Saturday, August 30, 2008

Say What?

Yesterday, Republican nominee for President John McCain, announced his VP choice for the election. The lucky (or maybe not so lucky) pick was a lady named Sarah Palin. Who is this mysterious woman you ask? Well I don't really know either. No one seemed to expect McCain would choose the Governor of Alaska. In fact most of the talk was that he'd choose Mitt Romney (thank goodness he didn't). But I can't help but wonder why she was chosen. Out of all the highly qualified candidates why Palin?

McCain has claimed that she's a good choice, and knows what she's doing, etc. And I'm not going to talk like I know all, but seriously? While she has been somewhat decent at a state level, I wonder how she'll really deal with helping to run the United States of America. I mean yea she's been running the state of Alaska for 2 years and was the town of Wasilla's mayor for 6. Does McCain really think that is qualification for Vice President? I'll admit part of me was thinking "Cool! The Alaskan Gov could be the VP of the US!" But other than dealing with fishing and hunting drama what does she know about foreign affairs? What might be simple to handle Alaskan tax laws, what does she know about doing it at a much larger scale? I could see maybe choosing the governor of a much larger state to run with (California (not that I want Schwarzenegger either), or New York, etc.) But Alaska? I love Alaska, but where the population is only about 700,000 people, 47th smallest in the nation, does that really prepare one to help run America? I'm not saying she's completely without skill and experience. But there are a lot of better candidates in my opinion. Seriously though, what rock did he find her under? Suddenly out of the blew he says to himself "Hey the Governor of Alaska should be my running mate!" Did the Governor of Hawaii not make the cut? What about the Gov of Wyoming? Isn't Dave Freudenthal good enough? (Oh, wait he's a democrat...nevermind ;)

Then I thought well maybe it's not so much experience rather than longevity. Maybe the fact that she's only 44 years old is appealing to McCain who is 72. Does he feel comforted by that fact that if he kicks the bucket soon, she's nowhere near doing so herself. Or maybe McCain chose her because she'll attract people who vote for the President based on looks alone?

But who really knows what's going on in the mind of McCain. Only McCain knows...and his psychiatrist...

Here is a photo of the lovely lady herself

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

And the Adventure Continues

Ok well yesterday one of the most exciting and stressful things happened during my 5 month stay here in the North country. Let me start at the beginning...

So I didn't like doing highway but since it's the end of the season and a lot of the drivers are leaving, my manager Danny needed me to do a couple last runs. So I drove up to Dawson City to bring a group down. We were driving along the Klondike Highway, everything was fine, but it had been raining all day. I was paralleling with another driver and we came to this area where some cones were across the road. A road-worker guy comes up and tells me that there is a foot and a half of water across the road and that the road is officially closed but we can still attempt to cross the water if we wanted to. So we drive up about a mile and see that the water is indeed all the way across the road and rising. So we watch a few cars and trucks go across, seriously toying with the idea that we should go across ourselves. But after inspection of the road and being told that half the road has washed away, we decide not to attempt it since we both had a full coach-load of people. So since there is no place for a 45 foot motorcoach to turn around we had to back down the Klondike Highway until there was a pull out we turned in.

Next we back to Carmacks, a little town in the Yukon with a population of like 300 so we could call Danny and figure out what to do. We waited at a gas station for about 45 minutes until we got the call that after throwing around some options, corporate decided to charter some planes to come fly the passengers to Whitehorse (our destination that day) and that us drivers would of course have to stay in Carmacks overnight with the coaches. So they had two 40-seater planes come immediately as well as a 7-seater to the ghetto Carmacks airport. We then had to tell the guests that they had to go through their luggage and only take what was absolutely necessary since the plane may not be able to hold all their luggage. We set up a tent type thing so their bags wouldn't get wet and made them come out a few at a time to go through it. Then we loaded them up on the plane and off they went.

Now since Carmacks is a small town, you can imagine that the only hotel in town, is no Marriott Marquis. Let's just say that we were lucky to even get rooms because we weren't the only stranded motorists. And I definately fared better than DJ, the other driver, since we couldn't share a room (opposite sexes) he ended up in this creepy "cabin" behind the hotel while I got to stay in the main building. After seeing the "cabin" that doesn't have a proper locking door, rust stains in the sink, and carpet that doesn't lay quite flat on the floor (no padding either), you could probably say I got the Marriott suite. LOL. DJ was worried that since the door barely locks he was going to get raped by a trucker named Bubba. Shouldn't be funny, but it was still hilarious...hmmm maybe I should call him this morning and make sure he's still alive....

All in all though, it was kinda fun. Sure it was stressful and I almost seriously had a break down when I heard I had to stay in the Ghetto overnight. Plus I was really excited to get back to Skagway, which at this point who knows when I'll be able to get back. But it wasn't so bad. We'll probably be deadheading back to Dawson City and then I am going to try and schmooze Danny to fly me back to Skagway, because he even said himself that there will be too many drivers up in Dawson City (6 after we get there). So wish me luck! (although i'm pretty sure no one is reading this since i don't post that often)

Thursday, August 21, 2008


Complete. Yes let's talk about poop. I know it's an odd subject but what can I say? So since there are bathrooms on the buses I drive, we of course have to empty them at the end of the day. Now usually this isn't a big deal but there are rare occasions where it gets a little stinky. A few weeks ago we were dumping one of the coaches over the dump grate. All seems to be going well, but then all of a sudden the pipe clogs (where the excrements were coming out of the toilet). So someone gets a mechanic to come look at it and they shoved something up the pipe to get it to unclog and low and behold a diaper comes out. So that's just stupid in of itself, because who throws a diaper in the latrine-type toilet? But the best part is that the driver of the coach goes "Wait I didn't have any babies on my coach today!" So upon closer inspection, we realize that it's actually a pair of Depends!! Oh my, oh my the stories you could tell with that one! Moving on though, several times I've pulled onto the dump site and the previous coach just having dumped their toilet there I've seen little pieces of poo just chillin' on the grate over the dump. It's totally gross, but also kinda funny. Maybe one day I'll get a picture!!

