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The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly (Part 6)

It's about that time to begin the summer job opportunity search. Which also means it's time for my latest installment of the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.

When: May 15, 2009 to September 15, 2009
Where: Sheep Mountain Lodge, Alaska (link)
Main Position: Baker*


*At a small lodge like Sheep Mountain, there is a lot of variety to your actual job. Although baker was my title, I also worked frequently as breakfast and prep cook, dishwashing, outdoor work such as gardening and painting, some bussing and some housekeeping. Answering the telephone and taking reservations were also part of my main duties. I also was trained as a weather observer for the PASP—Sheep Mountain airstrip and reported hourly to the Kenai system.

Basics: Single, no car, many years of experience in kitchen work, small amount in housekeeping, almost none in the other areas. My first time in Alaska. For other biases refer to my Ketchup on Waffles blog, my preferences haven’t changed much.

Management

The Good: Anjanette and Zack Steer are the owners/managers of the lodge. They are fair and honest. They make sure not to blur the line of on/off duty time. They love their area of Alaska, the wildlife and plants, their sled dogs and enjoy sharing their experience and knowledge.

Minor Ugly points: Got the impression that somewhere along the line they have been burned by some less than fair and honest employees…so they now follow a trust, but verify style. Which at some times makes them appear to be more distant and impersonal than they would like to be.


Housing

The Good: Employees live on property at the Hillside House. It has six large bedrooms and a shared area. All areas are well-maintained and cleaned. The house is rented to guests during the non-summer months. We had several workers that arrived as couples, it made the room sharing arrangements easier.

Bad points: One washer and long-time dryer…sometimes everyone seemed to need wash done at the same time.

Ugly points: One shower, 11 employees…we actually had a timing system that worked…but could have been a disaster.

Employee Food

The Good: Always several items to choose from. Make your own from staff shelf and sometimes group meals made by evening cook. Fresh and tasty.

Ugly points: Sometimes you just wanted quick and easy and get out of there…and at those times choices became repetitive. For me it was BLTs and burgers, for some it was salads, for others it was quesadillas. It was our choice but we had our fallbacks to get out of the way faster.


Area and Activities

Let me first steal a few sentences from their website:

Our guests come from all over the world and enjoy nearby hiking and mountain biking trails, bird watching, Dall Sheep viewing on the slopes behind the lodge, Matanuska River rafting, glacier hiking and just relaxing in a beautiful mountain setting.

Although we are situated along the road system in Alaska, you should consider this area semi-remote. Having a vehicle is not necessary but does help you explore more of Southcentral Alaska when not working. Staff members must have the ability to entertain themselves with the nearby natural attractions (hiking, biking, rafting) or other self-directed activities (reading, writing, playing music, etc).

Good, Bad, and Ugly points are going to depend on how you feel about whether these activities are enough for you. I didn’t bring a car and was fine…but I was also using it as a test season before going to a place even more remote, there are a handful of places that might qualify.


Secret good point: Almost all of the water within a few miles of the lodge is usually moving rapidly. Which means it is almost completely mosquito-free.

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Comment by thomas salvatore on January 4, 2010 at 2:55pm
nice pics and great report nice to hear.

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