Posts tagged ‘alaska’

I am the richest person in the world!

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As I sit here looking out the window at the wood duck taking her early morning dip in the pond, the finches grabbing their breakfast from the bird feeder and singing their cheery songs, the antics of the chipmunks and squirrels, all the while the pups snuggled on their blankets taking a snooze I realize what a wonderfully rich life I have.

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I start reflecting on the choices I’ve made in my life.  When I was 15 years old I worked at a little café named the Jolly Boy.  The owner was my mentor and he taught me so much during the time I worked for him.  He always talked about when he retired him and his wife were going to buy a motor home and travel all over the United States.  Just months after he retired his wife had a stroke and they never got to follow his dream of seeing the country.  That always stuck with me.  I just couldn’t imagine waiting my entire life to do what I really wanted to do and then not being able to do it.

Our latest family gathering at my sisters house on Easter

Our latest family gathering at my sister’s house on Easter

I decided that making a huge amount of money was not going to be my motivation in life.  Don’t get me wrong, I have always been a hard worker.  I believe that you do the absolute best job that you can to earn a living, pay your bills, and feed your family.  But spending time with my children and family, traveling, and enjoying life were always my priority and I did just that.  Throughout my life my family went camping, went on vacations, and had many, many family gatherings as we still do.

Working and making new friends in Alaska

Working and making new friends in Alaska

Ten years ago my children were raised and gone from home.  I had a wonderful job but felt that time was ticking away and I needed more time to do the things I enjoyed doing.  So I quit my job, rented out my house and went to Alaska and started my new life of travel and adventure.  I met new friends and had great adventures while I worked there.

Karen and Taty, a couple of girls I met in Alaska who became friends for life

Karen and Taty, a couple of girls I met in Alaska who became friends for life

After working in Alaska for several seasons my path eventually led me to pet sitting.  This was the perfect fit for me.  I absolutely love animals and I get to spend every day loving and caring for them while having the freedom to travel when I want to.

Watching Maddie & Zoey in Maryland

Watching Maddie & Zoey in Maryland

Wally, a cat with a huge presonality

Wally, a cat with a huge personality

I also figured out how to travel inexpensively.  This meant traveling all over Alaska sleeping in a VW van, spending New Year’s Eve in Times Square while staying in a hostel in Harlem, backpacking throughout Panama and Mexico, taking a three-month road trip around the entire United States and parts of Canada in my little 8-year-old Toyota Corolla as well as many, many other trips I have taken on a shoestring throughout the years.  Here are some of the many places I’ve visited over the years.

I swam with dolfins in Jamaica

I swam with dolphins in Jamaica

I swam with Manatees in Florida

I swam with Manatees in Florida

I took an eco tour in Laguna San Icnacio and had a close encounter with a huge but beaurtiful mama and baby grey whale

I took an eco tour in Laguna San Ignacio and had a close encounter with a huge but beautiful mama and baby grey whale

I saw Mt. Rushmore

I saw Mt. Rushmore

And Mt. McKinley

And Mt. McKinley

I've seen moose in Alaska

I’ve seen moose in Alaska

And buffalo in South Dakota

And buffalo in South Dakota

I've share lobster with my sister Kathy in Maine

I’ve shared lobster with my sister Kathy in Maine

And fried sardines in the Algarve, Portugal

And fried sardines with my friend Donna in the Algarve, Portugal

I've seen the Eifel Tower

I’ve seen the Eifel Tower

And the Teotihuacan pyramids in Mexico

And the Teotihuacan pyramids in Mexico with my cousin Bruce

I've had martinis in frozen glasses at Chena Hot Springs with Kathy and Susie

I’ve had martinis in frozen glasses at Chena Hot Springs with Kathy and Susie

Mimosas at Café Lalo in New York to celebrate my daughter and her fiences engagement

Mimosas at Café Lalo in New York City to celebrate my daughter and her fiancés engagement

Sangrias in Lisbon, Portugal with Donna

Sangrias in Lisbon, Portugal with Donna

And green beer in Florida with my friends Karen and Eunice

And green beer in Florida with Karen and Eunice

I've seen black bear in Alaska

I’ve seen black bear in Alaska

And Alligators in Florida

And Alligators in Florida

I've seen world famous productions

I’ve seen world-famous performances

And not so world famous but just as thrilling performances by my grandson LJ

And not so world-famous but just as thrilling performances by my grandson LJ

I have toured DC

I have toured DC

And went kayaking and hiking in Hawaii

And went kayaking and hiking in Hawaii with my friend Susie

I visited the Kuna Indians with their "moon children" on the San Blas Islands of Panama

And I visited the Kuna Indians with their “moon children” on the San Blas Islands of Panama

I've seen the Northern Lights in Alaska

I’ve seen the Northern Lights in Alaska

And Illuminations fireworks at Disney World

And IllumiNations fireworks at Disney World

I've backpacked through Mexico and Panama

I’ve backpacked through Mexico and Panama

And walked along the beaches of Zihuatenejo

And walked along the beaches of Zihuatenejo

Just recently I was fortunate enough to be able to spend a year taking care of my two youngest grandsons.  Being a part of their lives in such an intimate way was such a gift and since I don’t live as a traditional Grandma does, I was able to form a bond with them that I wouldn’t have been able to otherwise.  I will cherish that time with them for the rest of my life.

