Summer Season in Alaska: First Impressions

As with any journey worth talking about, this one began with kneeling on the airport floor at the airline check-in counter, trying desperately to make three pounds of luggage disappear via redistribution. I thought I had packed with restraint. Not even close.

I flew into Anchorage and thanks to the clear weather and low tide, I was able to enjoy a view of the exposed mudflats along the coastline. I'm fascinated by this quicksand-like area, because on my previous visit to Alaska I learned from the locals that it is an ideal place to get rid of a dead body.

From the Ted Stevens airport, I caught the People Mover bus (real name) to the transit center in downtown Anchorage, where I boarded another bus to take me to Denali. This would have been great had I been trying to get to Denali. Unfortunately, I was trying to get to Seward, which is in the exact opposite direction.

Adding to the embarrassment, I was wearing my comfortable travel clothes, including a sweater from the Aussie store, Cotton On. At the time that I made this purchase, Cotton On was running with a 'grunge' theme and therefore my sweater has 'Seattle' written across the front. Inconveniently, the result of this fashion choice was that I blended too well with the genuinely confused tourists, most of whom had just flown in from Seattle and were wearing gift shop purchased 'Seattle' t-shirts. Hence, not only did I deboard the bus in shame, I also looked like a douchebag while doing so.

Small Warehouse (left half of building is actual warehouse)
Once on the correct vehicle, I enjoyed the 2.5 hour drive down to Seward. The tour guide was my favourite kind - those that add personal anecdotes into their official commentary. I enjoy it even more when they take their rambling one step too far and thankfully, this guide did exactly that. He went from talking about a moose - to discussing moose nuggets (droppings) - to telling us that he watched a survival show and heard that it's safe to eat moose nuggets if desperate - to musing about how he should probably get his dog to try a nugget before he does -to confessing that he himself has tried his dog's biscuits. How this final point related to the Alaskan landscape or lifestyle is anyone's guess.

When I arrived in Seward, the first thing I noticed was that it isn't cold. The sun stays high overhead late into the evening and the daytime temperature has been around 70°F (21°C). There is a slight chance I might have over-packed (refer back to first paragraph).

The second thing I noticed was that my fears about the promised dormitory accommodation had been fully realized. I was dropped at the affectionately/ominously termed 'small warehouse'. It was dark, it was cramped, it was four people to a room in bunk beds so closely spaced that a sardine would feel claustrophobic. I spent an hour coming to terms with the space, mentally and emotionally, before some saint notified me that I was at the wrong building. It was difficult to hide my joy as I waved goodbye to the legitimate residents of the 'small warehouse'. I wasn't even bothered by the way they were staring at the Seattle sweater.

Bunk House
For entertainment purposes, I'm sorry to tell you that the place I'm now correctly staying at, the Bunk
House, is great. It's a motel style building, with a communal kitchen and common area. I'm sharing a room with two lovely girls, Montana and Idaho, about whom I can say only wonderful things - partly because they are lovely and partly because they are reading this blog. We have views of the mountains, a horse paddock across the road, an eagles nest nearby and we can walk to work at the harbour. But the best thing about the Bunk House is how it clings to technology from the 90's - there are VHS tapes and machines everywhere I turn.

On a final note, I'm compelled to mention that a fisherman has confessed his love for me by yelling it from the rolled down window of his passing pickup truck. Turns out chivalry is not dead. It was just hiding here in Seward the whole time.

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