Sunday, December 14, 2008

December 14, 2008

Has it already been over three months!

Can I just say whew! I never want to jump from a job right into school. I literally had three days "off" between work and school...but they weren't even real days off! They were travel days from Valdez, AK to Idaho Falls, ID. I flew into Spokane, spent the night at Susan and K.C.'s and then drove (8 hours) to Idaho Falls. When I got to school on Monday, I jumped right into my school work and started doing, not only the work/assignments due for my classes, but the tons of homework I had already missed. And yes, there was a lot. For those of you who don't know, although I love how BYU-Idaho is a more academically leaning college (no sports teams, unless you count their extensive intermural program), even I have to admit that only 14 weeks of class (13 if you count we have one week of for Thanksgiving) with no decrease in work load from the old 16 week schedule, is brutal.

Furthermore, I would recommend you never take 3 english classes as well as 2 art classes in the same semester. In addition to all of the reading and writing you have to do in any english class, the art classes were about 3 hours long (twice a week) and then I spent between 20-30 hours a week just on completing and working on assignments...JUST FOR THOSE CLASSES. I'll be lucky if I pull a B out of each of those classes.Did I mention brutal?So, my semester consisted of those 5 classes and I also did an Internship this semester (don't ask me why...apparently I hate myself). The internship was for the English Department, so I was basically a Teacher's Assistant for the 5th semester in a row, but this time I was paid more and had to work 20 hours each addition to my school load. Definitely my toughest semester thusfar.

Because I was so busy with my internship work (reading and grading papers...oh, the power!, as well as entering grades into the computer grade book and meeting one-on-one with students to go over their papers) and school work, I can honestly say I haven't been to the movie theatre ALL YEAR, except for the one movie I saw in Valdez this summer (the new Indiana Jones...what a disappointment). If you don't believe me about the whole busy-ness aspect of my semester, just ask Becca. She'll vouch for how anti-social I was (translate to no fun).

Although I've been moaning an complaining about my semester, there were some good things. I am now an officially published writer! The school journal, which is only published once a year, included two papers I had written (an original short story as well as an academic paper) in the journal. This is actually quite impressive because: 1. I'm the only person with two papers and 2. there are only about 10 papers from more than 50 submissions. Yeah for me! I also took my Graduate Requirement Exams (GREs) this semester. I scored well enough to meet the minimum requirements to get into any of the English Graduate programs I've looked at. Yes, Patty is applying to Graduate School. I have six on my list right now (2 each in Washington, Montana, and Idaho). My first choice is Boise State, but for my peace of mind, I'll take any of them.

So although Patty is finally done with finals (and for some reason I'm talking about myself in the third person...), I have the "opportunity" to continue the stress streak from finals and work on Graduate Admissions forms. -sigh-Luckily, I get to fill out the applications in a different environment...Susan and K.C.'s house in Spokane, WA. Since Susan is like Mary (read: great with child), I'm trying to help her out with the whole ACBoquet craziness and working with her during my break. I think I can help her a bit, make some money, and have a change of scenery without really putting anyone out -- except for Elisha since she's graciously given up her room to me.

So that's about all I have right now. I will be graduating from BYU-Idaho in April, but dont' know if I'll walk or not...right now I'm thinking yes...but give me a couple of days and I will probably change my mind. Lucikly, next semester is going to be a cake walk compared to this semester. I only have 12 credits (4 classes) and will not be interning. I will still be a TA, but not have to meet such strict requirements.

So, yet again, that's all I have right now, but I just want to wish everyone a Merry Christmas. There's snow in Spokane (along with a bitingly cold wind) so it's finally starting to feel like Christmas. Stay safe for the holidays and I hope you have a wonderful coming year.Love,Patty

Friday, September 12, 2008

Final Blog @ Alaska

Well, that's it. I'm done. There's nothing more to say. I'm safely back in the lower 48 and good riddance to everyone I worked with. It was horrible. I never want to go back there again...JUST KIDDING!!!Actually it was probably the best experience of my life - thusfar. It definately made me re-evaluate priorities, ideas, thoughts, perceptions, etc. Sure I didn't enjoy every moment in Valdez...nothing/no place/no person is perfect, but the pros definately outweighed the cons. So much so that I am planning on going back next summer, if all the stars align.

