Archive for July, 2014

Procrastination

Tuesday, July 29th, 2014

I’ve been rather unable to write of my exploits of late.  I feel like that’s a good thing, though.  You know?  I used to use this blog as some sort of cathartic vacuum, that I was allowed to yell into and vent all of my frustrations concerning the world, and my own dissatisfaction with how I interact with it.  I don’t anymore, though.

I always reference my happiness.  Or, I guess referencing earlier, my lack thereof.  Why does my happiness matter?  Well, it doesn’t.  But the point being, no one writes a story about being perfectly happy.  Something always comes up.  Shit always hits the fan.  The best laid plans are torn asunder.  And so on, and so forth.

But not anymore.  I am going to write now, because I want to.  I kept on putting this off, because I thought I had to have some sort of witty, idiosyncratic, and clever take on German society.  It was either that, or wallow in self pity.  And because both were out of reach, I put this off.  But I’m done.

I’m going to Berlin this coming weekend.  And I plan on taking it all in.  I don’t even know where I’m supposed to go, but I know I will.  Sabine will no doubt have some sort of suggestions.

I wrote too often, and I wrote too much when I first got here.  For whatever reasons, that’s true.  But as things started to get better, I stopped.  And I DO have an experiential learning requirement to fulfill.  So I’ll try to write a good few more times before I leave.  I know I have a few weeks to make up for.

I can’t help but look outside at the surrounding buildings and think, “Why the fuck was I so pissed at how adorable all of the buildings are?”

Across Kachemak Bay

Tuesday, July 29th, 2014

I am finally back from my almost 7-day trip across Kachemak Bay – tired and sunburnt but so glad I was able to have such an incredible experience. I have so much information to share so I’m going to organize it all by day.

Day 1 – July 21, 2014

On Monday a few of us left Ageya to bring all of the group gear across the Bay. After picking up a few pizzas for dinner, we met the water taxi at 5:45pm. We had probably a few thousand pounds of gear and the five of us had to unload it all from the van/truck, load it onto the boat, then off of the boat, and then carry it up the beach to the 4 separate camping areas (2 girls/2 boys). We then set up tentipi’s (a big tent in the shape of a tipi), kitchen tents, propane stoves, etc. for each of the four camps. The boys and girls camps were separated by a large rock/cliff that made it impossible to get to either side at high tide. After we were done setting up we hung out around a fire on the boys’ side and then took one of the double skin boat kayaks called a baidarka back to girls’ camp because the tide had gotten too high.

Day 2 – July 22, 2014

Tuesday was the day when all of the campers and other staff members were arriving at the beach, so we all woke up around 9am and waited for them to arrive. The girls got to the beach aroudn 11 and then we made lunch and sat around a fire. We had some time to relax for a few hours and I had a chance to get some more Wuthering Heights read. The girls were to start with two large skin boats called umiaks. That afternoon we loaded up the umiaks and down the beach to get some paddling practice in and to load up on fire wood for the week. We saw an otter and a seal off the beach that afternoon!

I made it a point to write down how each day made me feel while I was over there too! Tuesday I wrote “I am feeling lucky to be here and it feels strangely normal to be outside all day”.

Day 3 – July 23, 2014

I was super excited for Wednesday because I was finally going to be able to see a glacier (semi) up close and personal! One of the other staff members ran every morning and so I joined her for about half the time Wednesday morning – during which I somehow lost a contact out of my eye, only had hiking shoes to wear to run in, and the beach was all rocks; but the scenery and smell of the fresh air made up for it! We took the umiak out for about a 45 minute paddle to a hiking trail. We hiked 2 miles out to Grewink Glacier Lake and then made a fire and sat out on the rocky beach for a few hours. The rest (as will be the case for the majority of the rest of the days) can be better told with pictures!

paddling the umiak out to the glacial lake trail head

paddling the umiak out to the glacial lake trail head

The view on the hike to the glacial lake

The view on the hike to the glacial lake

The hike about half a mile from the glacial lake. The glacier used to reach this spot 50 years ago. The rocks have all been left behind by the scouring of the ice.

The hike about half a mile from the glacial lake. The glacier used to reach this spot 50 years ago. The rocks have all been left behind by the scouring of the ice.

This is what it looked like when we got to the beach - super incredible! There was an icy wind coming off of the glacier

This is what it looked like when we got to the beach – super incredible! There was an icy wind coming off of the glacier

This is a close-up picture of the glacier because it is just so darn beautiful! I could probably stare at this picture all day.

This is a close-up picture of the glacier because it is just so darn beautiful! I could probably stare at this picture all day.

Some of us dunked in the glacial melt water! It was so cold that I couldn't talk when I came up - but we had a fire going so it was okay!

Some of us dunked in the glacial melt water! It was so cold that I couldn’t talk when I came up – but we had a fire going so it was okay!

After we changed and hung out for another hour of two, we started our two mile hike back to where we parked the umiak. Two campers and I stopped to take a picture with the view.

After we changed and hung out for another hour of two, we started our two mile hike back to where we parked the umiak. Two campers and I stopped to take a picture with the view.

