20 January 2009

Day 9 on the road - Stuck due to road closures

Well, I made it off the ferry and promptly got stuck as the pass made famous by gold diggers of the Klondike Gold Rush has been closed for 3 days straight. So close to my destination and yet so far! On the up side - this means I actually got to watch the Obama inauguration this morning. Yay!! The whole event leaves me with feelings of goodwill towards the world and with hope.

The ferry was lovely - lots of interesting people to talk to and gorgeous, unprecedented, June-like weather. Which explains my current problem. Two straight weeks of burying the needle off the deep end of the negative side of the thermometer (mercury freezes past -60F) followed by a week of above ten degrees above freezing for a week and you have the perfect black ice recipe. I was hoping this portion would take me a day and a half...but it's looking like it will be longer. However, I suppose a two week road trip is not complete without some challenges!

16 January 2009

Day 5 on the Road - Waiting for the Ferry

Red rock landscapes covered with glittering masses of snow. Ice crystal encrusted junipers and sagebrush on salt marshes. Inversion fog banks. Tiny little towns with wonderful little houses. Smelling the change in the air as I hit a more humid climate. Trees getting bigger and bigger, denser and greener. Marshes and white egrets. Falcons and hawks watchful on fence posts. Winding, slightly hidden trails in strange cities. Having my favorite meal from 10 years ago at the same place and finding it hasn't changed a bit. Connecting with old friends for an hour, an overnight, a glimpse here and there. Lovely glimpses of the ocean. Foggy walks on the beach and small cafes. The cold rest area where a lady was offering cookies and coffee.

I love road trips, especially by myself. My sister, on the other hand, hates them. I am enjoying this transition time - the time to decompress from one life and prepare for the a different life. The Disreputables have safely made it to Anchorage. They're anxious, as to be expected, but in good hands. I am waiting near the docks where I will catch my ferry and take the Alaska Marine Highway for several days. I'm looking forward to watching the expanse of coastline, to reading books and perhaps catching up on my correspondence. It's very foggy out right now. The coast is just down the block from the bookstore cafe I'm perched in and I can't see it. I can smell it and hear it though and tonight I'll be on it - my first night on a ship since Russia. I can't help but think it will compare favorably. When I land the US will be ready for inauguration - and I will be in Canada and likely remote enough not to have a radio signal. A bit ironic that but that's okay, I'm sure I can catch up on the whole thing on the blogosphere.

Bon voyage!

12 January 2009

Day 1 on the road

Somewhere, when returning from field work to more "civilized" parts the song "On the Road Again" was playing and my co-worker turned to me and said "that could be your life theme song". And in some ways she was right.

Today's drive went well - Driving across country is a great way to transition into my new life from my old life. It's amazing how one can spend a whole year stressing over job applications and interviews and then suddenly it all comes together. At the start you tell yourself that this will be the case, that something will eventually work out that it is just going to take time but doubt does creep in. And then all of a sudden that patience pays off. So day one of a long trip...5 days on the road....4 days on the ferry....2 days on the road...and then my new home.

10 January 2009

New Year, New Beginnings in 2009

Just before the old year went out I was offered a new job as an –ologist for the largest US National Park in Alaska. I had been toying with the idea of more graduate school and had been pursuing both jobs and PhD options simultaneously. Of course, both of these options became very available at about the same time. For now I chose the job – it was an offer I couldn’t turn down – although I have not entirely given up on the idea of more grad school. So as of Monday (01/12) I head back north. This time I’m taking the ferry from Bellingham, WA to Haines, AK. A very good friend in Alaska has agreed to fly with the Disreputables and to keep them at his house until I arrive – he had plans to be visiting family in Colorado anyway and as much as I will miss those crazy Disreputables on the road I think this will be easiest on all of us. Last I checked, two days ago, the temperature was –78F (or damn cold) and between super cold temperatures and having to be stuck in the hold of the ship for 4 days I’m not sure they would have enjoyed it much.

Yours truly in the largest US National Park in 2002

I am very excited about this new job. I will be living in a very small town again (Town-Where-Two-Highways-Meet
) but I’ve lived here before and have friends here. The park is fabulous and has great staff and there are three ways to drive out of there if I need a break! My new header is a picture of two of the more famous mountains in the park taken in early fall by a park ranger Neil. It’s a bit strange getting a new job as many people are losing or worried about losing theirs. As the economy has continued its path it has become clear to me that the loss of my old job was an early sign of what was to come.