Monday, August 22, 2011

I'm leaving on a jet plane! Hello Utah!!

Well the time has come....and it can't come soon enough haha.  I was looking through all of the pictures that I have taken this summer and I decided that it is a gross misrepresentation of how it's actually been.  I hardly have any pictures of the rain.  I guess that I only liked to take pictures of the sunny days, which happen only about 1/4 of the time.  For example, it has been 10 days since I've seen the sun and it has been POURING rain.

Looking through my pictures has made me very grateful for the experiences that I've had in these past 4 months.  Being here has truly been a blessing and I've learned a lot about myself.  I've learned that it is possible to live without a cell phone, without a car, and without a grocery store.  I've learned that even though I strongly dislike animals, whales and porcupines are pretty cool.  I've learned that I really must have a testimony of the Church if I'm willing to bike 20 miles in the rain to get there every Sunday.  I've learned that it's more important to be with those I love than to be off having adventures by myself.

I can't wait to see everybody when I get home in 2 days!  Give me a call :)  Here are a few last pictures (sunny ones) to remind me of the good times here in Glacier Bay.

I'm turning into an Alaskan!

Fun at the tide pools

Eating a whole crab for my birthday dinner with Jen

In nursery with my favorite little guy

Sunset from my office

CUTE porcupine climbing a tree

Monday, August 8, 2011

Greetings from Gustavus

So I realize that I've been a slacker and I think it's just the result of the mid-season grind.  It happens every time!  I've been here long enough that things aren't as new and exciting as they once were and life becomes a little more normal.  Work has been great and I'm still really enjoying my job.  The weather is still cold and rainy most of the time (when's summer going to get here?!) and so I find myself spending a lot of time indoors.  That is weird for me but the rain is putting me into a little bit of seasonal depression haha.  Oh Utah how I love you.

I've had some neat experiences during these past few weeks though and I continue to be grateful for the opportunity that I've had to be here.  On the 17th of last month I got the opportunity to ride along with the US Coast Guard on one of their cutters.  It was AWESOME!  I was a little out-numbered guys to girls but it was fun to see how they live and work on the ship and we had a great day out on the water.

Some of the Coasties.  They were having an "ugly mustache" contest that week haha
On the 22nd my boyfriend John came to visit!  That was definitely the highlight of the summer and we had SO MUCH FUN!!  We got to do everything fun and the weather for the most part was pretty cooperative.  We got to fish, hike, spend a day on a boat seeing the glaciers, kayak, eat applesauce and pudding, swim, whale watch, etc. etc.  Lots of adventures were had!  He took most of the pictures because he has a nicer camera.

Kayaking with the humpback whales

Transporting one of the kayaks

Swimming in Glacier Bay....crazy cold water!

I did it too :)

After the cold plunge...freezing and ready to run home to get warm

Just a couple of days ago I was able to go out on the patrol boat with my favorite law enforcement rangers.  We were able to go out along the outer coast of Glacier Bay and it was absolutely beautiful!!  Dundas Bay is probably the most beautiful place I've been this summer.  After we saw the bay, we had a great time riding the HUGE ocean wave swells, bouncing up and down like we were on a Disneyland ride.  It was a great day at work.

A foggy day at Dundas Bay

Well, the clock is ticking and my time in Alaska is coming to a close.  I fly home on the 25th of this month and will be going right back to school on the 29th.  I can't wait to see every body!!

Monday, July 11, 2011

The Perfect Day

Can I just say that today was AMAZING?!?!  The sun was out and it was probably around 70 degrees...yes!  Sarah and I went out on a Park Service boat this morning to watch the rangers board the cruise ship.  We were a tiny boat right up next to that huge ship and it was really cool to be so close.  We got to ride on the top of the boat (I can't remember what it's called but it reminded me of a crow's nest kind of) and we watched at least 10 different humpback whales.

Later we went kayaking up into the Beardslee Islands.  It was so serene and peaceful.  We had the Beartrack Mountains behind us and the snowy Fairweather Mountains in front of us.  On the way back into Bartlett Cove the wind had picked up and we got to navigate through some whitewater...which was awesome by the way...and got lots of sun and horsefly bites :)

After that we went hiking out to my favorite spot along the beach.  We wandered for several hours, constantly stopping to watch the whales near the shore that were jumping and feeding.  I tried to get some good pictures but I was never fast enough so I gave up and decided to put my camera away so that I wasn't watching all the action through a camera lense.

