Showing posts from August, 2011


I now have two and a half days left in Ketchikan: Tuesday, Wednesday, and I'm flying off around 1 on Thursday. My packing began yesterday, and slowly but surely I have been making progress on filling my suitcase and also organizing the things I'll leave behind. After leaving on Thursday, here are some expectations I have:
Travel should go relatively smoothly. I'm flying to Seattle, New York and then Paris, and falling asleep on each of the three flights should be no problem. Once in Paris, the trouble will be finding something to do with myself, as I'll have about 12 hours between the time I land and the time I have to be boarding the TGV (high-speed train) for Strasbourg. After two hours on the train (more sleep?) my new home will be only a block-long walk away from the station.Everything will not be exactly as I imagined it. You can't help but picture living in a place when you've been anticipating your journey there for month. My image of the city and the peo…

Wisdoms Lost

In the interest of following up on this article published almost two and a half years ago, I wish to inform you that my wisdom teeth are gone. If you read that old article from back when I was a senior, you'll see I was very convinced that I would not have my wisdom teeth removed, despite suggestions from my dentist that they should go. Back then, those sentiments came from my knowledge that my wisdom teeth had grown in well, that they weren't hurting me, and that some research states that many (maybe even over 50%!) of the wisdom tooth extractions in the U.S. are unnecessary.

In the last two and half years, not much changed for my wisdoms: They stayed straight and continued not to hurt, they let me brush them thoroughly and they were treated as full members of my dental family. Nevertheless, the pressure was upped on me: I was assured that complications and difficulties would be very possible if I kept my wisdom teeth. (I understood this already, but such a possibility - with…

Countdowns Beginning

August 15 is ending, and so this last month of summer is just about half over. It's now determined that I'll be leaving Ketchikan on September 1st - 16 full days lie between now and then.

I've also set up that I'm only working for five more days, days spread out over the next two weeks. Financially I've had a successful summer: For a while I doubted I'd make my original monetary goal, but now I know I'll reach that figure for sure, though I haven't quite made it yet.

My girlfriend is going back to school on the 28th, so that leaves only 12 full days remaining for the two of us. Tomorrow we're having our third bake sale of the summer, this time raising money for UNICEF and its work combatting the effects of drought in the Horn of Africa.

After a bit of a space where I didn't finish any books, I've had a big comeback in the last few days with my reading, finishing four books in the last four days, including Ordinary Wolves and The Discovery of…

Three Days: Seattle-San Francisco-Seattle

I've now completed my three-day mission of visa application, the necessity of which was explained in this post way back in March. I won't give a blow-by-blow summary of the journey, detailing each of the lovely places I went and all the ways I spent my time, but I will say the trip was tiresome, invigorating, anticlimactic and exhilarating all rolled into one. Let me explain:

Travel can be quite tiresome, especially with four flights spread out relatively evenly through the course of three days. Flying standby, my girlfriend barely made our flight to San Francisco, which left at 6:30am, meaning we had had to get up around 4:00 after a very short sleep in Seattle. The two of us walked a great deal, especially in San Francisco, but all the same it was great to be outside and being so active.

The anti-climax to the trip came with the visa application itself: Instead of a sit-down interview I had expected, (and had been preparing for with a lot of French phrases spoken in my head)…

Advice on Asking Locals Questions

Working at a bookstore in downtown Ketchikan, I get asked a lot of questions. Ninety percent of the time, I love this: I feel helpful and intelligent when I answer people's questions, and it makes the job more exciting. However, from my experience with that ten percent of the time where answering questions isn't so fun... here are a few brief pieces of advice if you're ever a tourist and want to ask locals questions.

Do a bare minimum of research before arrival. More often than you might think, people tumble into my store talking as if they are unsure of what city or even what country they're in. One classic story is of tourists stepping off their boat and asking what the elevation is, and just two days ago I overheard a woman talking about how they went up the "river" to Skagway. (Skagway is at the end of Lynn Canal, the deepest fjord in North America, quite obviously salt water.) Tourists who don't know anything are probably the least likely group to ask…

Simultaneous Reading and New Realms of Knowledge

I am currently reading two books simultaneously, as I have through much of this summer. One of my current reads is Ordinary Wolves by Seth Kantner, which sits on a shelf in my bookstore. I read it only at work, and only when there is nothing else to do. The other book I'm reading is The Discovery of France, written by Graham Robb and given to me as a present some time ago. I read it at home, and at other assorted times when I have a spare moment. Both of these books have given me some amazing new perspectives - insights into worlds that are nearly entirely new to me - and I love reading them at the same time.

Ordinary Wolves is a novel of a white boy, Cutuk, born in Alaska's far north. Raised by a loner father intent on living as traditionally as possible, Cutuk experiences hardship and feelings of separateness both as he lives among the IƱupiat in the nearest village and when he goes to Anchorage, which gives him the biggest culture shocks of all. So far, I've only made it…