Posted by: surfingthesky | 05/11/2012

First (scheduled) day off!

Woot!  We were all off yesterday because there was not a cruise ship.  Most of our zip guests come off the cruises if you didn’t know that…  Anyway, Ed, Nick, and I went to the sea cliffs for some outdoor climbing.  It was quite the interesting drive there.  There are only two ways into Juneau: air and sea (well, plus the birth canal).  We drove almost all the way until the road ends going north on Egan Drive, where we encountered a blasting zone.  They had all sorts pieces of rocky formations everywhere for a few miles and Nick was starting to worry about finding the trail down to the climbing area.  The distinctive marker is only a guardrail along the road, which could totally be gone in that blasting area, because it was pretty destroyed.  However, we made it through the blast zone and literally 10 feet later, he saw the right guardrail!  We pulled over and began our hike through the forest.  Once we arrived down the sea, it was breathtaking!  Although quite foggy, it was still a pretty sight with snow-covered mountains in the distance, various birds swooping into the water, and complete silence until a dump truck would drop some rocks into the water about a mile away!  Nick said the tide was low so we would want to start down in the slippery area because it’d be back up there in a couple of hours.  We began climbing the cliffs, over the sea, with rocks right under us.  It was pretty amazing!  He was right too; the tide came back in within a few hours and filled the entire area that we had once used.  Good thing we already moved over to a higher elevation… although it was raining, tree branches stuck out over the cliffs and shaded us from most of the water.  We saw three whales and two sea lions during our visit!  I learned how to clean (rock climbing term for ya)!  It was a wonderful day off.  Then, we had not gone out to eat yet in Juneau and I REALLY wanted some Asian food for days.  Nick said there was a really good Chinese/Japanese/Vietnamese restaurant called Asiana Gardens in the Valley that had huge portions and good prices.  We had to try it!  We got sushi and Chinese food… ahhhh it was delicious.  Ed did a wiggle when he ate.  Nick sighed into his food coma.  I ate just enough to have a perfect amount left for lunch today.  It was fantastic.  Ah, what a perfect day off.

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Notice, I always take better pics of people when they are climbing than they do of me… and this last one was a self-portrait at the top of my last route 🙂

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Posted by: surfingthesky | 05/10/2012

First (impromptu) day off!

So the other day, my tour cancelled at the very last minute.  I was walking to the boat when I got a call that my only tour of the day no longer existed.  Unfortunately, it was 3:00 pm.  Soooooo if I had known I was off all day, I could have called to schedule a comp tour, but since it was so late, I didn’t really have many options.  I wandered around downtown with Logan (who was scheduled off) for a couple of hours and found a really neat bookstore.  However, he had a part-time job to work at 5:00 pm so he had to head out.  I called the manager and asked for ideas… she said I could use the tram pass.  So I grabbed it and headed to the Mount Roberts Tramway.  It’s Juneau’s largest attraction (per the signs) and pretty cool. You take an enclosed tram up the mountain of Mount Roberts and can see all of downtown Juneau, the Gastineau Channel, Douglas Island, and even where I work!  Once I arrived at the top, the rain turned to snow!  I wandered around and enjoyed the view, snapped some photos, saw a rescued bald eagle (she was shot in the eye by a hunter), toured the nature center, and looked at the closed trails.  There are tons of trails on Mount Roberts, but right now, the snow is so heavy/blocked the trails that I guess I’ll be waiting for it to get warmer to do any hiking up there!  Now, the coolest part of the Mount Roberts Tramway is the movie and culture lesson about the native Tlingit tribe.  After that, I hopped back on the tram and headed back down.

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Posted by: surfingthesky | 05/09/2012

Some stuff about Juneau life

$3.75 to wash my clothes and between $3-5 to dry depending on the load.  I’m talking about one load here.

$4.38 a gallon for regular unleaded gas at the cheapest gas station I can find.

$44 for a pound of crab at Tracy’s Crab Shack.

$7 foot long subs at Subway.

$3 value menu at McDonald’s ($1 menu doesn’t exist).

