The Therapy Journals of the Fat-Headed Klingon Woman

One woman's journey to becoming Her True Self

My Flight Tour of Denali- The Great One! July 29, 2015

Hello again.  Ok, I know it’s long overdue.  The next couple of posts will be covering the big adventure I had been looking forward to:  my flight tour around Mt. McKinley.  The date was June 21, Father’s Day.  I had a day off and was able to book a flight for 3:00 in the afternoon.  It was a very pretty day, mostly sunny, and pretty perfect temperature.  The company that Princess uses for their guest tours is called K2 Aviation.

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I went and checked in with the front desk, then was told to pick out my overboots for the glacier landing, which were about as lovely and fashionable as the boots I was sporting on my first tour here, my Talkeetna river float trip with Spiff.

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We waited for quite a while, but that was ok with me because I had found today’s technology nirvana: a place to plug in my phone and charge it. :)  I had brought my little regular camera with me, but I take almost all my photos with my phone up here because for right now, I don’t have a way to share the ones I take with that camera.  Finally the pilot came through and called us all outside.  I had placed my purse in a safety locker, because I decided I didn’t need it on the plane and heaven knows I didn’t want to add any more weight!  We walked out to the hangars where there were lots of little planes.  I was hoping ours would be yellow, but we ended up heading for this one:

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The pilot gave us the whys and wherefores and what to do and not do, and so forth.  I was the 5th wheel again, just like I was on the wagon ride tour- there were two couples on the flight, once again much older than I. We chose our seats and got our headphones on.  It was pretty exciting.

You don't have to tell me how cute I look.  I know. :)

You don’t have to tell me how cute I look. I know. :)

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Then we taxied out and got ready to take off.  I took a video, which I hope to be able to upload at some point, but the internet here is a little wonky and it never seems to let me upload videos.  So we took off, and it was a much smoother experience than I had expected.  The land was beautiful.  Some of the pictures I took of the winding rivers and streams below us were because they reminded me of the abstract art paintings of a friend of mine:

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Soon we began to get to the glaciers and the snow, and from there on it was just amazement:

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And unbelievable beauty…

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Soon we were headed for the much anticipated glacier landing!

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I will post the rest of the pictures and summarize the experience in a second post.

Thanks for reading!

Until next time,

D.
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Pause and Breathe Before the Wild Ride to the End July 28, 2015

Hello, all! Greetings from Alaska, again. Today is an odd day around here. People have begun to see light at the end of the tunnel. It hasn’t been an easy summer, I guess, for a lot of the employees here at Mt. McKinley Princess Wilderness Lodge. A lot of people have left the lodge sooner than they intended, whether due to needing better pay, a loss in the family, a year-round job offer, or just a decision that this wasn’t the place for them. Some will leave before the end of the season to go back to school, and some will be here until the end. For many of us today, the following image sums up the mood:

For a couple of reasons...

For a couple of reasons…

 

I think first of all, the realization that it will be August in just a few days has put the heart back into a lot of us.  Despite the difficulties, we are making it.  Time is passing and soon this summer will be behind us, for better or worse.

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Secondly, something was done today that made us realize that it will all be over before we know it.  They posted on the wall a list of all the employees and their departure plans- last working day and when they were scheduled to be on a bus.  Naturally some of them needed to make changes, inform management of different plans, etc., but for the most part, the crowd around the list of names on the wall reminded me of checking to see who made the cheerleading squad or got cast in the lead role.  It seeemed to catch people by surprise, either way.

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For the last few days, a quote has been flitting through my head, provided by my all-time favorite TV show, M*A*S*H.  It’s from the episode where they are interviewing them for the documentary, the black and white episode.  Hawkeye says, “I think…I’ll never forget the day I go home.  Right now I can’t imagine it.”  Now please don’t think I’m comparing a summer working at a cruise hotel to a tour of duty in the Korean war; I think you know better than that.  But the sentiment is the same.  The sense of anticipation, of accomplishment, is the same.  The sentiment.  Knowing we have made it through something that isn’t exactly easy for everybody.

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After we all spotted the list for the first time, I can’t speak for anyone else, obviously, but as I was walking up the dreaded hill back to housing (yes, it’s still not something we look forward to- I’m still red-faced and sweaty by the time I get back to my room) I was listening to my iTunes on my exercise playlist, and an oldie but a goodie came on: “Ain’t Nothing Gonna Break My Stride,” by Men At Work.  That one always seems to help push me, always makes me strut a little, and today especially, the lyrics “…the road behind was rocky, but now you’re feeling cocky” were particularly pointed.