In the first part of my journal entry for Wednesday I wrote “Today made me feel self-sufficient”. I also wrote that the “glacier’s beauty, strength, and steady movement are qualities I would like to imitate”. On seeing the glacier from the beach I was filled with hope that other people might be as struck by its beauty as I was and feel compelled to appreciate and respect natural landscapes for the inherent value of their beauty.

Day 4 – July 24, 2014

On Thursday we woke up around 9am and ate pancakes and hashbrowns out of syrup-y bowls. The sun was out and it felt good to have another day out camping across the Bay. From our beach, we paddled about 1.5 miles from our beach and parked our umiak by a trail marked with a huge solitary dead tree with a big orange triangle hung on it. The hike was 2.4 miles both ways and relatively flat. Some of the trail was wide enough for two or three people to walk side by side and it really reminded me of the H.H. Poole woods back in Stafford except with more spruce trees and bear scat (which I have a picture of if anyone is interested? I thought it was second-best to a picture of an actual bear). We reached the river made from the outflow of the glacial melt lake. The water was a milky/cloudy white and rushed super quickly – it was a good thing the tram was in place because it would be really dangerous to try and cross.

We got to the other side and built a fire on the rocky beach, ate lunch, and hung out for a few hours telling riddles and reading stories.

Umiak-ing to the Glacier Spit /Tram trail

Umiak-ing to the Glacier Spit /Tram trail

 

View from the umiak on the way to Glacier Spit/Tram trail

View from the umiak on the way to Glacier Spit/Tram trail

 

View from the Glacier Spit trail

View from the Glacier Spit trail

The tram to cross the river (from Glacial Lake overflow) - the metal box fit two and had to be pulled back and forth manually

The tram to cross the river (from Glacial Lake overflow) – the metal box fit two and had to be pulled back and forth manually

Me on the tram!

Me on the tram!

View from the beach across the river - off in the distance is Grewink Glacier Lake

View from the beach across the river – off in the distance is Grewink Glacier Lake

By the end of the day, it was raining and I fell asleep in my tent early.

Day 5 – July 25, 2014

On Friday was made a trip to a community/location called Halibut Cove Lagoon. We paddled in the umiak again and landed on a rocky beach entrance of a community only open to the public from 1-4pm. The whole place was so silent, secluded and beautiful. A man named Clem Tillion who used to be an Alaskan senator and is responsible for setting aside all of the land for Kachemak Bay State Park and owns all of the land making up Halibut Cove spoke to us after we ate lunch out on his front lawn. We got to see his large greenhouses full of fresh cherries and apples and then made a trip to his late wife’s art gallery and some horse stables.

During the umiak paddle to Halibut Cove we passed a rock that looked like an elephant!

During the umiak paddle to Halibut Cove we passed a rock that looked like an elephant!

Part of the halibut cove community

Part of the halibut cove community

Me and two of the other staff members posing in front of the view from Clem's front yard

Me and two of the other staff members posing in front of the view from Clem’s front yard

Clem's incredible home he built and raised his kids in

Clem’s incredible home he built and raised his kids in

one of clem's greenhouses

one of clem’s greenhouses

I took a pocket full of cherries on my way out!

I took a pocket full of cherries on my way out!

Diana Tillion's art gallery. She was famous for her paintings made with octopus ink - they were gorgeous!

Diana Tillion’s art gallery. She was famous for her paintings made with octopus ink – they were gorgeous!

They have a pretty extensive stable with about a dozen horses - and two super soft bunnies.

They have a pretty extensive stable with about a dozen horses – and two super soft bunnies.

After we paddled back to camp, we gathered a few things and went over to boys’ beach for a bonfire. It was a little rainy but still fun. I was exhausted by the end of that night too but managed to remember to write down how I felt before I fell asleep (unlike the day before). I wrote “I feel inspired”. The part of the day that stuck with me most was Clem talking about his job as a senator and how he wasn’t concerned about his children’s futures because they were already grown and he felt like he had given them at least a decent life – but he addressed the campers listening and told them he was worried about making Alaska a better place for their grandchildren. I thought that was awesome. I’ve heard and read quotes about sustaining the earth for future generations but I’ve never met someone who has said it AND completely dedicated their life (and succeeded in) living it out.

Day 6 – July 26, 2014

On Saturday we traveled to China Poot Lagoon. For this trip we switched our umiaks with the boys’ group for some sea kayaks. These were my absolute favorite because I got to paddle a single with a fancy foot-pedal rudder and go steer whichever way I wanted! The paddle there had to be timed with high tide because the water rushed through a narrow inlet into a lagoon and so the current gets really strong going in and out and if we hit the tide going out, it would be almost impossible to paddle. When we got the the narrow part, the normally calm bay water turned to fast moving river-like conditions. It was super fun to just sit and let the current take us. The other cool thing about the strong current was that a lot of the wildlife gets swept into the lagoon and then swept back out when the tide goes back out so I got to see SO MUCH WILDLIFE. I saw seals, otters, lion jellyfish, moon jelly fish, pigeon guilemots, black-legged kittiwakes, hawks, and bald eagles. There were apparently porpoises and baby bears around but I didn’t see them :(

We made a fire and cooked hotdogs and smores on the beach at the end of our hike and stayed there for a few hours until it started getting cold. On the paddle back I (super carefully) kept my camera out and was able to take some of my favorite pictures from the trip.

