Saturday, June 15, 2013

The Funny Thing About Naknek...

This afternoon I was having lunch in the mess hall with one of the gentlemen from the AGS Corporate office. Not much of a talker, and not seemingly thrilled by the fishing industry, I searched for topics to cultivate conversation. Naturally, the conversation turned to travel. A well traveled man, I was curious to see what he thought about the world. I asked him where his favorite place to travel was, where he liked to go with his family, where he preferred to go alone, and last where was the strangest place he'd ever been. His prior answers had been so rapid I was barely able to ask the questions, mumbling answers about places I'd never heard so quietly and indifferently I struggled to pay attention. But on this last question, he paused. It was the pause that caught my attention. Had he mumbled his answer, the impact would not have been the same. "Here" he replied, plainly but with absolute definity. "This is by far the strangest place I've ever been, it's just...odd." I didn't push him to much more, he already seemed uncomfortable with lengthy conversation.
We piddled about the weather and how much paperwork followed the arrival of the cannery workers, finished our carrot cake slices and walked back to the office so far apart that we may as well have been walking in different directions.

But he was right. Naknek is strange. odd. funny.

The roads, mostly dirt, save the one highway, lead only to buildings, as if the buildings were the first to arrive.The waves in the small stretch of highway mirror those of it's tidal output along which it runs. The post office is not so much a depository for letters as it is a community hall. Broken down signs promise tourist attractions that have been closed for decades.

And the people. The people are characters are straight out of a Ray Bradbury book. Quirky, friendly, and odd. The Bartender also works at the hardware store down the road. The checkout girl at the trading store is a musician, a seasonal worker and a freight company secretary. When they speak with you their faces rest in an almost-smile, not because they particularly like you, but because their town is so diluted with strangers, that it is a habitual politeness. It's not that the people are inherently odd, it is Naknek. Naknek demands oddity as an evolution of survival.

There is an atmosphere of tired tradition here. Newness is constant and yet, caught in a warp, the town has a laid back regularity to the seemingly odd movements of both the people and the town. It is a curious situation, and I must agree with my co-worker, that Naknek is the strangest place I've ever been.


Saturday, June 8, 2013

Summer Camp for Adults

When I was younger, I used to attend summer camp at Riverview right outside of Cusick, Washington. I remember the excitement, the smell of Clorox in the messhall, the mystery orange drink, the beautiful view of the water, the late nights, the squeaky cabin beds, the people you'd always run into but never quite remember, and that one boy who didn't shower the whole time.

Ten years and one college degree later, I am back at summer camp... with a strangely adult twist. Complete with mystery orange drink, messhall and bunkhouses (though I have single accomodations). The main difference is the fact that rather than the one boy, there are definitely many men with infrequent showering habits.

Glamourous as my post graduate summer position is, I must say I'm not minding it. There are long hours (we work 11 hours a day; and from what I hear, they are about to get longer) but I have a rather nice desk, a continously full coffee pot and snack pile, and a stunning view of the sunset (that is, if I bother to stay up until 12:30 a.m.)

Naknek is a fishing town, and with the 2013 salmon season upon us, the number of fishermen we see daily is steadily increasing. AGS products center around this season, and because I have little to no knowledge of fishing practices of any kind, I have been learning more about fish than I ever thought was neccessary.

The people that are currently at the camp are the managerial and main staff (about 80 employees, including myself) and the seasonal workers for whom I'm doing orientation soon (about 500 individuals) will be arriving throughout the next couple of weeks. My current duties include payroll, airport pick-up, new employee paperwork and training on all office software I haven't yet learned.

Overall, there's not much to Naknek. There's a post office, a few bars (which I have yet to explore), a general store, a liquor store and a little coffee shop called 'The Shire'. The atmosphere is welcoming, and arid, giving one a sense of freedom (and a big whif of  what I can only describe as testosterone incarnate). Whelp, It's about time for dinner, Mystery orange drink here I come. Wish me luck! Here's some photos for the road...

The view on the flight into Anchorage

AGS facilities in Naknek. Storm clouds moving in.

My office building overlooking the water

Fishing gear storage facility on site

The walk back to my room... watch out for boats.

The classy lock system

The 12:30 a.m. sunset from my room

Until next time

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

So Now What?

As with any recent graduate, there are a lot of big changes in my future. I have been slowly, inevitably, packing up my belongings (which happen to consist mainly of books and an odd conglomeration of clothing... and more books.) into three different categories. Why three? Because each of the three groups has a different destination.

My first destination is Spokane. I'll be there for a whopping five days, mostly sitting at home, studying for the GRE's, and hanging out with my family (Twigs happy hour, Mom?).

During the first week of June, I will be flying to the remote, daring, and fantastic (initiate hyperbolic intonation), Naknek, Alaska. Naknek is located about six hours southwest of Anchorage directly in the middle of... nowhere.

Why am I going to Naknek? I will be doing HR/PR and Payroll for a company there for the summer, and I'm sure you will hear all about it. My adventure in The Last Frontier, though only a couple months long, will, I'm sure come with many stories.

