Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Hollywood Meets Alaska

Today was a very interesting day, at the AWCC, to say the least. The day started like any other- rainy, yet bright and early. As I jogged with my roommate Marcie down the muddy path to the gift shop for work we laughed at being silly and I divulged my horrible nightmares I had during my restless sleep. (Nightmarish dreams that seemed fairly real had been occurring quite frequently since I arrived in Alaska, but I hear that's due to eating sugar late at night and let's face it my diet has sorta turned to rubbish since getting out here.)  Anyway enough about that boring stuff, let's get to the juicy stuff. So I'm at work slaving away on the third floor of the log cabin-style gift shop when, Marcie informs me it's time for my lunch. Sweetness. So there I am in the snack shack just trying to decide between reindeer hotdogs, a pretzel with jalapeno cheese or a pecan bar (I went with the pretzel w/cheese and the pecan bar in case you wanted to know) making stupid out loud comments to myself when a very pretty girl enters the shack as well and begins laughing at my stupid commentary. We exchange a few silly polite words and I grab my items and bid her good day. Only moments later I am told that was Bristol Palin, who I knew had been at the center I just hadn't realized she was still on the premises. For those of you who may not know Bristol is Sarah Palin's eldest daughter and apparently she is filming a new reality TV show about her life and raising her child. Anyway that was my brief run in with a celebrity and the Hollywood scene and I gotta say Bristol is really nice but her TV entourage were awkward and way too attached to their cellular devices. Cliche I know but whataya gunna do?

In other news we threw a surprise party in the barn for an intern Jonathan (who we call Ron and who I and another roommate now call Ernesto) for his birthday. I volunteered to make a new dish, peanut butter cup s'mores bar, and not only was it a huge success but it is now officially my new specialty. OOOOH YEAAAAH. The night was a great one, filled with dancing laughing and a whoooole lot of eating. I vow to start eating better though. I've sworn off pecan bars and I think I'm going to cut myself off of all things snack shack related except the salads and those dang good reindeer hotdogs, I mean how often will I get reindeer once I'm back in Corpus? 
 By the way father's day is coming up real soon, hope you are all thinking of awesome things to do and get your dads! I'll post some cute ideas this weekend never fear haha. Love from Alaska.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

And So it Began...

Whooo Weee! Been in the Great White North for 2 weeks now and still can't get over how beautiful it is. From the moment I arrived and celebrated Jacqueline's birthday at Chilkoot Charlies until today just sitting in my room enjoying my day off, I've loved every second of it. Not even the rainy days can get me down.

Upon arriving I had a few things on my tourist check list. Eat any and all native foods/dishes that Alaska had to offer. So far I've had reindeer sausage/pizza/burgers haha (love it and for those who don't know reindeer is just domesticated Caribou) I've had elk burger, Kale chips, fresh salmon from the grill, bison burgers, fiddle head chips (this peculiar plant in the fern family that must be eaten before it sprouts) as well as a whole slew of Alaskan beers of which the Alaskan Summer is my favorite brew. I even had the pleasure of having a margarita made with ice from a glacier in Prince William Sound. Not worth the price flavor wise haha but the experience was worth it. I hope still to pick up some cooking skills, see the Northern Lights, hear some wolves/ arctic coyotes howling at the moon... see the moon for that matter haha, this 15 hours of sun is strange and yet awesome! Considering day time drinking is one of my new favorite hobbies. Most of all though I just want to take advantage of all the outdoor activities available while I'm here. Granted Corpus has a ton of outdoor activities as well, it's just usually too darn hot to be motivated to do any of them. I find that my constant need to get in shape is often in direct conflict with my love for food. Ah such is life I suppose.

