a girlfriend, one who proposed and another who offered me a place in Goa, India. Lucky for me I had a friend with a room that didn’t mind me and Murphy staying for a few months, and that’s where I’ve been for most of my time here so far.

In those five months I’ve grown to love so many things about my neighborhood. The Olympic Mountains are visible from the balcony every clear day. The beach is just over a 2 mile walk away. My first weekend out I found a favorite bar where the staff have become friends. The neighbors in the building mostly love Murphy but occasionally talk to me too (and leave me their leftover produce bags) and I’ve met great people while out walking nearby. Even the familiarity of the homeless guys at Safeway is somewhat of a comfort to me. But my living arrangement was meant to be temporary so after I settled into my job I started looking again.

I posted another ad on Craigslist, modified to be clear I wasn’t looking for love, and got quite a few responses. Many were too far for me to bus to work without leaving Murphy alone for far too long every day. And though they’d be roommate situations, I don’t want to have to rely on anyone else to take care of him. One man responded to my ad every time I reposted, saying he noticed I hadn’t found anything yet and was I sure I didn’t want to at least come look at the place though it was out of the area I wanted to be in. Another man responded a couple of times, and being that the room seemed like a great deal I finally called as he had requested in his email. The room was in the loft where he and his wife kept their computer desk but would arrange for times it would be best to use it. Also, they were former nude models and he continued to do some, but mostly now they were just nude around the house and would that offend my sensibilities at all? I was still going to check the place out after that but it bothered me a little that he didn’t just come out and say that during our email correspondence so I canceled.

Then there was one guy who seemed normal and actually responded once I got back to him so I agreed to meet up at a bar one weekend afternoon. In person he still seemed normal and I think we chatted for at least an hour, maybe even two, which is more than I can say for any dates I’ve had so why wouldn’t I just move in with this guy? He had a dog too and was going to be renting a house with a yard so it seemed like a perfect set up. It was still a few months out so we agreed to stay in touch and set up a time for the dogs to meet.

During the in between time I met a couple also having a dog and looking for a good dog friendly space. She worked at a dog day care and could potentially bring Murphy there now and then. Seemed like a great idea but ultimately it just wasn’t easy to find a place that allowed two dogs without any restrictions. When I did find what seemed like a perfect space, a block from a bus that would almost dump me on my office doorstep, no pet restrictions, remodeled everything, he was unable to reach her in time and the person who looked at it after me scooped it up. (I see their bikes on the balcony every time I go by. I hate them.) The couple had a lead on a studio in a good location for them so I encouraged them to go for it and as luck would have it, they got it. I don’t think I would have enjoyed living with a couple anyway, with all their holding hands and cuddling and kissing and doing fun things together. So dumb. 🙂

The time came when potential new roomie and dog could meet up and it also worked that I could see the house. So I grabbed a super quick bus over there after work one day. Unfortunately he was running late and unable to bring his dog, so I was going to have to meet up with this slacker again for the dogs to meet. (if you’re reading this Ryan, you know I’m joking. besides, you said I was a jerk when I couldn’t go to add-a-ball last week.) I liked the house though, it’s cute, has a fenced in yard, an eat in kitchen, a super cool old stove with TWO ovens, a bathroom with a window and a good sized basement for whatever one might need that for. And it’s in a great neighborhood, close to Lake Union, lots of bars and restaurants, also not far from Green Lake and other things I enjoy seeing/doing. He bought me a beer for his being late and we still got along so I agreed to meet him one more time for the dogs to get together.

We planned to meet at a dog park in the next week or so. Turned out not only was I going to meet his dog, but also his girlfriend. He assured me she wouldn’t beat me up so I went as planned. The dogs got along fine, the girls got along fine and being at a point where I couldn’t imagine a better living situation for Murphy right now and I also didn’t want to look anymore, I told him I’d move in. Since then he’s invited me out a few times and the one time I could go I met a couple of his friends that I’m pretty sure I’ll get along with too.

So yeah, I’m moving again.

And I’m really going to miss my current home and especially my friend/gracious host. But I’m excited for a new neighborhood, making new friends and most of all having a yard and a friend for Murphy.

 

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Uncategorized

The Notebook

When I was in grade school, I was a notorious note passer. I still remember my 5th grade teacher intercepting a note in which I professed my love for a classmate (and my begging for him to return it without reading it). In junior high, I won a class award for my prolific note writing and started many a comic strip in note form. And I still have the notebooks from high school that me and my friends passed back and forth to save the trouble of ripping out pages and trying to fold what sometimes were multiple pages of teenage girl thoughts (those were also intercepted a time or two, creating fears of secret loves revealed). Even now I’ll write emails to my sister and friends all day long. So it’s been surprising how hard it is for me to keep up a blog. I am definitely not lacking in things to say. Many, many weird and interesting things have happened to me here. And my move has sparked hours of introspection and reflection.

Perhaps it’s that writing a blog (an unpopular one anyway) is absent the anticipation and eventual excitement of a reply. Or maybe I’m just lazy. Either way, I do have a few things I want to share with the universe so expect more from me shortly. 

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