Tuesday, February 7, 2012

2009 - 2010 Adventures - A recap

This site shares the adventures of an ordinary, 33-year old biochemist. For 15 months, she threw care to the winds, and wound up….
Serenely magical sunset over the fjord. Huinay, Chile

…in the remote fjords of Chile, where she used her Spanish and editing skills to help publish a marine biology field guide. From the office window of the nonprofit where she worked, she watched black dolphins swimming in the waters of the fjord 200 yards from her window. She hiked up snow-capped mountain peaks in her time off. And all the while, she had a blast getting to know her international colleagues who hailed from Wales, Thailand, France, and New Zealand!

Mt. Shasta in the distance

… hiking on pristine trails in Shasta County, California, where she guided fourth and fifth graders along the creeks of Whiskeytown National Recreation Area while teaching them about ecology.

Chugach mountains frame the town of Cordova. View from Midway Lookout on Ski Hill.

… living in a hidden gem of a town called Cordova, a coastal secret tucked between the Alaskan Chugach mountain range and the glistening magical waters of Prince William Sound.

All of these adventures did not require any fees or payment to a tourism or "voluntourism" agency. The only expenses were for transportation, meals, and housing. In fact, she earned an income while working in Shasta County and Alaska, and in Chile, housing and food were provided! 

Have you recently embarked on a working adventure? A sabbatical? Nonconformist work and / or travel?  What did you learn on your adventures? How did you finance your travels and adventure? What advice would you give aspiring adventurers?

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Alaskans love their beer!

Thursday, June 3, 2010 Alaskan IPA

I start this post with the Alaskan IPA label because I sampled the Cordova bar scene for the first time this evening.  Luckily, my neighbor invited me into the members-only Moose Lodge where I witnessed the dynamics of small-town bars. I learned that 1. Alaskans are very proud of their home-brewed beer from Juneau; 2. women, the odds are in your favor to have a drink bought for you in Cordova's bars;  3. Zwack, a Hungarian liqueur reminiscent of Jager but better, tastes much better without the Monster; and 4. local folks will generously buy you a beer on your birthday : )

Thursday, June 3, 2010

One if by Land, Two if by sea!

Here is my little Honda Civic hatchback, loaded to the gills with my folding kayak+gear, a couple of boxes of books and files, backpacking and camping gear, and clothes!  I met many colorful and friendly characters during the next 3 and a half days (yes, the ferry ride lasted 14 hrs longer than expected... more about that later!): J-J, an Alaskan travel nurse living in Seward most of the year who entertained us with the story of how her son saved a gill-net fisherman's family as the boat sank (her son was on the sinking boat!); Jay, a 22-year old vet of Afghanistan and Iraq, headed for Ketchikan to work the tourism trade as a cook for the summer and save money to sail his sailboat to the Carribean; Gordon, an older gentleman, retired from the Alaska Marine Highway and with plans to motorbike to South America; Levi, a 23-year old Alaskan from Haines, who had been living in the big city of Seattle for the last 7 years, and is now returning to Alaska to fish with his dad commercially.

Ferrying to Haines on the Malaspina

Monday, May 31, 2010

Getting There!

View of the  Malaspina from the ferry terminal in Bellingham, WA
My journey began with a Cannon Ball Run - style race: after teaching kids on trail for 6 hours, returning to Old Shasta to finalize packing and cleaning, I headed out from Redding on an early Thursday evening.  Fueled by Black-Eyed Peas' "I Gotta Feelin" , the audiobook "The Alaskan", tales from Robert Frost (thanks to JM for creating the awesome playlist!), and many carrot sticks for munching, I rolled into Embassy Suites of Portland at 2am, slept 6 hours, and continued onward to Bellingham, Washington.  I had sped  across the Northern one fifth of California and the entire length (South-to-North) of Oregon and Washington -- 420 miles total-- in less than 20 hrs to get on a waitlist for a ferry heading to Haines, Alaska!  As I waited for my name to be called by the Washington Marine Highway clerk, I soaked in the dramatic view of the Bellingham harbor and the ferry Malaspina  "You are on standby for the trip to Haines, and you're #1 on the waitlist", announced Mr. Bubbly Washington Ferry Employee.  I was on my way to Alaska!

Saturday, May 29, 2010

A room with a view!

I view these mountains from the living room of my new home in Cordova, AK.  I live in a 3-bdrm upstairs apartment of the Porter House, formerly a moose lodge (yes, the living room trimming consists of little  moose cartoons!)  The apartment is very spacious and well-stocked!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Cordova, Alaska, here I come!

Mid-way through spring, I decided to merge two goals: a desire to test the waters in working in field scientific research, and to live in Alaska.  So, I landed a summer internship with the Prince William Sound Science Center in Cordova, Alaska!

My work, as far as I know, will involve analyzing nutrients in the waters from the Copper River Delta

(CRD) using spectrometry and various chemical reactions to determine nutrient content and amounts.  I will work with Rob Campbell on a project funded by the USGS to investigate effects of increased glacial melt on the CRD ecosystem.  Some remarkable features about the Cordova area that drew me to want to live and work there for a summer include:
- an opportunity to contribute to a project that will hopefully help natural resource managers understand the changes of the local ecosystem and how these changes might affect the fish population
- a river delta habitat that is a stopover for most migrating shorebirds of North America
- pristine rain forests
- glacier-capped mountains
- bald eagles, sea lions, and glassy protected waters of Prince William Sound
- a small but vibrant community

I will miss the warmth and sun of a California summer, but the opportunity to engage in field research related to environmental conservation and the ability to live at the doorstep of amazing wilderness are well worth the sacrifice.  Look out Cordova, here I come! : )