Friday, July 31


I went on a hike yesterday with Lauren and our new friend Dan. When Lauren and I did Perserverance trail a couple weeks ago, she talked about wanting to do the Mt. Juneau trail, so we did it. And oh man, did we hike it. We got close and personal with the side of that rock, in some spots actually crawling up the trail.

It took us three hours to get up, then we stayed at the top for an hour, then 1.5 hours to get down. The summit is at 3,576 ft, from the trail head, we ended up doing about a 3,500 elevation gain. Wowsers.
Lauren and Dan just after the trail head. There is an awesome waterfall just to the right of us.

Looking in on down town.
Looking over at the back side of neighboring Mt. Roberts. was super steep.

Enjoying the views. There were at one time three bald eagles soring around, eventually we were looking down on them flying. Awesome.

At the top!

This is the shot after we made it back down, with wobbly legs and sore toes. We hiked this!

Tuesday, July 28

Asian persuasion?

What a horrible day as a bus driver! Not everything was bad, but there was a good two hour stretch in the middle where I felt like an incompetent buffoon.

I deal with people on a cruise ship - a contained space where germs spread rampant. When ever someone shows signs of sickness (ie: vomiting, or some other forms of orifice eruption) we are suppose to get that passenger back to the ship as soon as possible to prevent prolonged exposure with other passengers.

Someone threw up on my bus today. She didn't want to go back to the ship. She had also puked on the bus on the way out to the whale watching tour, on the boat of the whale watching tour, and on my bus, before leaving the pick up spot. I sat there and waited for a van to come get her and take her back. Her family was yelling, in my face, about how I was making policy up on the spot and talked about how I was singling out people of the "Asian persuasion."

I'm not going to go into it here. I've relived it over and over through paper work and telling higher-ups, but know that it sucked. I was saying all the things I should say, trying to make them know that I was hearing and understanding them, and they made me out to be a racist capitalist that was going to be making a specific profit off of them not finishing their tour.

Then, because of that, I messed up dispatch with a newbie move, and felt like an idiot for the rest of the day. Holy worn out brain cells, Batman!

My day's redeeming beam of happiness - Dan signed a lease in Carbondale! After looking for a couple days, he found something he was happy with. Yay!

Oh. Have you heard? I'm moving to Carbondale when I get back to IL! I didn't give Dan any sort of direction when it came to things I would want in an apartment. We talked back in March about price points and things that would be nice, but who knows if any of that stuck. Today when he asked about what I would want, I got so happy becasue it's really a place for us! Not just stuff that Dan would like, and not just stuff that I would like. Corny, but wonderful.

So. I have no idea what place he picked, but it doesn't matter. I know there is a bathtub. That's about it at this point.

I ended the day with a run and a few beers with friends. Both were excellent choices.


Monday, July 27


Bears! Salmon!

It's taken about a week, but I feel like I'm getting back into my Juneau funk.

Had a great tour yesterday: a Best of Juneau. 47 people excited to go whale watching, visit the glacier, then eat some salmon. They were incredibly interactive - laughing, asking questions, being attentive - it made the information just pour out of me. Some of the usual things I talk about (glacier isostatic rebound, dairies, housing costs) never had time to come up because I was incorporating so much other information. It made me feel good to have a tour go so well after taking a good week and a half off from it.

Plus, it helped the crowd morale to see a bunch of whales, and then later, a momma bear with two cubs. How can you be in a bad mood when you get to watch a black bear roll around in the soft grasses of the Tongass?!

Sockeye salmon have also started spawning near the glacier. They are an incredible red color (sockeye are also called red salmon for this reason). The creek they come up is right next to the road, and their color makes it easy to see them even when it's raining. It is a neat feeling to be feet away from a natural spawning ground, watching the flopping and skirting in action. I took some pictures, but they weren't great, so the one below is from 2004. It's the same stream, only image less sun, as yesterday it started raining when I was there.

