May 01, 2010

Destination: Skagway, Alaska


My “half-my-age” son, Blake, insisted I apply for a summer job in Skagway, AK, as a tour guide at Jewell Gardens. He was up there last summer and is up there again this summer driving tour buses. He got it into his head that I’d love it, do well, and probably make some pretty good money in tips. "For someone your age," he tells me, "you look hot." Do I feel insulted? or not? More importantly, he felt it would do my two-year unemployment stretch of depression a world of good. Get my head out of the impossibilities and into something fun. So I applied. Long story short, I’m headed for Alaska this Thursday morning.

Here’s the truth. I’m scared to death. I have to pay my own transportation and it ain’t cheap. Too, there is no housing. Apparently people just land and “stuff” works out.

“You  remember I’m pushing sixty, right? I can’t do the camping thing. I can’t do cats and dogs if someone does take me in.” 

"Yeah, yeah, yeah," he says.

Here’s the kicker. There is no doctor, no pharmacy in town. I have to take up five months worth of medications.

He arranged for free housing with the preacher, at least for May. Okay, a compromise. A place to lay my head for a couple of weeks. So I’ll go and see if “stuff” happens. If not? I’ll just come back and consider the adventure one thing I can scratch off my Bucket List. I’ve always wanted to get up there.

My job is to take tourists through the gardens, a glass-blowing factory housed in the gardens, and help serve my specific group at the tea house, also housed in the gardens. All of which I can handily do, and which I will enjoy.

A forty-hour week, I'll have time to explore, hike, maybe take a train out to some gold-rush sight, and probably write. Write lot. Bill Jensen tells me he can't sell my Narcissa story until the whole thing is written. Geez, I knew I was a has-been. But not ancient! I mean, really?


Friends have suggested I blog about heading for the wilderness as someone "pushing sixty” and probably a little crazy. Like maybe post pictures of the moose that tripped and landed on my car. Or the bear that mauled my Toyota Scion I call Lunchbox while trying to get the oranges packed in the back. Actually, this did happen once upon a time, no joke, when I was a child and we were traveling through Yellowstone, hauling a trailer. But, hey, that’s another story.

To get there, I’ll be driving the AlCan highway. Here’s the route of about 2,000 miles.


Up the Fraser Canyon of British Columbia to my sister’s in Quesnel. Through some mountains to my cousin Carolyn’s house in Hudson’s Hope. Then a long haul through wilderness where I’ve been told the wildlife is unbelievable to Liard Hot Springs on the B.C./Yukon border. For $19 I can soak in the hot springs and pitch my tent with the bears. Last leg to Skagway takes me to Whitehorse where my son tells me I need to stock up on food. I’ll arrive Sunday night at the preacher’s home/hostel. My other son Phil is lending me his rather fancy digital camera, so I can take pictures along the way.

I am now officially jazzed.

So, see ya in Skagway!