I also took the opportunity on the hike bike, since it would be our last hike of the week, to take pictures of some of the plants growing along the trail.

A counselor and I at the beginning of the China Poot hike.

A counselor and I at the beginning of the China Poot hike.

The china poot hiking trail was a "saddle trail" meaning that it was in between two larger mountains BUT a good majority of the hike was   still really steep!

The china poot hiking trail was a “saddle trail” meaning that it was in between two larger mountains BUT a good majority of the hike was still really steep!

I took a lot of pictures of views on the hike too!!

View 1 from the hike

View 1 from the hike

View 2 from the hike!

View 2 from the hike!

View 3 from the hike

View 3 from the hike

View 4 from the hike!

View 4 from the hike!

View at china poot lagoon

View at china poot lagoon

View of the mountain to the right of the beach on China poot lagoon

View of the mountain to the right of the beach on China poot lagoon

china poot - watermelon berries

Watermelon Berries – they’re super small but taste just like watermelon and have a bunch of white seeds in them like watermelons do!

china poot - soap berries

Soap Berries – apparently you can use them to make soap, lather and all

china poot - salmon berry

Salmon Berry – like a rasberry but a little more transparent looking, they’re super good.

china poot - blueberries

Wild Blueberries! – these were so good, I kept plucking and eating them all along the trail. Some of the other staff members gathered a bunch of these one day and made a blueberry crisp over the fire!

china poot - bluebells

Bluebells – not edible (I don’t think) but super pretty

china paddle - me

Me at the beginning of the paddle back

china paddle - view 3

The view of the mountains looked this beautiful the whole way

china paddle - birds

The current on the way back was even stronger on the way there and I was able to take a picture of all of these sea birds (black-legged kittiwakes I think) without paddling, unless I got caught in little swells.

china paddle - view 4

The view just outside of the strong current

china paddle - view 5

The end of the current – people lived right to the left of the frame of this picture.

china paddle - shallow

The water got this shallow in certain areas as the tide was going out and the current was pulling our boats out with it

china paddle - storm front

Just before we got back to camp I stopped to take a picture of the huge storm front. It ended up hitting homer with thunder and hail but completely missed us.

That night I wrote :

“The current getting there and back was incredible. It was so fun to ride the mini rapids. I felt so alive, free, and self-fulfilling.”

“Tonight my toes are cold as I sit at the edge of my open tent and it’s so wonderful. Nothing I’ve seen yet can compare to the view of the lights on the Homer Spit on a clear pink-skyed night. Everything about this place really is magical. ”

The Homer Spit at night from our camp

The Homer Spit at night from our camp

“On the paddle back I was relatively on my own and an otter popped up, curious, about 30 ft. from my boat. It let me paddle halfway to him and then I sat and watched me as he lounged on his back in the sun. I wanted to see a porpoise or whale (and I haven’t yet) but after that encounter I felt whole. There is something about the almost relaxed nature of the wildlife here that is so calming. I am in love. And though it would be nice to see more wildlife, I no longer feel entitled to seeing more because being out here has become more about finding a place for myself as a part of the vastness and appreciating every part, rather than focusing solely on what I want to see and get out of this trip.”

Day 7 – July 27, 2014

Sunday was a rest and pack day, which was probably a good thing because it was so hot. I got a sunburn on the side of my legs that were facing the sun in under an hour and I can still feel it as I’m typing two days later.

last day - view

This is what I did for the majority of the day on Sunday! It was wonderful, I could’ve stayed there forever (with that kind of weather). It was high 60s and sunny and we were all reading and talking.

last day - kayaks

Part of our camp beach and all of our sea kayaks.

At the end of the day the campers and other staff members and I got together to do a little compliment circle around a bonfire on the beach. Everyone wrote anonymous compliments on pieces of paper and then we all picked one out a read one. I got a few and it really made me feel part of the group.

That night I wrote that I felt at peace.

I wrote “We are leaving in the morning and yet I fell I have so much left to learn and understand from this place. I suppose that is exactly how I will feel leaving AK in a week. I have learned patience, to flow with a change of plans, to not be hurt by small words or small things. To appreciate what matters and to let slide more easily what doesn’t. I have learned that pushing myself feels alright, that I’m a worthwhile person, and that I can make a positive impact on someone in a month, two weeks, or even just 6 days. I have learned that it is okay to rely on and want to emulate the right kind of people. And to focus on the parts of myself that others may want to emulate. More than before, this trip has taught me to not stress or get worked up over things that I cannot change AND over things that are not worth changing. I have learned to be proud of myself for little victories – not down because other people may have accomplished more, BUT to keep pushing for higher accomplishments even when I am unsure of whether or not my qualities will allow me to accomplish them.”

“I value my ability to find new and unexpected opportunities.”

I know that’s a whole lot of feelings, but that’s really what this trip did to me! It made me reevaluate everything in the most positive ways.

Sunset at the end of the last day across the Bay

Sunset at the end of the last day across the Bay

The next morning I left with the first water taxi. Here's the view of the beach we camped on.

The next morning I left with the first water taxi. Here’s the view of the beach we camped on.

I am super happy I had the opportunity to go on this trip. I’m sorry this was such a long post BUT – compared to all of the pictures I took and stories I have – this post was extremely abbreviated. I can’t wait to get home to share the little details with all of you because those are some of my favorites.

