Living & Working in Great Places
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Well, it was definately a long and interesting summer. Alaska is beautiful .... when it's not raining!!! We set a record of over 32 days of rain. Needless to say, the guests that traveled during that time were not very happy and did not hesitate to let you know. Always asking when the mountain was coming out like it was on a schedule or something we could control. But when it was out it was magnificent. It looked so close you could walk to it, but was actually 40 miles from the lodge.
The work was much harder than I had anticipated and something I won't do again, but I met alot of great people and did alot of sightseeing. I do want to go back next summer and let my husband experience it, but we hope to get jobs driving.
The housing at McKinley was as expected. They told us it was similar to college dorms and I guess that's what it was. I was in a suite where you had a jack and jill bath which 4 people shared. I eventually moved into another room with just one bath shared by a roommate. My roommate was from Peru and worked in the laundry.
We had housekeepers come from all over. Besides the states, they came from Maldova, the Czech Republic and Turkey. Luckily most spoke English or had an interpretur. For the most part wonderful people and I made some great friends.
Getting used to walking 1/2 a mile to eat and go to work didn't take long. And before long I was walking before and after work also. I think I logged 300 miles this summer and managed to take off about 30 pounds.
I saw moose and the calves on a regular basis as we had two resident cows on property. The front desk would have to call maintenance and have them come coax them away from the public. Unfortunately some of the guests weren't the smartest people and we had a local bear that paid the price. A guest put out food by one of the buildings and it drew out the bear - about a 3 year old weighing 200 lbs. Well, he came out and wouldn't go away. They tried using rubber bullets, but he just kept coming back. He was following hikers and guests to the point that they had to classify him a pest and unrelocatable so had to shoot him. Just made me ill and angry.They are hopefully going to do more next year to "educate" the guests so it doesn't happen again. A guest sent me his picture and I will post it on my page.
I worked as a housekeeping lead and learned much more than I expected. The work was hard and it took some getting used to the fast pace, be we had a good group of people and they worked pretty well as a team and would get the work done. But of course the best time was the off time.
Before the guests arrived they took us on a Fam Day. We took a motorcoach to the Talkeetna train station and we were treated to a 4 hour train ride to Denali Lodge, which included lots of sightseeing, drinks and a delicious lunch. The trip back was by coach and only tood 2 hours, but it was a great day and a pleasant surprise.
My first day off I took a motorcoach into the closest town, Talkeetna. It took an hour to get there, but we usually always saw moose on the ride and the drivers were very entertaining and knowledgable about the area, so it was interesting to learn about the area.
Talkeetna is a very small town that looks like it is right out of the 70's. Alot of the people there look like they came straight from Woodstock. It's really a different world out there. Most of the shops in town are gift shops and alot of the stuff is local made. Some of the things are very reasonable, but some are also very expensive. And although expensive some of it is worth the price. I really enjoyed the homemade jellies. Went great on bagels and cream cheese.
I walked to the end of town (about 3 blocks) to the rocky beach of the Chulitna River. There was a beautiful view of Denali (Mt McKinley). The river is one of 3 that runs through Talkeetna. It eventually braids with the Susitna and Talkeetna Rivers, all of which are glacial fed and look like gray school clay because of the crushed granite caused by the movement of the glacier.
Afterward I had lunch at the Wildflower. Being a vegetarian there aren't alot of choices, but they had a delicious veggie wrap. ( I went back there several more times and was lucky enough to meet the chef. He used to be the chef for a former president at Kennibunkport.) Later in the summer they also had fresh salmon, that I was told was out of this world.
I think we had 3 earthquakes in our general area that were strong enough they shook the buildings and was quite shocking. The last one was the day I left and I was at the airport. The windows and floors shook and bowed briefly. Pretty scary!!
I took many of the tours that were available to employees. Many of the tours are jet boat tours and they are so awesome. They all range in length, but the guides are very well versed on the area and each tour has different information.