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In May I’ll be heading back to Alaska for the summer. I have agreed to work for the Denali Gift Companies. I’m not sure whether it will be at the Canyon Gift Co. store, the Denali Gift Co. store, or the Denali Outlet Store. I also told them I’d be happy with either first or second shift, so I’ll find out later when I’m working.

Almost all of my experiences have included at least some kitchen work. But the last few seasons I have been looking for opportunities with more variety and increasing guest contact. This summer’s primary goal was to search for a position totally out of food and beverage. Second, go in or near a national park. Third, work far a large employer.

With my first couple of applications, I included front of house f and b as a third choice but they were going to be back-ups to retail, or housekeeping, or laundry, or front desk. Both Xanterra at Yellowstone and Princess at Denali contacted me for that third option. My third application was for retail with DNC at Yellowstone. They’re first contact with me was well after my decision was already made.

My fourth application this season was to Denali Gift, they were the first ones to respond, and the first to make an offer. It felt right when I was talking with Kevin about the job. That gut feeling is very important to me in making my decision.

As for the third goal, well, I could be a smart butthead and say it’s three times the size of the company I worked for last summer or the last three winter seasons. But in reality, that is something that will just be passed down the line to a future season. It’s mainly a goal to push stretch me out of my comfort zone in more than one area. Maybe getting out of the kitchen is enough of a step for one season anyways.

Speaking of comfort zones, I am coming close to making a decision about my winter plans. This is my third season at the Kay El Bar Guest Ranch in Arizona. This is my first as Head Chef. My first winter plan had me maxing at three seasons at one place. Lately I’ve thought about making a somewhat permanent winter gig to get a little stability. I don’t like the management position to change frequently…one of the reasons I have rejected other management offers. My original reasons going to seasonal work were to see a larger variety of places and to not stay in a job just because it’s comfortable. The best I can say right now is stay tuned.

I made sure I had a little time off between jobs. But again this season it is just a little. I finish here around noon on May 6th. I have a flight on Southwest later from Phoenix to San Francisco. I did the hotwire thing again for a hotel and was placed in the Fisherman’s Wharf area at a Holiday Inn at about a 50% rate from other sites. It’s a couple of blocks to Ghiradelli Square and a few blocks the other direction to the ferry to Alcatraz. I’ll only be there two days and then catch a Virgin America flight to Seattle on Sunday morning. I change flights there, to Continental in the early afternoon to Anchorage. Again, the hotwire hotel deal set me up with the Ramada. On the 12th, I’l grab a shuttle to Denali.

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Comment by Rata Sek on February 1, 2010 at 9:20am
I want to go up there, but i dont know what to do!
Comment by Courtney J Lee on January 31, 2010 at 4:25pm
I'll be in Denali too this summer! Prep cook in one of the kitchens. I have been living in Seattle for the past 5 years and I am looking forward to a "change of scenery". Look forward to maybe meeting you!
Comment by Keith Larson on January 26, 2010 at 8:58pm
Thanks, Nancy. I'm just starting to look at all my options in San Francisco. The biking sounds fun. This time around, I'm not sure if I'll really want to leave the airport in Seattle...I think I get in a little before 11 and will be departing a little after 1. On my way back in September, I may stay a little longer though. Last time I was in Seattle I got to meet Kari.
Comment by Nancy B. on January 26, 2010 at 8:34pm
I swear, Keith, no one else's writing can inspire me more than yours to get out there and participate! I just moved from the San Francisco Bay Area to Shoreline, WA, near Seattle. When you get to San Francisco, it suggest you rent a bike from Blazing Saddles at Pier 39. They will give you a map, and you can ride down to the Golden Gate bridge, cross it, whoosh down to Sausalito, go to the No Name Bar and order the BEST sandwich you will ever taste. Then cross the street to catch the ferry back to the Pier in the City. Totally worth doing! Let me know when you'll be in Seattle, we'll share a cup of Ivar's Salmon chowder....also THE BEST! Nancy

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