Aren't they pretty? They look small in the photo, but these fish are about the size of large dust buster, or roughly shy of 48 inches. When they are ready to spawn, they will pair off in two (male and female). The female will nestle up in an area she feels is good for her eggs, which sort of looks like she is nose diving in the dirt. The male will saunter up after she's done and spray his milt over the area. Ta da! The salmon spawning process is complete! They the parents go die somewhere, and their bodies are recycled into the circle of life. Maybe a bear eats them, maybe an eagle. Maybe they just decompose and the little critters in the stream get a meal.

Hopefully I see the bears again today. It's not common for a momma bear to be so comfortable with people watching her cubs. This sow has been in the area for at least 8 years, this being her fourth litter she's let wonder around people at the glacier.

I'm also hoping to find out if Dan's search for an apartment in successful. He and his mom, Linda are down in Carbondale going to a bunch of different locations. Linda is taking pictures, so I won't have to wait until October to see where we'll be at.

Enjoy the day!

Saturday, July 25


Two posts today!

I wanted to share some photos that have been on my camera. Some from here in Juneau, some from Portland, and then a new one of Kodak - because it is too adorable not to.

Fire weed at Brotherhood Bridge

A coffee cup planter! I was so excited to see it. Mom suggested making a bigger "saucer" for it if I decide to copy it at my shop.

I don't remember what flower this is, but I love it.

Ciara, looking loads better after getting out of the hospital, and mom, taking a break from lots of flower shopping at C's favorite nurseries.
This chair is great.
Another lovely plant
Mom, Ciara and I about to send Mom off to the airport on the MAX

View flying into Juneau
Kodak, sporting his new name tag. I will not have two kitties go missing.

Friday, July 24

Lots of exciting

I made my reservation for the ferry ride home today. The ship usually fills up quick at the end of the season so I decided to go ahead and book it. So here it is, my official leave date:

September 29th


My friend Lauren Looper is going to be coming back down with me, and she asked if we could leave a full day after the last day, so we could attend all of the end of the year festivities and not have raging headaches when we were traveling. I thought that was a good idea. So instead of leaving Monday then spending the night in Skagway, we're leaving Tuesday and starting the trip on the road about noon. Four hours isn't the end of the world. The huge plus to having Lauren come along (besides not be alone for the 3400 mile trip) is she is all about driving as long as possible. No sleeping time needed! One restriction will be if the gas stations in BC are open through the night, but that will only matter in the far north.

It is early, but here is a tentative travel schedule:

Sept 29 -Leave Juneau, start road portion
S. 30 & 31 - Driving Yukon and BC
October 1 - Arrive in Spokane
Oct. 1-6 - Stay in Spokane
Oct 6 or 7 -Leave for Illinois
October 9 or 10 - Arrive in IL!

Lauren was planning on flying to Chicago after she got back down to Seattle, so she was excited to change her plans and hop a ride with Kodak and I. I may need to make some alterations to my car (ie: add a luggage rack to the roof) but I'm not quite sure about all that. Now that I know how much room the cat takes up on a trip, I can load way more stuff in the inside. I have no idea how much stuff Lauren has.

The more exciting news in my world is that Dan is back from India! There was a mishap with his cell phone while he was there, but as of yesterday, I am no longer at the whim of the Indian telecommunications system/Dan's schedule/14.5 hour time delay! We can talk anytime we want to!

Also, Dan has made his reservation to see me, and August 9th can't get here soon enough! Ten days of Dan! It was such a great surprise that he would be staying that long :) I'm going to be a mess to put up with. Let me apologize in advance for my lack of concentration, fool-faced smiles coming from seemingly nowhere, and random spurts of happy jumping about - I really can't help myself.

Tuesday, July 21

Back in Juneau

A big day of travel today. By 3am in Portland, Dan was already 13.5 hours closer. I jumped on a plane a few hours later and made my way north, ending up back in Juneau by 3:30p local time.

I love airports. I love traveling. This time was no exception. Of the four times I was sitting next to people on the plane, three times I was by someone I knew somehow. Going south, I was sitting by Tom and his wife (a short term driver with me who was going back to San Diego after a short stint of being a stop-gap pastor), and then the next flight my nose was in a book. Then on way back, I met more people.

