Sunday, August 17, 2014

Camping!

Last Saturday, we didn’t have a night show, and we all had Sunday off, so the gals and I went camping!

Mike was kind enough to lend us his camping equipment, and even though it was drizzling and a lot of rain was predicted for the weekend, the four of us packed up and headed up to Lower Dewey Lake. We rarely have a free night/day all together, so we were determined to make the most of it! Tess and Meridith had been camping twice already, but Steph and I hadn’t had the chance yet.

 We hiked up the trail. We’d all done that hike several times, since Lower Dewey Lake is where the trails to many of the other destinations begin, but it is definitely harder with big packs on! Regardless, we made it to Lower Lake in good time, despite a continuous drizzle, and set up camp on a convenient little island with a great view of the lake.

Once we got the tent and bedrolls set up, and our friend Kristi came up and joined us, Tess and Meridith and I worked to get a fire going. All the wood was damp, as were the coals in the firepit, but after a while we kindled a pretty great blaze!

After that we just hung out, listened to some of Kristi’s jams, cooked up some hot dogs and buns and topped them with grilled/smoked peppers/onions/leftover mac and cheese, drank some beer, and toasted up some pretty darn perfect s’mores. The rain came and went a bit, but we never really minded. Honestly, there was nowhere I would rather have been during those hours!

Eventually we turned in – the four of us in one tent, Kristi in her own little tent – and got the best sleep we could manage! I never sleep too well on the ground, but it was so nice to be out in the wild (and snuggled up to my homies!) that I had a good night anyway J

In the morning it was raining harder, and the edges of the tent were pretty wet and our shoes were pretty soggy, but we ate some peanut butter-banana sandwiches, valiantly packed up, and headed down the mountain.


Having a hot shower felt pretty great!

Saturday, August 16, 2014

In which Steph and I have unexpected adventures in the Yukon

About a week and a half ago, Steph and I had the day off together again. The day before, the Jons were able to get ahold of Sourdough Rentals for us, so we could rent a car to go to Whitehorse!

While we were in the rental office, waiting for Steve to hear back by phone from the owner about what our rental options were, an older man walked into the office. Eighty if he was a day, long white beard, crooked cane, big bone earrings, hat covered in little medals. He proceeded to chat with Steve and us, and it seemed at first that he knew Steve, although it eventually became clear that Steve didn’t actually know him, but that he had just been by earlier that day as well. Weird! The guy was from New Zealand and was here to surprise a friend in Anchorage whom he hasn’t seen in 24 years – the friend doesn’t know he’s coming!

Anyway, when Steve got the owner on the phone, the old man overheard that Steph and I were planning to go to Whitehorse on Thursday and asked if he could get a ride. He “doesn’t need to go back, only to Whitehorse, not back,” and could “chip in for petrol” and “could really use a ride.” Steph and I were pretty uncomfortable with that, and made up an excuse about having a full car. But this guy was very persistent! We could “stop by his hotel room in the morning” to pick him up! In fact, even as we were leaving and telling him that he would probably have to find another ride, he was still saying, “see you in the morning”! Weird.

Well, Steph and I got the car (a minivan, which was all they had left) Thursday morning without incident and headed out to Whitehorse, without the old guy. The minivan’s speedometer didn’t work, so I never knew how fast I was driving, but, you know, feelin’ out the road and all that. Made it across the border, made it to Carcross (about two hours from Skagway and an hour from Whitehorse), switched drivers, and got back on the road… only to blow a tire a few minutes later! Actually, what happened was that without either of us hearing the tire bust or driving over anything unusual, suddenly Steph lost control of the wheel. Hilarious panic!Sho shouts, “what are you doing?!?” and hilarious panic!Steph temporarily genuinely thinks she’s swerving the car around herself and shouts, “I don’t know!!” but we have the wherewithal to pull over and get out and check the tires, and sure enough one is flat.

Keep in mind that we are in Canada, in the mountains and the desert, and have no phone service – and even if we did, you can’t call AAA from Canada. So we went around to the back of the car and found the spare tire…

…but no jack, and no wrench.

Of course.

We thought were weren’t too far out of Carcross, so we proceeded to walk back along the highway towards town. We walked for about an hour – it turned out we were about three miles past the town, and finally, footsore and hungry, we turned into a gas station on the edge of town. We explained our situation to the two men behind the counter…

…who, rather than trying to help us, proceeded to laugh at us for not having a jack and for how much our situation sucked.

Thanks, jerks.