Thursday morning at 3am I’m catching a camp van back to Anchorage with some of the campers and then I will be staying in Anchorage until my flight on Sunday (August 3rd) around 4pm.

I’m hoping to get in another hike (if I can find one close enough) and to check out downtown Anchorage on Saturday – I’ve heard good things about their farmer’s market!

Thanks again to everyone who’s been reading! I will be posting at least one more blog (probably two!)

-Hannah

And off we go!

Sunday, July 27th, 2014

Kia Ora!

There has been so much going on this past week that I’m going to split it up into a few different posts. We have just started week three of classes, and the differences between school here and back home have been pretty interesting to me. I think the biggest difference that I’ve noticed is how relaxed and laid-back everyone, including the lecturers, are about classes and whether or not you actually attend. Now yes I know that not all professors in the states take attendance for classes or anything, but here no one does! The lectures have set up their classes so that all of the notes are online and if a student needed to not attend class one day then they wouldn’t be missing anything at all. That being said, it makes it really difficult to find the motivation to actually go and sit in some of my lectures, philosophy especially! Another huge difference is how okay the lectures are with students overbooking a time slot. I know heaps of people who have two classes happening at the same time, but rather than dropping one of them are able to take both and just pick and choose which classes to attend which day. In a way I wish UMW was more like that because it would help with getting into all the classes that we need, but at the same time it is just really weird to me.

When it comes to exams and essays we also have a lot less going on here at Lincoln that what I have been used to at UMW. Back home most courses will have several exams spread out through the semester as well as maybe an essay or two. Here however in the classes I am taking I only have a final exam, which is worth a ton of my final grade, and a big project or paper as well. I don’t think the weight of that final exam has quite hit me yet because it is still so far away, but preparing for it will defiantly be nerve racking when the time comes. Which leads to another difference, finals week. Back home we finish lectures and then basically start right up with one week filled to the brim with exams. Here however, there is a two week gap between the end of lectures and the actual finals, and the finals are spread out over a two week period. That gives us students a really good chance to actually sit down and throughly prepare. At first I thought that was a bit unnecessary, but once I learned about how much weight each exam had it all made plenty of sense.

One thing I do really enjoy here is how approachable the lectures are. It is only week three and I have already met with 3 of my lectures for coffee on campus to discuss a project or essay I’m working on, or sometimes just to chat in general about what’s been happening around New Zealand as well as back in the states. By putting themselves on the same level as us students the lectures have created an environment in which open communication and asking for help and clarification is key.

Lincoln in general though is great! I am absolutely in love with this school and all of the people involved with it. The campus is decently spread out because of the vineyards, orchards, and farm fields needed for classes, and the student body is about 3,500 students. The campus is probably about a 10 minute walk outside of a small town, and everyone here seems to know everyone else. The tight nit community has been wonderful and I really feel welcome and at home here. Since Lincoln is a very hands-on uni and likes to get the students out in the field they are studying, there are built in field trip days throughout the semester. At first I was a little bummed out about not being in any papers (courses) with field trips, but some mates and I decided to make our own trips!

This past Wednesday was the first official field trip day, so bright and early at 7am we loaded up two cars and decided to drive about 2 hours north to a really cool town called Kiakoura.

Lauren and Nick are ready to hit the road

Lauren and Nick are ready to hit the road

And off we go!

And off we go!

One thing that I have noticed after exploring around New Zealand a bit is that while the final destination is always awesome, the drive there is spectacular in and of itself!

P7220136

More countryside

More countryside

and more

and more

There are just mountains everywhere

There are just mountains everywhere

P7220158

On our way to Kiakoura we decided to take a bit of a pit stop at really pretty site called Gore Bay. When we finally reached our destination though the day was spent playing with wild seals, eating delicious fish ‘n chips, and jumping into the freezing cold ocean! All and All I gotta say, these field trip days are wonderful, classes are great, and Lincoln has been an absolutely wonderful fit for my personality and goals while I’m here in New Zealand!

P7220104

We made it!

We made it!

It was kinda smug out

It was kinda smug out

Fish 'n chips are just delicious

Fish ‘n chips are just delicious

I FOUND A SEAL

I FOUND A SEAL

 

so cute!

so cute!

For now that’s all that I really have to say about Lincoln and how my classes are going. In another few hours or so I’ll have another post up about the weekend of all weekends! As always, thanks for reading!

Cheers,

Alex

 

The sun is setting in Bath

Monday, July 21st, 2014

10487502_10154269905815012_8259659489204466635_n

Papers have been submitted. And I’ve done everything I could have imagined here. I couldn’t have planned a better trip! This was surreal and I cannot wait to go home and share the experiences with my family and other UMW students. This program is so well-developed. Really phenomenal. It was worth all the hard work in planning this trip, and missing family/friends/work, to experience a new country.

I am definitely coming back to Bath again. It is my favorite city in England, of all I’ve visited. It is so stunningly rustic and pure. And I feel like it’s a home now. I know the names of bakery owners, I can walk through the town easily and offer directions to tourists. I have my favorite places to stop for lunch and my favorite benches to sit on and listen to musical performers. I am going to miss Bath so much.

