Monday, July 28, 2014

July is the Best Month

On July 3rd, we watched fireworks from the fast ferry! This guy who owns a construction company was funding and setting off the fireworks show from his boat on the canal, and this guy we know, Jess, knows someone who knows the captain of the fast ferry, so we got on! The fireworks started early, while we were still walking down to the dock. There was no wind, so by the time we got on the ferry, the cloud of smoke from the fireworks was completely blocking the show! For a bit, it looked like some kind of wizard battle, with the clouds lighting up in red and green; eventually, there was so much smoke that even the flashes of color disappeared.

Fortunately, we were on a boat! We drove out onto the canal, around behind the smoke, and were among the privileged few who actually saw the whole darn fireworks show. And we’re talking half an hour of constant showers of light!

It was so beautiful. I had never watched fireworks from the water before. The mist was shrouding the mountains, which loomed along the canal like Alaskan gods. The water looked like silver cloth – looked like water in a high-quality video game – unreal.

It was all just magical.


The week after, Steph and I got on an Alaska Excursions zipline tour on our day off! We were driven up the Dyea Road to the base camp, which is also the camp where they keep the puppies you meet when you go mushing. We then got on a big all-terrain vehicle up the mountain to the zipline camp! We met Jay and Freddy, our tour guides; like most of the tour guides around here, they’re around our age and pretty cool. We did two baby ziplines, and then nine big ones, through the forest and over Grizzly Falls. It was totally exhilarating, especially when the guys taught us how to go upside down, front flip, and fireball, which you start like a front flip and then grab your knees so you rotate around and around. I was pretty good at it, if I do say so myself! ;)


Last weekend, my parents came to visit! They arrived on Thursday afternoon and met me at the theatre. We walked around town, got dinner at Olivia’s, went grocery shopping, and then pretty much called it a night. The next day, we took the hike to Lower Lake and did the Lower Lake Loop, which was narrow and rocky going at times but very beautiful and not too strenuous. After we headed down and got lunch at Fish Co, we did a little window shopping and then spent the rest of the afternoon and evening chillin’ in the lobby of the hotel, reading and talking and taking advantage of the free wifi. On Saturday, Tess and Steph joined us for a great breakfast at the Station. Then we rented bikes from Sockeye and rode out to Jewell Gardens, the botanical gardens outside of town where the week-after-the-solstice party had been, and picnicked and shopped in the gift shop (I got lots of presents for people, yay! And a journal for myself… whoops…). We rode a little farther down the road and back, checked out the Skagway River up close, then visited the historical cemetery and Lower Reid Falls before heading back into town to return the bikes and grab ice cream (bringing my stamp card total to nine!). On Sunday, we walked around a bit more and checked out the museum, which was pretty impressive, and then I saw them to the ferry! It was so great that they were able to visit.


Last week, I had the morning off on Tuesday, so I took myself  on a little lunch date. I walked out to Jewell Gardens and got lunch at Poppies, the restaurant there. I love eating in restaurants alone. I ordered the tea service, which included their house blend English Rose Black Tea, which was so delicious – mildly floral, excellent black tea without the cream and sugar, and then rosier and sweet and full once I added cream and sugar. The tea plate included a small salmon quiche made with carrots from the gardens, which was warm, light, creamy and salmon-y, with a perfect flaky crust; an open-face cucumber sandwich with herb spread from the gardens, which was creamy yet fresh, with the cucumber and herb spread mild and perfectly blending; a cheesy herb scone that was airy, tender, and flavorful; a rhubarb begonia bar with rhubarb and begonias from the gardens and a crumbly begonia crust, which was sweet, deep, tangy, chewy, crumbly, red, and helped me to like rhubarb!; and carrot cake with carrots from the gardens, which was freshly carroty, a little dry but pleasantly so, and with a lovely cream cheese frosting. All in all, utterly satisfying, and I enjoyed sitting there alone, journaling, writing a letter, chatting with the server, and looking out the window wall at the gardens.