So let's talk more about the 26 glacier cruise I took in Prince William Sound. To get to the area of departure me and a few roommates (Jeremy, Kat, Kara and Nicole who I will be describing in later posts) had to drive through the longest tunnel in America (or at least it was, I heard Boston may have built a longer one now) 2 1/2 miles through a mountain to get to Whittier, where the weather is always shittier or so I'm told. Whittier is a small town, honestly more like a village if I had to be honest with about 150-200 residents who all live in one giant building... yep. that's right. One building!!! This building is smaller than the Galleria in Houston, Texas to put some perspective on the matter. Apparently at one time the town was maintained by the army with two buildings in which everyone lived but when it came time for the military men to leave they offered the people one building to live in and the other now remains nothing but broken down remnants of a time long passed. It all looks very Jurassic Park. Anyway we arrived in Whittier where the weather was fairly nice (not raining and about 40 degrees with partly cloudy skies, that's pretty darn perfect for Alaskan spring weather) and we grabbed a few cups of coffee and the Lazy Otter before boarding the tour boat. "You Otter Try the Coffee" haha. The boat was a roomie two stories of carpeted dinning area along with a smaller third story observation deck. Complete with indoor bar; not too shabby. The tour itself was a 6 hour calm ride through PWS through several fjords of glaciers. We saw mountain goats way up in the most dangerous looking cliffs just grazing on grass with out any fear. There were otters by the hundreds just floating on their backs and lounging on icebergs curiously lifting their heads as we sailed by. We stopped at Surprise Glacier where we were able to witness immense chunks of the glacier plummeting into the icy depths below with loud crashes heard from several hundred feet away. Finally as we were returning back to land, glacier margaritas in hand trying to protect ourselves from wind burn (which I just learned existed haha) we caught a quick glimpse of a Humpback Whale! It was brief and yet beautiful. The whale only submerged to blow but that's all I needed to see to send me into a frenzy. I'm hungry for more, but I'm patient. An attribute I've been working to perfect for quite sometime now.

Perhaps now you'd like to know a little bit about where I'm working and living for the summer? The Alaska Wild Life Conservation Center is one of Alaska's most visited attractions, in fact I recently heard it was the most visited, but that could be area bias hehe. Anyway we (I can say that now being a part of this great project) are a non-profit conservation center that sits on 200 acres of land in Portage Valley. We are part of a town so tiny that it was completely destroyed in a 1969 earthquake (9.1 on the rector scale I believe). The center takes in orphaned, abandoned, injured and over populated animals from around Alaska. This summer alone we've bottle raised two Musk Ox (Walter and Hammond) who were born late winter and were at risk of freezing to death as well as a baby moose (Sullivan) who had been abandoned and attacked by dogs! While he is the most difficult to care for he is also my favorite. Something about his enormous ears and adorable face remind me of Marley which just melts my heart when I see him. Here at the center we have 4 brown bear (one Grizzly, and 3 coastal brown bears. All Grizzly are brown bears but not all brown bears are Grizzly) Hugo, Joe Boxer, Patron and Toguka (pronounced To-Go-Kuh). 2 black bear, Ully and Kuma as well as 3 grown moose. Jack the oldest moose of 4 years now can be seen in several movies including Into the Wild :) Gilly and Nelson are our two younger adult moose and they all loooove bananas! We have two Lynx, two Great Horned Owls (Hooty and Snappy haha) as well as one Bald Eagle Adonis who is incredible to see and really awesome to feed. Jewelie is our Sitka Black-tailed deer and she is just the sweetest animal here. There is also Snickers the porcupine who is something of the Justin Bieber of Alaska. Snickers the man, the porcupine (click it to see the little dude, and yes I have pet him with out gloves and hand fed him, he really is like a dog). We have Elk, Reindeer (not Caribou because they are domesticated for the most part now) Musk Oxen and the crown jewel of the center Wood Bison! We hope to raise about 150 Wood Bison in Captivity and release them in three areas far North of Alaska where their traditional stomping grounds used to be in groups of 50 or so and observe if they can sustain themselves. The Wood Bison had been extinct in Alaska by the late 1900s and wasn't until about 2004 did anyone begin to think to bring them back. Ours came from a small group in Canada. Since I arrived I've seen (not the actual birthing process) over 20 bison babies born. The first bison to be born since their extinction was in 2005 right here at the center. Larger than the Plains Bison of the lower 48 they are the largest terrestrial mammal of North America and they are a sight to see my friends. I'm actually planning on getting a tattoo of my rendition of one in honor of being able to run with them.