Only chains other than Subway and McDonald’s are Wal Mart and CostCo.

Overnight delivery takes 3 days.

Living in a hotel room with a microwave and mini fridge so it’s basically dorm life again at 28.

Breeze In bacon maple donuts are quite possibly the best thing I’ve ever eaten.

Haven’t had a day off yet.

I get paid to take a boat to work, fly around in the trees, stare at the ocean, and mountains.

Rain e.v.e.r.y.d.a.y.

I’m loving it! ❤

Posted by: surfingthesky | 05/08/2012

First few tours as a real guide!

So my first real tour was actually shared with Martyn.  He did the first half of the course and I did the second half.  It went pretty smoothly… nothing too exciting or odd.  I honestly don’t even remember the people or anything about it.  Each tour has two guides: one lead (receiving) and one assistant (sending).  So on my second tour, Keith was lead and I was assistant.  Each tour can have up to nine guests but this one only had three.  They were pretty cool, but again nothing out of the ordinary.  I felt relatively comfortable with what I was doing and think I was moving at a decently quick speed.  On my third tour, I was once again with Keith.  His friend, Laura, was one of our guests.  This tour stood out for a few other reasons too!  First, we had a proposal!  Apparently it happens every season, but I felt pretty special to be a part of their moment.  Second, we had our first guest that was really scared.  I honestly thought I was going to do a platform lower-down (rappel a person off the zip-line because of an emergency or because they do not want to continue) at some point in the tour, but this person was also having a lot of fun, so we kept on going.  It was challenging trying to coach her through the course and ensure that all guests (including the scared one) still had an enjoyable yet safe experience.  I learned a lot in tour number three, and even earned my first tip.  Let’s bring on some more!

Posted by: surfingthesky | 05/08/2012

Zip Training

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There were seven of us in my training group: me, Ed (boyfriend), Nick, Logan, Craig, Keith, and Martyn.  I am the oldest and only girl.  We trained in Ketchikan which was an interesting experience for a week… but I’m super glad it was not any longer.  It was physically the hardest training I’ve ever done, but also the most fun!  Every part of my body ached, but it was really fun zipping and learning new things too. 

The day before our ferry ride to Juneau, we got complimentary tours at Adventure Karts and Taquan Air for a Misty Fjords float plane!  Both were awesome.  Adventure Karts are Israeli military vehicles, minus guns, that we each got to drive around for a couple of hours and just go crazy!  It was a blast!  The float plane tour took us for about 40 minutes and I sat in the front seat so I got the best view 🙂 

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We all took the 19 hour ferry to Juneau and relaxed a little bit.  We slept in the solarium, which is an enclosed area of the ship except for the back wall is not present; it is just open and you can see out into the ocean.  There are heat lamps around the solarium to keep it a little warmer.  We all set up our sleeping bags and Martyn slept in his hammock.  It was quite the experience! 

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After arriving in Juneau, we went to our manager’s house for a couple hours, and then onto work at our official ACA course.  We had a couple extra days of training in Juneau until we completed the final tests and we all passed!  We earned our yellow guide helmets and started taking legit tours the next day!  So far I’ve had three tours of my own… I’ll explain those later on 🙂

 

Posted by: surfingthesky | 04/25/2012

So I’m a zip-line guide…

It’s been a couple of years since I last updated my blog, but I suppose quite a bit has changed.  I was working as a flight attendant until April 4, 2012.  I went to many more amazing places in the time that I did not update, most specifically a month-long solo trip to Italy and Switzerland.  I also went to the big island of Hawaii for 9 days and couch surfed.

