Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Running along the Dalton Highway

Tonight's sunset; I took this picture around can tell the days are already getting longer!

Fun with Lodge Cleaning

So I don't have anything too exciting to post today. I have been working the past few days, which is okay, because Sadie and I have found a way to make cleaning rooms and public bathrooms more fun. We had a little incident with the mop bucket today; I'm not sure how but we managed to tip it over and spill it everywhere. We cleaned some bathrooms that hadn't been cleaned in...well, a long time. I ended up with a soaking wet shirt and shower cleaner in my hair, but other than that, things went well. We checked out the tents today (the ones we will be living in once it gets a little warmer). They are actually bigger than I thought. I went for a run today because the weather was so nice. I ran along the side of the Dalton highway, because the hiking trail is still really muddy. This is the first day I have been able to wear shorts; it was so warm! The only downside of that is the mosquitoes. The mosquitoes here get really bad at the beginning of the summer, and I already saw like 5 of them today. Good thing I bought 99% deet bug spray before I got here. The kitchen made us chocolate chip cookies today, so I probably ate enough cookies to cancel out the calories burned on my run; oh well! Everything is going well, and I am loving every minute of being here!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Me that's what I call a clean floor!

Sadie at our midnight bathroom deep clean; notice the perfect form in the art of scrubbing the wall

Trucker Bathroom Cleaning Party

So the past few days have been really warm (well, warmer than it has been), which means a lot of the snow has melted. Even though it has been nice outside, the melting snow has created horrible amounts of standing water, so I haven't exactly been looking forward to walking the trail. It rained all day yesterday, so after working I stayed inside and got through around 6 chapters of the book I am reading. Last night Sadie, Teslin, and I had a midnight cleaning party, deep cleaning the public bathrooms. It's funny how puting on some loud music (such as Beyonce's "Single Ladies") can make something like cleaning the trucker's bathroom more fun. I have also discovered the deliciousness of Coldfoot's pancakes; I have to say they are some of the best I've ever had. The cable has been out for a few days, so we haven't been able to watch TV. Good thing the cable still works across the parking lot at the Slate Creek Inn, so Teslin and I went over there today to watch for a while. Not much else is happening...I will talk to everyone again soon!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Walking down the Chandalar Trail; Jasper, the former lead sled dog, up ahead leading the way

Stopping off at the river during our walk...that's Jenna making sure we don't get too close to the water!

This week at Coldfoot

Hey everyone! Thought I would give you my Coldfoot update. Nothing new is happening here, except for the snow starting to melt. Today the temperature got up to around 55 degrees! A lot of the snow is already melted, which is making everything really slushy and muddy. I'm glad I got a good pair of boots to bring up here, because I have to walk back and forth through the mud puddles everyday while I work. Yesterday I took one of the sled dogs for a walk along the trail. I haven't seen much wildlife since I've been here, but I did see 2 snowshoe hares on the side of the trail. They ran off before I could get a picture, but I'm glad I can at least say I have seen something. Sadie, one of the girls I work with, got to camp a few days ago. Her and I took two of the dogs for a walk earlier today. Since the snowing stopped the weather has been amazing, and it's nice to be able to get outside to walk. Other than that, I have just been relaxing, visiting the puppies, playing games of scrabble, reading, all of the usual stuff we all do up here. I can't believe I have already been here for 3 weeks; it feels like I just got here a week ago! The time is going by so fast.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Trying to walk through the snow to get to the trail...and this wasn't even the deepest spot!

Making snow angels (even though the snow was too deep to move my arms and legs, so it's more like a snow cross)

One of the puppies playing in the snow!

More snow...

Well, I spoke too soon when I said it was warming up and we were all getting excited for spring. It has been snowing for about 5 days straight. I can't believe how much snow there is up here! I had mentioned maybe going for a sled dog ride, but we haven't been able to because the snow hasn't let up. I have been keeping busy with other things, though. Work is going great. I have met some interesting people. There are a lot of people staying here right now who are miners working on mines north of Coldfoot. There are also some crew members from the Alaska Department of Transportation who are going to be staying up in Coldfoot all summer to work on the Dalton Highway. There have been some tourists, but the majority of the vacationers will start coming in May. Today Cory (one of the co-workers) and I went on a hike down Chandalar trail. It was really pretty to see all of the snow that has fallen. We even made a quick stop to make some snow angels. The kitchen crew made us oreo cream cheese cake truffles today for dessert; they were so good! Teslin (another co-worker) and I went over to see all of the dogs again today. The puppies are starting to get so big. We let them play in the deep snow for a while; they loved it. It finally looks like the snow is clearing up tonight. In a few more weeks, the snow will probably start to melt, so I better take advantage of this last little bit of winter!

Monday, April 12, 2010

All of the fresh snow on the pretty

All of the snow that came yesterday...and by the way, this is the "Slate Creek Inn", one of the places I have been cleaning

Snow Days

This week I have been working almost every day, so I don't have anything very interesting to talk about. It has been snowing for the past 2 days, and there is quite a bit of snow on the ground. We might even be able to take the sled dogs out for a ride tomorrow. A new co-worker came yesterday, and so we all played a late night game of scrabble before bed. The night before that, all of the co-workers got a special dinner; fresh Yukon slamon with rice and veggies. I never thought I would see the day where I actually enjoy eating salmon, but I have to say, it's starting to grow on me. Other than that, everyone has just been hanging out, watching tv and reading. We are all so excited for spring to come and for the snow to melt. The days keep getting longer, and the temperature is getting a little warmer. Even though it was snowing all day today, we were outside in t-shirts; it was one of the warmest days today since I have been here. I think it just seemed really warm, because it has been so cold, but the thermometer said it was 40 degrees! Anyway, hopefully I will have more to post tomorrow if we take the dogs out...