Three weeks after my early August Return, I will pack up my little blue Honda for the third leg of my journey, and proceed to drive across the country. (Complete with cheesy roadtrip music and a bestfriend with an SLR). The destination?  This lovely skyline:

I have been offered a position implementing a soft urban development project with Habitat for Humanity in Erie, PA. The position, funded by AmeriCorps, is one year long and a fantastic opportunity! I've never been to Erie, so I've been trying to do my research (complete with google earth creeping and flickr browsing.)

Though I still know very little about the location, the prospect of implementing a project that positively affects a community excites me. And from what I can tell about Erie, the sunsets aren't too shabby either:

 Photo Credit:

This Year Promises to be one full of new experiences, new friends and many, many stories. Here we go.

As always, Besos, 
“When did the future switch from being a promise to being a threat?”
  -Chuck Palahniuk. Invisible Monsters.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

A Not-So-Short Recap

There are few things that fly by faster than the life of a student. Especially during Senior year. From my perch on my plaid couch (that has far too much cat hair on it), I can see my University Alumni pin. That's it. I've done it. The inevitable question is of course, what's next? There is much to tell, but first let's recap. After a year of neglect, and without better prospects for a domain name, I have decided to revise this blog. Originally a study abroad blog, (mainly to appease my mother, Hi Mom!), I will (prospectively) keep the tradition going. I have a lot of moving ahead of me, and though I am excited about it, I would like to be able to document it for posterity (well...mostly because I'm super forgetful).

Before we move on, let me catch you up: 
Here is a quick pictorial recap of my Senior year at University:

After returning from my adventures abroad I had a few weeks to enjoy the family in Spokane. Also, I shaved part of my head. In retrospect, maybe not the best decision.
Back in Moscow, Patty's Mexican Kitchen became my staple. I missed that green salsa more than anything else (Just kidding, Mom)
Senior Year included my new roomie Maddie and lots of homework. When those two crossed over it pretty much looked like this.

The Beautiful Campus of UI frosted. We mostly see it this way (except for that one day in April when it is sunshiny.)

Anja  and I in Seattle

Seattle Roadtrip

We called these dinner nights Wednesdays with Benefits.
I had a whole semester with Anna before she left me for Turkey.
But not before we all went to visit Anja in Sun Valley.

My wonderful dance partner Geoff and I during a solo performance.
Christmas dance with Cori
Wine Night with the I.S. Girls.
Garrett's Mad Hatter Tea-Birthday Party.
Naturally, I was the Queen of Hearts.
This little guy came into my life :) Charlie was a pest, but we grew to love him.
My wonderful parents in a nutshell
Second Semester also meant White Paper research. Lots of hours logged in the Library. The senior thesis project took up most of our spare time and some time we didn't have.
Though I did find time to eat.
And go to a few Breweries
Kate and I had a picnic one day :)
I also met this young man, who is a little bit of  nerdy and a whole lot of awesome.

Reading on our way to Portalndia

Oh yeah and I graduated.

So what now? You'll just have to wait and see....


Saturday, June 30, 2012

A Week of Independence

For the last week and a half I have been staying in a friends apartment. There has been an emptiness since the rest of the members of my program, all my new friends that had been such a huge part of my life all went home. All week I've been reading Facebook status' and tweets of friends and acquaintances as they rejoice in their homecoming, seeing family, friends and summer. And here I am.

Part of me thought that the reason I wanted to stay was because of the people I had met. If I could just freeze time it would be ideal, that my love for the city existed within the experiences and the friends I had made which may be partly true. But since everyone left, I have found myself entering a comfortable routine with the city. Walking the streets, the parks, the ferias, not as a tourist, on a mission to see anything in particular, but as a sort of resident, appreciating living somewhere. I haven't gone to any museums, landmarks or famous cafes as I expected, I haven't tried to squeeze in the 'last few things' on my list, partly because I know I could never do it all, and partly because I know I will be back. I've been content. Sitting on the balcony, reading Marquez and Borges, making crepes, taking walks. The chilly winter weather has recently given way to a more humid, week of fog, giving the city a look of mystery and complacency.

As I walk these streets, or look out the window at the buildings with straight balconies, grimy walls, the mixture of architecture, ancient, modern and dated, cohabiting the blocks. The things I once found strange are endearing, common and necessary. Looking at Buenos Aries this way it's easy to forget the government, the economic instability, the dark and revolutionary history I have been overly exposed to in university for the past semester.

A big city that was once strange and exotic, is now comfortable, I'm used to the women in weird shoes with their waist length hair, and the italian lilt of the conversations I can almost understand. I'm used to repeating myself, and the questions about my hair, or my eyes or my nationality (apparently I look French and or German?) I'm having a difficult time thinking about leaving, My heart is torn, but as I said, I know I'll be back, You don't forget a place like this.

Feria el libros en Plaza Italia

Botanical Gardens in Palermo

Como Siempre,

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Your eyes love to travel to see the places, but your heart? Your heart travels for the people. 

Thank you Traveling Travelers. I couldn't have asked for anything better.