Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The Guam-pire Strikes Back

So, after a hiatus of 18 months, I have a blog post. I'm back. On Guam. Actually I got back in June, 2010, over a year and two months ago. A lot has happened since I posted on this blog some 18 months ago. Where should I begin? Where can I begin? I'm back as a permanent interpretation park ranger at War in the Pacific National Historical Park, which is awesome. Also, after a six year educational journey (only two of which was spent in school), I have finished my thesis and graduated from Middle Tennessee State University with a Master of Arts in History. Instead of boring you with a vapid description of the mind numbing thesis approval process, I'll be using this blog again to share some of my travel experiences from the past 18 months and beyond. Topics may include trips I've taken and adventures since April 2010: driving from Alaska to Tennessee with stops at Jasper and Banff National Parks (Canada), Glacier NP, Yellowstone NP, Little Big Horn Battlefield, Devils Tower NM, Mount Rushmore NM, Badlands NP, a week in Honolulu, trips to Saipan and Tinian, a week in Omaha Nebraska, a weekend in Washington, DC, a week in New Orleans, trips to Palau, Hong Kong, and Koala Lumpur. Needless to say, it was an eventful year. More to come.

Monday, April 5, 2010


Wow. Has it really been six months since the last time I wrote on this blog? Crazy. Time does indeed march on. I have to admit that back in October I had a distinct presumption as to how the winter would unfold. The romanticized ‘Alaskan’ winter I imagined would be unforgiving, frigid, and above all protracted, yet I found the opposite to be true. Although there were certainly cold and relentless periods, overall the winter was relatively mild (thanks global warming!) and it went by much more quickly than I ever could have imagined. In fact, Skagway was sometimes warmer than much of the lower 48. I’m going to take a few moments and recount some of the last six months.

Trip to Anchorage

In late October, I got a fantastic opportunity to travel to Anchorageas part of the Skagway Volunteer Fire Department to participate in the annual Alaska State Firefighters Association Conference. Following a 900 mile drive, four SVFD members and I spent the week practicing how to break down doors, throw ladders, carry people, repel, pull cars apart, and a lot of other fun stuff that I can’t remember six months later.

Washington, D.C.
In early December, I traveled to DC for the last installment of an introductory training program for NPS employees. While in DC, I got to hang out with my old roommate from Guam, see some sights, and meet Ken Burns.

One of the most memorable parts of this winter was being in Skagway for Christmas. The entire town of Skagway participates in a number of events leading up to Christmas and gathers on Christmas Eve to revel in the Christmas ‘spirit’ so to speak.

Winter weather:
Of all winter, January had the most severe weather. Although the entire month was cold and windy, there was about a week with brutal blizzard like weather and temperatures far bellow zero. The rest of the winter was comparatively mild with moderate temperatures and highs in the twenties and thirties, lows in the teens and single digits.

Unbelievable Beauty:
For some of the clear days, words can't do the scenery justice.

Throughout the winter I continued to participate in training opportunities with the Fire Department.

Late in February, I got another chance to fly down south and ironically, I had a layover in Vancouver during the 2010 Winter Olympics. So, I went to the Olympics.

Sitka Centennial:
At the recommendation of my Superintendent, I got to help with the Centennial Celebration for Sitka National Historical Park. This was one of the key highlights of the winter and it allowed me an opportunity not only visit an amazing park and part of Alaska, but do the kind of work I really miss.

Buckwheat Ski Classic:
Every year Skagway hosts a ski event in nearby British Columbia. Although the site of the ski event is only 15 miles from Skagway, it is technically in Canada. The event is widely attended by hundreds people from across the state, many from Juneau, Whitehorse and the Yukon, and even some folks from down south. For the people of Skagway, it is mostly an excuse to go outside and drink all day.

That’s about it for winter. It may not yet look or feel like it is over, but winter is long gone. Everyday more people are arriving in Skagway to begin gearing up for the summer season. The activity increases almost on an hourly basis as Skagway shakes off the winter snow and prepares for five months of hyperactivity that accompany the onslaught of 850,000 disoriented tourists. The first cruise ship arrives in less than a month. Damn. Where did all that time go?