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

"Sleeper" rolling over like a baby so I can pet him!

Me and one of the pups

Mama Jenna with her 3 puppies

"Dogtown", where all the sled dogs live

Getting Settled in Coldfoot

This week I started my job here at Coldfoot Camp. Even though all I have been doing is cleaning rooms and helping with other random tasks around camp, it is actually not bad. The camp director (my boss) is extremely laid back, so he just lets me put my ipod on and work on my own all day so I don't have someone looking over my shoulder. Luckily there aren't too many rooms to clean yet, because the only group of people staying overnight right now is the camera crew from the TV show "Ice Road Truckers". At this point, I have also had a chance to meet all of the sled dogs around camp. They are all so sweet, and there are even 3 little puppies! It is now part of my daily routine to go visit the dogs after work. You always know when you are getting close to where they live, because the minute they hear someone walking in their direction, they all start howling. Me and some of the co-workers walked out to the road the other night to watch the Aurora, so I had a chance to see another good show. With the days getting so much longer now, it won't be long until the Aurora is gone for the season. Last night a bunch of us had a huge bonfire to celebrate someone's birthday, and afterwards, we all came inside and played a game of scrabble. I am having a great time with all of the people here, and I can't wait until the rest of the summer season co-workers arrive. I hear there will be about 15 more people showing up all throughout April. The snow is starting to melt during the day, so I can tell spring is almost here.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Standing in front of Sukakpak Mountain and the Koyukuk River

Eating a sandwich on our picnic at Sukakpak Mountain

Easter Sunday in Wiseman

Today Gwen (one of the co-workers) and I drove up to Wiseman to go to Church for Easter. Wiseman is a little village about 20 miles north of Coldfoot. It only has a population of around 20 people, who all live in tiny log cabins, and the community is pretty much self-sufficient. We met another one of our co-workers there, because her and her family actually live in Wiseman. The church service was held in an old woman's house. It was one of the most interesting experiences I've ever had. There was no organ or piano, no church pews, just a little old woman giving her sermon from her kitchen table while we sat on chairs and couches. Then she passed us each a book of hymns and we sang for while. After the service was over, we all sat around and ate some of her homemade bread and hot cocoa. I talked with the other people that were there. They had all lived in Wiseman their entire lives. It was cool seeing people who have grown up so differently than I am used to; one of the kids there was showing off his new knife that he had made out of natural materials, like animal bone, that he had found. After we left Wiseman, we drove another 15 miles north to Sukakpak Mountain. We had a picnic lunch below the mountain, and then drove back to Coldfoot.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

The "Crew Quarters" where my room is located

The Dalton highway just outside of Coldfoot

First week at Coldfoot

The past couple of days in Coldfoot have been great. Now I have gotten a tour of the camp, settled into my room, and met all of the other co-workers. The surprising thing is that a lot of them are from the midwest. There are a few from Chicago, one from souhern Illinois, one from Wisconsin, and one from Michigan. I think Alaska must attract people who need a little break from the midwest. All of the co-workers are really nice; everyone is just happy to be here. The weather here has been great compared to what it usually is this time of year. It has been sunny every day and during the day the temp climbs up into the 30's. It's still pretty cold at night, but no colder than it would be on a winter night in Rockford. The amount of daylight here is already more than we had at home; it doesn't get dark until around 11pm and it gets light around 5am. Everyone here said that this time of year, Coldfoot gains 6.5 minutes of daylight every day. The most exciting night of my last few days was tonight. I came outside to walk to the office so I could update my blog, and the Aurora was out. I had seen it a few nights ago, but it was in the distance and not very bright. Tonight, it is completely lighting up the sky. It is so amazing, I can't even describe how beautiful it is. The entire sky looks like a wave a bright green moving around; everyone should visit Alaska some day just to be able to see it in person. Well, I'm going to go back out and watch it for a while. I will post again soon.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

At the official line of the artctic circle

The view as we walked across the Yukon River

Journey to Coldfoot

I am officially in Coldfoot, Alaska. It took me 8 hours by plane and another 8 hours by van, but I made it! The drive up from Fairbanks was amazing. I rode in a tour van with some people who were on vacation. We left Fairbanks and didn't see any civilization for 8 hours; all we could see were forests and mountains in every direction. The first stop we made was at the foothill of a mountain that the tour guide said, "looks like it would be perfect for sledding". He then went into the trunk of the van and pulled out a few sleds; I guess people in Alaska are always prepared for sledding opportunities. Each of us took our turn going down the was so much fun! Then we piled back into the van and kept moving. Our next stop was at the Yukon River. Because it's still so cold in Alaska, we were able to walk across the river on the ice. Our final stop before Coldfoot was at the official line of the arctic circle. We took some pictures, drank some hot cocoa, and then drove the rest of the way to Coldfoot!