I am having a secret love affair...
with the state of Alaska.
Six years ago United Military Travel provided me with a one way ticket into Cordova, Alaska that left me there for six months.
Needless to say, I have not been the same since.
When I first expressed my desire to temporarily move to Alaska with my friends and family I got the reaction I was expecting; "you want to do what!", "Allison...hunny, by yourself?" "Why?", "haha, you're funny." I will admit that I have been known (more times than not) to come up with crazy travel ideas and not stick to them, so when I actually booked the airfare my family took me seriously. It gave me a sense of freedom and from that moment on I was "hooked on a feeling".
You may be asking yourself: What would a girl like me do in the great state of Alaska for six months all by herself?
I signed up to be a fisheries technician with Prince William Sound Aquaculture Corporation, aka PWSAC, for their egg take season.
The time finally came and I said my goodbyes to friends and family and took off on my one way ticket not knowing what the future held for me. What I did know that is that I had chosen the coldest state in the US to live.....second thoughts started entering my mind at that point!
After ten hours of flying I arrived at the Cordova airport. It was seriously the size of the bottom floor of my house back home.
*A little side note about Cordova is that there are NO roads that lead into the town - you can arrive only by boat or plane.
With that being said, you can imagine trying to get into town from the airport may be a bit difficult. No one had informed me that taxis do not operate out of this airport and that I needed to arrange my own transportation. So please picture this: a petite, sun kissed, dirty blonde girl standing outside of this airport shivering with all her luggage looking lost. Pathetic right? I was internally pleading with each person that passed by me for a ride until a man approached me saying he would give me a lift into town. I know what you are thinking, "don't get into cars with strangers in a strange place." But one thing about traveling, especially by yourself, is that you have to allow yourself to be a little more trusting of others otherwise you will probably remain stuck at airports for hours on end. Turns out this man was the mayor of Cordova and he delivered me safely with all my limbs en tact!
First thing was first - FOOD! My first dining experience was at the Reluctant Fisherman Inn and ordered the halibut dinner. My mouth is watering right now - if only I could teleport myself back I would order five more! What a gem of a place, the service was great and the people super friendly.
*When traveling alone you have to get used to dining out by yourself because only you can make the experience a good one!
I only had one night in "town" until I flew out to the salmon hatchery I was going to live at for the six months so I settled into my room above the Salvation Army and went to bed.
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From here on out I am going to describe my experience in photos because there are no hotels or places to eat on San Juan Island - it is remote and can only be reached by float plane or boat.
This is where I lived...
These planes may be cute but for folks who are cursed with motion sickness....beware!!!
This is before I got sick...
My new home, Port San Juan
Second day there and already catching my own halibut!
LingCod - scary looking but delicious!
Humpbacks and Eagles were a daily sight
My fishing buddies
The lake above the hatchery
Dear God, I miss salmon berries!
Salmon are anadromous meaning that they migrate up river from the sea to spawn. Here, they are approaching our fresh water source, also the fresh water source where they were born, to begin the spawning process.
Only they never get a chance to...
They "migrate" up our canal to get electroshocked and then carried into the egg take room so we can extract their eggs and milk to fertilize ourselves.
Don't worry, this is not an inhuman process - Salmon die after mating anyways.
The egg/milk mixture getting ready to be taken into the incubation room.
Milk and eggs being activated before being loaded into an incubator.
- - - - - - Enough about work - - - - - -
Fresh bear meat!
We were spoiled with the sunrises...
Off on our great adventure to the abandoned copper town
The boys bringing home dinner!
I busted my chin open on a Crisco can and had to get flown into Cordova for 8 stitches....thats my luck!
The reason for my love affair...
Its getting colder...
Meet Matt, the best snow fort builder in Alaska!
When I think about my time in Alaska just a smile crosses my face and I never try to describe it because no one can understand, expect for the people I shared it with.
For anyone who has visited The Last Frontier shares a common bond with others who have done the same. Its like an unofficial club where everyone understands each other just by saying "I have been there too".
We all are blessed with an unfaltering sense of accomplishment that lasts a lifetime.
- Join the club -