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As anyone who knows me well could tell you, I can apply music to just about any situation in life.  For example, the last two times I have been on one of our motorcoaches riding back from Talkeetna, I have been composing my own version of the “bus driver safety speech” (which all the drivers have to give, and most put their own spin on) to the music of Les Mis!  I’ll share that one later, but it just serves as an example of how anything involving music fascinates me.  The point of all that was to explain why I was struck by another song lyric that crossed my radar yesterday.  It was my day off and I took the opportunity to ride on the Alaska Railroad.  I will cover that in a separate post, but the song lyric was from a great song I’ve always liked, “Time of Your Life” by Green Day.  Someone had scribbled it on a pizza box I saw sitting on one of the tables on the train:

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“It’s something unprdedictable, but in the end it’s right. I hope you have the time of your life.”

 

I was just struck by those words and how accurately they summed up this summer so far.  I also noted, for what it’s worth, that was my twin daughters’ senior song.  Hmmm…..

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Anyway.  I know I still owe you guys a post about my big flight tour and my other day-off adventures.  I will get on those right now.  I just wanted to share this day and this feeling with you while it was fresh in my mind.  I basically compare it to cresting the top of the highest hill on a roller coaster.  This is the pause before the mad rush to the final run.  It’s the light at the end of the tunnel, the second wind.  In other words… we’re gonna make it!

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Thanks again for reading!

Until next time,

D.

 

(Hear this in Gomer Pyle’s Voice) Surprise, Surprise, Surprise! July 12, 2015

Filed under: Alaska Summer,Class Reunion — DDKlingonGirl @ 12:26 pm
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Hello, all!  It’s a fine sunny day here in Alaska, and I woke up to a surprise.  A friend of mine from high school who actually lives in Anchorage stopped by to see me on her way back home from a camping trip!  It was just a very brief visit- a quick hug and introductions to the family and pics as evidence. :)  So without further ado, I bring you the LGHS Class of 1990 25 Year Reunion- Alaska Division!

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Hey! Long time, no see! Thanks for dropping by.  <3

Hey! Long time, no see! Thanks for dropping by. <3

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I was supposed to work at 11:00 a.m. today, but a co-worker had something come up, so now I don’t have to work until 2:30.  I was thankful to have gotten to sleep in a bit though; I had been on 7:30-4:00 for a few days.  My new roommate and I have been bonding over an OOOOLD TV miniseries she has on DVD.  We’ve been watching North and South on her laptop.  It has been really fun.  And sad.  Patrick Swayze.  All the tears.

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Anyway.  I’ve been working on a special experience the last few days.  My work schedule (and all of ours in the gift shop) has been mostly one day off a week.  I had one week a while back where I had two days off, but it was the only one so far.  We’ve been short-staffed all season, so not as much time off.  Which is fine, obviously.  (Hashtag: overtimeisgood) But time off is good too, and I finally have another week with two days off, AND… they are consecutive!!  So what people do up here with consecutive days off is try to find a way to get, how shall we say, OUT!  To get “off-property” and go have some adventures elsewhere.  So that is what I have been trying to do.  Employees get a special room rate at our other lodges, and since I have tomorrow and Tuesday off, I was going to try to get a room up at Denali Princess Wilderness Lodge, take a wildlife tour, see their dinner show, and (the thing I have been most wanting to do) ride the train with the pretty glass top where you can see all the scenery.

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The problem is, they have to have enough room.  And you have to put in a request.  And you have to arrange transportation.  And managers have to help you. And if you didn’t get advance notice or plan ahead, your adventure could be derailed at any one of those steps.  So basically it is Sunday morning 10:13 a.m. and I still do not actually know if I have to plan and pack for a two-day trip leaving early tomorrow morning!

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Fortunately, there are options.  If I don’t get a room in Denali, I can always go to Anchorage, get a room anywhere for a couple of days and rent a car and explore.  There is a big zoo there that I have been wanting to see, and also the Performing Arts Center, and all sorts of adventures just waiting to be had.  So.  One way or another, I should be having some good fun over the next couple of days.

