Friday, May 20, 2011

Good Deed Gone Bad

During the six hour bus ride here I learned a lot about various things in Alaska including the fact that like most other parts of the world Anchorage has a seriously bad part of town. The difference is that the bad part of town looks exactly the same as the regular part except that it's crawling with hookers and drug dealers. Where I'm from the bad part of town is pretty obvious and can be noticed by run-down buildings, sketchy vehicles and general trashiness of the area. I can't describe how much this doesn't apply in Anchorage.

In fact, it looks so friendly that the hookers could easily be mistaken for just another woman walking down the street. My friend from Anchorage experienced a rather unfortunate situation because of this. On his way home from work one day he saw a girl walking in the rain and thought he would be a good guy and offer her a ride. He asked where she was going and she said just down the road. It wasn't long before he was suspicious that she wasn't telling him where to go. Finally, she asked if he wanted a date. He quickly told her he made a mistake and dropped her off. Yikes!

When we rode by on the bus, he also showed us where the drug dealers hang out in downtown, which I would never have noticed. Even after I saw them for myself I still wasn't convinced that they were out there dealing because they looked so nice, clean and professional.

The funniest part of it all was him pointing out the "really bad part of town" where people get shot, etc. All I saw was a Bed Bath and Beyond in a pretty nice shopping center. hahah. Even though my friend continued to insist that I wouldn't believe how bad it is there I couldn't imagine it. All I can picture is Will Ferrell in Old School. "Well, um, actually a pretty nice little Saturday, we're going to go to Home Depot. Yeah, buy some wallpaper, maybe get some flooring, stuff like that. Maybe Bed, Bath, & Beyond, I don't know, I don't know if we'll have enough time."

Alaska Word: Eskimo Ice Cream- Made of whipped berries, seal oil and snow.

Poop Profits

THEY SELL MOOSE POOP HERE! Yep that's right. And they don't just sell it as is. They also sell it with faces with googly eyes, they build other animals out of it, they paint it, make jewelry and more. Supposedly moose poop is the state poop of Alaska (That may or may not be a joke). They also sell packets of moose poop with flower seeds inside so you can grow the Alaska state flower, Forget-Me-Not, at home. And here's a really interesting gift: the moose poop soap. It's literally a bar of soap with a visible moose nugget in the middle. For the holidays, they sell moosel-toe aka mistle toe with poop attached to the leaves and puff paint poop ornaments.

My personal favorites are the shitheads (poop wearing a top hat) and the weather forecaster, which features a nugget at the end of a thermometer. If the poop is dry it's sunny, wet means rain, when it rolls it's windy, if it bounces there's an earthquake, if it's hard it's freezing, and if it's soft there's a moose nearby.

Alaska Word: Muskeg- Grassy swamp land.

Lord of the Flies

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.

Last Dance For Mary Jane

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.

There’s a place relatively close to where I live called dry-river. It is exactly what the name infers but it’s also a very popular party spot for minors. If it’s one thing I’ve learned it’s that if you have heard about a place (especially within a couple days of arriving) the police probably have also. I was right. The troopers mentioned that going there is the equivalent of putting your name on a list to be arrested for underage drinking or providing to a minor. Yet people still go there. :-/ I know exactly where I won’t be going. The troopers once again threatened a two-hour ride to the nearest jail in Fairbanks.

Also, the troopers told us that marijuana is popular in these parts but despite rumors it isn’t legal. I was interested to hear this from their perspective because I’d already heard a lot about this on the bus ride in. I was told from an Anchorage local that weed is legal on a state level but not a federal one. Basically city cops would make you throw it out but that would be the extent of trouble. Troopers, however, would make arrests. The troopers apparently disagree with the local residents and city cops about what the rules are. The troopers touched on a few other offenses before concluding the talk. All of which, would get you a free ride to Fairbanks.

Evidently, some employees were distraught by the threats of the troopers because they went straight home to get high and relax. Bryce and I saw a circle of girls standing right by our residence, on the side of the highway smoking. It’s a while before our buses will take us to Fairbanks, maybe they just can’t wait that long.

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

Lions and Tigers and Bears Oh My!

Okay so there aren't and lions and tigers here but there are certainly bears. I sadly haven't seen one for myself yet but I'm going on an adventure later in search of at least one. My friends went into the Denali park yesterday and found a Grizzly wandering along their path. Luckily, it didn't pay much attention to them. It went about it's business of sniffing a nearby moose. They got to see it raise on two legs and sniff the air for a bit. So cool. I hope I see one today. We had wildlife training the other day. I am now equipped to tell the difference between a Grizzly and a Black Bear. Which is also known as knowing the difference between waving your hands and yelling to try to scare the bear away or screaming Oh SHIT and running faster than the rest of the people you're with. (Fyi- Grizzlys like to investigate you. Black Bears like to eat you.) I'll tell you more about that later. So far, there have never been any fatalities in the park and the rangers keep close watch on the bears.

Alaska Word: Sunbdog- A large noticeable circle around the sun on very cold days. Sun glasses help enhance visibility.

Sorry I lied on Accident

When I said my posts would be more like bullet points I meant it at the time. Some how I sit down to write the bullets and end up with several paragraphs. Sorry guys I'll try to work on that. Sidenote: I believe my camera uploader will be arriving tomorrow. Well, that is if the mail doesn't move as slow as the internet in some places here.

