Might as well go with the same themed titles for now, but here’s a few things we did to enjoy the weather when it was actually SUNNY:
Friday: All-house hike up Gavan Hill (which should actually be called Mt. Gavan, but I guess it’s no McKinley. Apparently standards are different in Alaska) with FJV–former JV–Nick, from last year. It could also be called “Stair Mountain” as I’ve never climbed that many constructed wooden steps on a trail before. Mostly, I’m just glad I’m not the one who built them, but I’m happy to climb them! It got the blood pumping in the legs for sure, gave us our first arial view of Sitka and the surrounding terrain, and also helped us all realize that perhaps my idea of a hike is not the same as my housemates 🙂 (Two summers in the Tetons and expectations change, ya know?). But all in all, it was great bonding, a beautiful day on the trail, and what’s better than a beer and an ice pack on your knee after a hike anyway?!
Saturday: FARMERS MARKET! Excellent market, much bigger than I expected, even got fresh produce and saw Kambucha being made! (it was like being back at Jubilee . . . eh, ok not quite). Market followed by afternoon BOAT RIDE! It was beautiful on Saturday and a local who is always friends with the JVs offered to take two of us out to go fishing. I took the opportunity to ask him as many questions as I could about fishing, the fishing industry, etc. (I may or may not come back wearing a pair of waders). Our new buddy, Tyler, had set a long line the day before, so we went out to see if any halibut were interested enough to grab on. Unfortunately, they weren’t, so our fishing trip turned into random exploration/beach combing (def: finding trash/treasures on the beaches of secluded islands) trip. It was AWESOME. Beautiful views EVERYWHERE (look at the photos!), good company with new friends, and two amazing dogs on board. Yes, I will be getting a golden retriever one day.
Sunday: Woke up with semi-sore legs, mass at St. Gregory’s, walked out of church only to realize that it was WAY too beautiful outside to catch up on my computer to-do list at the library that afternoon. Called new local friend and expert hiker, Matt, to ask for hike recommendation/invite him to join Gina and me for an afternoon jaunt. Feeling somewhat ambitious (me and Gina, not Matt, this hike was a stroll for him) we set out to hike to the top of Mt. Verstovia. It was an excellent hike. Matt said we passed the most people on the trail he’d ever seen (though it seemed pretty normal to me), and it was also the hottest day of the year. Locals said that if it stayed that hot and sunny for too long, people would start to complain. It was low-mid 70s(!?!). Made it to the top of Picnic Rock, decided that we would wait to summit Arrowhead a different day since we have all year to make it to the top, didn’t want to completely wear out the legs before we made it back to the car. Ate lots of wild blueberries and huckleberries along the trail. YUM.
Monday: RAIN. The honeymoon ends. We all started work, finally!
My housemate Jackie and I are working together at the shelter. Mostly we’ve been observing, learning, and asking lots of questions. I’m learning a lot from the other advocates and our “official” training starts Saturday. I even got to go sit and watch court yesterday, which I was incredibly fascinated by, even though the case we were there for wasn’t even reviewed. I have a lot to learn, but already I can see how I will get in a rhythm eventually and I think really enjoy the work. We survived our first staff meeting today and I’m beginning to remember what it’s like to work 40 hours a week. I’ve been (f)unemployed for long enough and I started to forget what that schedule felt like!
I’m really glad to be in a place where there are many tourists who stop by for an afternoon off the cruise ship, but that I’m not one of them. Just like my time in Jackson Hole, I’m in a special place, a place where many people pay a lot of money to visit, but I get to live here! Unlike my time in Jackson Hole though, I’m getting a glimpse of life outside the tourist sector, hearing the stories (very difficult ones already) of people who have lived here their whole lives or who have showed up here for help, not for fun. One of the main deciding factors when pursuing JVC in Alaska was that I wanted to be in a new, beautiful, exciting place, but I didn’t want to be there for the same reasons I went to Grand Teton. I wanted to do work I cared about (selling moose napkins and elk mugs does NOT qualify) and to see, hear about, experience the lives people live here that aren’t visible from a one-day, one-week, one-month visit. I’ll try to refrain from going on a complete social justice tangent currently, as I’m sure there will be plenty more of that to come this year.
We continue to meet lots of very welcoming people as the new JVs in town (and still enjoy the occasional free meal) with lots of invitations to hike, fish, and basically go on whatever random adventures people are off on. The weather may feel like October currently, but it still feels like a bit of a vacation. I know that feeling won’t last too much longer, so I’m savoring the newness of it all while I still can.
Thanks to all who are following along and sharing in the excitement with me.