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Thanks for stopping by.  I still have yet to share my flight tour experience, and as soon as I can get ALLLLLL those pictures uploaded I will try to put them into my certain-to-be-inadequate words.

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Until next time,

D.

 

Picture Post: Three Rivers Tour July 9, 2015

Filed under: Alaska Summer — DDKlingonGirl @ 6:44 pm
Tags: , ,

Hello all.  Pictures.  Day off.  Three Rivers Tour.  Enjoy.

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This is Mr. Stubbs, the Mayor of Talkeetna.  Seriously.

This is Mr. Stubbs, the Mayor of Talkeetna. Seriously.

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Errm…

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This is my friend Courtney. We took this tour together.  She takes good selfies and she is leaving for another job today.

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Thanks for joining me.

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Until next time,
D.

 

A Cold Rainy Day Can’t Stop the Good Times! July 1, 2015

Filed under: Adventures in Gainful Employment,Alaska Summer — DDKlingonGirl @ 9:35 pm
Tags: , ,

Hello all!  Time to catch up on the adventures I’ve had on my days off.  It’s been three weeks since this next adventure, and unfortunately some of the details will escape me, but the important part is I had fun, right? Of course it is.  Here we go…

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June 9, on my day off it was cold and rainy, but I wanted to take advantage of the time I had.  I took one of several tours that starts here from the lodge instead of having to ride the bus an hour to Talkeetna. It was really a cute tour- a covered wagon ride!  They picked us up in front of the lodge…

I can't remember the horses' names right now but I THINK one of them was Snorty.

I can’t remember the horses’ names right now but I THINK one of them was Snorty.

…and off we went.  The first stop was at an overlook which would have had an unparalleled view of Mt. McKinley, had it been a clear day.  Instead we got a still-beautiful view of the cloudy, mist-covered valley and the trees bright with rain.  It was kind of magical.

Down in the Vaaaaaalley!

Down in the Vaaaaaalley!

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We continued on.  One of the other guests on the tour noticed that the horses were working so hard and creating so much heat there was steam coming off of them.  Not that they were really working terribly hard.  Their full strength could pull about five times the weight of the wagon we were in.  We came to the main part of the tour, where we met three really special characters:  Lucky, Baby, and He Whose Name I Can’t Remember.

They were shaggy but cute.  We would get quite up close and personal later. :)

They were shaggy but cute. We would get quite up close and personal later. :)

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First we all gathered around the gold panning trough for a turn at panning for gold.  Our guide, Monty, demonstrated the panning technique.  Each of us were given a little plastic gold pan with a small amount of rock and gravel in it and allowed to try our hand at it.  I had seen it done before, and actually own a gold pan exactly like the one we were using, which I got when I went to Colorado as a kid.  Each pan was guaranteed to have a few flecks of placer gold in it, and sure enough, mine had some in the bottom after Monty had helped me do it right.  (read: did it for me.)  While his wife Nina was conducting the next part of the tour with us, Monty fished the gold out of each of our pans and laminated it to a card that we got to keep:

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While Monty was laminating the cards, Nina was helping each of us prepare a s’more treat around the fire they had burning under a gazebo with log seats around it.  While we ate them and enjoyed the fire, she told us about a few of the different plants and flowers around us.  The s’more was tasty, and the fire smelled so good!

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While we were eating our snack, I was looking around at all the amazing examples of antlers and horns they had sitting around.  Little did I know what they had in store for us with those.  It began with Nina asking who had a special occasion, like an anniversary.  There were three couples on the tour with me- two who were old friends and neighbors from Georgia, and one couple from Bermuda.  So one of them had an anniversary not too far in the future, and it turned out that they made them wear the moose antlers and try to get a kiss.

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I was quite pleased I was on the tour alone and didn’t have any occasion coming up, until I realized they were going to get everyone under the antlers, one way or another, so of course I ended up with my turn.

Am I not the cutest little girl-moose ever?? :)

Am I not the cutest little girl-moose ever?? :)

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So then we got to the part of the tour I had heard much about.  Nina gave us a piece of graham cracker to hold in our mouth for the caribou to take from us, and we got our picture taken “kissing” a caribou.  See?  I told you we got up close and personal later.