But…  back to the present… those of you that have known me for a while know that I have always dreamed of doing seasonal work.  That means, for example, teaching English abroad, working on a cruise ship, being a white water rafting guide, working on a farm abroad in exchange for room and board, orrrr being a zip-line guide.  Well, the one that I wanted to do the most and try first is zip-line guide, and I made it a priority to get a job.  What?!  How?!  Why?!  Let’s back up again.  I have been dating Ed for six months now, and back when we were just friends, we both said “I want to do seasonal work” blah blah blah.  Then, in November, I found out that I would be going back on reserve (on call work schedule) at my company for an indefinite period of time.  I did not plan to be a flight attendant forever.  I did not really want to drive to Milwaukee to sit ready reserve (on call); I told Ed that I was planning to quit.  He asked what I was going to do and I replied, “I don’t know, maybe become a server.”  He suggested that we actually go for our dreams and go into seasonal work in the same town somewhere.  After quite a bit of consideration, planning, and back-up planning, I decided to go for it.  I told him my “town” would be somewhere in Alaska.  He scoffed at the idea at first, but after a little bit of research fell in love with the state.  I made it a goal to become a zip-line guide in Alaska by the spring, and his goal was essentially the same.  So we began applying to every zip-line company in Alaska and while in Mexico on my birthday trip, I got an offer at Alaska Canopy Adventures to be an assistant canopy guide (zip-line guide) in Juneau!  By the time we landed in Atlanta for our connecting flight, Ed had a voicemail for an interview with the same company, and he had an offer within the week.  I sold all of my belongings except the essentials going to Juneau and a few storage bins in Ed’s parent’s basement.  Ed sold his car.  We’re in… all in.  We decided to take a dream road trip on the way to Alaska and our first stop is Denver.

The worst part of the drive is over; this is the only time we have to drive overnight.  I am such a morning person and Ed is definitely a night person; it really amuses me.  On the way to Denver, we stopped by the University of Iowa, in Iowa City, where Ed attended college.  He showed me where he used to live and a little bit of his campus.  I proudly put on my University of Georgia hoodie while we walked around though!  Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska, and east Colorado are all pretty flat and boring.  I have done this drive a couple of times before and it never tends to intrigue me.  I need to find something exciting along this route for the next time… if there is one.

Once we got to Denver, we stayed with a friend, Amanda, who we met in Mexico on my birthday trip.  She graciously let us spend the night and even arranged a dinner with her boyfriend and two other couples we met in Playa too.  I had a delicious bison burger.  Man, do I love bison.  I attempted to show Ed where I used to live in Commerce City, CO, but got lost and only made a big circle.  I say the roads changed!   I also lived in Aurora, but after the debacle in Commerce City, I didn’t feel like trying to find it.  The next stop = Grand Canyon!

So on the way to the Grand Canyon, we apparently go through Moab, Utah, which is where the Arches National Park is located.  We decided to stop in for three hours and take a peak, and I am very glad we did.  We saw a couple of areas such as balanced rock and courthouse.  Plus, we did a three-mile hike to the Utah famous delicate arch.  This is the arch that is found on Utah’s license plate.  It was super windy and dusty along the way, but well worth it once we made it to the top.

The rest of the drive through Colorado, Utah, and Arizona was gorgeous.  I loved watching the Earth change from flat lands to green snowy mountains to dry mountains to desert.  I honestly love this drive; I feel as though I could stare out into the distance forever and never get bored.  I have been to all of these states before, but never to these parts where humans have taken over and destroyed the land.  I feel like my eyes are just tools to take in the nature as it was created.

We pulled up to the Grand Canyon, which is the place I was most excited to see along the road trip around midnight.  It was around 35 degrees but dry, and we set up our tent worry free.  We went to sleep and I checked-in to the campground at 9:00 am and got some trail information for the canyon.  I woke Ed up and we decided to hike the Bright Angel trail to Indian Gardens, which is the farthest that is recommended in one day due to elevation changes and distance.  It was 9 miles and supposed to take between 6-9 hours.  We packed our bags, ate some food, and went to find the trail.

Okay, we had been in the Grand Canyon national park for about 14 hours, but unless you are along the rim of the canyon, you cannot really see it… so I was beyond ready to see the picturesque view I knew existed.  We found the trailhead and there it was; the Grand Canyon.  The Grand Canyon… the most beautiful creation I have ever seen in my entire life.  I literally cried when I saw it.  I could not believe something that amazing actually was in front of me and I was about to experience it.  Wow!  I am blessed.  Now, that is something I could stare at forever.  I knew I had to start hiking though because I had many hours ahead of me, but luckily, I was staring at the canyon the whole time.