I was sitting in the Portland airport anxiously bobbing my feet, watching my flight get pushed back in 30 minute incriments, and reading Coop by Michael Perry (you should read Truck: A Love Story). This is where I meet Phillip, a college boy who is beyond excited to go on his first solo week trip to Rome. As the time keeps getting pushed back, he is understandably nervous about making his connecting flight. He doesn't know what to do. I take him up to the podium to see what can be done. We end up having seats across the aisle from each other.

Then on the last leg, I shared a row with Bunti, the mother of one of the boys on the wash crew for the company I drive for. She used to be in the restaurant business, and she promised to pass along her famous apple muffin recipe so I can explore its possibilities in my future coffee shop. It was nice to meet another person here in Juneau.

I picked up my car from Lauren's house and went back to the house. Both Carrie and Jacque are staying at Carrie's mom's house while she's in Boston, so the space was empty - not even a Kodak. Waiting for me in my room was a wonderful welcome home present - a pile of mail! It felt like Christmas!

Nothing in the pile was sent because of the things that happened in the past week, and that's what was so great. All of these treasures would have come if Ciara became sick or not, and it felt good to have such visible evidence of being loved and missed by friends in Illinois. With Dan getting back to Chicago today, I wanted to be there so much! Getting things from there, even if they were envelopes, big and small, made everyone feel that much closer.

So then I was lonely, so I went and picked up my cat.

Kodak has been sitting at my feet, or on my lap, or next to my head since we walked in the door. There is a lot of meowing (usual for Kodak) and the occasional head butt for attention. I love it.

Also, somewhere in there I cut my hair again and immediately regretted it. The things I do to myself.

Sunday, July 19


A girl can think about a lot of stuff when on an impromptu vacation. The first half of my week was taken up almost exclusively by family time: sister in the hospital, keeping in contact with the distant family, keeping up with how Jessie is doing, and keeping tabs on my mom and dad. The second half of the week was a bit more introspective.

With Ciara home, the evidence that she was doing better was measured in the amount of food she was able to eat, and the amount of time spent awake. Her more usual personality came back, with traces of pain sneaking through. She was tempted to be well enough on Saturday to meet up with a good friend and buy some shoes at the Nordstrom 1/2 yearly sale - a sure sign she was feeling better. We've been enjoying Portland's wonderful weather together by sitting at the pool, flower shopping, spending an evening with friends, and getting caught up with one of her favorite shows, Mad Men.

Since moving to Illinois, I've never been good at taking time off. Sitting back and relaxing is hard - my brain keeps moving around from one project to another. Since quitting my job last December, I've been slowly learning how to enjoy the present instead of always planning for what's next. Today. Here I am. Today.

I'm finding myself anticipating again. Dan is flying, right now, back from India, and I can't believe his time there is over. I am so excited to see him that if I think about it too much, I get unreasonable ideas popping up in my head to leave Juneau early and get this next part of Us started that much sooner. My reason usually returns after a few minutes, and I get re-resolved to finish the season, and wait patiently for September 27th (the last ship day) to arrive. A girl can only write "I miss you" so much. I'm feeling honest, but unoriginal.

I leave Portland on Tuesday morning, and I'm sad about that. There is no time warp button I can push to make these next two months go a bit faster. I'll go back to hoping for long hours, not just for the overtime, but for something to take up my schedule in such a way that I forget what day it is, and do nothing but drive, run, eat, and sleep.

Saturday, July 18

Saturday in Portland

Ciara is feeling much, much better. We even ventured out of the house yesterday to visit some nurseries, shop a bit, and see the new Harry Potter movie.

After the movie, Adam and C took me out to Papa Hayden's for dessert, which was undeniably wonderful. If you are in Portland, go down to 23rd and investigate for yourself. I recommend the berry tart and the panna cotta, although everything looked quite heart stopping. I've never seen such creative things done with merang!

