Pioneer for a Summer
It has taken me about a month to get all the details ironed out, but I am happy to announce that I am officially moving to Alaska for the summer! The next Awkward Tourist adventure will take place just outside Denali at the Mt. McKinley Princess Wilderness Lodge, where I’ll be working as a server in the 20,320 Alaskan Grill (so named for the height of Mt. McKinley). I needed to work out if it would be OK not to take summer classes this year and also what my situation with my job here in Reno would be, but now that that’s all taken care of I can announce this to all 2 of my readers.
I will arrive in Anchorage late at night on May 27, stay the night and catch the shuttle to the lodge the next day, which should take a few hours. I hear tell there’s a stop at the Wal-Mart in Wasilla to stock up on whatever supplies could not fit into my luggage, which makes my dad jealous because he’s tried to visit a Wal-Mart in every state he’s been to. The lodge itself is pretty much in the middle of nowhere, 40 miles from the base of Mt. McKinley, or Denali as it’s known to the locals. The nearest place that can be considered a town is Talkeetna, which is about 45 minutes away and has fewer than 900 people. Whilst it sounds like this may be boring, I have to think that there will be too much work and too many outdoor activities for me to have time to be bored. I am told that I will be working a lot, and that it’s not uncommon for a server to get a few hours of overtime every week. While this might depress me anywhere else, I can hardly think that I will be unhappy working in such a beautiful place. The money doesn’t sound bad either, as the manager told me a good server can make $15,000 – $25,000 in tips in a season, which is A-OK with me.
My living situation will be interesting as well. The lodge is a campus-style layout, with dorms for employees since there’s no housing around for miles. I’d rather not have to share my room, but hopefully I’ll bunk with someone interesting and fun. There is an employee dining hall with buffet-style food, an employee rec room, and an employee bar and grill with discounted food, so it sounds like we’re well-taken care of. Being an employee of Princess, I’ll also have the opportunity to go on the excursions that go from the lodge for either free or very cheap. This includes activities like kayaking, river-rafting, hiking, flying over glaciers, dog-sledding and many other things that sound like a ton of fun. Even if I can’t get on the excursions, I can do all these things on my own in my free time. I can also stay at the 4 other Princess lodges for $50, in case I want to go to Fairbanks or wherever. So all in all it sounds great on paper, I’m hoping it proves to be a fantastic experience. As Julia Roberts says in Eat, Pray, Love, “I want to go someplace where I can marvel at something”.
Also, I’ve recently found out that one of my good friends from Semester at Sea has decided to join me on my Alaskan adventure! I referred him to a job, and although we’ll be in different restaurants, we’ll be at the same lodge and will be able to share our love for travel and adventure all throughout the summer. My parents are also thinking about taking their vacation and driving up to me to bring me my car and spend a few days in the wilderness with me, as it’ll be pretty cheap with the discount that I get, so I’ll have lots of company and no shortage of things to do. I’ve waited to do this since the first time I visited Alaska when I was 17, so the anticipation is killing me!
I would love to have more visitors, so if anyone wants to come see me just let me know! It’s less than 6 weeks away now! Here’s to the next chapter…