Most trails start at the bottom and go up… but… if you’re already up, you can only go down.  So we went down.  It was a really weird sensation to go down 4.5 miles before reaching our destination of Indian Gardens.  It was a gorgeous view the entire way and very interesting to see the changes in the rocks, colors, and shrubbery.  I was very surprised to see how green the Grand Canyon was—the pictures you see look more like the Arches National Park, but it’s actually really green.  We sat for about an hour and had lunch at the bottom of the canyon, before turning around to hike 4.5 miles back up to the top.  We made the entire trip in seven hours.  I desperately want to hike the Grand Canyon rim-to-rim now.

The next day, it was very overcast, but we stopped along several viewpoints and then climbed up in the historic water tower to get a 360 degree view of the south rim and the Colorado River.  That night, it was supposed to snow, and we awoke to about 6 inches of snow around the tent.  We packed everything up, took a few snowy canyon pictures, hit the gift shop, and hopped in the car hoping to make it to Yosemite.

The worst of the snow was actually right at the Grand Canyon.  Within 45 minutes, we were out of the snow and just in a little rain.  The ride from Arizona into southern California was once again breathtaking.  I am beginning to think I could be a truck driver when I am done with my seasonal job hiatus.  Most of this area is unpopulated and towns are extremely sparse.  At one point, there is about 100 miles between gas stations, and well, we needed gas.  There was a solar-powered gas station in the middle of the desert in Essex, CA, where nothing else exists.  The gas costs $5.39 a gallon for regular unleaded.  There is a sign inside that says “it costs us a fortune to run this gas station in the middle of nowhere so don’t complain.”

We looked up the road conditions for Yosemite and saw that only one road was open into the park—140.  So we decided to go that way, into the southern part of the park, and call to make a hotel reservation in a little town close by since our camping and road situations were uncertain.  We had dinner at Outback Steakhouse in Bakersfield, CA, and then continued on to Mariposa, CA.  We stayed at the Mariposa Lodge and I definitely enjoyed the heat, shower, bed, and free wifi!  It was nice to splurge and have steak and hotel day.  The front desk clerk at the hotel was so interesting too.  He told us about all these secret hot spots to hit at Yosemite and he was so animated.  For those who know him, he reminded me of an older Nick De’More.  I am planning to write a complimentary letter for this man’s great service.

The next morning, we got up and went to Yosemite!  I wanted the Grand Canyon and Ed wanted Yosemite.  Now, I definitely loved it too, but nothing can compare to the Grand Canyon (for now).  There was a landslide along 140 that took out part of the road and California Transportation has made a small portion of the road into a one-way road.  There is a traffic light set with 15 minute increments for one-way traffic.  It’s a little scary to imagine a landslide happening.  Yosemite really reminded me of Georgia; it made me miss my friends a little bit extra than normal.  We drove around and hit some viewpoints, especially the ones recommended by our friend from the hotel.  We saw Bridal Vail Falls and the famous postcard picture shot from tunnel view.  We went to the visitor’s center and found out that there was space available at the walk-in camping area, Camp 4.  We went there next and set up our tent.  This park is in bear country too so all food and anything with a scent (i.e. toothpaste, hairspray, gum, etc.) has to be put into a bear safe storage container.  We have an ENORMOUS bin of food in the car.  It took a while for us to carry everything to the camp site and put all our food into the container, but once we were done, we hiked up Vernal Falls, Lower Yosemite Falls, and went to the Ahwahnee Hotel.

