It is getting more and more difficult to be able to get online here and post pictures and entries. Part of the reason for that is that the season has officially started, and we are starting to hunker down and get busy with work. Also, the internet connection here is ludicrously slow. Please remember that the best way to get in contact with me is by an actual phone call. I still do not have a mailing address, and I have no way of knowing when I will have one. My number is 419 606 1345, if you miss me and want to call. :)
The other day, I had an amazing experience. I got to go on a fixed-wing flightseeing tour around and over Mount McKinley! To say that it took my breath away is an understatement. The flight lasted about an hour and a half, and it was the most beautiful 90 minutes of my life. The front desk workers get to do a lot of this stuff for free, so we can sell the different tours and activities to the guests of the hotel. That day, our tour guide told us that Mount McKinley was originally a much larger mountain, but because there is a huge fault line that runs down the middle of the park, the mountain was actually ripped in half over time and became two smaller mountains: Mount Deborah and Mount McKinley. I think it is pretty awesome to know that there is a force strong enough on this earth to rip a mountain apart. It kind of blows my mind, actually. At a couple of points during the flight, we were so close to the snow covered mountain that if we were to have thrown a football at it, it would have made contact. There is no other way to describe this than to say it was literally awesome. Mount McKinley is actually the tallest mountain in the world, because Mount Everest is cheating: it sits upon a platform of rock that isn't actually part of the mountain. From the base of each mountain though, McKinley is taller. That's just a fun fact for you. :)
Anyway, the flight actually had a very profound influence on me, and the way I perceive things. It was quiet, except for the roar of the 8-seater airplane engine, and we were surrounded by a perfectly clear, blue sky. We could see the canyons, frozen glaciers, ice so densely packed that it was actually blue, and he numerous peaks of the majestic mountain. It occurred to me how incredibly blessed I am. Some people save up their money for a long time so they can see Mount McKinley like this, and I got to do it for free. I'm also blessed to be in the presence of such staggering beauty. God is the best artist, no contest. He knew that humans would need powerfully beautiful things to look at, so he gave us a world that is not only beautiful, but really dramatic too. I feel that God knows what is in our hearts better than we sometimes do. Right now, I need mountains. I don't need air conditioned buildings, smooth riding and luxurious cars, or even fancy clothes. I need a skyline that makes me understand just how small I am, but challenges me to have a great impact on the world. I need moose and caribou and bears and glacier-fed rivers. These things awaken me, they bring out the best parts of myself. They drive me to learn how to be more instinctual, harder working, and more thoughtful. I feel so blessed, and so thankful, that I get to be in the place where I need to be. It's awesome.
In contrast to all of that seriously thoughtful stuff, here's something that was just freakin' sweet: Yesterday, the front desk staff went on an ATV tour. (ATVs are basically 4-wheelers, for all of my non-outdoorsy friends who may be reading this.) We first took a horse-drawn, covered wagon tour for about 45 minutes, ate a seriously delicious dinner of ribs, salmon, and other good things, and then rode back on ATVs. To say that I had the time of my life is an understatement. I was laughing and screaming entire time. This was the first time I've ever been on an ATV that I actually got to drive myself, and it was INCREDIBLY FUN. The trails we went on wound us through a beautiful tree-filled dry riverbed right next to the mountains themselves. For about an hour, we zoomed all over the Alaskan tundra, spraying mud and water and dirt and rocks. Just when I was really having the time of my life, the trees would break, and we would have the most incredibe view of the mountains below us, or above us, or next to us, or right in front of us. Suddenly, everything was quite as we would all pause to appreciate the magnitude of the mountains. There's not an airplane tour-view in the world that can compete with that. I was literally covered in mud from head to toe when I finally got off the damn thing, and freezing cold on top of it, but it didn't matter. It was gloriously fun. I can't wait to do it again, and I know that I will have no problem selling that tour at the front desk.
Speaking of the front desk, our training has finally ended (Praise Jesus, it was so boring, I couldn't stand another minute). And now, we are in fully fledged work mode. I really enjoy my job and the people I work with. I'm getting better at climbing Bertha everyday, and I'm already losing some weight, which is seriously awesome. Next week wills start our ministry services, and I'm looking forward to that as well.
All in all, my first week in Denali has been amazing. I can't believe I have only been here a week. It feels like I should have been here my entire life, I love it that much. I can't wait to see what else this magical place has in store for me.