Allons-y! A Summer in Review

Oct 1, 2013 | 0 comments

It is with mixed emotions that I am here to report that I now know where I’m going. For the short term, anyway. After much hemming and hawing and budgeting on scrap pieces of paper, I bought myself a ticket back to Florida until the end of October. It turned out to be about $500 cheaper than my other travel schemes, and I need to see my family anyway. From there, the plan is to head to Spokane, WA, to seek out a new life, yet again. 

I guess it goes to show once more that most of the time, things don’t go the way you want them to. But if you make the best of it, you’ll have a lot of good times to look back on. 
Last night, I took a moment to do just that. Dreading going outside in the chilly wind, I bundled up in my layers, and strolled down to the beach for one last walk to commemorate the summer. It was a gorgeous evening, and not even as cold as I had anticipated. 
It was that magic hour of this time of year when the Arctic reverses the colors of earth and sky. It was as if it threw the oranges and pinks of the autumn tundra into the evening air, as the sky cast down her pastel cerulean and sapphire into the shadows and the water. The cliffs hung pale purple in the distance, a surreal backdrop beyond the glassy ocean. The air smelled of campfires. 
Snow in June!

When I arrived in June, I saw the very last snowfall of spring, and now as I leave, I have seen the first snowfall of autumn. How apropos!

Taking in the epic vista

As I had anticipated, coming back to Northwest Alaska a second time brought with it new perspectives. It now all seems so familiar. In some ways, I am no longer as awed by the environment as I was last year, but I have a different appreciation for it, a feeling of belonging within it and being a part of it.

The classic “Ranger Pointing at Things” pose

Becoming a Park Ranger came with its own joys and challenges. Working as a uniformed civil servant surprisingly did a lot for my self-confidence, along with the responsibilities of being a leader, teacher, and guide for the hundreds of people of all ages and walks of life that I worked with over the summer.

Interpreting a reindeer antler on the tundra

My favorite memories of work this summer were of guiding hikes, and unfortunately my least favorite were of teaching two gigantic groups of summer campers.

My ginormous summer camp group

Despite the chaos of teaching so many kids, it was a good experience to learn how to work with large groups in outdoor settings (and know that it’s something I’d like to avoid in the future!).

Leaving White Mountain with my colleagues

And of course, village trips were always eye-opening. White Mountain was definitely the most fun, but even traveling to Teller was rewarding, as many of the kids recognized us from last year and were excited to learn what we came to teach.

Outside of work, the summer was filled with near-weekly bonfires, Sunday family dinners with the roommates (a different cuisine attempted every week!), walks on the beach, hikes on the tundra, fishing, berry picking, lots of cooking, and lots of card games.

After a whirlwind trip to the top of Alaska, September was my month of solitude, as the last interp ranger standing. Fortunately, I was able to make myself super busy at work, by creating 3 new exhibit posters (one of which was a 6-panel spread), reorganizing the office, giving community programs, and a ton of other end-of-season tasks. After work, I busied myself with a new watercolor project, job searching, cooking, writing, and working out. Fortunately, the month flew by.

Seems that all the extra work paid off, too — I had my performance evaluation yesterday, and scored in the highest category possible! I knew I had done well, but it felt amazing to be described as a “natural interpreter” and “exceptional” media specialist. Wow. Talk about an ego-booster!

So now it’s October 1st. Tomorrow I head to Anchorage from Nome, for probably the last time, via Unalakleet (might as well see one more village on my way out!). Unlike last time I left, I feel like my experience is complete, it’s time to go. As they say, my work here is done. I feel satisfied, fulfilled, and ready to move on to the next adventure. See you there!


Leave a Reply