It is a bittersweet departure.

ALL DONE! :D

Monday, July 21st, 2014

MY PAPERS ARE DONE!!!! HURRAY!!!!

My Jane Austen paper was the most challenging. I chose to write about impropriety in Jane Austen’s novels. In order to determine what was improper about characters such as Elizabeth Bennett and Emma Woodhouse, I referenced a book called “What Jane Austen Ate and Charles Dickens Wrote.”

Some of the rules of manners were very specific. For instance, a woman could not walk with another man who was not courting her. She could also not call upon a gentleman by herself.

And did you know women in Jane Austen’s time would had to change their clothes incessantly throughout the day? There is morning dress, walking dress, day dress, evening dress, fancy dress… I feel like they must have spent half of the day changing clothes!

I ultimately focused on Elizabeth for this paper, because she is such a spitfire with a great deal of preconceptions. I hope my professor appreciates it!

My Utopian/Dystopian paper was a lot easier to flow through. Perhaps because I got into the rhythm of writing with my previous paper. I decided to write about George Orwell’s 1984 and its ties to the poem his wife wrote 15 years before, End of the century, 1984. The poem is beautiful, if you haven’t had a chance to read it.

In my paper, I dissect the poem and tie it to themes and characters in the novel. Arguably, the novel is a tribute to his wife’s work. The poem works as an epilogue or summary of 1984. It is tragic how she passed during a routine operation right after they adopted a boy named Richard.

I accidentally went over the word limit. 2900 words instead of 2500, but my Professor said it’s okay! And I quoted the whole poem in it, which is about 300 words, so I didn’t exceed the limit by much…

Let’s take a bath!

Monday, July 21st, 2014

This last week in Bath came far too quickly.

My final papers are going slowly, but I will trek through them! I was able to get a small group together to go visit the Roman Baths yesterday, which the city is named after.

I thought I would just be seeing the famous baths. I ended up seeing a lot of the ruins of additional spa-like elements of the Baths, as well as a skeleton. It is startling to see what were once gorgeous retreats in their last remaining pieces. The Baths were more of a museum than I expected. I will include photos below to give you an idea of what it was like. It was really moving.

994461_10154262777145012_2749931801604848162_n 1561108_10154262779310012_3624289984039471731_n 10012539_10154262780385012_6806822500022704576_n 10304431_10154262776715012_2583054467866443120_n 10304563_10154262781125012_8637704007352604450_n 10341947_10154262779175012_7764785732708380523_n 10368226_10154262777350012_6161562457413095523_n 10383566_10154262778495012_6832773452315284633_n 10402685_10154262776885012_6267925743492125092_n 10409069_10154262777935012_1268176871230286697_n 10410669_10154262779090012_1651645145036496305_n 10432981_10154262780810012_4527491616195775366_n 10464023_10154262777015012_4772463812494347235_n 10464090_10154262780705012_1243192954536954094_n 10468348_10154262780585012_6027887999652115088_n 10484159_10154262777590012_4388168730164818949_n 10489619_10154262776600012_534356571805687297_n 10492073_10154262777475012_8162414205258239449_n 10513331_10154262778695012_6822158931415522917_n 10526024_10154262780865012_8680846788809246845_n 10527807_10154262778365012_2667893761119912199_n 10537329_10154262781035012_7786856140276879441_n 10541465_10154262779425012_1722745919185523158_n 10543634_10154262778065012_3274858255113739822_n 10544794_10154262778765012_5072344302389261291_n 10552507_10154262778180012_4187971467377709299_n

Day 18 (Trip Eve)

Monday, July 21st, 2014

Tomorrow at 4:30 (Alaska time) I’ll be heading out with a few of the other staff members to set up camp before all of the campers get there the next day for our week long trip across the Bay. My cold has unfortunately gotten a little worse but I’m hoping tomorrow (and the rest of the week) will be better! Either way I am determined to have an incredible time.

Unfortunately, we will not have service (and definitely no wifi) so my blog will have to be postponed until Monday (July 28th) night! I’ll make sure to take tons of pictures (camera battery permitting) and share them with all of you once I’m back.

TODAY I was able to get back in the greenhouse to harvest three large trash bags full of mixed lettuce and 2 bags full of romaine lettuce which we then proceeded to wash in the kitchen. I was getting pretty dizzy bending over all of the beds to harvest so after lunch I went back to my yurt to try and rest and kick this cold!

Before dinner I made some more yarrow tea and mixed it with this cold remedy herbal tea packet we’ve been stockpiling from the local grocery store. It’s been helping a little bit – but I keep accidentally drinking tiny yarrow leaves.

I’ve been hanging out in the staff lounge talking to some of the campers as they make friendship bracelets. They were super sweet and made me one and then taught me this super easy way to make a bracelet using the beginning stitch for crocheting. Now, all of the campers are heading outside to the bonfire to cook some hotdogs with their counselors and I will be staying indoors to avoid the cold wind. (My sinuses can’t take it tonight!)

I also tried to figure out how to set up the tent I’m bringing across the bay earlier to make sure there weren’t any pieces missing. I figured it out after a few minutes so hopefully I won’t be upstaged by these campers who have been practicing to be pro tent pitchers – they can always help me out if I’m struggling!

