Friday, May 20, 2011
Mosquitoes are the most prevalent bugs in Alaska. There are over 35 species. Fortunately, only two of them have been found to carry West Nile Virus. Unfortunately, the mosquitoes here are GIANT! I saw one the other day that could have eaten a horse fly. Not lying. Lucky for me (not) mosquitoes find my blood quite delightful. I’ve avoided any bites so far but evidently they don’t come out in full force til mid June. The only good news is that their giant size makes them easier to spot and slap down before they attack.
Alaska Word: Spenard Divorce-A loud and sometimes fatal way of ending a relationship made famous in the Spendard area of Anchorage. Involves a gun.
I think it's safe to say how sad it is that Spenard has a reputation like this.
A couple of state troopers came for a presentation on how to stay out of trouble during our summer adventures. As a lot of you know from watching various shows about the overwhelming number of drunk driving arrests in Alaska it’s far from a dry area. As a matter of fact in the tiny town of Healy there are about ten, maybe fifteen, buildings in the entire area. One of them is a discount liquor and cigarettes store, 3 others are bars. I think that gives a pretty good idea of how much drinking happens here. In fact, so much drinking happens here that it’s illegal to get drunk. Uncanny isn’t it. The troopers threatened a two- hour ride to the nearest jail in Fairbanks for several different alcohol offenses.
Alaska Word: Dip Netting- Holding a large fishnet on the end of a long pole while waiting for fish to swim in it.
Thursday, May 19, 2011
Alaska is EXPENSIVE. Of course, that’s obvious because everything travels a long way to get here to be sold but sheesh. I’m so thankful that my meals are provided here. When we stayed in Anchorage there was a Mcdonalds next door that we hit for breakfast. THERE ISN’T A DOLLAR MENU! I repeat. NO DOLLAR MENU. When you catch your breath and retrieve your jaw from the floor keep reading for more details. Okay, so there isn’t a dollar menu. They only have a value menu which includes most of the item from a normal dollar menu for $1.50-$2.00. I know you’re thinking that isn’t much more expensive than a dollar but if you consider what this means about prices of other items you would loose your cool.
Normal $6-8 items on a menu at some cheap restaurants in the city are $10 and up. Some places that serve burgers charge about $12-15 for a burger and fries. And prices keep moving up as you get further from the cities. For example, we’ve all heard the $5 footlong Subway commercials. In Anchorage, they are $6 footlongs and the commercial features a drawn on extra finger on the hand. (Tried to find it on youtube to post for you but the internet here isn’t exactly video friendly.) In Denali/Healy where I live and work Subway is the only fast food place around and a footlong is nearly $10. No lie. It’s twice as expensive as home.
Speaking of me thankful for being fed. I’m also thankful that I like what I’m eating for the most part. They have had some funky items but nothing too bad. My breakfast consists of some form of potato (hash brown, tater tot, fried potatoes), eggs, bacon or sausage, pancakes or french toast, biscuit and gravy, fruit and cereal. So far there’s been very little variation from that. Unfortunately, due to some unfortunate events and timing our employee lunch facility at work hasn’t opened yet so we’ve had to eat sandwiches and chips for 4 days. That should end in the next couple days. Dinner has offered a lot of variety: ribs, fried pork chop, baked chicken, rosemary and sun dried tomato chicken, fish tacos, shrimp tacos, beef tacos, stroganoff, crab risotto, green beans, mixed veggies, zucchini and squash pasta, mashed potatoes, sautéed mushrooms, rolls and garlic bread, various deserts and more.
Alaska Word: Bug Dope- Bug repellant.
Sidenote: The very first day a guy on the bus asked if we brought our dope. For obvious reasons I was confused and uncomfortable. Fortunately, he quickly picked up that vibe and explained himself. He was just concerned that we weren't prepared for mosquitos. Oops.
When I worked at Disney World there were always those seriously over-the-top Disney loving people who, at times, acted like a fool in such a way that I couldn’t even process it. So, I thought when I came to Alaska there wouldn’t be anyone that struck me the same way as they did. Wrong. The second person I met while waiting for our bus on the first day came sprinting at us, wearing a moose hat and simultaneously chattering and squealing. Needless to say it was a long six-hour ride, which at the time, I assumed would be the worst bus ride of my time here. Wrong again. A few days later I got the chance to sit behind a bus driver who sang the M-I-C-K-E-Y--- M-O-O-S-E song (No, moose isn’t a typo) over and over for the whole 15-minute ride back to our room after a seriously long day of work. It was especially painful because he only knew about two words more than I typed above. One of those Disney people I mentioned above also lurks in Alaska. Who would have guessed?
Alaska Word: The Bush-Villages, mountains and valleys that can only be reached by plane or boat.
We had to stay in Anchorage our first night in Alaska. Immediately upon entering the hotel room I headed for the super tiny “window” air conditioning unit, which was actually stuck in the wall and not a window at all. Hmm. That should have been my first indication that something was suspicious. It really started to click for me when I jabbed my finger into the down button about 13 times before I gave up on the temperature changing. Evidently the only purpose the AC served was showing me it was 76 degrees in the room.
By this time, Bryce had discovered that the window in our second story hotel room not only opened but it didn’t even have a screen on it. As all of you probably know it’s pretty much unheard of that a hotel window even opens much less lacks a screen.
