Monday, August 14, 2017

This is Denali

Going to Denali has been on my bucket list ever since I thought about coming to Alaska.
To be honest though, like many tourists and travelers, I didn't know much about Denali before I started to do some research. And even after researching it still seemed confusing. Denali is really big and I had no idea where exactly I should go, what I wanted to hike, all I knew was I wanted a great adventure.

So here's what I first want to explain to people who aren't familiar with Alaska and Denali. There's 3 things that are Denali: first of all is the National park of Denali where 90% of visitors take the train into and then get on a bus and ride in to see animals and maybe even hike around. The second part of Denali is Denali state park to which the national park is in but Denali state park is much much bigger and there are less rules and regulations. The third part of Denali is the mountain Denali or Mount Mckinley. 

So our group originally was going to do Denali national park for a whole week but instead we opted to sail for half of the week and do Denali in 3 days plus travel time. And what we found cheaper and more practical for our group is doing the bus drive to Eilson and seeing the animals at Denali national park and then coming down and the next day doing a 2 day backpacking trip up Kesugi Ridge in Denali state park.

 Denali national park is awesome and it is huge but it is definitely a tourist trap. Getting up there seems to be the most difficult part for many people as a one way train ticket from Anchorage costs about $!40. Our group was able to save tons of money by finding friends and driving four hours from Anchorage to Denali. Once you get to Denali national park there is an enormous guest center and many things you can do at the base just to learn about Denali. The coolest thing we could have done that we didn't get to do is see a Denali dog sled show. Since we were limited at time at base camp Denali we watched a quick movie on the history of Denali and looked at some Mt. Mckinley exhibits.

Their are national park busses that depart from the base or guest center at Denali at various times each day and take you up to the higher places of Denali park where no vehicles are allowed to drive. We chose (and I recommend) taking the bus as far as it will take you which is up to Eilson. Eilson is a 4 hour ride up and 4 hours down but you increase elevation quickly and have the opportunity to see lots of wildlife.

Overall we loved Denali national park but would say it is pretty expensive and might not be worth it if you only have a short time in Alaska. If you are dead set on seeing bears and caribou though it is a definite must. Here's a picture of Lauren and I in Denali as well as a bear cub we saw from the side of the bus. We saw 9 bears and 11 caribou- quite the wilderness experience!!






Thursday, August 10, 2017

Salmon and fish hooks

This is my second post about Camp Lorraine in Wrangell Alaska. From the last time I posted, the weather has improved dramatically and it has actually been sunny and warm which is nothing short of a miracle. I have gotten the opportunity of joining in with the third period fishing class and I have been learning about how to fish for halibut and salmon. We have been doing alot of fishing from the dock but some of the days we get to take the kids out in the boats.

So I have been wanting some wild Alaskan salmon all summer and dreams (especially in Alaska) really do come true! Yesterday the pastor caught not just one but 4 wild salmon and a 62 inch halibut!! We had fish, fish, and more fish. Then this morning at 6am I got the opportunity to go early morning fishing and try out the halibut hooks. We didn't have much live bait until I caught about an 11 inch cod fish. And we started using my cod for bait and were able to catch some halibut. So this has made for some very fun fishing and I am SO excited! (Pic below is not of the cod of course but of a flounder my first fish caught Wednesday morning in the Alaskan ocean)



Bad news is one of our lovely campers decided to catch a fish hook in her right foot. Thankfully I was kayaking closeby and I heard the yell and was able to rush in. The pastor was trying to keep her calm and we looked for plyers on the dock but could not find any. The hook was pretty deep in and there was no way to simply pull it out so we decided we would have to cut and pull through. Together we carried her back to shore and performed a little operation in my nursing room. We just pulled off those sleeping bags where I slept covered it with some trash bags and sterile gauze and were good to go. The hook was tough to get out but with the help of James the boat driver we got it out successfully and were able to clean her up. As sad as it was to see the girl in pain, it definitely made me eager to get into an ER and start getting some legit nursing experience. So I have been applying for jobs and really just praying that God would lead where he pleases.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Camp Lorraine

They say that if I look North I'm looking straight up to Canada. Sometimes the cruise boats steer on through and occasionally we'll see a beluga from the shore or canoe. I do love the ocean as it waves familiarity from my home town near the Gulf of Mexico. Yet in contrast to the warmth and humidity, Wrangell Alaska is a cold, dreary, rainy world- beautiful but chilly.

It's my third day here at Camp Lorraine and it's been far and oddly too quiet. It's camp meeting and we have a whopping 25 guests including 5 children who we are entertaining with a kids program. I've already spent over ten hours up in the arts and crafts room mostly working on dream catchers but I did paint a picture or two. I love art without limits and that's what I find at the art club house on the third story of our lodge. With big windows overlooking great ocean views there are buckets of unlimited craft supplies, beads, glitters, and feathers. I love the no expectations, and no rules therapeutic art it creates. Painting and art has always  been the thing that I can do whatever I want with. I love being able to make messes and go crazy. To put my emotions and colors out on paper. With art, you can be out there and it's ok. It's never too much, or overdone, the more different it is the better. Sometimes my creations turn out descent or good but 90% of the time they are just meaningless expressions and that is totally ok with me. It's more about the process, more about the feelings, then it is about the masterpiece. I find myself in the messy art where I let myself go free.

Now that we are here we have only a week of camp left and most of our motivation is severely lacking. It's hard because the quiet and slow reality that camp is near over and we are tired has definitely invaded the camp. People are starting to think about normal jobs and what life after camp will mean.

Transitioning from Palmer camp meeting where I was constantly kayaking, hiking mountains, and even flying- living up the adventurous life is slightly sad and a bit mundane. This will probably be my last summer in Alaska- not because I don't love the wild up here but because I'm getting too old for summer camp and I'm not sure if I could survive the winter down here.Although it's beautiful at Alaska camps, I have way too much time to think. Lack of cellphone service and wifi will do that to you I guess. (I kayaked to cellphone point today so I could blog and call home for a little bit).


At this camp I will be teaching circus class and waterfront as well as of course camp nurse. Camp nurse hasn't been too exciting lately but I've given out a lot of Dayquil, Ibeprofin, and cough drops. I saw a spider bite, some seizures, and a broken finger, some hypothermic kids- and that's about it. Sometimes I feel like I'm just playing camp nurse instead of an actual nurse. I'm excited to practice and develop more nursing skills in the future.