Steph finally said, “well, can you please direct us to someone who can help us?!?” and one guy said in a totally rude tone of voice, “there’s a police station around the corner. That’s their job.”

So we found the police station, walked in, and explained our situation to the lady behind the counter. Who was lovely. She was sympathetic, kind, and helpful above and beyond the call of duty! She got us coffee, and even called Sourdough Rentals for us to ask where we should get the tire changed once we got to Whitehorse and to tell them that they better give us a deal when we got back! She also called in the police officer on duty, Dan, to help us with the tire situation. Dan was also very sweet (and, uh, hot :p), and not only drove us back to the car, with the proper tools, but changed the tire for us, much faster than either of us could have!

We have a thank-you note in the mail to the RCMP Carcross Deployment J

Well, we got back on the road – me driving, because Steph was a bit freaked out still – and made it to Whitehorse with no further incidents. We were famished, so we stopped for sushi first thing, then walked over to a tattoo/piercing/music shop so Steph could get her cartilage pierced.

The piercing went smoothly, although Steph was a bit faint after. But as she was sitting in the chair recovering, and I was holding her hand, guess who walks in???

Yep.

White-beard old guy.

There are four people in this room, and Steph and I are two of them. We are just frozen in shock. But he walks past us with, hilariously, zero sign of recognition, and sits down to get a tattoo!

Anyway, that was my favorite part of this story.

We left the shop, drove to the tire place to get the tire changed, and did a little Walmart-ing to kill the time. Actually, the tire change took longer than expected, since it turned out that the van had four different tires in four different sizes, so it was a bit of a struggle for them to match the new one! Oh, Skagway.

Once that was taken care of, we headed out of Whitehorse. However, about 20 miles out of Whitehorse there’s a right turn onto the Klondike Highway, to get back to Skagway. But Steph had never driven it before, and I wasn’t really paying attention or remembering that there was a turn, and it was hard to see and poorly signed. So we missed the turn without even knowing we missed it. Ten or fifteen minutes later, we found ourselves crossing a beautiful lake on a cute bridge, and we both commented on how lovely it was – only to look at each other in alarm as we realized that we had never seen it before!

We were pretty perplexed as to how we had taken a wrong turn when we had been going straight the entire time! We decided to turn around, which was the right choice, but it also was a relief that Steph’s phone had one bar of service, so I turned on her data roaming and looked up where we were to be sure. Sure enough, we were on the Alaska Highway, which would have taken us all the way down through B.C.

We made the turn on the way back and made it back to Skagway uneventfully. But really, getting briefly lost was the final ingredient to make the day just ridiculous! Good thing we like each other, and had a good time all day anyway J

Oh, Alaska.


Next up: Camping! In the rain!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

In which Alex comes to visit!

Alex came to visit August 1st through 4th. It was pretty great to see him, and I had most of two days off while he was here! He arrived on a Friday afternoon, and I showed him around town and bought him some ice cream at my favorite Skagway establishment: The Kone Kompany (except I still hate those freaking arbitrary Ks!). I’m over halfway through my second ten-stamp card for a free cone!

I had to take my leave of him that evening to do a show, but on Saturday morning after breakfast at the Station with the gals we took the hike up to Lower Lake. It was a beautiful day – he brought good weather with him, I swear, since it was rainy and cold before and after he left but sunny every day of his visit! We got a bit lost somehow – I’m still not sure how, actually – but retraced our steps and ended up making the whole Lower Lake Loop, which I had also hiked with my parents when they were in town. We ate lunch at a little picnic table back towards the start of the loop, then headed down and eventually grabbed dinner at BrewCo before he came to see my evening show. He enjoyed the show a lot!

On Sunday, we had planned to take the train to Fraser Falls and get off to hike to Loughton Glacier, but he didn’t have his passport (both of our faulty memories were to blame!), so we scrapped the plan. In the end, we grabbed sandwiches to go from Glacier Smoothie (I can’t get enough of their turkey pesto sandwich) and cupcakes from Sugar Mama’s, and walked out to Smuggler’s Cove, where we lay in the sun, read, talked, climbed around on rocks, and picnicked, all for about three hours. That evening we went to the Red Onion for $10 pizza-and-beer night with Meridith and Steph, which was also pretty great!