The next day, we hiked the Upper Yosemite Falls trail.  It was 7 miles and supposed to take approximately 6-8 hours.  Upper Yosemite Falls is the tallest waterfall in the United States and the fifth tallest in the world.  The trail began right at the base of Camp 4 which was nice.  Unlike the Grand Canyon, this one goes up first!  It started out really rocky.  There were giant rocks everywhere.  Plus, tons of little tiny creeks and waterfalls could be found all the time.  The higher we got, wetter it became.  The water turned into slush.  The slush turned into snow.  We had some pretty cool views of the upper and lower falls along the trail and even a couple of rainbows.  However, once we got to the top, the view of the waterfall was a bit disappointing.  There was not really a point where I could see it.  Yet, the view of the rest of the park was stunning.  We sat on some rocks at the top and had lunch.  We were warned that a thunderstorm was coming so we hurried up and began the trek down.  It took us six hours to complete and we never saw any rain.  One really interesting point is that along the trail, I saw three guys coming up behind us—I recognized them from the Grand Canyon!  These three guys from Sweden did the exact same trails in the Grand Canyon and in Yosemite.  Talk about a small world!  Plus, I met a couple that lived on the same road I grew up on AND a man that worked at the University of Georgia where I graduated college.  Waking up early and headed to Portland, Oregon.

Since 140 was the only open road, we had to go quite a bit south before heading west and then north to catch the interstate to Portland.  Central California is pretty populated and has a lot of traffic.  We had lunch at In-N-Out Burger in Sacramento.  Ed had never been there before so I figured we should go and I always like it too… Speaking of which, I’m getting hungry (and off-track).  After Sacramento, a took a nice nap!  Then, northern California, specifically the Shasta area turned breathtaking again.  We got a couple nice views of Mount Shasta.

I was very excited to get into Oregon, my 48th state.  (Side note: I had this cool plan of Alaska being my 50th state, but it’s going to be the 49th.  I’m missing Rhode Island.  I broke my wrist in February and I was unable to work, which meant I could not fly for free.  I had planned to fly to Rhode Island in February, drive through Oregon on this road trip, and then live and work in Alaska… you see the problem?)  Oregon was gorgeous.  Apparently there are two seasons—summer and rain.  It rained off and on throughout the state, but I didn’t mind.  It was so lush.  Oh my goodness, the grass was the greenest green I’ve ever seen.  I mean seriously, I’ve never seen a green greener than that.  Ridiculous.

She seemed so excited to have us over as we were her first houseguests at her new apartment.  I was super excited to be there too; she lives in the middle of downtown Portland so we got a really cool feel for the area.  Portland is a very public transportation and bike friendly city.  Metered parking for my car started at 8:00 am so I had to run outside and take care of that first.  Then, we grabbed some breakfast at Byways Café downtown.  Unfortunately, Basmah had to work at some point (noon) so she hopped on her bike and we split up.  I later realized we forgot to take a picture together.  I am really going to miss my favorite store, REI, while in Juneau so I went there for a bit.  Later, we walked around the waterfront and downtown area a little more.  My overall sentence: There are tons of bridges in Portland.  I liked it though and want to go back when I have more time.  After a quick oil change we’re off to CANADA!

So going through northern Oregon up to Washington was super quick and we actually crossed through to the other state on a bridge which was pretty neat.  I really like this area though.  It is still super green and luscious around here.  The only major traffic we hit on this trip began around Tacoma and ended just past Seattle.  It was cool seeing the Space Needle from the interstate too… I went up in there last October!  So we kept on going through Washington and eventually made it to Border Patrol at the British Columbia line of Canada.  It was kind of funny how they thought I was legit but definitely grilled Ed; they even asked for a second piece of identification.  I mean, he’s pretty sketchy though, right? 😉  Just kidding, just kidding!  So the agent there suggested we stop at a town called Hope for the night and we did just that.  I actually drove the entire day and was thinking truck driving may totally be for me one day!  We stayed at a little motel and got some good rest.

The next day, we took a picture of our head in a sign that says something like “Hope, Where Rambo was Filmed,” which is kind of cool, but that’s all there is in Hope.  Then, we kept on.  We drove until we reached Smither’s which was recommended by a gas station attendant… oh and gas was around $6 a gallon.  Speaking of which, man it was challenging trying to figure out liters, kilometers, celsius… come on US, teach us this stuff!  Smither’s was just as exciting as Hope, so we just slept.