The splash after the whale jumped

Two of my friends came to church with me yesterday which was great and I'm just really having a fun time being a member missionary.  Despite the fact that I am a little anxious to get back to Utah, I must say that I am very grateful to be where I am and to be given so many wonderful opportunities.   I am happy to be in Glacier Bay!!

Monday, June 27, 2011


Another week come and gone...I can't believe it.  I went hiking this weekend by myself.  I've never been one to go alone, but lately I feel like it has been very much needed to have my own time to think and reflect.  I hiked along the beach to my favorite spot where the Bay opens up to the Icy Strait and you can see for miles and miles on a clear day.  I like to sit there and watch the whales and listen to the eagles while my hair blows in the wind and there isn't anyone around to distract me.

I've been thinking about something this past week, mostly because of a conversation that I had with Kelly.  Up here in Alaska, these last couple of days have been "invasive plant (weed) awareness days" and every morning I get an email that has a picture of a weed that is not supposed to be growing in the area.  What I've noticed is that these plants are mostly beautiful wildflowers that apparently are okay to get rid of.  My question is - who gets to decide what is a weed?  Who has the right to put a label on something and to determine what is okay and what is not?  If I had it my way, my whole backyard would be full of wildflowers!  Even if they are "weeds", that would make me a very happy girl.

My thoughts didn't just dwell on weeds and flowers, but this attitude of labeling and making judgements is so prevalent and I'm just a little sick of it.  I have been having a rough time lately because of various labels that have been placed on me since I got here.  We all seem to have in our minds this preconceived idea of what is good and what is not and it can be so destructive.  We are all special and beautiful to our maker.  We all have the ability to bless and to uplift.  We all have something to offer and we were all created to be different.  I was walking through a field of wildflowers today and I was just thinking to myself "you may not belong but you have the ability to bring beauty and happiness to an otherwise dreary world."  If I had to be a plant, I would choose to be a wildflower!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

I would not make a very good mermaid...

This past week I was able to spend a day kayaking by myself.  I think I definitely prefer having my feet on dry land.  By the end of the day I was "ready to walk, ready to run, ready to play all day in the sun!  Out of the sea, wish I could be."  Just to quote one of my favorite childhood movies....

It was amazing to see and experience something completely new to me.  I'm really not too familiar or comfortable with life in the ocean and to be experiencing it on my own, by myself was very rewarding.  I started out early in the morning when the water was completely glassy.  As I was paddling, I could hear breathing behind me, so I turned around and realized that I was being followed by a seal.  Curious little creatures.  In the distance I could hear noises so I stopped and looked real close at the other side of the bay.  I could see fins coming up and out of the water.  I was hesitant to continue moving in that direction, but that was the way I needed to go and so I kept paddling.  Before long I was in the middle of the ocean with many black fins around me as the harbor porpoises came up to breathe.  Then they started to jump.  Then I started to freak out a little bit because they were within a few feet of my kayak.  At one point I looked down to see one swimming underneath me.  Yep, not okay with me.  They followed me the rest of the day and I must say, I never got used to having them around.  Everytime they'd come up to breathe, I'd jump a little bit in my seat.

Overall it was magical though.  Words can't really describe how peaceful and serene it was to be that close to the underwater world.  Hopefully next time I won't be so cowardly!

Kayaking Glacier Bay

I liked them from this distance and wish they would have stayed right there!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Search and Rescue

Well, I got to participate in the first Search and Rescue of the season this past week.  It was awesome actually because nobody got hurt and we found the people we were looking for....definitely the best outcome.  I was given a radio and some bear spray and I was asked to do the dirtiest job, which I have to admit I was SO excited about.  I got to hike up the river, cross it several times at the low tide, go through nasty smelling sinking mud, sand, and bushwhack through heavy brush.  It was a gorgeous day I was in heaven!  Did I mention we found the people?....I was looking for them as well when I wasn't getting distracted by the scenery and taking self-timed pictures of myself :)

Things here are starting to green-up.  If you look closely you can even see the lupines.
The ocean is very respected by South-east Alaskans.  It is it's own entity, it's own force.  Here they don't try to control it or wish it behaved differently.  They just embrace the fact that it will do what it wants and that it is a force that cannot be tamed.  When you try to go against the natural way, you get into trouble (which is what happened to the people we were searching for).  The water and tides change for no man and I'm starting to learn and experience the real meaning of wilderness.  In a world where people strive to have control and dominion of all things, its nice to know that there are still things that we absolutely cannot restrict or contain, as hard as we may try.  We get to leave that to God.  It's a great feeling to be so small and to recognize that we are not all powerful like we think we are.  He is still completely in control and we just get to enjoy it!