Editor’s note: This is a guest post by Lyndsay Lane, my good friend from college.
Alaska was the LAST place I ever wanted to go. Who would want to go somewhere that is cold all the time? In my naive opinion, mountains were mountains and a glacier was just a giant piece of ice, so what could be so special about it?
A little over a year ago, I decided (on a whim, mind you) to move to Seward, Alaska for the summer and try out seasonal work. The reasons behind this “quarter life crisis” are a whole other story, but nonetheless, in the early part of May 2007, I found myself driving through Canada en route to Alaska. A good friend of mine did the 2,700-mile-drive with me, and I was so glad to have her there just so I could take in the view while she drove.
Growing up in Washington state, I knew what mountains were supposed to look like, or so I thought. Washington has mountains that gradually slope up, Alaska has straight up in-your-face mountains. And when those mountains are covered in snow, and it’s a blue-sky day, it is one of the most amazing sights I have seen in this world.
This is my second summer in Seward. Seward is located on the Kenai Peninsula, about 2.5 hours south of Anchorage. The town is literally at the end of the road and is built around a boat harbor. Cruise ships maneuver through the Kenai Fjords to come into our small town (pop. 3,000ish) a few times a week, and most of the passengers take their time on land to visit one of the many glaciers, or take one of the Kenai Fjords Boat Tours. I work at a lodge that is about a mile out of town. Our address is Mile 0.5 Exit Glacier Road. Yes, house numbers don’t exist outside of town – your address is literally your physical address.
I live six miles from a glacier – I normally ride my bike up the road every once in awhile but after being warned about a nine foot tall brown bear being in the vicinity, I’ve decided to keep my bike going the other direction for awhile. I see wildlife everyday. It’s not unusual to look out the window of our restaurant, or even my cabin, and see a moose walking by. Last year, we had a resident baby black bear – fortunately he never was much trouble – but a friend of mine did say one day she was napping in her cabin with the door open and woke up to the little guy on her doorstep.
The famous northern lights are indescribable. I am mesmerized when I see them. And tonight I walked home from work at 11 p.m. and it was still light out – no need for a flashlight during the summer in AK. It stays light seven minutes longer each night until the solstice, so therefor, blackout shades are a necessity.
The people I work with are almost all seasonal workers going from job to job each summer and winter. They are a different breed, and I am glad to be part of that breed. They have a different outlook on life – money and material things are not what is important, but rather enjoying every moment of life to the fullest. Most of them (including myself) don’t own anything more than what they can fit on their back, or in a car, if they are fortunate enough to have one. Things like car payments, a mortgage or even a credit card payment are a foreign language to them. They work their asses off for four to five months and then take three months off to travel the world and catch up with family.
Then, they are right back into the swing of things at the next job. Getting to know these people, and hearing of all the places they have been and the things they have experienced, makes me so excited to live this life. I can’t wait to plan my next trip. I have people tell me all the time “I am so jealous of your lifestyle – I wish I could just drop everything and go travel.” It drives me crazy hearing this because it’s a simple choice, you just have to be willing to take a chance and live life for yourself and not everyone else.