Remember a while back when I mentioned I’d be working in tourism this summer?
I work in Whittier on Saturdays, an hour and a half drive from my home in Anchorage. I wanted to try a side hustle that fit neatly in to my already full workweek.
In a perfect world, this would be a job I return to after I retire and spend winters out-of-state or move altogether. It would allow me a connection to Alaska while keeping my brain engaged learning new skills, and hopefully earning me some travel credits for winter.
And in my imperfect world, this job would help me be a part of someone’s good experience. Having worked as a battered women’s advocate, a child abuse investigator, and now a juvenile probation supervisor, I’m ready to bring smiles instead of misery. And to enhance visitors’ trips to Alaska. It’s also a way for me to experience second-hand travel. All the excitement, none of the worries.
From the long cozy ride to the port with seven other workers to the crowded lines of stressed-out passengers, there is a theme of belonging. Maybe it’s the uniforms. Or maybe it’s the constant push to get people moved from train or bus to ship, or how we greet passengers. “Thank you for coming to Alaska,” or “Welcome to Whittier.” And then cram back into the van for another hour and a half drive.
There are lots of fun times. And there are a lot of other times. It’s very satisfying to stay in motion rather than sitting at a desk all day, and to help people with short-term, easy problems.I work with some terrific people, mostly women from young ones in their 20’s to others in their 80’s. We represent the full spectrum, and I love hearing their stories—of gardening, of fishing, of husbands and grandkids and pets. I couldn’t ask for a better group.
That said, I don’t have as much energy as I once did. I may need to re-think this plan until I actually have retired.
But there’s something so exciting about traveling, whether it’s going on a trip to a place I’ve never been, or hearing about someone else’s wild experience coming to Alaska. I think travel is better in the planning and in the retelling. I know I’m not alone when I say that while it’s exhilarating to reach a travel goal, amazing to keep the new friendships made, it’s just plain scary at times to be an uninvited guest in someone else’s yard.
So I’ll book a trip to a destination soon in South America. It’s long been my goal to hit all continents by 60. Time is moving fast. When each continent is complete, a book of travel essays with a companion guide of how to travel on a slim budget will result.
In the meantime, I’ve began vlogging on YouTube, giving Alaskan tourists some travel hints, and introducing readers to characters in my stories, past and future. Alaska is a big character in my memoir. More than a simple setting, Alaska has been an adoptive parent.
I’ve continued to do interviews about Pieces of Me from home on podcasts and in publications, and work with an editor to completely renovate my forthcoming novel.
If you have questions or comments about Alaska, about travel, feel free to drop me a line. And if you’re so inclined, feel free to subscribe to my YouTube channel.
And please say hello if you pass through Whittier some Saturday afternoon, where I will say,”Welcome. I’m glad you’re here.”
And I mean it. Thanks for stopping by.