I have been in Healy now for three weeks. Between when I last wrote to you and now a lot has happened. I visited the beautiful town of Homer Alaska and enjoyed relieving myself in an outhouse that will soon fall off into the ocean due to the peet these buildings were built on that is eroding very fast. I walked along beaches of rocks, most with imprints of leaves and bugs in them from a time long past. If you found a large rock you could pick it apart and find all the layers of leaves and things, it was cool. I was touching black remindents of leaves that existed possibly when dinosaurs were hanging out. I’m going to read this book called the Geology of Alaska that explains a lot of things I've seen, how mountains became, types of rock, what was here a long long time ago such as ocean, etc.
Homer is amazing because it’s warmer (and rainier) and is right on the water. Across the bay is a mountain range that has volcanoes, one of which erupted just a few years ago. There’s a glacier there too. It was really scenic but I know that it can get even more beautiful when the green returns. It was still pretty brown when I was there. However, had it been lush and green I certainly wouldn't have been able to see out of the window of the port o potty voted "best view" in some contest in 1997.
I took a little weekend trip down to Seward with some good friends from Anchorage in means of going sea kayaking and hiking to the nearby glacier. Unfortunately, this is Alaska, it does not warm up very fast and it was not the season to do either of our tasks so we pretty much just had a short road trip, enjoyed hanging out in the oldest bar in Alaska called the Yukon Bar, and went straight back again to a barbecue. It was the last barbecue of the summer for me. :(
So conveniently two nights before I left, I went hiking up this big mountain and came across this bear on this mountain top and I stopped short, waved my hands in the air and loudly called “hey bear” as I backed away (Like I saw in those videos for back country hiking and camping). The bear did a false charge to see what I’d do, which scared me for a split second, but it was a false charge and he stopped… but since I was walking backwards I tripped over a rock and fell down 20, no 30 feet down this hillside getting smacked by rocks and debris and getting tangled in bushes. On that glorious fall a rock sliced through my ankle and I was bleeding pretty bad. So I had to hike the 20 miles back, fording two rivers, one that was up to my waste and just barely above freezing. The last 10 miles I was so exhausted I crawled the rest of the way.
Good story right? yeah, much better than what really happened. So my last night of being out with friends I attempted to side saddle on the back of my friend’s bike. Whilst resting my heal on the small bar, my friend took off on the bike and the spoke of the tire hit the edge of my shoe pulling the shoe in with my foot in tow. After repeated strikes on my ankle by the spoke we stopped and my ankle was thoroughly mangled and bleeding. My shoe was saturated in blood. I really thought I could get away with no stitches for the first bit, until I really looked at it and realized how bad it was. So my buddy took me to the hospital and I got 13 stitches and a lot of disgusting pictures of the doctor putting me back together. They were so bad that I put them on myspace for friends to see and they were removed within 24 hours for being “too offensive”. I was put on crutches for a week and told not to wear shoes with backs for a month. I tried to be in good spirits for all of that, but it meant I could finish packing myself up for the move, nor could I drive my own car to Healy. Luckily we caravaned so two of my new co-workers took my car and I hopped in the big 15 passenger van.
Before heading to Healy we stopped for provisions in Anchorage where I got to drive those little motorized carts around the store. It was pretty awesome. Everyone moves out of your way.
So Healy: small town, very small. Nearest bit of activity is the Canyon which is a good 10 miles or so, which is close to the park entrance. I live in a pimped out house with four bedrooms and two bathrooms, each equipped with showers so there is never waiting in line. Though I went from a very very active life to a lot of down time, I am getting used to it. I play a lot of Sudoku now, killer Sudoku. It’s much harder than regular Sudoku and requires lots of note taking. To be honest this first leg has been pretty hard considering I was on crutches, dependent on everyone helping me with everything, not being able to go anywhere, forced to drive places, no hiking, biking, rafting… I got pretty lonely and sad for a bit. Oh yeah, getting pretty good at Scrabble from playing Scrabulous online and we sometimes have Scrabble parties at our place. Just learned to knit too.
You really don’t acknowledge the simple things in life. Just walking to the post office without crutches for the first time was AWESOME. It was only two blocks and it should take me maybe 15 minutes to get there and back normally, took me much longer to hobble along. I think I was celebrating the day I could even put weight on my foot again. I celebrated when 12 of the 13 stitches came out, via my roommate. Then was most ecstatic when the last one was dug out by the other roommate two days later. (It was a bad wound, I’m going to have a pretty wicked scar).
But it’s been three weeks and I’ve taken the summit flight through our company and got close to Mt. McKinley, saw camps 14 and 17 where the climbers on the mountain were hanging out. Our pilot took us all around the mountain and showed us the glaciers and Wickersham wall on the mountain which is this steep side that only a handful of skiers were successful at skiing it all the way down. First, I’m curious what happened to the unsuccessful ones. And second, if you saw this freakin’ wall, how steep it was, you’d probably poop yourself at even the THOUGHT of trying to ski it. It was pretty much one of the coolest flights ever. Tuttle is a very funny pilot, but he was pretty professional during the flight. On the ground when he takes off and radios in he’s usually saying/singing/gurgling weird stuff to us. We’re the only ones who hear it so it’s okay. We had a puker in front of me so he had to take it easy on us, we could’ve gotten real close along one of the glaciers which would have been bumpy and roller-coaster feeling, but that damn puker ruined it for us hardcore flight lovers. No complaints, he paid $329 and I was on it for free.
We have a glacier landing as well which is on the Ruth Glacier on Mount McKinley. We land in the Don Sheldon Amphitheater and we’re the only one who lands in the park, on the mountain, that flies out of Healy. They are our most popular flights and because of my injury I have yet to be up on it. Will be soon.
Thanks to working here, we put other employees that work here on flights for free and we get on their tours for free. When I take the shuttle into the Denali National Park I should be able to get in for free. I went rafting on Friday for free, and plan on going again when the water is higher. We met a girl that works at a place with horse tours which we can get in on for cheap to free.
So I’m heading to Fairbanks today for provisions. The other roomies went at different times so I’m going to head there and stay over night with my buddy Lily and see a movie, which is a luxury for me out here in the wilderness in my lavish pad. We have satellite here but that’s just not as cool as seeing Indiana Jones in a theater!
I’ve been doing a lot of research on what to do next. I love Alaska a lot and can see myself staying here long term, but that means settling down now and I don’t really want to do that. I’ve been researching stuff anywhere from working in the down under, to sailing, to going to school in Thailand to become a diving instructor. I’m pretty open and still have the world at my finger tips. Problem is there is so much amazing things to do, so little time. So that’s my story, too bad none of you folks will come out to visit me cause I could get you sweet deals on flights too. Not to make anyone feel guilty or anything, just sayin’.
I have pictures that I will put in a separate blog, our internet connection is so bad here that I can't upload anything. Bueno, cheers.