I just finished re-reading some of my other blogs and man did I sound pessimistic and negative in some of them. I'd like to apologize, but that was how I was feeling at the time. I came to a greater understanding with my boss and I can safely say he's human and not the devil incarnate as others may believe. -wink-For the most part I got along with my guides/co-workers. There will always be people you gel with better than others, but I tried to at least be relatively polite to much as my sarcasm and smart mouth will allow. (I know, it's hard to believe I'm not perfect either!) Because of the guides I finally joined the modern age and joined Facebook so that I can keep in better contact with everyone. How sad is it that, although I like myself, I feel more validated when people become my "friends" on Facebook. -sigh-Probably my favorite thing about this summer was Alaska itself. It is absolutely breathtaking. I never tired of the scenery; although the rain did become repetative after awhile. Even riding my bike around town in the rain sometimes, I was just chill to watch the puddles reverberate with raindrops and soak in the peace. One of my concerns was whether or not I could handle living in such a small town (@ 4,500 people). I've never lived anywhere smaller than 30,000+. I can honestly say it didn't really bother me at all. Valdez definately comes alive during the summer season and tends to roll up the sidewalks after Labor Day. For that reason, I'm not sure if I could handle a place like Valdez year round, but assuredly for 5 months.

As this blog comes to an end - and I'll try to update occassionally during school - I just want to give a shout out to all the friends I made in Valdez. Each of the guides and friends made my summer that much more enjoyable and memorable. I look forward to keeping tabs on them for the next 7 months and hope to see many of them in Valdez next summer.

Be of good Cheer! (Thanks Mom)

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Time For a New Post!

Bear sightings: 4 Moose sightings: ZERO Whale sightings: 2
Sea Otter sightings: 3 Bigfoot sigtings: 1

Okay, I know I'm kinda slow, but...I got nothin'! I'm lazy? I've never been a "journaler"? I was kidnapped by Big Foot and held ransom for 100 Tootsie Pops? All of the above! I know - crazy summer!!!

Anyway, I can't believe I only have 2 1/2 weeks left in Alaska. Sometimes I couldn't wait for the summer to end, now I can't understand how it sped by so fast. Since I'm missing the first week of school, I'm going to jump from Alaska straight into school...without missing a beat. Let's see how well I juggle.

Can I just say you know you're in Valdez, Alaska when you're basically guaranteed to see a 4-wheeler on the road, at least once a day, because it's a common mode of transportation. (I've also seen golf carts acting as "cars" for people.)Well, guides have slowly started trickling away to home/school. Although the season has started to wind down, it doesn't really seem any less busy because we're down guides and everyone's still working like crazy...myself included. 10-12 hour days aren't unusual for me - but I can't complain because I'm here to work.

I know this is just a bunch of random thoughts, but hey - you're getting something!Another random anecdote: I came out of the public library a couple weeks ago and I thought it was snow. I mean, seriously, there were white, puffy things floating down from the sky and starting to cover everything. I honestly had a mini-heart attack for a moment. Then I noticed they sky was blue and, oh yeah, cottonwood trees are all over the place here. So, phew, no snow and boy am I glad I don't have pollen allergies!!!

So...that's all for now. I hope it'll appease your Patty fix for a bit, and I will honestly try to keep this going while I'm in school. Keep your fingers crossed!

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Bears and Sneezes

Ever since I came to Alaska I've been wanting to see a bear, up close (within reason) and not from a kayak (I never said I was a sane person). Well, my wish has finally come true. Let me preface this little anecdote by saying that before heading up north I was talking to dad on the phone and he encouraged me to take a gun with me. In my head I was disregarding him because it's been about 30 years since he's lived in Alaska, and it's more populated than he remembers...I can honestly say he still has a point. The Fish and Game tranquilized and transplanted a Grizzly Bear (brown bear) that was living in town. IN TOWN!!! Since that bear was gone I was feeling much more secure riding my bike around town and going on hikes. day I was riding my bike home from work (a 2 mile ride) with the two dogs that live with us (a boat captain's and a guide's). Thankfully the dogs are well trained and they run next to me without a leash. I was saying, I was riding home with the dogs running next to me when suddenly the dogs veer off and run across the street to a field. I stopped my bike to see what caught their attention and I saw a head pop up in the field and thought, "That's a pretty big doggggg...that's not a dog!" It was a black bear, about 50 yards from me. I broke off any eye contact the bear might think I made with it, to keep it from charging, and got back on my bike to ride home, all the while calling the dogs to follow me. Luckily, the black bear was deterred by the dogs and ran the opposite direction.