Finally I want to talk about the incredible bike rides I've been on while here. First with Jac through the Knowles Coastal Trail in Anchorage which was a rather difficult up and down hill ride through thick woods along the beach. Saw wild moose and several water fowl. Then yesterday I took a 12 mile bike ride from the center to Portage Lake. We biked a steady pace through the Chugach National Forest with snow capped mountains on either side of us. The streams were fast moving and the water was exactly the same color of Gatorade Icy Glacier Freeze (my favorite flavor). Just as I and another roommate Kate wanted so badly to turn back because our bikes were hanging on by their last threads the others urged us to keep going and then a short 3 minutes later we had arrived! Though very much frozen the lake was beautiful. We threw black stones onto the water and laughed as it made a nose much like breaking glass once it hit the thin ice. Well I must be off, going into Girdwood to send off some mail. Yep even the nearest post office is a good 20 minute drive to another town haha.

 Stay Frosty Friends!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Every New Beginning Comes from Some Other Beginning's End

The last Sports and the City I posted was the final column I'd ever be writing for the Island Waves. Such a bitter sweet moment. On the plus side Sports and the City is my column so I'll be keeping it up on my blog, so never fear my adoring fans haha.

I finally made it to the Great White North known as Alaska. The Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center is more amazing than I imagined. I fall deeper in love with the place everyday. So considering I'll be here all summer I'll be simply talking about my time here but have no fear, I will also try and throw in a few events I know about going on in Corpus. Just because I'm not at home doesn't mean I won't be keeping up with my city. I stay steady reppin' the 361 y'all ;)

Updates coming soon, I promise!

Write to Feel Right, You Just Might

Every year starts the same way. You walk in the classroom the first day, pick up a syllabus and see the learning objective for that course. Until recently my only course objectives have always only been to pass. As far as studying goes, I rank at the bottom of the competitor curve. When a competitive athlete trains they always train with the mentality of getting better, improving their abilities or reaching a certain goal. With this logic in mind I started using the same reasoning in the classroom.
            At the professional and at some higher education establishments, athletes are required (or at least encouraged) to keep a journal. This journal gives the athletes a place to set goals, reflect, grapple with issues, keep track of training issues and record results. The journal can be used for anything really, but it is meant to help the athlete keep the mind clear and ultimately a goal in focus. Boston Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling used to be seen writing in his journal between innings while tennis pro Serena Williams uses her journal as a motivational focus tool.
            In my International Marketing class I began to think about these journals and as I wrote down notes during the lecture I began also taking note of my questions on certain topics as well as general comments about my feelings on the topics of the lecture. I found that it was way less nerve racking to attend office hours with these questions and comments prepared and way more helpful. While some of you maybe thinking, “wow, this girl is just figuring that out?!” I hope a good majority of you are feeling inspired to change up your own learning objectives.
            I read over a few athlete journal prompts and decided to tweak them for students willing to give it a try.
-What do you dislike about yourself as a student and why?
- Think back to a time when you failed or performed poorly on a test you were sure you’d do well on. Describe your feelings.
-What is your favorite place to study and why?
- Why can this statement hold true: “Some days, doing poorly is the most important result that could happen.”
-What is a good student?
-If you were to apply for a job that would build your career for your adult life, why would that employer hire you? What do you have to offer as of right now? Given more time what could you offer in the future?
            Take one or all of these prompts, answer them at the beginning of your notebook and look back on them throughout the year or keep them in mind as you strive to progress throughout the school year.  I can’t say if they will help you, but they certainly couldn’t hurt.