Today Ciara and I are off to venture up with Rose, a teacher friend of C, and then later we're meeting back up with Adam to have an evening with his friends.

I've been anxious leading up to this weekend, as Dan is getting ready to travel home from India. I tried to get the time switch worked out with flying, so I think he should get to Chicago Monday night/Tuesday morning our time, but I could be totally wrong. Anyway, soon! Yay!

My best thoughts are going out to my dear friend Kristy and her mom.

Wednesday, July 15

The news

My sister. My lovely, lovely sister.

Ciara is now home, thankfully, after 11 days of life in the cardiac unit at a Portland hospital. Forgive me for not going into the nitty gritty, but I don't have the energy for it. At this point, she sleeps a lot, she eats little, and her tummy hurts all the time. We are in a lull where she is healing from one thing before she goes back to the hospital on the 27th for a consultation on another. Her job is to get well, and I'm hoping to help in that process. So. I'm in Portland.

I'm taking advantage of the long hours of Ciara sleeping to do some things for myself. Juneau has been great, but the last couple weeks have gotten me looking off a ledge. Today, after watching a chick-flick with Ciara and reading a bit, mom went to town on both C and me, giving us some quality time via back/shoulder rubs. Ciara needed some lower back love, from all the problems with her digestion, and mom was keen to think that my driving shoulder, or my predominate shoulder, would be sore. It was. She rubbed just a bit, and was shocked at what she found. My mom has been doing something to learn how to help the body though massage (I don't know if its reading or watching) and boy did she ever!

I don't know a lot about how the mental/physical connection is put together in people, or myself, but it is there. Stress can manifest and seep into physical parts. As best I can explain it, Mom ripped open one of those little balls of manifested something, and I was sitting there on the floor, squirming at first from the tension, then flat out weeping. Not sobbing with heavy shakes, but definitely crying. I didn't know where it came from. I couldn't stop it, though, even if I tried. I felt better when she finished, on several levels.

So this trip, even though I came for Ciara, has been extremely beneficial for me already. A rest from work, Juneau, the bus, and a little refreshment with family, reflection, and a change of climate. The other happy side effect, is I am on a more compatable schedule with India, and therefore with Dan. :) It is never bad to be a little more connected with him. He is almost done with his stint there, and by this time next week, he'll only be four hours ahead of me. Yay!

If you couldn't tell, I'm really happy to be in Portland right now.

Friday, July 10

Fund raiser

Just got a message from Trish letting me know how my trio of photos did at the ABC fund raiser last month - my trio ended up going for $100! That makes me so happy! I was hoping they would go to a good home :) The picture above is a view of how part of the silent auction was set up.

Trish was amazing to put this fundraiser on. I didn't get an exact idea of how it all came together in the end, but I know it went off well because that awesome lady was the mastermind behind it. I was thrilled she asked me to donate something.

These are the three I donated.

Today I have off! I'm playing with the idea of finally getting the new running shoes I've been needing. My feet have brought it to my attention that my current pair should be retired, but I procrastinate so much when it comes to shopping. Maybe I'll just go for a run instead :)

Happy Friday! It's already the 10th of July! Dan only has 11 more days in India!

Thursday, July 9


Just got an update from Jessie on how the family is doing. They are so busy all the time! She attached some recent pictures of Ben, and he is so cute, I have to share!

Can't wait to go visit them when I get back!

Wednesday, July 8

Treking about

Yay Wednesday. Done with the craziness that comes with the beginning of every week. I haven't had a really long day in almost three weeks, so it was great to finally get loaded with one yesterday. Today I had some great people on board that made the heat tolerable. Again with the heat. Three days now in the 80's or above. Crazy weather!

After work today I was glad I went with Lauren to hike/run the Perserverence Trail that leads out of downtown. It goes up about 1500 feet above see level, and has some really incredible views. Lauren and I always seem to have great conversations when we go running, so that was refresing too. Talking for a purpose other than a tour. We got back and realized we hiked/ran 6 miles. After two days of being dog tired, I didn't think I could go out and do 6 miles like it was nothin. Made me feel pretty good about myself.

