Before I get into this crazy awesome month review, thank you for your interest in my journey! It means to world to me that you enjoy my stories and photography. I have learned so much from this experience and would love to continue sharing it with you.
So far, my experience here has been incredible. I once fell in love with the land up here, but now I'm in love with the people. Staying at hostel was the best decision I ever made. Everyday, I'm meeting new people from all over the world. I really love sharing my past experiences in Alaska with them and helping them plan their explorations around the state. Many times a week, I find myself hiking up to Flattop Mountain with guests. It's the most popular hike in Anchorage located within the Chugach Mountain Range, just a 25 minute drive from downtown. With an hour long hike up to 3,500 feet, the views of Anchorage, Turnagain Arm, and Sleeping Lady are just incredible. On a clear day, Mt. McKinley is visible. This is the best 'Welcome to Alaska' hike without a doubt.
With meeting so many new people and showing them around the area, I haven't had much alone time. Prior to coming up here, I assumed most of my time would be spent solo hiking/backpacking, exploring the birding hotspots and determining which part of Alaska I'd like to reside to. So far, none of that has happened and I couldn't be happier. I traveled 4 hours North to check out a remote lodge that was hiring for summer. While spending a few nights there, the views were breathtaking and the family who owned the lodge were super nice. My job for summer would be mostly bartending, cooking, and helping out all over the lodge. It was really interesting learning how this lodge operated for over 30 years while being off-grid. I knew that I would learn a ton of useful information from this experience, yet there was something pushing me away. It wasn't the remoteness, it was the lack of mountains and hiking trails. This area was full of lakes and swamplands, it didn't really strike my interest. I gave it a few days and decided I didn't want to commit to a summer job that I truly didn't love. The four hour drive back to Anchorage was pretty rough mentally. I experienced my first breakdown of the trip. I've been employed since I was 13 years old and now....nothing. I was already considering purchasing a plane ticket home.
Once I arrived back in Anchorage, I was due for some comfort food- Chipolte!! According to Google Maps, when I typed in Chipolte, nothing showed up but Qdoba. This couldn't be right. I spelt Chipolte four different ways to see if I was doing something wrong, still nothing. Chipolte.com even stated that there are none in Alaska! I should have done more research before moving to Alaska. As I was consuming my 7lb burrito from Qdoba, I noticed a 'Now Hiring' sign in the window. At this point, I considered filling out the application. My mind was telling me “Do it! You need a job you bum! You're going to be living on the streets of Alaska in no time!” The voices in my head where battling back and forth and the anxiety wouldn't stop building. Even though the burrito was absolutely amazing, I needed something else. Out the other window, I saw my savior- Barnes and Nobile. While at home in NJ, I achieved all my work (blogging, editing, reading) at a Barnes and Nobile. There would be no other place than this B&N that would make me feel at home. As I gave the Qdoba Now Hiring sign the middle finger, I stormed out of there, super determined to land a job I was actually interested in. First up, a grande white chocolate mocha, followed by a quick meditation, I was back on the grind of job searching.... for a whole ten minutes. Again, I found myself searching for jobs I had no interest in. It's very easy to loose focus when stress bombarding you. I quickly forgot why I was in Alaska.
Everyone always asked me back in NJ, “Why are you going to Alaska? You can photograph bald eagles here too you know.” My response was always because I love it there, which I truly meant. After some thinking in B&N, I realized that I am indeed up here for work. My job here is to take photographs and build up my portfolio. That is my passion, that is why I'm here, and that's what I'm going to do. After a few chats with some close friends about my jobless breakdown, I came to the conclusion that I was not going to commit to a job this summer. I have a pickup truck with very luxurious used carpet flooring and a cap over the bed. I have all the backpacking and cooking supplies needed to live out my truck, seems like the best and most enjoyable adventure to me. Apartment searching and signing a lease is definitely not something I want to commit to, as well. I've developed such great relationships with the hostel staff and owner, that they always offer me a bed to crash at if needed be. Since my return to Anchorage, I've been staying at the shack in the back of the hostel, my original shelter when I arrived here. The owner of the hostel has also offered me a couple of assignments to compensate for my stay here. One of them is updating the photographs around the entire hostel and the other is guiding services for day hiking trips and over night backpacking trips. Many travelers come to the hostel and don't have set plans. Since I love hiking and taking photographs, guiding them up some mountains would be perfect for them, as well as me. It's the perfect scenario. I can travel all over the state with my rig, focus on my photography goals, and return to the hostel for guiding trips whenever I please. So, I'm super siked and this is something I'd really love to do. It will also give me great experience for future guiding jobs.
The first month here in Alaska has been really positive, with a few challenges. I certainly miss home everyday. FaceTime is such a great invention. It's great to keep in touch with my friends, family, and my cat as much as possible, (hi Junior!!) If anyone is interested in shipping me 1 or 12 Wawa subs, please let me know and I would gladly provide an address.
Again, thanks so much for joining me on this journey. I hope to see you up here one day! If you're on Instagram and not following me yet, please do! I post quite frequently on there- @erockduh
Until next time,