On Thursday, our house had Christmas in July! We made a family dinner with salad, flatbread, spaghetti, garlic bread, and Kahlua fudge pecan torte; we strung the kitchen with Christmas lights from Meridith’s bedroom. Tess, Steph, Meridith, Bill, Jimmy, Nate, and I sat around the small kitchen table and enjoyed both dinner and each other’s company. After dinner, the four of us gals exchanged final Secret Santa presents – we’d been giving each other small presents for two weeks, but this was the grand finale! Meridith gave me some silver eyeshadow made by a local artisan, which I’d been ogling in Dejon Delights, and a super fun, cute sundress from Klothes Rush (ARGH UNNECESSARY K), which fits me perfectly! It was really lovely just having a family night, spending time with each other and making it special J


And today, we had a company party! Chris, who has lived in Skagway for fourteen years but has been coming here for much longer than that, is a Temsco pilot and chief investor in the theatre company. He graciously hosted us at his house way up on the Dyea Road. The house is eclectic, cozy, and beautiful, and the atmosphere was casual and fun. We all hung around for hours, eating ribs and bean dip and burgers and little sugary delights from Bites on Broadway and carnie cones (aka waffle cones stuffed with chocolate/marshmallows/rollos/peanut butter cups, wrapped in foil, and cooked over a campfire), playing Nerts (a speed-based solitaire-style card game which I totally won twice in a row), playing music, enjoying a hot tub (woo! I have now put on my bathing suit exactly one time this summer!), and generally chatting and having a good time!

Now I am exhausted, both physically and socially (haha), and ready to post this blog, watch some Star Trek, and go to bed! This week will be busy, but it is also my birthday week, which makes it the best week of the year by default! End of July, here we come… J

Thursday, July 3, 2014

There's Nowhere I Would Rather Be Than Here

I took a hike by myself today! I have had a lot of good ideas in my life, but this might have been the best.

Have I ever been so happy?

Probably, but it seemed incomparable today.

I had the day off, so I packed up Tess's little perfect-size-for-a-day-hike backpack with snacks, my journal, and a bottle of water; put on a little knee brace, since my knee has been cranky downhill and running; and I headed up toward Upper Dewey Lake. Tess had made the same hike just yesterday, and she said that you have to be persistent, because it's 2 ½ hours all steep uphill, but that it was worth it.

I had been as far as Lower Dewey Lake before, on the way to Sturgil's Landing. It took under half an hour to get that far, although it was steeply uphill already and I felt slow and out of shape. But I was happy to be hiking and happy to have a day to myself, and I was determined to make it to the top! It was drizzling a little, but I was mostly sheltered by the tree canopy, and what did make it down to me was cool and refreshing.

Thank goodness, because I got warm pretty quick! I took off my sweater immediately, although I kept on my rain jacket.

At Lower Dewey Lake, you take a turnoff whence you can head to Upper Lake (where I was going) or Icy Lake and Upper Reid Falls, where Meridith went a few weeks ago. Both are 2 miles past Lower Lake.

The walk up continued to be mostly very steep, although I was feeling better than I had at the beginning, since I was a bit warmed up. I still had to stop for about 15 seconds out of every minute, though! Most of the way up I was meeting up with a long, continuous waterfall periodically. Every time the path veered back to the waterfall, I felt like I was greeting a friend!

It turned out I wasn't as slow and out of shape as I thought I was. I kept passing people on the way up. After two hours, I took my second little three-minute break – but when I stood up and walked around the corner, there I was at Upper Lake!

I couldn't sit out on the rock promontory where Tess sat yesterday, because there was a group of six weird people hanging out there, and I really wanted to continue to be alone anyway. But I made my way as far as I could around the lake and up a hill, then back, around to a public cabin, and out to a little rock by the water, where I sat and ate my lunch and wrote in my journal. It turns out there's actually a path up there that leads another 4/5 of a mile to “Devil's Punchbowl,” but I didn't see the path or a sign, so I didn't make it up there! I would love to see it someday, though.

I stayed up at the lake for over an hour, then packed up and headed back down. The way down was much faster, of course, and I actually jogged a lot of it where it was safe to do so.

About three quarters of the way down, I came around a corner, and Skagway and the Lynn Canal and the mountains emerged before me, and I had to stop because I was so overwhelmed with it.

There's a Millay poem I pull out a lot, since I have the feeling of it a lot, but never have I felt it so powerfully as I did in that moment:

O world, I cannot hold thee close enough!
   Thy winds, thy wide grey skies!
   Thy mists, that roll and rise!
Thy woods, this autumn day, that ache and sag
And all but cry with colour!   That gaunt crag
To crush!   To lift the lean of that black bluff!
World, World, I cannot get thee close enough!

Long have I known a glory in it all,
         But never knew I this;   
         Here such a passion is
As stretcheth me apart,—Lord, I do fear
Thou’st made the world too beautiful this year;
My soul is all but out of me,—let fall
No burning leaf; prithee, let no bird call.

I just felt so, so happy to be exactly where I was.

I've now had three days in Skagway where I thought it might be the best day of my life. How amazing is that?