I’m back in Alaska and back in the dorm. My plan to move into a tiny house is not going to happen. The house has no washer and dryer. I have no plans to walk or taxi to do laundry. Dorm living isn’t so bad. I have my own room, shared bathroom with shower, plus a newly remodeled kitchen. I keep most of my food in my room and only purchase fresh items, as needed. Most days it’s pasta or ramen for dinner. I have breakfast and lunch on the job, so it’s really no problem.
Last weekend, a friend from my old Peace Corps Ethiopia cohort came to visit. She’s making her final rounds before relocating to Italy. I remember when she first told me about her plans. We were having Mexican food at a new spot in Addis Ababa. Alaska wasn’t new to her. She’s been here a few times and even took a cruise to Sitka. Her second day here, a friend called and asked if I wanted to go out on his boat. We had twenty or so minutes before pick up and just quickly made it happen. That’s one of the great things about Sitka. People will help you to get out on the water.
We’ve had a few days of rain, but mostly really good weather. Two of my friends from my AmeriCorps group last year, now work at the Sitka Sound Science Center. Over the summer, the gift shop is open and sells fish chowder. It’s a bit too spicy for me, but a lot of people really like it. I like sitting on the bench, outside, and taking in the view. The Science Center is very near the National Park. These days, the park trails are temporarily closed at night, due to the increased bear actitity. The park is my normal shortcut to the Post Office. I’ll start taking the city shuttle bus, from work, or ask someone to take me. I’m not brave enough to take on a bear.
The Sheldon Jackson Hatchery is located on the other side of the Science Center. Seeing all the tour buses outside has been new for me. Last year, the tourist season was pretty much closed down, due to COVID-19. In the two weeks that I’ve been back in town, I’ve had a small glimpse of what it’s like to live at a cruise ship location, in Alaska. The town is a blend of Russian, Tlingit, and American history. The snow-capped peaks of volcanic Mount Edgecumbe can be viewed from the local McDonalds. There are also lots of hiking trails. I can see Mount Verstovia each day as I walk to and from work.
My walk to and from work is still pretty amazing. I have the Pacific Ocean to one side and a national park on the other. I often will just sit, in front of the Odess Theatre, at the Sitka Fine Arts Camp, and watch the sunset over the water. During the winter, I walk to work in the dark and return home in the dark. And while living in Southeastern Alaska isn’t the same as in the Northern towns, it does take a bit of adjustment. Luckily, the nearby gym is offering half price membeships for AmeriCorps members. Last winter, I did nothing. I walked home and never went out, until morning. This go round, I will “try” to be a little more active.
Nine months of living in a dorm might sound like too much for a 65 year old, but I don’t really mind it. This second year with AmeriCorps will be my final work venture. Next year, I will finally stop working. I retired in 2017, but then signed up with the Peace Corps, first in Armenia and then Ethiopia. I was evacuated from the latter, due to the COVID pandemic, March 2020. By the following August, I had signed up for my first year with AmeriCorps. When this is done, I might rejoin the American Red Cross and work on a disaster services team. Part of me wants to be that old lady working the USO Airport Lounges. The USO has fifty of these lounges across the USA and abroad. Talk about the perfect retirement plan.
Who do I need to speak with concerning the USO lounge gig in Honolulu? — GGT