Whew! I can now mark a bear sighting off my if only I can see a moose...

Friday, July 4, 2008

Happy 4th of July!!!

I know it's been awhile since my last post, and for that I apologize, but here's a new one.

It's been getting crazy at work...finally! Earlier this week I was in the office all day, 12 hours. I never realized how exhausting it is to be upbeat, happy, and interested in everyone who walks through the door. Whew! My job is going okay. I get along with most of my co-workers, a few annoy/frustrate me, but I'm plugging along. As with most summer jobs, I'm not making as much money as I thought I would. I do work 40-50hrs/week, but my boss is loath to give me overtime. He always complains, to the other office girl, Caley, about the fact I have overtime and is wondering why both Caley and I put in so many hours. Caley and I never overlap each other and the office is only open for 84hours a week. A couple more hours are coming because I stay over about half an hour in the evenings when I close up shop and stuff. He hasn't directly mentioned it to me...but I'm sure it will come soon enough. - sigh- enough venting for now. Needless to say, at the rate this job is going, it's not looking too good for me coming back next summer, unless somethings change. Stand by for an update!

Happy Fourth of July to EVERYONE!!! It's about 7:30PM in Valdez right now and the city isn't planning on shooting off fireworks until after 11PM...when it's a little darker...but not much!!! It's still a bit disconcerting when I go to sleep past midnight and it's still bright outside.

You know you're living in a small town when the 4th of July parade involves kids on bikes, pets on leashes, 4-wheelers, and anything else...and the parade is done in 5 minutes. As one Valdez resident said, "You blink and you miss it. Like so many other things in Valdez." Our crew has a big BBQ tonight and I think we'll all go into town and watch the fireworks. Yippee!!!!

There's my update. I'll try to do better in the future, but I won't promise anything! I love and miss you. I'll try to update more pics and such so you can see the beauty that is Valdez.

Oh, FYI, if you want to see me and learn about my co-workers, you can go to the business website at: Just remember I didn't write the blurb about myself.


Thursday, June 12, 2008

Update & The Past

So, I know I said give me a few days and I'll update my blog...but the following is a journal I kept the first couple of days I got into Valdez, so you can get a sense of what I was thinking/feeling/experiencing, etc. So here goes:

6 May 2008

I flew into Valdez, Alaska yesterday. The first time I’ve ever been in Alaska since I can remember. I was born in Juneau , but my family moved shortly thereafter. Tim/Duff, a guide I’ll be working with told me, “Welcome home” when I told him all this. I don’t know if that’s really how I feel about Alaska . Is it “home” or is it some place I have built up in my imaginations? I don’t know. Time will tell. The house I’m living in for the summer is not what I’d expected. Coming from living with Becca I expected something on par or along the same lines. Nope. It’s a SMALL two-bedroom, 1 ½ bath. The rooms are small and remodeling work on the house is incomplete. There are walls, but nothing else. Apparently the well isn’t working so the toilets aren’t reliable to flush. Are you kidding me!!! But at least it’s a place to live, rent-free, for the next few months.
One thing I’ve noticed so far is that I haven’t really felt nerves about my decision to come here. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been anxious, but never really doubted or had butterflies in my stomach. I hope that’s a good sign. I can’t wait to get to work and start experiencing my summer and building even more memories!

