Thursday, December 28, 2017

My Frozen Life In Alaska

Since I moved here, I can proudly admit that I have only sang "Let It Go" out loud, once.

It was when I was walking down a beautiful snowy path in the forest in the dark (probably at around 4:00 PM), and I thought I'd distract myself from the fear of being attacked by a random moose.

Yes. That's what it looks like at 4:00 PM.
Why the song choice, you might ask? Well... apart from the obvious --- that everything around me was, in fact, Frozen, it was also all very fairy tale - like sparkly! I had never been around snow very much in my life to even notice how it sparkles. It's a Disney-esque moment! It was also *very* cold that afternoon, but the fear of being attacked by a random animal in the dark made the cold not bother me too much anyway. 

(See what I did there?)

No surprises, folks. It's cold in Alaska. The *surprise* is that it's actually not as cold as I expected it to be! The weather here is steady. Not windy nor painful. The temperature could be -9 like it is right now, but the air is crisp and it doesn't hurt. All in all, not too bad - considering the fact that I used to "live" in Hawaii.


I have taken up a seasonal employment at the Alyeska Resort. A beautiful year-round getaway place, which is a haven for skiers and snowboarders in the winter, and a playground for the outdoorsy in the summer. It's a very popular hotel among the locals of Anchorage, with it being a 45 minute drive from the city.

Everyone says that Alyeska's premiere season for tourists is the summer. There's so much to do here then... from hiking, to bike tours, to glacier tours, whale watching, etc. There's about 18 hours of sunlight here then (as opposed to the 5.5 hours I have now), so these tours sell out like hotcakes.

In the winter though, it seems as if the only thing that you could ever do out here is ski or snowboard... which is a big bummer for me because I was really hoping to do a lot of the Alaskan tours I've read about so much... but they all close down during the winter.

It's a good thing I *do* like to snowboard! So all my weekends here will be spent sashaying down the slopes! Not too bad, especially since it's free!

I won't be here to see Alyeska in the Summer... but from what I have seen so far - Winter here is BEAUTIFUL!

View of the Alyeska Resort from the Aerial Tram!


Did I mention I had weekends off? Wild, right? Going from working 70 hours a week, 7 days a week, to barely 40 hours a week with two full days off? I have no idea what to do with myself.

Oh that's right - I snowboard! Ha!

As employees of Alyeska, we get a free season pass, which - I checked - costs about $1400 USD! It's a really great benefit... that even if I'm really not that much of a snowboarder, I'm most likely going to end up being a pro by the time I leave because - who wouldn't take advantage of being able to ski/snowboard for free anytime?

I remember having to shell out almost $200 for every trip up to Mount High in California anytime I wanted to snowboard with my friends or family... Lift tickets plus equipment rentals plus food and gas - they all add up.

Here, I basically roll out of bed in my snow gear and walk 5 minutes to the hotel, they hand me my board and boots and vavavoom!

Once a year, every year, anyone who dresses up as Santa, Ski's for free! (Photo taken from Alyeska website)

That's another thing I'm pretty grateful for - the noncommute! I got so used to living and working at the ship that I was worried about ever having to drive or commute to work again! Thankfully, the Employee Housing is just a 5 minute walk from work. I essentially live right by the hotel parking lot, which is awesome! The walk isn't too bad, either!

My Daily Commute!

Also. It's beautiful here. Just look.


Ugh. Everything in Alaska is expensive. YES - more expensive than Hawaii!
I moved here on December 11. I haven't even been here a month, and have already spent more than $700 on groceries! I really have no idea why we spend so much on food here. Am I just adjusting to the fact that I now have to buy and cook my own food? (As opposed to having everything given to me on the ship)

Employee Housing is pretty expensive, too. I'm staying in a 2 bedroom unit, sharing a house with my forever roomie, Velma, and my Filipino Mafia housemate, Ate Naida. Our house lacks one more person because it's meant to be for 4 people... but each of us still shell out $477 a month.

So this small 2 bedroom apartment costs $1908 for 4 people. I think that's pretty steep... because we don't earn very much out here, and as I've said - it's pretty expensive to live in Alaska.
But I have to say, it's a really nice and refreshing change to have somewhere to come "home" to after work again. It's been a while for me to have a place to hang my hat, having lived a vagabond existence for the past few years.

I also have nothing but praises for our housemate! She is amazing, so kind, and she's basically given us everything we didn't have just to be more comfortable here. Oh, and she has a huge freezer full of SALMON that she willingly shares! We basically have Salmon for life. Free Salmon... For Life... For Free. That's a LOT of Omega's!

That's not really a downside, is it?

Well, I'm not me if not a tad optimistic!


I was off to a rocky start when the shock of the expenses came crashing down on me. It's a big adjustment coming from the Ship environment where you didn't have to worry about anything because everything was provided to you - to now having to buy everything from food to kitchenware to bedding! My savings took a big dip, and I haven't received my first paycheck yet, so it's been a little bit of a struggle. But my spirits are high, nonetheless. The beauty of this place hasn't worn off on me yet... and there's still the Northern Lights to look forward to!

I've downloaded this app that notifies me when the Northern Lights are "strong" in my area. It even sends me a text message when there is "more than a 27% chance of viewing! So go outside, now!"
These messages come in the stupidest hours in the morning though - like 2:00 AM or so. I haven't had enough motivation to get out of the house at that time just yet - because in Alaska, during the winter, when there are only 5 hours of daylight, sleep is ADDICTING!

I'll get there! I've only just arrived anyway. I'll get those beautiful and elusive photos eventually! Watch this space!

In the meantime - these purple morning skies will have to do!

Another thing I've been looking forward to is the Iditarod Dog Sled Race. If any of you have ever seen the movie, Balto, this annual race was inspired by those dogs who saved the tiny town of Nome by delivering the dyptheria serum all the way from Anchorage. The race, just like how it was in the 1920's, kicks off in Anchorage! I'm really looking forward to seeing that in March.

Until then, I plan to snowboard my way through the winter months, armed with my boost of Omega 3's!

We haven't reached the peak of the cold in Alaska yet... But I came prepared! Besides... The cold never bothered me anyway.

Just kidding.

It does... sometimes. :)