Friday, July 8, 2011

The Simple Things

I can't believe it's been over a month since I updated this blog. For those of you who have been followin my Alaskan Adventure, thanks for hanging in there, and sorry it's been so long.

A lot has happened in the past 6 weeks, and I'm not even sure where to begin. In orer to not yap on and on forever, I will just hit some of the highlights.

First of all, I just don't think I could ever be this happy in a place that is not Alaska in the summertime. It feels like I have been searching for Denali for my entire life, and I feel really blessed and very happy to have found it at such a young age. Every day I wake up and love it more than I did the day before, which is a monumental feat in itself. I'm not sure how to justify this kind of love with the right words, so I will just say that these mountains have grown my heart and filled in with a really powerful sense of peace. Nothing will ever be the same after this summer. I know it will be truly heartbreaking when I have to leave in September. However, I am already thinking about coming back next summer. When you know, you just know. That's all there is to it.

June 21, the Summer Solstice, marked the longest day of the year. For us "Alaskans," that wasn't that impressive because we are basically in a period of 24 hour daylight right now. We decided to celebrate the day, however, and go to a party at a really nice brewery in Healy - about 20 minutes from Denali. The great irony of the situation is that Jun 21 was expected to be filled with sunshine and warmth, but it was pouring rain all day and all night. But, it was ok, because we just laughed and drank good Alaskan beer all night. (NB: Alaska has some really GREAT beer.)

Since the Solstice, we lose 30 minutes of daylight every week. It is only now that we are starting to notice this. A month ago, 4 in the morning looked exactly like 7 in the evening. However, now 4 am looks like a slightly darker version of dusk. By the time September rolls around, we will have normal "Ohio" night times, and by November Alaska will be locke in a state of 24 dusk and darkness. The light messed with my sleeping patterns when I first arrived in May, but now I absolutely love it and I can't sleep if my room is too dark.

June and August are the rainiest months in Denai, and we have certainly received more than our fair share of the rain. It has pretty much been constant until about a week ago, when the sun finally triumphed. I was glad for the rain though, because it dyed the mountains a bright emerald green, and it is really spectacular.  The mountains change colors all the time, depending on their mood. :) When I arrived, everything was snowy white. Then the snow melted and the mountains were sandy brown and black. Now they are the most vibrant, decandent colors I have ever seen in my life. I am in love with them. They surprise me every day. One of my favorite things about the mountains that surround my hotel and dorm is the fact that they attitude. Sometimes, great dark rain clouds full of despair and anger swirl around the mountains in a desperate attempt to destroy our happy Alaskan moods. It feels like nothing can conquer the mountains though, because even with the clingy, swirling mist they still seem impressive and powerful. It's like watching a constant soap opera, but with better acting. The best is when the rain just gives up completely and the sun bursts through in an arrogant and selfish way, making the sky seem more blue and the mountains more green.

A few weeks ago, we were able to enjoy a totally perfect day. Doug, Tim, Analisa, Beth, and I went hiking down by the river. There is a stretch of secluded, sandy beach along the hiking trail in the forest, and we layed around in the bright sunshine all day and had really stimulating conversations. We splashed in the freezing water, pitched our hammocks on the side of the cliff facing the beach, and  ate some delicious gouda cheese pizza afterwards. It was so pleasant and harmonious to get away from the crazy tourists and guests. It was 76 degrees, which is the hottest it has been here in Denali since I've arrived. We are hoping to arrange another beach day soon, but we don't tell anyone about it because we don't want anyone else to know about our spot.

I have been doing a lot of hiking lately, even though it has been raining cats and dogs. I learned from living in Ohio that you just can't let the weather get you down. So I hike, walk everywhere, and generally enjoy every minute of this place as much as I can. I am participating in the biggest loser competition at my office, and so far I have lost 9 pounds - on top of the 15 pounds that I lost before the competition started. So that's 24 pounds. It's amazing how much more energy I have now! I have a long hard road in front of me, but I am off to a really good start. Losing weight here is really easy, because we hike for fun and the employee food SUCKS. (PS - if anyone feels so inclined to randomly send me food, I promise I won't be offended!) I wish i could cook for myself, but unfortunately my room does not have such amenities.

I'm also saving plenty of money, which has turned out to be really easy. I cut hair when I am not working or hiking, and I charge $10 a cut. For all of my friends back home, I bet I know what you are thinking: "Finally! She's actually charging people for hair cuts!" It is actually kind of brilliant here, because there is no one else that cuts hair around here, and since no one wants to walk around looking like a scraggly ridiculous mess, they come to me. Especially the guys, who just need their hair buzzed. It's like taking candy from a baby.

As for now, that's all I've got to add to this post. Check out my facebook page for pictures of Alaska - they can be found in my "mobile uploads" album because I can't upload the memory card from my actual camera. Feel free to call or write anytime! PO Box 784, Denali Park, Alaska 99755. I appreciate every letter and phone call I get, and I will try to be better at staying in contact with people from back home. I hope everyone is doing well with whatever they are up to right now. Stay happy and healthy! Love you all!