Finally, the day had come.  Only five hours to go until we would reach Prince Rupert and the ferry terminal to Ketchikan, Alaska.  It was going pretty smoothly until about an hour into the drive when I got a flat tire light on my car.  Now, British Columbia is pretty bare for the most part so it took quite a while to find somewhere to get that repaired.  I eventually found a town called Traverse.  I went to three shops before I found someone that could help me anytime soon, and obviously we did not have any extra time to spare.  Wal Mart repaired my tire (or so I thought) within an hour and we were back on our way.  We did allow three extra hours for emergencies such as this, and man I’m glad.

So, British Columbia really reminded me of southern California where it is desolate and the gas was super expensive.  When you cross into the country, it is really green and full of mountains, but as you trudge north, it becomes more barren and rocky.  There were a lot of landslides and even signs warning for avalanche very often.  There were nets in place along many portions of the mountainside ready to catch the rock.

However, we arrived in Prince Rupert, had some Pizza Hut, and checked into the ferry.  (I drove this entire day too).  It was pretty cool driving my car onto the ferry and seeing how everything works.  We wandered around and planted ourselves in the observatory for the night.  This allowed for a glorious view of everything ahead.  The ferry ride was pretty neat, but I’m really looking forward to the one to Juneau because we will be inside inlets most of the way and have more scenery to look at for that ride.  Next stop, will be training to become a zip-line guide in Ketchikan, Alaska.

Posted by: surfingthesky | 06/17/2010

Magic and Brewers

Okay, I know… my blogging has become almost non-existent since I started grad school.  This quarter is even more challenging than the last, meaning that I mostly sit in my hotel room and don’t explore anywhere.  Essentially, that means I have nothing to blog about or post pictures of, unless you want to compare hotel rooms.  I will try to post something exciting soon.  In the meanwhile…

Our Milwaukee Brewers’ plane:

Plus, Orlando Magic:

Posted by: surfingthesky | 05/07/2010

San Juan, Puerto Rico Part Two

See the previous post, San Juan, Part One…  I went to SJU with my friend, Adia.  We toured a fort:

We saw several of these:

I goofed off a bit in the shade:

They also preserved some original drawings.  This one was my favorite:

Oh, and Adia said, “it’s as hot as cannon balls in Puerto Rico!”:

After we left the fort, we hit Don Q for some free rum samples.  After straightening my hair every couple of hours, I decided to just let it do its thing.  What do you think??

Then, we grabbed some dinner at happy hour, where we saw a few other Flight Attendants:

After Happy Hour, we ran to Senor Frogs, where I had some fun:

We had delicious stuffed avocados at Cafe el Punto:

However, my favorite restaurant was Mojito’s:

Overall, it was a great trip.  The worst part was eating on the side of the road, contracting bacterial and viral infections, landing me in the hospital.  Oh well, live and learn.  Thanks dude:

I got tan:

Then, I got grumpy about flying home:

Oh, and we can’t forget the nasty blue pillow:

The view, leaving San Juan:

Fue un viaje excelente.

Posted by: surfingthesky | 05/06/2010

San Juan, Puerto Rico Part One

I went to San Juan, Puerto Rico, with a Flight Attendant friend, Adia.  Here we are en route to SJU:

Our first stop was the Hard Rock Cafe, where we took strawberry rum shots in our new shot glasses:

Next, we went to the BrickHaus, where the Atlanta Falcons represent:

We wandered around the city and called it an early night:

Here’s the view from our hotel and the rooftop pool:

We really liked the “whoop whoop” verbiage:

There is a free trolley that takes you places, but we opted to walk:

We wandered around the city some more:

We found the beach:

Adia got major air on her jump:

Yet, I just look dumb:

Adia searched for sea glass.  Notice the random ladder:

I got splashed by a big wave:

More to come in part two… be patient.  Grad school is taking up most of my time and not leaving a lot of room for blogs.

Posted by: surfingthesky | 04/24/2010

Special Planes

I realize that my blogging has definitely been slacking lately, sorry about that!  Here is a quick shot of three of AirTran’s special planes:

Atlanta Falcons:

Baltimore Ravens:

Indianapolis Colts:

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