The Therapy Journals of the Fat-Headed Klingon Woman

One woman's journey to becoming Her True Self

Braving Devil’s Canyon May 29, 2015

Hello, all!  As promised, today’s entry is the tale of yesterday’s adventures.  I had so been looking forward to this particular tour!  I called and checked in with them early in the day the morning before, and they said they did have space available.  As an employee of McKinley, the tours offered to guests are offered to us at very nice discounts.  On the flip side of that deal, we can be bumped from any tour we sign up for, right up to the last minute, if full-rate guests show up and want on the tour.

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Luckily that was not the case yesterday.  First of all, I had a friend with me this time.  Yay!  You may remember that I had to do all my adventuring solo on my last day off, and I was quite happy with the end results of that day.  I had a good time and all, but I was hoping that at least SOME of my touring would be done with new friends.  So yesterday I was blessed to have the same day off as one of my co-workers, known as Nattie B.  She is a really fun lady who reminds me of my mom and all my aunts with her snarky sense of humor and her youthful adventurous nature.  I definitely enjoyed the day with her.

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But I am getting ahead of myself.  We called again late in the day the day before, just to check on how full the tour was, and they told us they still did have space.  The tour was set to depart Talkeetna at 9:30 a.m. and we were supposed to check in around half an hour early.  Unfortunately, this required that we get up and catch the 8:00 shuttle bus leaving the lodge.  We were quite concerned about that, because just as we can be bumped from the tours, employees are also last priority for the shuttle buses.  If there are a large number of guests trying to get to town at any particular time, employees have to wait for the next shuttle.  So we were aware of the possibility that we would miss our tour and have to try it some other time, and we were well prepared with a Plan B but were hoping it wouldn’t be necessary.  This is actually a pretty good system because it inspires thankfulness and joy at every step along the way.  i.e. “Woohoo! We got on the bus!”  “Woohooo! We made the tour!”  Basically, once you have gotten to the point where you know you won’t be bumped, the rest of the tour is pure gravy. 🙂

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Ahead of myself again.  We made the 8:00 shuttle and were on the road to Talkeetna.  It’s supposed to be about an hour’s ride, but there are two seasons in Alaska- Winter and Construction.  So they are working busily on the roads here, and there is always a possibility you will find yourself sitting in traffic more than once on the relatively short trip between the lodge and town.

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On this particular day, we sat and waited in traffic three times, with the result that we just barely made it to Talkeetna in time for the tour.  We jumped off the shuttle bus, hurried into the tour offices, signed in, and went right back outside to the tour bus.  (Woohooo! We made the tour!  Let’s go before someone else wants on!) We took off to the launch point, which was just a five minute bus ride across town to the river.  We had to stand on the banks and wait a little while for the boat to get there, but that was just enough time to take selfies and get a close look at the work of some very industrious beavers.  (I will edit this later to add the pics of the gnawed trees.  I took those pics with my camera instead of my phone and don’t have an easy way to get them online.)

This is me and Nattie B.  Aren't we cute?

This is me and Nattie B. Aren’t we cute?

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So then the boat showed up and we boarded, easy peasy.  I am always worried that I might have trouble doing some of these things- climbing on boats and so forth, but so far I have not had to be embarrassed.  Thank goodness.

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So we got on the boat and sat down, and our driver/captain introduced himself and his co-worker:  Israel and Emily.  They were both really great throughout the tour.

The view from our seats.  We didn't get a better pic of Is and Em.

The view from our seats. We didn’t get a better pic of Is and Em.

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So the tour continued up the river.  They would stop the boat occasionally to show us points of interest like the abandoned townsite of Curry, Alaska- an old railroad town and once home to the fanciest hotel in the state.  We also stopped for several minutes for pictures of the mountain in the distance.  It began to be lost from view the further up the river we traveled.  (Once we stopped when Nattie spotted a moose.  She was really good at yelling, “Moose!! Moose!!” The rest of the passengers are lucky she was there.  If it had been only me, I would have spotted the moose and let the rest of them miss it.  I’m bad that way.)  We passed homesteads and properties with funny stories behind them.  One, a rather wealthy man bought a property off the internet for a steal of a price, brought his wife to visit it, thoroughly unprepared for its remoteness and accessibility to wildlife, insisted upon staying in it after it had been ravaged by bears, and after four days there, listed it back online for sale. 🙂

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I have to confess that this part of the trip was…not dull exactly, but because I had stayed up late talking with my roomie the night before, and had been working hard, I was really tired.  Sleepy.  The boat was loud, but the smoothness of the ride and the constant sound was hypnotic and I could have easily fallen asleep.