6 May 2008 – continued

Well, my first day at the office has ended. I worked about 11 hours today and I’m filthy. The office, which is really small, was dirty. Kenny, the owner, bought a new PC and I spent most of the day downloading software and making sure everything works right…which not all of it does. I’m still going to have to keep working on it tomorrow. In between playing/cursing at the computer I was literally on my hands and knees going through office supplies, guide supplies, and a bunch of random stuff that I’m still not sure where it goes. Oh, and did I mention I’m filthy? Yep, it’s never a good sign when a plume of dust periodically comes out of the vacuum cleaner while you’re trying to suck up the dirt. I have to say I’m pretty proud of myself because the office looks a lot better. I worked on organizing, so I know where most of the stuff I need is. I also started learning about the paperwork. Hopefully tomorrow I’ll learn about scheduling and become better acquainted with the tours so that I can sound intelligent when I talk to a potential customer on the phone.
Can I just say, “Wow!” It’s sooooo cold here – even in the office. I guess I underestimated the weather here. I know it’s cold in Rexburg/Idaho Falls, but its got nothing on Valdez . Even in the office I was shivering and my hands were cold. I think this week I’ll work on getting some warmer duds and fleece gloves, at least bundling up better. It’s all about layers.
Something I noticed when I was rereading these last two entries for today, wouldn’t it make sense that in Alaska, the state that is larger than Texas (I think), and any other state in the United States, has things that are big? You would think so, but I noticed a bit of irony in my life right now. I’m surrounded by huge, towering mountains (which are gorgeous!) and a broad expanse of water, but I live in a small house and work in an even smaller office. I guess it just reinforces/encourages the idea to spend more time outdoors than indoors…just a thought. Well, it’s just starting to get a bit dark now (11:15pm) so I should be getting to bed…Pleasant dreams!

7 May 2008

A good nights sleep and I’m ready for another day. Feels like it’s going to be another “scorcher”! Right now there are only three of us here for Pangaea: myself, Kenny (the owner), and Tim/Duff (a guide). Apparently people are trickling in during the next two weeks. I didn’t realize that I was coming in so early. Our first excursion isn’t until the end of May and then it really gets busy in June and on. Hopefully there will be enough to keep me busy…

9 May 2008

Well the office is all painted. Kinda something I didn’t think was part of my job description for this summer, but you do what needs to be done. And I’m not complaining, the office looks really good now. Now I really have a sense of “ownership” toward the office. I’ve cleaned it, painted it, and am learning the steps necessary to complete my job. I think Kenny likes my work ethic…at least I hope so, because I know I’m putting in between 7-10 hour days…and it’s only the first week. I’ve taken a few reservations over the phone and seem to understand the day trips thus far, but I know there’s a lot more to learn. Bring it on!!!

Apparently Subway is the place for teenagers to hang out. I should know because I passed by a group of them when I was walking my bike around town. Walking my bike? Yep, you read right. I had it on a leash and kept coaxing it along. It tended to just drag its butt around not wanting to go anywhere. Seriously though, I bought a mountain bike today and the tires were low on air, and of course the person I bought the bike from didn’t have a pump…and he wanted more than he quoted me…but I eventually got a pretty good deal, minus the air in the tires. So anyway…I had to go the gas station in order to put air in the tires...but I don’t know where the gas station in town is, so I literally wandered around until some nice people directed me where to go. Can I just interrupt here and say everyone I’ve meet in Valdez are really nice. Seriously. And to continue, according to the nice map people, I had walked in completely the wrong direction, so I had to retrace my steps, but I eventually found the free air – via the teenagers outside the Subway – and I have completed my circle.
I rode the bicycle back home and boy am I out of shape! My thighs were complaining because they had to work and my fat person butt screamed at me because, yes, it’s used to sitting all day, but not on such a small surface. So I need to shop around town, or on the internet, and get a fat butt bicycle seat and some fenders so that I don’t get a reverse skunk stripe up my back when it rains and I go through puddles, that’s about all…oh, I should probably also raise the handlebars so I don’t feel like such a hunchback when I’m riding…and a spare tire, just in case. Yep, that’s about all I can think of.
I have to say, though, it’s nice to have the freedom to come and go as I please now and not worry about catching Kenny and the van as he goes into the office. I can go when I need to and not abide by anyone else’s schedule – and get skinnier in the process. Watch out Becca!!!