So naturally we stretched our bodies halfway out the window to look around just because this hotel would let us. It’s no wonder most places make opening the windows impossible. They want to keep people like us from gawking and plummeting to death.
After a couple minutes the allure of an open window faded and I continued to check out the room. The first thing I noticed was the whackadoodle toilet flusher (pic coming soon). It was a silver circle cut into two buttons on the back of the toilet. One button was larger than the other. Basically there’s one button for #1 and one for #2. Wild.
The second thing I noticed was the fancy pants toilet paper that was folded into a fan on top. WHOA! Hold the phone. I yelled at Bryce to check it out and grabbed my camera. It instantly occurred to me that I would soon be a room attendant and would probably be forced to spend my days making toilet paper fans. And then I thought. What if I can’t make a toilet paper fan?! I’ll have to fly home defeated. Mallory-0. Toilet Paper Fan-1. Game over.
Lucky for me. The Princess Denali Lodge where I work prefers the triangle tp fold. Mallory-1. Unfolded toilet paper-0. Winning.
New Alaska Word: Mukluk- It's actually not something you have to scrape off the bottom of your boot. Rather it actually is a boot. A very warm boot.
Watching the news here is amusing. I feel sort of bad that I find Alaska news funny but it’s so uncanny in comparison to what I’m used to. When I lived in Florida and even in Oklahoma the big news was robberies, murders, and politics. I’m sure there are similar stories in Alaska but so far I haven’t seen any. All I’ve seen is stuff that could double as an episode for America’s Funniest Home Videos. For example, today in Alaska a child was knocked off her bike by a moose. (I’m terrible I know. I almost lied and said a woman so I didn’t look so bad. Haha) Apparently the moose was terribly aggravated after having given birth to twins earlier in the week. Classic.
I forgot to post some Alaskan words on the previous post so I'll give you a couple now.
Musher: A person who travels in winter by dog sled. Yells 'mush' a lot.
Bullchitna: This one is pretty obvious. It means BS.
Shortly before the flight was over the woman next to me started to liven up. She said a lot of things about Alaska and Anchorage in particular but the weather was what interested me most. She said that she hadn’t been in Anchorage in a week but the weather was certainly getting really nice by now. Summer was moving in fast. She said it would be at least fifty degrees when we landed and the locals would be busting out their shorts and t-shirts already. Silly Alaskans, us Oklahoma folk need at least 20 more degrees before we even leave the house without a jacket.
Wednesday, May 18, 2011
If there’s one lesson that’s more important than wearing your shoes to the airplane bathroom it’s probably to be cautious when you go to the bathroom at all. You see I lied in the last post when I said you never know what’s in the water in the lavatory because I unfortunately do know what was in that particular water.
We’ve probably all experienced what a pain it is to get out of your seat and back to the bathroom when you share a row with other people and the plane is packed. So, I finally decided to make the journey but I had no idea what I was getting myself into. When I got to the back a man popped out of the lavatory and asked the flight attendant for something I couldn’t hear. The flight attendant and the passenger both turned around and stared in at the toilet while the passenger insisted that there must be something the flight attendant could do. The flight attendant looked fearful and shook his head left to right. Whatever it was, he didn’t want any part of it.
At this point, I was getting nervous. What the flock is in there that’s keeping this passenger from braving it. He gave up and went on in. Meanwhile, I silently prayed that the bathroom across the aisle would open first. My luck. That didn’t happen. I walked in and there IT was. I don’t know a suitable word to use here but I think you all can guess, so I’ll just use IT for lack of a better term.
Anyways, IT was blocking the toilet hole thingy from closing. The toilet hole thingy is fierce. It’s probably spring-loaded and button operated but IT didn’t care. He was lodged in there standing his ground. I was stunned. I didn’t even know IT could be that hard, which makes whoever left IT there another person on the plane that I felt sorry for. IT wasn’t going anywhere but I was. I did what any other person in my situation would do. I walked out lighting fast so I wouldn’t be blamed, left that trap for the next person and snuck in to use the one across the aisle.
Sometimes I’ll see things that make me think of song lyrics. Seeing IT there hanging on for his life made me think of Thomas the Train and his famous words, “I think I can, I think I can.”
Word of the day: Bear Insurance- #1 A shotguns, handguns, etc. #2 Always traveling with someone slower than you.
Despite traveling on Friday the 13th and sitting in row 13, we didn’t have much bad luck but I can’t say the same for the woman I sat next to. When Bryce and I bought our tickets there weren’t many seats left to choose from but after changing them a few times we finally settled on a window seat for me and an aisle for him because we could at least be on the same row. He would have extra room in the aisle to stretch his legs and I would get to sleep on the window.
Perfect for us. Bad for the small short-haired business woman between us. She was forced to endure 6 hours under Bryce’s elbow on one side while I was snoring and drooling all over myself on the other. Talk about a bad sandwich! And that wasn’t the worst part. She didn’t wear her shoes to the bathroom. I know what you’re thinking. I was confused too. Gross! (Later while talking to her I decided to blame her poor decisions on her lack of sleep. It helped me wrap my mind around her willingness to subject her feet to that nightmare.)
Anyways, poor lady had a ten-hour flight from a business meeting in London and a 7-hour flight to Alaska with her socks soaked with lavatory surprise water. Who knows what was in that stuff. Moral of the story: Bryce and Mallory aren’t made for small spaces, never choose a middle seat while traveling alone, and certainly NEVER EVER don’t wear your shoes to a public potty.