If any one is interested in getting an aerial view of our rough location for the next week, here’s a link! LINK TO GOOGLEMAPS

The red dotted line outlines Halibut Cove, AK and towards the top of Halibut Cove is Halibut Cove Lagoon which is one of the locations we will be paddling/hiking. Homer is on the other side of the Bay where the long skinny stretch of land is (the Homer Spit). China Poot Bay is also somewhat visible on the map and that is another paddle/hike we’ll be going on during the week.

The other paddle/hikes are: (as listed in the camp notebook)

Grewink Glacier (3.5 miles) – Terrain Easy; Hiking time 1 hr. 20 min.

Saddle Trail (1.0 miles) – Terrain Moderate; Hiking time 25 min.

Alpine Ridge Trail (2.0 miles) – Terrain Moderate to Difficult; Hiking time 5 hr.

Halibut Cove Lagoon Trail (5.5 miles) – Terrain Moderate to Difficult; Hiking time 5 hr.

Goat Rope Spur Trail (0.5 miles) – Terrain Difficult; Hiking time 1 hr.

China Poot Lake (2.5 miles) – Terrain Easy to Moderate; Hiking time 1 hr. 15 min.

Poot Peak (2 miles) – Terrain Difficult; Hiking time 3-4 hr. round trip

Wosnesenski Trail (2 miles) – Terrain Easy to Moderate; Hiking time 1 hr. 15 min.

I wish I could tell you more about these trips but I really don’t have any idea what they’ll be like. I do know that the first paddle/hike, Grewink Glacier, will take us all the way out to the glacier and we have the option to swim in the glacial melt pond/stream. I don’t know that I’ll actually do that but it’ll be cool to see! I’ve also heard that there’s one paddle/hike trip in particular where we have to time our paddles in and out really precisely so that we’re not going against the current, because apparently it gets so strong in that one area that we would have to wait it out if we got stuck trying to go out when the tide was coming in.

I really am super excited – I just wish I didn’t have this cold looming over me. Tomorrow I’m going to try and get a ride into town to pick up some cold medicine to take with me so I can knock it out while I’m over there if it doesn’t go away on its own.

Until next Monday!

-Hannah

Day 15, 16, & 17 (Sick & Tired)

Sunday, July 20th, 2014

The title sounds a little ominous. Even though I am really tired and I have contracted the cold that’s been tearing through the staff, the last three days have still been pretty awesome.

I tried to keep up with my new-normal every other day post last night but our internet was down :(

I just finished my third and last day filling in as an instructor. At first I thought filling in meant filling in for the 2 hour natural history block every afternoon but I found out that instructors are actually with campers from 9:30-6 and are either taking them to activities or running activities/lessons themselves. I have been able to teach a three day (2 hours each day) lesson on native Alaskan birds, which I have been able to learn a ton about myself. We’ve learned about bird identification, different types of adaptations (beak, feet, wing, color, etc.), and have taken a field trip to the end of the spit to see nesting Black-legged Kittiwakes. I’ve also had the opportunity to do some camping skills lessons about hiking trip planning using maps, the ins and outs of topographic maps, and how tides and currents effect paddling trips. Other than leading natural history (birds) and camping skills lessons I have also been able to accompany and help some of the campers when the go to boat building – which is a section of time where they go out to the “boat tent” and help to build and cover two traditional skin boats (kayaks).

009

On Day 1 we went on a hike around the Ageya campus looking for birds that we had just started learning about. We all took binoculars and bird identification books and I wasn’t sure if we’d even see any… but we managed to see three! A golden crowned sparrow, an american robin, and two sandhill cranes (though we see these pretty regularly!)

005

This is the first bird we saw on our mini hike – a golden crowned sparrow.

The campers on day 1 getting an intro to the tools used to make the traditional skin boats.

The campers on day 1 getting an intro to the tools used to make the traditional skin boats.

010

Campers Day 2, working on tying parts of the boat tight with wax coated string. These are supposed to be the lightest boats in the world – no metal is used and this wooden frame is covered tightly by a nylon (traditional skin) fabric which is then sewed and coated.

Sunset from my yurt on Day 2. You can see one of the volcanic mountains venting in the background.

Sunset from my yurt on Day 2. You can see one of the volcanic mountains venting in the background.

Getting a chance to teach and learn a little bit myself has been really rewarding and I loved that I was able to do it, but I am getting pretty warn down. The instructor I was filling in for will be back in the morning and I’m glad I’ll have a few days to recover before we leave to go across the Bay.

Speaking of which…I found out that I will be leaving the afternoon (around 4) of the 21st (Monday) with some of the other staff members so we can get over there and set up some of the bigger gear. The campers will then get there the following day and we’ll do our first paddle/hike that afternoon. We will then be doing a series of 8 hike/paddles over the course of the next 7 days, getting back to Ageya in the afternoon on July .28th (the following Monday). I’m pretty pumped for it, but I also have no idea what to expect.

The director’s wife also outfitted me for the trip the other day (all of the campers and other staff members had already been outfitted), which I was not expecting but I’m glad she did! I now have a tent, sleeping bag, life vest, tall water boots, long underwear, a mesh bag, dry-safe bags, a thermos, and a camping bowl to borrow while we’re on the trip. So, I know I’ll be okay on gear but as far as what it’s going to like over there – I have no idea. I’m planning on just going with the flow. I really hope we see some wildlife out there though! I’ve heard stores of seals, otters, whales, bears, and all kinds of other animals – so even if we just see one of those it’d be one more than I’ve seen before!