On Monday Alex had most of the day before he caught the ferry in the late afternoon, but I had a four-show day. So while I worked, he went to Lower Reid Falls and climbed around, ate at FishCo, then went back to Yakutania Point and bouldered over to Smuggler’s, before coming home to shower! Fortunately, I got off work early enough to walk him to the ferry. Bye, Alex! See you in a couple months! J

Monday, July 28, 2014

July is the Best Month

On July 3rd, we watched fireworks from the fast ferry! This guy who owns a construction company was funding and setting off the fireworks show from his boat on the canal, and this guy we know, Jess, knows someone who knows the captain of the fast ferry, so we got on! The fireworks started early, while we were still walking down to the dock. There was no wind, so by the time we got on the ferry, the cloud of smoke from the fireworks was completely blocking the show! For a bit, it looked like some kind of wizard battle, with the clouds lighting up in red and green; eventually, there was so much smoke that even the flashes of color disappeared.

Fortunately, we were on a boat! We drove out onto the canal, around behind the smoke, and were among the privileged few who actually saw the whole darn fireworks show. And we’re talking half an hour of constant showers of light!

It was so beautiful. I had never watched fireworks from the water before. The mist was shrouding the mountains, which loomed along the canal like Alaskan gods. The water looked like silver cloth – looked like water in a high-quality video game – unreal.

It was all just magical.

*

The week after, Steph and I got on an Alaska Excursions zipline tour on our day off! We were driven up the Dyea Road to the base camp, which is also the camp where they keep the puppies you meet when you go mushing. We then got on a big all-terrain vehicle up the mountain to the zipline camp! We met Jay and Freddy, our tour guides; like most of the tour guides around here, they’re around our age and pretty cool. We did two baby ziplines, and then nine big ones, through the forest and over Grizzly Falls. It was totally exhilarating, especially when the guys taught us how to go upside down, front flip, and fireball, which you start like a front flip and then grab your knees so you rotate around and around. I was pretty good at it, if I do say so myself! ;)



*

Last weekend, my parents came to visit! They arrived on Thursday afternoon and met me at the theatre. We walked around town, got dinner at Olivia’s, went grocery shopping, and then pretty much called it a night. The next day, we took the hike to Lower Lake and did the Lower Lake Loop, which was narrow and rocky going at times but very beautiful and not too strenuous. After we headed down and got lunch at Fish Co, we did a little window shopping and then spent the rest of the afternoon and evening chillin’ in the lobby of the hotel, reading and talking and taking advantage of the free wifi. On Saturday, Tess and Steph joined us for a great breakfast at the Station. Then we rented bikes from Sockeye and rode out to Jewell Gardens, the botanical gardens outside of town where the week-after-the-solstice party had been, and picnicked and shopped in the gift shop (I got lots of presents for people, yay! And a journal for myself… whoops…). We rode a little farther down the road and back, checked out the Skagway River up close, then visited the historical cemetery and Lower Reid Falls before heading back into town to return the bikes and grab ice cream (bringing my stamp card total to nine!). On Sunday, we walked around a bit more and checked out the museum, which was pretty impressive, and then I saw them to the ferry! It was so great that they were able to visit.

*

Last week, I had the morning off on Tuesday, so I took myself  on a little lunch date. I walked out to Jewell Gardens and got lunch at Poppies, the restaurant there. I love eating in restaurants alone. I ordered the tea service, which included their house blend English Rose Black Tea, which was so delicious – mildly floral, excellent black tea without the cream and sugar, and then rosier and sweet and full once I added cream and sugar. The tea plate included a small salmon quiche made with carrots from the gardens, which was warm, light, creamy and salmon-y, with a perfect flaky crust; an open-face cucumber sandwich with herb spread from the gardens, which was creamy yet fresh, with the cucumber and herb spread mild and perfectly blending; a cheesy herb scone that was airy, tender, and flavorful; a rhubarb begonia bar with rhubarb and begonias from the gardens and a crumbly begonia crust, which was sweet, deep, tangy, chewy, crumbly, red, and helped me to like rhubarb!; and carrot cake with carrots from the gardens, which was freshly carroty, a little dry but pleasantly so, and with a lovely cream cheese frosting. All in all, utterly satisfying, and I enjoyed sitting there alone, journaling, writing a letter, chatting with the server, and looking out the window wall at the gardens.