Happy grandma with LJ and Declan

Happy grandma with LJ and Declan

Kids just wanna have fun

Kids just wanna have fun

Brrr!

Brrr!

My bested boy!

My bestest boy!

Such sweet brothers

Such sweet brothers

I have now returned to pet sitting.  I am so blessed that I get to stay in so many different locations like the home where I’m staying right now, meeting wonderful people who have become an extension of my family and caring for all the different dogs and cats that I have fallen head over heels in love with.  Here are just a few that I get to spend my time with.

Brody and Calla

Brody and Calla

Reilly and Luna

Reilly and Luna

Poppy and Spanky

Poppy and Spanky

Maggie and Gus

Maggie and Gus

Whether venturing out on my own

Whether venturing out on my own

Or traveling with a group of friends...

Or traveling with a group of friends…

Whether having a personal adventure with one of my grandchildren

Whether having a personal adventure with one of my grandchildren

Or a huge party with my wild and crazy friends and family...

Or a huge party with my wild and crazy friends and family…

Or just cuddling up with a sweet pup that I'm pet sitting

Or just cuddling up with a sweet pup that I’m pet sitting

I know I'm the richest woman in the world!

I have enjoyed every step of my life so far!

And I look forward to where the next 10 years are going to take me.

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So as I look out at the pond again and down at the sweet sleeping pups I think about how I, someone who in this society is considered poor, am the richest person in the world!

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May 4, 2015 at 7:00 pm 1 comment

Alaska 2012 Days 7 & 8

Monday, August 20th, Day 7

Today we’re heading for Homer.  First stop – Explorer Glacier!

Then through the tunnel into Whittier.  I had never been to Whittier and had heard of the tunnel that the train and automobiles take turns going through.  Since we were so close we had to go.

It’s a quaint little town surrounded by glacier covered mountains.

It was pouring down rain so we didn’t stay long.  Susie tried to enjoy the sights but was a little overwhelmed by the weather, hee hee!

A train came through the tunnel just as we were lining up to go back.  Then off we went to more adventures.

Some friends of ours have a daughter who owns a restaurant in Coopers Landing called the Kingfisher Roadhouse situated right along the Kenai River.  We stopped by and found it was closed until later in the day.

Fortunately she was at her little hot dog stand close by so we got to meet her, have a delicious Reindeer dog and a nice visit.  Man, I LOVE Alaska!  We’ve met so many new people and made so many new friends along the way!

Next we drove to Kenai where we drove to Beluga Lookout.  It was the low tide so didn’t see any whales but still a beautiful view!

We also stopped by to see the Russian Orthodox Church that was built in 1895.  It was built from logs in the shape of a ship.

We continued down the road along beautiful lakes, rivers and mountains dotted with glaciers until we arrived in Homer.  We stayed at the Land’s End hotel at the very end of the spit.

What a wonderful place to stay!  Our room looked out over the water where we watched the boats come in bringing in the catch of the day, and watched the sea otters playing.  And beyond, the beautiful snow topped mountains.

As much as we hated to leave the room, we knew we only had a few short hours in town so of course we had to head to the Salty Dawg Saloon for a drink, leave a dollar, and buy a t-shirt.

Are we tourists or what?

Then off to Captain Pattie’s for a delicious seafood dinner.  The best scallops and smoked salmon spread I’ve ever eaten!

Homer showed us a beautiful sunset at the end of the day.

Tuesday, Aug. 21st, Day 8
Our last day in Alaska

We got up in the morning and took one last look at the beautiful water, mountains & fishermen and said good-bye to the friendly sea otters and headed to the airport in Anchorage.

We pulled off to the side of the road and got a shot of yet another view of this beautiful state.

Thank you Alaska for another wonderful trip.  We’ll miss you!
Until next time!

August 25, 2012 at 6:12 am Leave a comment

Alaska Aug. 2012, Days 3 & 4

Thursday, Aug. 16th Day 3 

Kathy, Susie and I had breakfast in our room and headed south towards Talkeetna.  We enjoyed the beautiful scenery on the way.  We didn’t see any more moose but the mountains and forests were enough to keep us happy.  We stopped at Rose’s Café just up the road from the employee housing I stayed in in Healy when I was working at the Princess Lodge in Denali and shared their famous huge hamburger.  Then stopped and got gas at Denali ($4.60 a gallon) and were on our way again.  We pulled into Nenana and saw a rack of fish being dried for the dogs to eat in the winter.

We stopped at Mary’s Café and gift shop just north of the McKinley Princess lodge.  I had stopped there several years ago and was really impressed with Mary Carey, an Alaskan pioneer who wrote several books on her adventures after moving to Alaska in 1962.  Kathy bought one of her books and now can’t put it down.  We pulled into beautiful downtown Talkeetna and settled in our cabin for the evening.