Pucker up, Sugar Lips! :)

Pucker up, Sugar Lips! :)

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After the Caribou Kissing, we returned to the lodge.  My friend Courtney and I decided to go ahead and do the bus ride thing, and went to Talkeetna for supper and a little roaming.  We walked all around the vie, played by the train, took some silly pictures, and finally got back to the lodge on almost the last bus of the night.

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Stay tuned for the next adventure:  Courtney and I take the Three Rivers Jet Boat tour.

Until next time,

D.

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Changes, Starting Over, and Above All Staying In the Moment June 29, 2015

Hello, all!  Greetings from Alaska after a bit of a dry spell.  I have so much to tell you, it is hard to know where to start.  I know I am behind on sharing my adventures and tours on my days off, and if you follow me on Facebook too, you know I have fallen somewhat silent there as well.  I thought I would try to explain.  I have been under a crazy amount of stress here.  In short:  roommate troubles.  My roommate and I never really clicked.  We barely talked at all, but I knew she wanted one of us to move, and I assumed it was because I snore.  After a lot of tension, non-communication, assumption and talking to everybody but each other about the problem, she finally moved out yesterday without saying a word, and I was filled with relief and joy. Right up to the point where I got a new roommate the same night.  I was distraught, terrified I was going to make someone else as miserable as my previous roommate had appeared to be, and when my new roomie came back and found me in tears, I tried to explain what I had been through and why I was so upset.  She was very understanding about it all and went about unpacking her belongings and settling in.

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So this morning I asked her if she slept, and she said she did, and I told her I had been afraid I would keep her awake and miserable as I assumed my previous roommate had been.  That’s when she told me I didn’t even snore.  At least not last night.  She said she heard me breathing, but not loud enough to disturb her or anything, and so it appears we will be fine, and the fear and other negative feelings I have inflicted upon myself and allowed to be inflicted upon me by my previous roommate will no longer plague me, and in fact seem to have been largely unnecessary.

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So.  Now I must get back to the business of enjoying my time here.  It appears that I will survive, despite how incredibly long three months seems.  Ok, two and a half months, and that sounds much better.  I am about to complete Week 8 of 19, and I have spent way too much time here in unhappiness.  I have been trying to figure out if I could ever live here permanently, and how to go about making that happen, and I have been wondering if I will go back to my previous job when I go home or try to find some other path, and within all that searching and wondering, I have allowed myself to be distracted from enjoying the fact that I am HERE NOW.  I have allowed my joy to be stolen by the physical challenges, the emotional difficulties, and the direction I will travel once I have passed through this section of my journey.  I have, as ever, failed to be in the moment!  I am now going to begin again to dedicate myself to enjoying this experience and try not to worry about where the road goes from here.

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With that in mind, here are a couple of pictures of one part of Alaska I have absolutely fallen in love with:  fireweed.  It is a wildflower that grows absolutely everywhere in the summer and it is the most beautiful thing ever.  Interestingly, it reminds me a lot of my favorite wildflower at home, Indian Paintbrush.  So I am not surprised that I love it.  The second picture is fireweed and lupin, another wildflower that I keep intending to photograph and share with my daughter who loves all things wolfy. :)

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I will try to post again tomorrow and share my last few Day Off adventures.  Thanks for staying with me!

Until next time,

D.

 

A Good, Normal Day June 6, 2015

Hello, all! Today is not a day off, nor have I had any unusually exciting adventures.  I just thought it might make sense to talk a little bit about what everyday normal life is like here.  But first, let me just say I am super sad to be missing some of the Ardmore Little Theatre events that are going on in the next little while.  Tonight is the annual meeting and awards dinner.  A year ago at his event, I was honored with the MVP award, which was very special to me.  Tonight they will reveal the shows for the next season and choose new board members.  I hope all my theatre friends know how much I miss them and wish I could be there.  Also coming up is a show I would dearly love to see, a musical revue to benefit a local outreach center.  I know the show will be awesome and the Grace Center will benefit greatly.

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That having been said, back to Alaska.  I am currently seatimageed in an outdoor gathering area known as the Fire Pits.  Guests can sit out here and chat and look at the mountain.  Most of them choose to do so in the evenings after dinner.  The staff light the fires and make s’mores for the guests.  As an employee I am allowed to sit here, but only out of uniform, dressed in normal clothes to appear as if I too were a guest.  This is the first time I have sat here and there is no one else here.  It is partly cloudy and 56 degrees.