So I'm a little disappointed at the lack of drama going on lately. I mean there's stuff I know that I can't really post in a public blog, but as far as crazy passengers I haven't had any that stand out to me. And I know, I thought I'd be writing about it all the time. Although right now I'm running on 6 hours of sleep and I worked 14 hours today so honestly my brain is probably not functioning and remembering things as well as usual so I best be off anway. Oh and I'm going out on a couple last highway runs in a couple days. I'm pretty excited to get to Dawson City one last time!

Friday, August 8, 2008

Day by Day Drama

It's been suggested that living up here in Alaska is like living in a reality show. It would be pretty entertaining to have a camera crew filming all the crap that goes down here, but since I have no access to that, I will narrate as best I can. I will try to write down all the craziness that goes on here in the isolated town of Skagway in the Discover Alaska Tours company.

To start, Thursday (yesterday) wasn't nearly as bad as some days. I did an Experience the Yukon & Suspension Bridge tour. It's interesting how if I feel my group is low energy I'm low energy. Like Wednesday, my group was awesome! I cracked tons of jokes and they LOVED me. My group this time though was low-key and I was a little out of it for reasons I won't share here, but it turned out to be an ok day. Because I was a little spaced out I didn't give as good of a tour as usual, and thankfully that didn't really affect my tips at all. Drama-wise though...lets see... I had an Austrian lady on board who felt that the whole tour revolved around her and her comfort level. We hadn't even left Skagway yet, when she comes up to me and tells me it's too cold. So I turned the A/C down. Later she kept asking all these stupid questions including the all famous "What's the elevation here?". Then while driving home she comes up and says that the open roof hatch (opened to cool off the bus) is too windy and how would she go about closing it? The only thing that made up for it was that she did tip me (I never expect much from the Europeans because it's not in their culture to tip), so that was nice.

Oh and I almost got in an accident too. We were getting close to Skagway, it had been a beautiful day by Skaggers' standards, but that afternoon the White Pass had become extremely foggy to the point where I could barely see 10 feet in front of me. So I'm going along the road and right where the Canadian-US border is I see some faint tail lights so I slow down but almost not soon enough. This car in front of me slams on their brakes right where it says "Welcome to the US" and I slammed on my brakes! Luckily, I was able to stop but with barely 5 feet between our bumpers!! I was actually shaking afterwards! Not to brag, but my pax are always impressed by my driving skills. That same day I had impressed a few by my being able to make tight U-turns and some of them were even applauding me! I'm not gonna lie, it does feel good.

On a lighter note, we did get to see a bear!! We had just passed the Yukon sign and came around a bend where we saw the bear and then two cubs tumbled out of the brush as well!! Unfortunately I didn't get to photograph them, but it was awesome because it's been forever since I've seen wildlife WITH passengers!! I did almost hit a bear the other day. I was deadheading (means driving with no pax) to Carcross for a Bennett Adventure and we'd already seen one bear. I just passed Lake Tutshi, my friend Bethany was driving in front of me and this black bear decides to cross the highway between us. I saw him come onto the road and I hit the brakes. Fortunately he crossed pretty fast and I was still about 20 feet away when he got to the other side of the road, but it was still scary. Although I have thought that if I ever killed something cool (like a bear, moose, lynx, fox or coyote) I would take it to Caribou Crossing and have them skin it for me so I could have the pelt to use on my tour. Morbid I know.

So that's what went down yesterday. I have the day off today so no drama, but tomorrow's another day.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Still in AK

Yes I'm still up here in the middle of nowhere!! Life is good as far as it all goes. I'm working about 65-70 hours a week, hanging out with friends and getting to know my new camera!! Yes I finally got my DSLR and I couldn't be happier. I loved having just a small point-and-shoot but now that I have the capabilities of a SLR again it's really awesome!! I've only had the thing for about a week and a half and I've already taken about 500 photos!!

Other than that excitement, work is fine too. I'm having a lot of fun still taking people around on tours. I had been doing highway runs, but I decided that I really liked staying in Skaggers on the city tours we do here so now that's what I do. My manager will probably put me back on highway for a couple more runs since there are a lot of drivers leaving for school at the end of August. I figured since I'm not going back to school this semester I would stay the whole season. So I'll be up here until end of September. I'll miss being here in Alaska but I'll admit I'm ready for civilization. I can't imagine actually living here year-round. I don't have cabin fever, but I like being in fast pace society for part of the year. Plus it gets as cold as balls up here in the winter so..... Like I said the job is tiring sometimes with the LONG hours and dealing with stupid people sometimes. I've had passengers swear at me (only once, complaining about something stupid as usual) to people saying they basically love me. And it's interesting to see how when people go on vacation they pretty much lose like 50 I.Q. points. Now, I drive a 40 foot motorcoach and every day people just saunter in front of me on the docks, they'll walk across the street when I'm about 10 feet from them or they just stop in the middle of the street to take some stupid picture. Plus they ask all sorts of stupid questions, for example "How many caves are in Alaska?", "Is the Yukon owned by the US?" and of course the one I get almost every tour "What's the elevation right in this spot?". Like seriously? Who gives a crap about what elevation you're at, right this second? Is that really going to change anything? I usually just make something up on that one.

So yea, life is good and I will miss it, but I still have two whole months until I go home and then it'll probably be major culture big time.