Made a nice dinner in the cabin and had a quiet evening.  I e-mailed Shirley, a friend of mine who now lives in Talkeetna, so we could meet the next day.

 

Friday, Aug. 17th Day 4

We went to the Roadhouse Inn for breakfast.  It’s a really fun old restaurant with family style seating.  We sat next to a couple from Spokane and visited.  Had reindeer sausage with our breakfast but reluctantly passed on the cinnamon rolls and other yummy looking pastries.

Then back to the cabin to grab our lunch and head to the train depot for the Hurricane Turn Flagstop Train ride that goes along the Susitna River & Indian River Canyon.  What a fun ride!  We left the Talkeetna Depot around 12:15 and headed out of town into the “bush”.

I went back to the cargo car where several people were riding with their supplies.  It was so interesting hearing their stories.

Three young men had a huge pile of supplies as well as a raft, guns and bow & arrow.  They were going to raft back down the river and hunt for bear along the way.  This was their second trip, they were from Anchorage.

I talked to a couple of other guys sitting with their dogs and heading up to their cabins.  One of them said that most people had a place in town as well as up in the woods and depending on what was going on in their life at the time depended on how long they stayed at one place or another.  We stopped several times as we were traveling up to Hurricane Gulch.  Many of the passengers were bringing supplies to their homes, including lumber and other building materials.  Some were spending the week-end; some had gone into town to get their monthly supplies.

We even passed the smallest town in Alaska called Sherman.  Population 4.  Two of the residents were standing in the doorway and waving at us as we passed by.

Warren, the conductor was a real hoot!  He told us stories of the area and people all along the way and kept us quite entertained.

When we got to Hurricane Gulch the train stopped right on the bridge so we could get a good look.

Unfortunately we didn’t see a lot of animals.  Susie got a glimpse of a bear and I got a glimpse of a moose and that was it.  But it was OK, the people we visited with along the way and the stories and scenery was well worth the trip.

When we returned to the depot my good friend Shirley, who I had met in 2006 when I worked at the Denali Princess Lodge met us at the depot and invited us up to her cabin for dinner.  We followed her along a dirt road for about 10 miles until we arrived where her husband Paul and their dog Jake were waiting for us.  We had salmon, that they had caught, for dinner as well as freshly made jam she had made that day.  For dessert she made a cobbler out of blueberries she had picked that day also.  It was an absolutely delicious dinner and so much fun catching up!

Their cabin is totally “off the grid”, powered by solar panels and a generator.  Upstairs is a couch in front of a big picture window overlooking the beautiful forest.  On a clear day they can see Mt. McKinley.  The porch is lined with lettuce plants that they go out and pick for their salad.

Jake absolutely fell in love with Kathy and sat by her almost the entire time we were there.  He wanted her to hold his hand.  Sweet little guy!

We visited for hours and finally had to head back to our cabin in Talkeetna with a full belly and a warm heart.  What another perfect day in Alaska!

August 23, 2012 at 6:47 am Leave a comment

Alaskan Adventures

Wow, what an experience Alaska turned out to be! This was totally uncharacteristic for me. I was always a very quiet, non-risk kind of person. My family and friends were the most important thing to me but venturing out to the unknown was not in my make-up. I got on a plane and headed out to Fairbanks. When I got off the plane I was bussed to Denali Park to a huge lodge. The company hired about 300 people for the summer season. The employees lived in a hotel about 10 miles from the lodge. I knew I was in Alaska from my very first day, when I saw a grizzly bear walking right by the hotel.

Grizzly by our hotel

I hired on as a housekeeping supervisor. This was a position I had never experienced before, but I did know what a clean hotel room should look like, so I just faked it. I guess it turned out okay because I received “employee of the month” and had a great time.

Besides working at something totally different than what I had done in the past, I met some really wonderful new friends and traveled all over the area. I found out that I was not the only middle aged woman looking for something ‘else’ in her life. We gathered every night at the “round table” in the cafeteria and learned about each other, took off on road trips on our days off, took tours of the park and saw bear, moose, dall sheep, and caribou, and made great new friendships. I still keep in touch with several of the ladies I met that first summer.

Here are some of my favorite pictures from that special time:

A B&B we passed by on one of our outings.

Mt McKinley in Denali Park

Me with one of Jeff King's (an Iditorod racer) puppies

Mama & baby moose that wandered into the lodge one morning

Group of us ladies on tour bus in Denali Park.

I ended up working at the same lodge for three years, moving from housekeeping to Food & Beverage. Each year I met lots of young people from all over the world, mostly from Eastern Europe coming up to this last frontier to work and earn money for their education. What great work ethics these young people had. It was quite an inspiration! At the end of the seasons the Northern Lights came out and gave us a beautiful show.

Northern Lights over the lodge

It was definitely an experience of a lifetime and started me on this new path in life.

June 14, 2010 at 7:21 pm Leave a comment