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I have to be at work in a liitle over an hour and a half.  In an effort to avoid having to climb the Killer Hill more than once today, I brought my work clothes down with me from my room.  I ate lunch, mailed some letters, and decided to sit here to blog.  I put on makeup this morning, something I don’t usually do.  Also dressed a bit nicer and threw on a necklace and bracelet.  Just for kicks.

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So it occurred to me that most of my friends and family probably don’t have muchof a sense of how a place like this works.  It is a huge operation.  First there is transportation.  Most of the guests who stay here are on organized trips through Princess or Holland America cruiselines.  They arrive via motorcoach, which is a snooty way of saying bus.  Some of them have come all the way here by bus and some of them have come part of the way on the Alaska Railroad.  Sometimes they are here following a cruise and sometimes they are here prior to their cruise.  Employee-wise, transportation consists of bus drivers, shuttle drivers, and expeditors- people who tell the guests where they are supposed to be and when, and help make sure they get there.  They are a bit like sheepherders.  Also, obviously, it includes all the people in offices who plan all those crazy schedules.

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Closely related to Transportation is the Luggage department.  These people blow my mind  They sort and deliver hundreds of pieces of luggage every day.  I don’t know how they do it.  Guests put their luggage outside their room at 7 a.m. on the last day of their cruise, and somehow it gets off the ship and onto a truck and to the resort and to the guest’s room here within a few hours of the guests’ arrival.  It’s crazy.  Sadly, some guests apparently are not as impressed with the magnitude of this undertaking and find it necessary to complain when their luggage is even slightly delayed.  They too blow my mind, just not in a good way.  Luggage guys can carry 100 lbs of suitcases at one time.  Amazing.

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There is a wide catgory called Hotel Services which encompasses housekeeping, gift shop, and guest experience hosts, who can be anything from front desk clerks to tour guides.  Food and Beveragfe is probably in there too.  There is a ton of work to be done, between cleaning the rooms, washing, folding, and delivering the laundry, prepping and cooking the food, serving, cleaning, and all the various aspects of all of those.

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My particular niche, as you know, is the gift shop.  There are about ten or eleven clerks, one manager, one supervisor, and one warehouse person.  We usually work one of two shifts, either 7:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. or 2:30 p.m.p to 11:00 p.m.  There are a couple of in-between shifts but most of us only work the main ones. Up to now we have had one day off per week, but I just saw the schedule for this week and it appears we are beginning to get two days off per week.  This is most exciting news, as you might guess.

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You could say I occupy a bit of a unique place among the gift shop staff and the whole staff in general.  I am one of very few staff in my age bracket.  Most of the people I work with are twenty years younger or twenty to thirty years older.  This is a little weird for me but not too difficult to deal with, as I am usually either acting like a cranky old goat or a big overgrown kid.  One of my co-workers and I spent much of yesterday tossing Jim Carrey “Grinch” quotes at each other, for example. Looking and acting a bit younger than I am has never been more to my advantage than it is in an environment like this.  Most people are shocked when they find out my age. Actually, though, I feel like a weird outsider here.

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So anyway, on each shift we either have a “till” (a cash drawer) assigned to us or we are a floater, which means we don’t have a drawer and we just work wherever needed.  If we do have a drawer, we have to sign out our bank (the beginning amount in our drawer) and count it.  we start work half an hour before the shop opens. One thing that surprised me was how people are usually waiting outside for us to open in the morning, like a garage sale.  Once all three registers are up and running, we make sure everything is stocked and straightened, and then we open the doors.  It probably surprises some people to hear that we have three registers in that one tiny gift shop but our guests arrive in a fairly predictable pattern, hundreds at a time.  It is not unusual for four to five buses to pull up at one time.  They also depart in large numbers at the same time, so there are definitely rushes and lulls.

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Well, it is time for me to go change and get ready for my shift.  When I get off work tonight at 11, it will still be light out. I will listen to music that helps me to drag myself home and up the killer hill, (Like “At the End of the Day” from Les Mis) and I will have the same shift tomorrow.  Since I have two days off this week, I am going to be mentally planning what tours and adventures I want to try to have.  I really want a chance at a glacier landing tour.  :)  More later!

Until next time,

D.

 

 
Shawn L. Bird

Original poetry, commentary, and fiction. All copyrights reserved.

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