The Sunshine State

Whoever named Florida the sunshine state couldn't possibly have ever been to Alaska in the summer. I mean it can't possibly get sunnier than opening the curtains when you wake up to let the sunshine flow in and then closing those same curtains at night to try to block the sunshine out. Obviously, I don't actually think that Alaska deserves the sunshine title more than Florida for apparent reasons such as the constant darkness during Alaska's winter but for the time being Alaska is my sunshine state.

You can hear about Alaska summers a million times and never be prepared for the reality of it. If anyone has ever seen the movie Insomnia I promise that you could relate way more to the main character after a few days in Alaska. (For those who haven't seen it. The main guy is a detective working in Alaska. He has insomnia, partially because of the sun and partially because he's a bad guy...I think. I don't remember for sure.)

There's really no way to express in words how confusing it is to never be awake when it's dark. Between 8 and 10 my body knows it's bedtime but my mind is suspicious because it's still light. When you go any place, it's hard to register that it's time to go home for bed because it still looks like play time outside. And here's the really fun part. We've all had those mornings (for me it's everyday) when you wake up and it's still dark, you know you have time to sleep before the alarm goes off. When you wake up and it's light you immediately freak out because you my have over slept. Imagine that feeling every morning around 3 a.m. It's my 5th day here and I can already tell you that the 3 a.m. light and I are not friends.

Not only is the sunshine playing tricks on my sleep, it's also putting a mean hurt on my body temperature in relation to surroundings. For example, it's always sunny here but it's not always warm. In fact, much like Oklahoma, the weather will throw you for a loop quite often. Unlike Oklahoma, however, it's not usually a new day before the weather will change. You may get a few temperature curves balls in a matter of a few hours. It's too warm for a jacket, it's too windy to even bother brushing your hair, it's too cold for a buffalo to survive, it's so still and quiet that you search for another human in site just to eliminate that fear that you didn't miss an apocalypse and everyone else was destroyed. You get the drift. If you ever visit Alaska, don't just be prepared for the weather to change on your trip. Never leave the house without some warm stuff and some cool stuff.

Alaska Word: Breakup- The process by which all snow and ice finally melts away. Aka the beginning of tourist season.

Ice Lottery

Who needs powerball when you could win big playing the Nenana Ice Classic? Every year (since 1917) people purchase a lotto ticket/place bets on when the Tanana River will breakup. In order to win they have to be the closest guess to the exact day and time. The tickets are about $1.00-$2.50 or something close. I believe the prize was around $350,000 this year.

I know what you're thinking. So, someone in Alaska sits at the river and waits for it to break? Well actually it's a bit more modern than that. The exact time is determined by a tripod apparatus placed in the middle of the frozen river. The tripod has a trip wire that is disturbed when the ice breaks. This sounds a bell, cuts the tripod rope and stops the clock.

The information above was told to me by a supervisor at my job. In order to check spelling I googled the Nenana Ice Classic and found that it has it's own website (includes a ton of pics) which I will post the link to below. In addition, I found a times article about the event. The article isn't of particular interest but the date it was published is: Monday May 18, 1959. A reporter wrote about the Classic 52 years ago yesterday, just like I'm doing today. Only the writer didn't have internet to verify the facts or make a blog post. Interesting I think.

Heres the Time link:,9171,869038,00.html

Heres the Classice page link:

Alaska Word: Three dog night- It's so cold that two dogs just aren't keeping you warm enough.

The $1 (fifty) Menu

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.

Mickey Moose

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.

A Whole New World

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.

Moose-1 Child on Bike-0

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.

It's Getting Hot in Here. So Take Off All Your (Extra) Clothes

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


For those of you who aren't up to speed in the blog world you'll want to start reading the posts at the bottom of the page first. They post from bottom-to-top, not top-to-bottom.

The Little Lodger That Could

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.

Friday the 13th

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.


Hey there friends and family! I've only been in Alaska for a few days and there is already so much that I want to share with all of you. However, with the time difference and my current hectic schedule it's near impossible to call/write everyone to update them on my adventure.

SO... I decided to start a blog to keep everyone up-to-date on a lot of things. So far my plan is to write about what I've seen, the things I've learned, where I've been and even stories I've been told (whether Alaska related or not bc I've heard some funny stuff). This may change along the way.

For the most part I'll likely be putting very small posts, more like bullets points, instead of the traditional longer posts (with the exception of this particular one and probably a few others). I hope this helps to make things less boring and more quick to get through because we all know that reading about my adventures won't be near as exciting as me living/writing them so I'll try go easy on you.

In addition, I've also started a sidebar that tells you all of the animals I've seen so far. Just for fun. It's not everyday someone sees a moose, bear, wolf, etc. (Well, unless you live in Alaska I suppose). I'm also learning a lot of words and phrases that I'll try to share with you as a closer for most of my posts.

Unfortunately, the only thing I managed to not bring to Alaska was my picture uploader for my computer/camera. I still haven't figured out how that happened but at any rate I've ordered another one that should be arriving soon. Until then you'll just have to imagine the things I've seen so far. I'll try to get them up as soon as possible.

For now I'm working on getting settled in and training so I haven't had much time to get started on this. I'll try to post as fast as possible because I already have a lot to say. Once I get started I'll try to post frequently (hopefully daily) so I won't be bombarding you with posts but for the time being I have a lot to posts and don't know when I'll be caught up.

Well I think that's all I have for now. Feel free to reply to posts. Let me know if you have questions about anything or suggestions for what I should do while I'm here. Thanks for reading. I love and miss you all.



P.S. The first word I learned was Cheechako (my blogs name). It means "new to Alaska" which I think you'll agree suits this blog and myself perfectly.