I won’t have power or internet though so I’ll be a little M.I.A. on the phone and one my blog BUT I’ll have about two days back here once we get back before I catch a ride back to Anchorage so I’ll make sure to fill everyone in once I’m back! I’m hoping I can figure out a way to keep my camera going long enough to take some awesome pictures.

As far as being sick goes, my cold isn’t terrible but I do hope it goes away soon! I’ve been trying to sleep a little bit more, rest when I can, and I’v been drinking this medicinal tea made up of yarrow, wormwood, cayenne, and garlic. It’s pretty gross but people have been saying it’s working for them – I honestly can’t really tell if it’s working for me (but I’m not getting worse at least).

As of tomorrow (Sunday) I’ll have exactly two weeks until I fly back home. I’m starting to get a little sad about leaving, but I’m also pretty excited/almost ready to be heading home. I’m sure the time will fly by!

-Hannah

Days 13 & 14 (The Calm Before the Storm)

Thursday, July 17th, 2014

I have a feeling these past two days will seem like a vacation compared to the next week and a half (specifically the next few days).

Yesterday I watered the hanging baskets and beds out by the dining hall and then we did some watering and seed starting in the greenhouse. We laid the whole thing out on the whiteboard in the greenhouse so that we could plan what needed to be harvested and what needed to be planted over the next few weeks.

The green is all arugula and mixed lettuce that had been started earlier in the week. The bare soil blocks are borage, nasturtium, marigold, and beets that we started yesterday. Borage, nasturtium and marigold are all edible flowers and they also help to prevent pests.

The green is all arugula and mixed lettuce that had been started earlier in the week. The bare soil blocks are borage, nasturtium, marigold, and beets that we started yesterday. Borage, nasturtium and marigold are all edible flowers and they also help to prevent pests. (Also, the smooshed part in the top left corner is from one of the other WWOOFer’s dog stepping in it! haha She’s super cute)

The rest of the day yesterday we all hung out in the greenhouse and I was able to have some downtime to appreciate the scenery.

The sunset view from my yurt (Eagle). This is at about 11:30 and it really hasn't been getting much darker.

The sunset view from my yurt (Eagle). This is at about 11:30 and it really hasn’t been getting much darker.

Today, I watered the hanging baskets and beds outside of the dining hall again. The rest of my time before lunch was pretty slow again and so I had some time to get some reading done (working on Wuthering Heights). We harvested some romaine and mixed lettuce and then brought it to the kitchen to be cleaned (with this really huge salad spinner – it’s pretty cool).

We also got some predatory mites and lady bugs (which are actually called ladybird beetles – who knew) for the greenhouse and so we were able to let those loose earlier!

Ladybugs on the himalayan huckleberry!

Ladybugs on the himalayan huckleberry!

All of the WWOOFers have also been rotating helping in the kitchen before dinner. Today was my turn and I was able to make a salad with the greens we had just harvested and cleaned (which I thought was pretty awesome – being able to harvest, clean, chop, and eat produce myself!). Then for dinner I went upstairs to join the instructors for their daily meeting so that I could get filled in on the schedule before I start filling in for another instructor tomorrow.

I will be with one group of 8 campers from 9:30am-6:00pm with a break for lunch and some free time afterwards until about 2:30. Most of that time will be filled with pre-determined activities but for a 2-hour block in the afternoon I will be teaching them about birds. This is all a little intimidating so far because there is a set curriculum and A LOT of information to get to know before I have to tell the campers about it. I spent some time earlier going through it all and taking notes and I’m feeling (slightly) confident about it, but I’ll have to see how it goes! The instructor I’m filling in for told me that you can’t really mess up because the campers don’t really know how it’s supposed to go – so I’m going to keep telling myself that! I think either way it’ll be a really great experience and I’ll come out of it knowing more about native Alaskan birds! I’m just glad there are field guides and notes to use as the basis of the information so that the campers will still be learning a lot.

Honestly, I’m ready for the challenge.

So, the next few days will be a little crazy… but then I also found out that I will be able to go across the Bay in a week! It’s a little complicated but basically I’m able to go because I’m filling in this week. Normally WWOOFers don’t go so I’m pretty pumped about it. The trip lasts 7 days and all of the campers, counselors, and instructors go. We take a water taxi over and then use kayaks and umiaks to get around to hike in different locations. I’ll be able to go on a handful of hikes and a few paddling trips and eat and stay for free while we’re over there. The trip does change up (what I thought were) my plans a bit, though, because we leave the 22nd/23rd and then don’t get back until a day or two before I catch a ride back to Anchorage on the 31st, which means I only have a handful of days left out here strictly WWOOFing. That’s all a little sad to think about but I’m also incredibly excited to get across the Bay. I’ve heard it’s beyond beautiful over there and I’ll be closer to the mountains and the glacier and that’s really something I haven’t been able to get out of this experience yet!