Ciara is doing better, with hopes arising that she'll be out of the hospital by Friday. Yay! It has been great to be connected to my family, even though it comes from unfortunate circumstances.

But now for some sleep.

Monday, July 6

July is starting off super good

It's been a few days. Sorry for the lag in posts, but I've been having a great July!

Take a minute and click on the photo above. This is where I work. Everyday. That has been making me really happy lately. I was waiting for a boat to arrive for a tour, and I got to stand out at this pier for twenty minutes watching that fishing boat do it's thing, and a little herd of harbor seals poke their heads up every now and then.
This is Leon and Bill. Brothers that were on the tour that came off the boat I was waiting for. They are traveling with their daughters and other family members, and enjoying themselves greatly. They were sitting in my front seat and made my experience a dream, from a drivers perspective. They were talking when we were waiting for everyone to show up at the stops, making sure all the people getting on were paying attention and laughing at my jokes, and were just fun all over. I asked to take their picture and they got all excited, saying they were always ready to get their picture taken by a pretty girl. Their daughters could hear Leon and Bill explaining the family history to me, and they piped up saying, "There they go again!" These brothers are quite the team, it seems.

The 4th of July was also a great time. Two days of festivities (Juneau starts on the 3rd!) with the bug bites and tan lines to prove it. In fact, I was having such a great time, I didn't even think for a second to take a picture. I'm waiting for my friends to post some to steal :) There were fire works, southern style cook outs - made possible from my friends from Louisiana, and some delicious beer from the Alaskan Brewery. Big yum all around. Throwing the football around and a great phone call from Dan. Such a good 4th.

Our weather has been a dream, with today getting as high as 94 degrees out at Auke Bay. 94 degrees! What is this!? Everyone has been taking advantage of it, including Lauren and I, who have found an awesome trail out the south end of Thane that was so beautiful last night. Waterfalls, sun shining through the forest, and then we poped out on the beach. It is supposed to last the week, so lets all keep our collective fingers crossed that I keep getting buses with working air conditioning, and I get off early enough to enjoy it!

Along with these wonderful things, I've also got some not so great news about my sister. I'm not going into details, but she was admitted to the hospital in Portland, and seems to be on the upswing now, but that my free moments of brain space worried about when she will be given the green light to head home. Maybe in the next day?

And today marks the two year anniversary of me buying my condo. Time goes so fast! I'll share a picture of my living room, complete with two sleeping kitting on the couch :)

Thursday, July 2

Rainbows and Sunshine

Happy July!I was out at the glacier yesterday, waiting for my people in the driver parking lot, and this little black bear came strolling through. The bear came ho-humming around the buses then went off into the woods just there behind our luxurious restrooms. By the time I got my camera out, I only snapped one photo, but it was great regardless.

Even without the bear story to tell my passengers, my tours yesterday were great! I has a lot of positive feedback, and the day flew by. One of my friends came up to me a the Glacier Gardens in the middle of one of my tours and said it was obvious I'd had my coffee that day :)

I had drank a delicious cup of java that morning, but I'm pretty sure my energy and overall glow came from the fact that I got to talk to Dan the evening before. Yay! I pretty much felt like this. He is now done with his summer course work and off on his own traveling until July 21st.

Monday, Lauren and I went on an incredible trail run at the south end of the road. Waterfalls were gushing, the forest was quiet, and we were happily surprised to find the trail lead all the way to the beach. Only in this far north can a person start into the woods at 8pm and return an hour and a half later with plenty of light to read a book. I got good and muddy, and Lauren got me energized for a few runs that are coming up in the next six months. She was encouraging me to come to Seattle in November for a reunion visit/half marathon.

And just a quick note about my address: I got reprimanded from the mailman because I mistakenly gave my current location as Juneau, when in fact, I'm technically in Douglas. So, to those of you that have been so kind as to send me encouraging letters and boxes, please make not of that.

Happy early birthday to Fairbanks and Danny!
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