*

On Thursday, our house had Christmas in July! We made a family dinner with salad, flatbread, spaghetti, garlic bread, and Kahlua fudge pecan torte; we strung the kitchen with Christmas lights from Meridith’s bedroom. Tess, Steph, Meridith, Bill, Jimmy, Nate, and I sat around the small kitchen table and enjoyed both dinner and each other’s company. After dinner, the four of us gals exchanged final Secret Santa presents – we’d been giving each other small presents for two weeks, but this was the grand finale! Meridith gave me some silver eyeshadow made by a local artisan, which I’d been ogling in Dejon Delights, and a super fun, cute sundress from Klothes Rush (ARGH UNNECESSARY K), which fits me perfectly! It was really lovely just having a family night, spending time with each other and making it special J

*

And today, we had a company party! Chris, who has lived in Skagway for fourteen years but has been coming here for much longer than that, is a Temsco pilot and chief investor in the theatre company. He graciously hosted us at his house way up on the Dyea Road. The house is eclectic, cozy, and beautiful, and the atmosphere was casual and fun. We all hung around for hours, eating ribs and bean dip and burgers and little sugary delights from Bites on Broadway and carnie cones (aka waffle cones stuffed with chocolate/marshmallows/rollos/peanut butter cups, wrapped in foil, and cooked over a campfire), playing Nerts (a speed-based solitaire-style card game which I totally won twice in a row), playing music, enjoying a hot tub (woo! I have now put on my bathing suit exactly one time this summer!), and generally chatting and having a good time!

Now I am exhausted, both physically and socially (haha), and ready to post this blog, watch some Star Trek, and go to bed! This week will be busy, but it is also my birthday week, which makes it the best week of the year by default! End of July, here we come… J

Thursday, July 3, 2014

There's Nowhere I Would Rather Be Than Here

I took a hike by myself today! I have had a lot of good ideas in my life, but this might have been the best.

Have I ever been so happy?

Probably, but it seemed incomparable today.

I had the day off, so I packed up Tess's little perfect-size-for-a-day-hike backpack with snacks, my journal, and a bottle of water; put on a little knee brace, since my knee has been cranky downhill and running; and I headed up toward Upper Dewey Lake. Tess had made the same hike just yesterday, and she said that you have to be persistent, because it's 2 ½ hours all steep uphill, but that it was worth it.

I had been as far as Lower Dewey Lake before, on the way to Sturgil's Landing. It took under half an hour to get that far, although it was steeply uphill already and I felt slow and out of shape. But I was happy to be hiking and happy to have a day to myself, and I was determined to make it to the top! It was drizzling a little, but I was mostly sheltered by the tree canopy, and what did make it down to me was cool and refreshing.

Thank goodness, because I got warm pretty quick! I took off my sweater immediately, although I kept on my rain jacket.

At Lower Dewey Lake, you take a turnoff whence you can head to Upper Lake (where I was going) or Icy Lake and Upper Reid Falls, where Meridith went a few weeks ago. Both are 2 miles past Lower Lake.

The walk up continued to be mostly very steep, although I was feeling better than I had at the beginning, since I was a bit warmed up. I still had to stop for about 15 seconds out of every minute, though! Most of the way up I was meeting up with a long, continuous waterfall periodically. Every time the path veered back to the waterfall, I felt like I was greeting a friend!

It turned out I wasn't as slow and out of shape as I thought I was. I kept passing people on the way up. After two hours, I took my second little three-minute break – but when I stood up and walked around the corner, there I was at Upper Lake!

I couldn't sit out on the rock promontory where Tess sat yesterday, because there was a group of six weird people hanging out there, and I really wanted to continue to be alone anyway. But I made my way as far as I could around the lake and up a hill, then back, around to a public cabin, and out to a little rock by the water, where I sat and ate my lunch and wrote in my journal. It turns out there's actually a path up there that leads another 4/5 of a mile to “Devil's Punchbowl,” but I didn't see the path or a sign, so I didn't make it up there! I would love to see it someday, though.

I stayed up at the lake for over an hour, then packed up and headed back down. The way down was much faster, of course, and I actually jogged a lot of it where it was safe to do so.

About three quarters of the way down, I came around a corner, and Skagway and the Lynn Canal and the mountains emerged before me, and I had to stop because I was so overwhelmed with it.

There's a Millay poem I pull out a lot, since I have the feeling of it a lot, but never have I felt it so powerfully as I did in that moment:

O world, I cannot hold thee close enough!
   Thy winds, thy wide grey skies!
   Thy mists, that roll and rise!
Thy woods, this autumn day, that ache and sag
And all but cry with colour!   That gaunt crag
To crush!   To lift the lean of that black bluff!
World, World, I cannot get thee close enough!

Long have I known a glory in it all,
         But never knew I this;   
         Here such a passion is
As stretcheth me apart,—Lord, I do fear
Thou’st made the world too beautiful this year;
My soul is all but out of me,—let fall
No burning leaf; prithee, let no bird call.

I just felt so, so happy to be exactly where I was.

I've now had three days in Skagway where I thought it might be the best day of my life. How amazing is that?