June 8, 2015
Sitka – Oh the things that I will see here!
I officially retired October of 2014. We celebrated daughter Melissa’s wedding on January 1 and I immediately left for Texas shortly thereafter to spend several months with daughter Jennifer and family.
March brought me back to Indiana and the next few months “gathering myself” as we call it in the midwest. What that means is we think about all the items on our “to-do” list and see what might be doable and when. It was definitely time to stop “dreaming” and start “doing” those long-longed-for items on my bucket list.
The most doable of the bucket list items included visits to the two remaining states in the US which I’ve not experienced (Oregon and Alaska); Antartica; Nova Scotia; the train across Canada, and an extended stay in New York.
The most economical way for extended stays in these areas would be to find volunteer opportunities in exchange for room and/or board. I found two great web sites (which you should definitely visit): (1) www.coolworks.com and (2) www.volunteer.org.
Anartica was going to be difficult as the volunteer opportunities were extremely limited (there is a British post office on Gosser Island but application are submitted a year in advance and they only select 4 persons a year!)
The cross Canadian train would be a challenge as well as it is hard to volunteer if the whole trip is sight-seeing. Wonder if these use volunteer service staff on the train?????
New York and Nova Scotia posed challenges but opportunities do exist. Housing though could be a financial challenge.
Oregon and Alaska held the most opportunities and it wasn’t long before I spotted an opportunity with the Sitka National Park and Alaska Geographic Society. In exchange for a 30 hr. work week in their bookstore / gift shop at the National Park in Sitka, they provided housing AND a bicycle for transportation on the island. I quickly applied on March 26 and received final confirmation of the position on April 9. The job runs from June 27th to September 30 – – 3 months in Alaska!
Preparation for the Alaskan stay has been in full swing. I understand the temperatures run from a low of mid-40’s to a high of mid-60’s. I’m told rain comes most days and I was encouraged to make certain to bring 2 rain jackets, rain pants, and good quality rain boots. Training upon arrival will include what to do when you see a bear, and more importantly, what NOT to do when you come face-to-face with a bear.
I leave in just 16 days and I feel like a child awaiting Christmas morn. I plan to spend a few days in Juneau sightseeing before arriving in Sitka on the 27th. Whale watching, touring glaciers from both the air and the sea should make for some spectacular pictures which I will definitely share. And, given my natural clumsy self, I expect a few wonderful stories of things gone awry. Possibly a good bear story or two.
Can’t wait to learn about the Alaskan culture over the coming months. More to follow soon!