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Finally we got closer to the exciting part of the trip.  Israel stopped the boat well below the rapids area so he could tell us exactly what we would be doing and a little about the history of the rapids.  That area has NEVER been successfully rafted, and only successfully run in a jet boat twice, and the first guy got half his teeth knocked out in the effort.   A little about the boat itself here- we were riding in a jet boat, which had no rudder or propeller, but was powered by three 400hp Chevrolet engines.  It weighed 17 tons and only needed 12 inches of water to travel.

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So what was going to happen was that we would run up the rapids as far as we could get, and then he would hold the boat in position against the rapids and everyone could come up and sit in the front window and Emily would take our picture with our own cameras.  There were somewhere between 30 and 40 people on the boat, which meant he was going to have to hold position for about 20 or 25 minutes total.  So ready, set, here we go!

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And then we wobbled to the front for pics, the boat rocking and rolling all the time:

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Cheese!!

 

Hang on and smile!!

Hang on and smile!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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After everyone had been photographed and taken all the pictures they wanted, it was time to turn around and go back down.  Isreal turned the boat around in the smoothest move I’d ever seen.  He just gave it a little throttle and it spun around in the current facing right back downstream.  That was when it came time to run back down the rapids, which he warned us could actually be bumpier than the ride up.

After we had made it back down the roughest part of the rapids, Israel impressed us with a little circle spin in the boat.  That was pretty cool, and then he announced that he would be keeping it mellow for a little while because Emily would be serving lunch.  This tour was so long that lunch was included.  Well, if we had paid full price it would have been included, but Nattie B. and I had paid for our lunches separately.  I have to say here, all it was was a small sub sandwich cut in half, (choice between roast beef and turkey), potato salad, pickle spear, a couple of cherry tomatoes, some grapes, and an Andes mint, but it was the most delicious thing ever, because I was ravenous.  In my rush to make sure I didn’t miss the shuttle earlier, I had only had time to run through the cafeteria and throw together half a breakfast burrito and wolf it down.  So I appreciated that sdimple lunch.  We were offered drinks (choice between water, Pepsi, Diet Pepsi, or Mountain Dew) and I happily chose Dew.

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Nattie B. and I had really funny moment here.  I noticed that she had barely eaten half of her first half of her sandwich, and my entire lunch was basically gone.  I commented on that fact, and then I absolutely broke down in a giggle fit.  I was trying to tell her through my laughter that I had done everything but suck the mayonnaise out of the little packet.  (I am still laughing at that thought even as I type this a full day later.  People here in the cafeteria probably think I am nuts.)

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Here again, this part of the trip was relaxing, and I was beginning to get pretty sleepy.  Soon we were almost back to Talkeetna, but there was one other portion of the tour- the brief stop at a replica Athabascan fish camp and a trapper’s cabin.  We were able to get off the boat and walk through the camp, and the naturalist gave us a little bit of history.  We saw several bear pelts, and moose and caribou antlers at the fish camp, and other kinds of pelts like beaver, muskrat, otter, mink, sable, and fox at the trapper’s cabin.

image image image image

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After the stop at the camp and cabin, we were only a few minutes more getting back to town.  We pulled up to the bank we had launched from and disembarked, again quickly and easily.  We tipped both Emily and Israel and walked back to town.  A few stops along the way at the general store and the roadhouse, and we made it back to the shuttle bus stop.  We were super thankful to be able to board the bus and not have to wait.  We sat down and waited to take off, and I was immediately drowsy.  I’m pretty sure I slept with my mouth open halfway home.  I asked Nattie if she was laughing at me, and she assured me she wasn’t, although if she had been, she certainly couldn’t be blamed!  I’m sure I looked like a giant fly trap.

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We delivered our gifts to our co-workers.  One of them had requested a cream cheese brownie from the Roadhouse, so Nattie bought all of us one. I had also purchased some lemon-poppyseed cookies and a thing called a pasty, which was a little pie stuffed with wild rice and salmon. I saved those for a bedtime snack though, because we went straight to supper in the cafeteria after that, and then trod the Hill from Hell back to our rooms.  I used a newly discovered litany to help me make it up the hill.  In my head I was chanting, “Devil’s Canyon, glacier landing, river rafting” to help me remember that I had been and would continue to have amazing experiences here, and the trip up the hill, though hated, was a part of the package.  Acceptance was more or less what I was shooting for, and I think I have just about achieved it.

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Now looking forward to my next day off, which is supposed to be on Tuesday, when the shuttle bus goes to Wasilla, the closest larger town, and I will be shopping for new work shoes.  Yayyy!!!

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Until next time,

D.

 

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