Friday, June 29, 2007

Ten hours driving = Denali

This morning I picked up 37 guests from the ship in Seward. I could tell from the start that this tour would be different than my others. First, the group has been on vacation for seven days, and second, they've been pampered the entire time.

Everyone seems great, but not extremely excited about the tour. In addition there is a family of ten traveling together that is causing some guests to be upset. Combined, the family has six children undr the age of 11. The problem isn't so much the kids, but the parents that let them run wild. I'm fraid this is something I will have to address shortly for the sake of the other passengrs. The worst part is the parents don't act much better.

Tomorrow they're all off on the tundra wilderness tour, so I'll see if any guests report to me concerned about the situation.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Photo Updates

I just walked to Wal-Mart to get my photos on CD ... I will try to do better about posting ... I promise!

Here I am after a flightseeing trip around Mt. McKinley. This was a spiritual experience to say the least. The plane sat six people, and I was in the co-pilot seat. We were within six miles of Mt. McKinley and one mile of Mt. Hunter. You could see mountains, valleys and glaciers for miles upon miles.

These are all views from the plane. You can't tell me that God didn't have a hand in this!

Isn't Mt. McKinley spectacular?!

The McKinley Chalets - This is where most of our guests stay while in Denali. This is only the lobby which has a gift shop, coffee shop and the Nenana Grill in it. Behind is the Cafe and then the "cabins" where the guests stay. The accomodations are much like individual motel buildings.

Can't you tell? This is the Top of the World ... or at least according to the Anchorage Marriott.

Anne Marie and Melissa (roommates) and Janis all sit at the Top of the World. The Marriott had a familiarization party for Holland America employees where we got free food and drink. You gotta love the free food; it costs too much to buy it up here.

Janis, Juli and I decide to try out a hat shop in the mall to pass the time. I hate taking pictures with pretty people! I need to learn how to take a good photograph before the end of tour. If you have any suggestions, let me know. Step 1: Lose the Dr. Seuss hat ...

This picture is for Wyatt. I get to ride this very long train when I'm on tour from Anchorage to Denali and again from Denali to Fairbanks, for a total of 12 hours. The train car I ride in has a glass domed ceiling and then we eat breakfast, dinner and supper underneath in the dining car.

On my tour run to Prudhoe Bay/Deadhorse, AK, our first stop outside of Fairbanks is Joy, AK. All it is is a gift shop with refreshments and "old school" outhouses. If you get in the wrong stall, the run off proves disastorous. Good think I had the smarts to put my feet up ...

Standing in line in Joy, AK.

Our lunch stop is at the Yukon River Camp. You can see that our bus has seen better days. The Dalton Highway is rough and dirt 80 percent of the 499 miles up to Prudhoe Bay. The River Camp had great food, but it's a bit rough. They sell "bearly" worn clothing there. A couple years ago, a bear and its cub decided to hibernate in the gift shop, using the inventory for its nest. What a great marketing ploy!

The Trans-Alaska pipeline. The pipeline is laid in a zig-zag pattern to help with movement when earthquakes hit. The pipeline also sits - not bolted down - on vertical support members that are covered in Teflon to help the pipeline move and shift with the earth. It also helps with the earths movement and settling due to permafrost.

This is the Arctic Circle. I was a bit disappointed; there was a dotted line or anything at the stop. It was only the sign.

Welcome to Coldfoot, AK, and our accomadations for the evening. There is running water, but the walls are paper thin, the shower is tiny, and you're lucky if the water is warm. Oh, and did I mention there are only twin beds, no T.V.s and no alarm clocks. Enjoy!

P.S. Because there were no alarm clocks and did morning knocks beginning at 5:30 a.m. ...

Our lunch stop is spectacular on the way to Prudhoe. It's Galbrith Lake. We pack a lunch and sit out on the rocks and soak up the beauty and the sun.

Migrating caribou are a common sight from Coldfoot to Prudhoe. We had a number of caribou in the road along the way. I'm still waiting for musk oxen.

Our accomodations improved once we got to Deadhorse. We went from a double wide trailor to a Morton building. The food here is spectacular since they feed all the oil workers. This is still a working camp, but we do have the luxury of a 9" t.v., alarm clock and laundry facilities.

I did the Polar Bear Plunge in the Arctic Ocean! I really only went up to my waist, but it was like liquid ice. I got in and out so fast that my picture couldn't get taken. Some of my guests got a good shot of me going in and out. I'll have to post those once they're sent to me. One guest told me if Michael Jordan ran that fast, he never would have retired. I didn't run that fast because of the cold, but because I was in my bathing suit in front of a number of people!

Stay tuned for more posts ...

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Angling for jobs

I have a few days off before I go on tour again. Right now I'm researching jobs for the fall. It seems a bit odd to be in a constant search for jobs, but I don't mind.

Anchorage is beautiful today. The sun is out and the sky is clear. It's rare for the temperature to get higher than 75.

Today I'm by myself in the apartment, which is an oddity with 14 other roommates. Unfortunately, I believe many of my roommates are coming home tonight from their training program. It can get a bit cramped in a one bedroom, two bath apartment.

I've sent my latest photos off to Wal-Mart to be developed and put onto a CD. Once I get those back, I can post them on the blog.

I miss all of you dearly, and I can't wait to see you soon. I'm sure September will roll around soon!

P.S. I'm trying to get a free fishing trip in the Kenai Penninsula tomorrow. I'll let you know if I get it and if I catch a King Salmon ... Stay tuned ...

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Too good to be true!

This is my third attempt to post. The combination of writing on a palm and operator error is horrid. There may be a numbr of post installments.

Right now I'm waiting in denali for the train so my tour can make its way to fairbanks. The past couple of days have been beautiful with mt. mckinley out in all its glory. Only 20 percent of visitors get to see the entire mountain.

Yesterday was summer solstice and holland america had a party for all of us here in denali. The night before, some of the workers stationed in denali put on a modern/alaska version of romeo & juliet in celebration of solstice. It was a lot of fun. I've gotten used to the constant sunlight. I've conditioned myself to watch the clock and go to bed at a decent hour. If I waited for the sun to go down, I'd never sleep.

My tours have been going well. I love the people and have no regrets. Alaska is my office, and I couldn't ask for more. There are few guests that I wonder why thy even go on vacation since they seem determined to have a bad time. Those people are my personal mission; they will have a good time.

My prudhoe bay tours have gone well. The conditions going from fairbanks up to prudhoe are very rusic - real-deal outhouses until our first night in coldfoot. At coldfoot - the farthest north truck stop on the dalton highway - the hotel is a double wide. The following day as we travel on the gravel/dirt highway, the scenery changes immensely, and we see herds of caribou, wolves, dall sheep and moose. The accomadations are upgraded in prudhoe/deadhorse to a morton-style building. prudhoe/deadhorse do not have residents, but thousands of shift workers. We stay at the arctic caribou inn eith a number of workers, but the food is great ... cafeteria style, but great.

During my prudhoe tour last week i did the polar bear plunge in the arctic ocean. The water is like liquid ice at 34 degrees. My guests loved that i had the guts to do it.