10 May 2008

Have I mentioned how GORGEOUS it is here? If not…it is. Today was a beautiful day especially: the sun was shining, the sky was blue, and I didn’t have to turn on the heater all day at the house…it was that warm. I am amazed every day how blessed I am to be able to work in a great environment. Admittedly the great outdoors isn’t my office like it is for the boat captains and guides, but I’m near enough to be a frequent visitor.
I’m learning more about my job each day, and becoming more of a help to Kenny everyday. In fact, today he mentioned how glad he is to have me in the office and such…so that’s a good thing.

11 May 2008

Ugh! The nice weather left. I feel like I’m back in Seattle with an overcast sky and drizzle coming down…but then again, I like that too! The only thing is that it isn’t as warm.That's about where my journal left off, but now I can get back to writing about what is current and going on now.I have a few pictures in my album now...I'll work on labeling who/what the pictures are & take a bunch more pics with my digital camera. Yep, I finally made it into the modern age and bought a digital camera. Now I can take pictures to look back on years from now and why did I take that picture and who is that person? One thing I never really appreciated back home was the price of groceries. Man! Valdez gouges you with the prices because there's really only one grocery store in town. It's only competition is an organic/health food store (which I shop at first...because of the principle of the thing). I have a real problem paying $3.50 - $4.00 for a dozen eggs or $1.00 for an apple. Crazy! Luckily, sometimes we have to drive to Anchorage (4-5 hr drive) to pick up clients and we can make a list of stuff to get from Costco. Thank heavens for Costco! It minimizes how much I have to spend in Valdez, but the cost of things still seem ridiculous.By the way, the price of gas in Valdez, AK is about $4.60/gallon. Thank heavens I didn't bring my car up here because I think I would die everytime I filled up my gas tank at that price. What's really sad is that Andrea (a guide from Canada) says that's still cheaper than what they pay in Canada. -Sigh-Anyway, if anyone wants to send me snail mail or a care package (hint) than you can send it to: Patty Cady, P.O. Box 3165, Valdez, AK 99686.Hope you guys are enjoying this blog. Let me know if there's anything you want me to talk about. Talk at you soon!

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Whole Lotta New Experiences!

Well, needless to say this entire "Alaska Experience" has been chock full of new things. I've never really travelled by myself or moved somewhere where I don't know ANYONE!!! In the past I've always been very careful to have a safety net nearby (family, friends, etc.) when I go somewhere new. Not in Valdez, Alaska! This entire experience has been different, exciting, crazy, scary, and so far...a whole lotta fun!Alaska definately isn't a land of snow, ice, , darkness, etc. Yes there are snow and ice (as well as four glaciers I have visited so far), but I'm also surround by a gorgeous view, new friends, and co-workers that I enjoy and learn a lot from every day. I'm definately not in Idaho anymore... ...but already planning what I want to do or go next summer. I think the travel-bug has finally bit me.Here's a basic breakdown of the sights I've seen or things I've done so far.

I've been whitewater rafting. That's 8 summers in a row now! Man was the water cold too! Water coming straight off the glaciers. They put us in dry suits...which keep you dry...but I forgot gloves at the office, so my hands were cold. I'm happy to say my hands were not detrimentally affected...especially since I'm typing this blog.

I've been on a 3 day kayak/camping trip. During the trip I kayaked among icebergs, we watched a pod of humpback whales put on a show for us by breaching (jumping & splashing), spouting (blow air through the blow hole), and flukeing (splash the tail out of the water only). It was awesome! I"ve seen otters, sea lions, seals, a bunch of bald eagles and tons of other birds. So far I haven't seen a bear, but it's only a matter of time.

That's really all so far...that I can think of off the top of my head, but I'm lucky in that I get to go kayaking, rafting, or go on any of the day trips we offer when my schedule allows - all for free! I'm especially excited to go glacier climbing later in the season when the snow melts a bit off the glacier. Today a bunch of my guides are out on the glacier setting ice screws and planning routes for the first ice climbers of the season in a couple of days. Bring it on!!!I know there aren't any pictures on this site yet, but I'll get some and put them on soon.Until then...keep up the good work and I'll try to update this soon and often. Don't forget to comment or let me know what's going on with you!