UPDATES

I tried salmon cream cheese for the first time on my bagel this morning and it was actually awesome! (I had been a little afraid of it)

I’m getting really good at grabbing mosquitos out of the air (karate kid style) instead of just aimlessly swatting at them.

And, I’m not sure if I’ve posted about this yet, but for the past few days we had only been seeing the male crane around (which is strange because crane pairs are normally always together) so we were afraid that the coyotes got her BUT I saw them together earlier! So she’s okay – thank goodness. I was actually getting a little sad about it!

I forgot to post a picture of my herbal tea (lemon balm and wild yarrow) so here it is: I had also put a bag of ginger tea in the mix which was pretty good

004

 

-Hannah

Days 13 & 14 (The Calm Before the Storm)

Thursday, July 17th, 2014

I have a feeling these past two days will seem like a vacation compared to the next week and a half (specifically the next few days).

Yesterday I watered the hanging baskets and beds out by the dining hall and then we did some watering and seed starting in the greenhouse. We laid the whole thing out on the whiteboard in the greenhouse so that we could plan what needed to be harvested and what needed to be planted over the next few weeks.

The green is all arugula and mixed lettuce that had been started earlier in the week. The bare soil blocks are borage, nasturtium, marigold, and beets that we started yesterday. Borage, nasturtium and marigold are all edible flowers and they also help to prevent pests.

The green is all arugula and mixed lettuce that had been started earlier in the week. The bare soil blocks are borage, nasturtium, marigold, and beets that we started yesterday. Borage, nasturtium and marigold are all edible flowers and they also help to prevent pests. (Also, the smooshed part in the top left corner is from one of the other WWOOFer’s dog stepping in it! haha She’s super cute)

The rest of the day yesterday we all hung out in the greenhouse and I was able to have some downtime to appreciate the scenery.

The sunset view from my yurt (Eagle). This is at about 11:30 and it really hasn't been getting much darker.

The sunset view from my yurt (Eagle). This is at about 11:30 and it really hasn’t been getting much darker.

Today, I watered the hanging baskets and beds outside of the dining hall again. The rest of my time before lunch was pretty slow again and so I had some time to get some reading done (working on Wuthering Heights). We harvested some romaine and mixed lettuce and then brought it to the kitchen to be cleaned (with this really huge salad spinner – it’s pretty cool).

We also got some predatory mites and lady bugs (which are actually called ladybird beetles – who knew) for the greenhouse and so we were able to let those loose earlier!

Ladybugs on the himalayan huckleberry!

Ladybugs on the himalayan huckleberry!

All of the WWOOFers have also been rotating helping in the kitchen before dinner. Today was my turn and I was able to make a salad with the greens we had just harvested and cleaned (which I thought was pretty awesome – being able to harvest, clean, chop, and eat produce myself!). Then for dinner I went upstairs to join the instructors for their daily meeting so that I could get filled in on the schedule before I start filling in for another instructor tomorrow.

I will be with one group of 8 campers from 9:30am-6:00pm with a break for lunch and some free time afterwards until about 2:30. Most of that time will be filled with pre-determined activities but for a 2-hour block in the afternoon I will be teaching them about birds. This is all a little intimidating so far because there is a set curriculum and A LOT of information to get to know before I have to tell the campers about it. I spent some time earlier going through it all and taking notes and I’m feeling (slightly) confident about it, but I’ll have to see how it goes! The instructor I’m filling in for told me that you can’t really mess up because the campers don’t really know how it’s supposed to go – so I’m going to keep telling myself that! I think either way it’ll be a really great experience and I’ll come out of it knowing more about native Alaskan birds! I’m just glad there are field guides and notes to use as the basis of the information so that the campers will still be learning a lot.

Honestly, I’m ready for the challenge.

So, the next few days will be a little crazy… but then I also found out that I will be able to go across the Bay in a week! It’s a little complicated but basically I’m able to go because I’m filling in this week. Normally WWOOFers don’t go so I’m pretty pumped about it. The trip lasts 7 days and all of the campers, counselors, and instructors go. We take a water taxi over and then use kayaks and umiaks to get around to hike in different locations. I’ll be able to go on a handful of hikes and a few paddling trips and eat and stay for free while we’re over there. The trip does change up (what I thought were) my plans a bit, though, because we leave the 22nd/23rd and then don’t get back until a day or two before I catch a ride back to Anchorage on the 31st, which means I only have a handful of days left out here strictly WWOOFing. That’s all a little sad to think about but I’m also incredibly excited to get across the Bay. I’ve heard it’s beyond beautiful over there and I’ll be closer to the mountains and the glacier and that’s really something I haven’t been able to get out of this experience yet!

UPDATES

I tried salmon cream cheese for the first time on my bagel this morning and it was actually awesome! (I had been a little afraid of it)

I’m getting really good at grabbing mosquitos out of the air (karate kid style) instead of just aimlessly swatting at them.

And, I’m not sure if I’ve posted about this yet, but for the past few days we had only been seeing the male crane around (which is strange because crane pairs are normally always together) so we were afraid that the coyotes got her BUT I saw them together earlier! So she’s okay – thank goodness. I was actually getting a little sad about it!

I forgot to post a picture of my herbal tea (lemon balm and wild yarrow) so here it is: I had also put a bag of ginger tea in the mix which was pretty good

004

 

-Hannah