Thursday, July 31, 2008

Birthday Present to Me!

For my birthday I received money and a gift certificate to REI - I decided since I am driving back to Utah the end of September I would buy me a tent so that we can save money on our drive home. I have been searching online at REI and found one that would be perfect for our ride home. I did my research, then went into REI and purchased my tent. I got it for a pretty good deal. It only cost me $99.00 and I didn't even have to pay for it! It is big enough for two people, and it is very light weight for any type of overnight backpacking trip. Now I just have to buy a sleeping bag and I will be set for my long drive home!!!

Reminded Why I Like My Job

I am now on my three day, or the end of it. I wasn't able to pick up any extra shifts this last three day, and it was probably a good thing. Seeing as our last train run I overslept until 6:40am, (I'm suppose to be at the rail yard at 6:15am) getting woken up by my phone ringing, and Noel trying to get a hold of me. I of course was way embarrassed to answer my phone. I immediately called the main office to tell them I was on my way. I could not believe this was happening - I had just done this about two weeks ago except that I wasn't as late as I was today. I arrive at the rail station just in time to run and hop on the train. Wish you could have seen me - I had my arms full of my bags and was running after the train - I hop on and almost fall backwards, luckily one of my coworkers grabbed me and helped me on. Later I found out that I was not suppose to jump on the train like that; the Alaska Railroad had called Princess's office and yelled at them. What a start to my long day. I was ever so happy for the phone call from Noel, I guess that means I need to rest up some...

After my long day of serving people all the way from Anchorage to Fairbanks we got in a motor coach and drove two hours south to Denali to stay the night - arriving close to midnight. The next morning our day started in Denali with passengers all the way to Whitter. These are very long train days - lasting up to 10 1/2 hours. It can either make for a long day or a fast one. This day was most wonderful. I got to work with one my favorite servers, Savannah, and of course Noel. We three ruled the dome. To top it off we had some great people! There was a huge group traveling together from Virgina and there was one sweet lady who I fell in love with. They called her Granny T. She was a cute little thing and I kept telling her that she was coming home to Utah with me. She said she couldn't because football season was starting soon and they needed her back in Virgina. Oh she was just a treat!!! That day I didn't care if people didn't tip me on the way out - I had served these people and it was my honor to do so. Everyone was so kind and there were very few problems all day. I did however end up getting some tips from the passengers, $99.75 (I've had better on these type of days...but I didn't care!). It just meant that I was ninety nine dollars richer, but I was double that just by knowing these sweet people!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Reasons why I shouldn't Bartend

I have recently been picking up extra shifts, all have been bartending. My first run out was fairly good. I had a few voids, but nothing major. I even ended up making a little extra money in tips - not great, but I made some extra money. However, this past run was not the best and it just confirmed to me that maybe I should just stick to tour guiding.

Reason 1: I spilt a margarita all over a woman, and the train wasn't even moving yet - WE STILL WERE SITTING IN THE DEPOT!!! To top it off the women was from another country (England, Canada, or Australia - who knows, who cares?) she was really nice about it, but the couple sitting across the table were Americans and were very rude to me about the situation. Like I meant to spill the drink on her. Besides that, I couldn't give the women the drink for free since it is an Alaska state law that you can't give alcohol away for free. This of course made the American couple even more upset. Once again I continued to apologize. Was ever so glad to get them all off the train!

Reason 2: I am Mormon, but it's not like there is a commandment that says "Thou shalt not serve Alcohol." If anything a Mormon would be the best type of bartender - think about it!

Reason 3: There are so many drinks out there, and I know none of them. Example, I am taking drink orders and come to a table with a young couple, the young man asks for a "Seven and Seven" I say to myself, "What in the hell kind of drink is that...why am I even trying to attempt to know what I'm doing as a bartender???" Luckily, I remember the guy's last night that I was staying with talking about having a "Seven and Seven." As soon as I take their order I flee off the train car and start asking all my drinking co-workers what on earth a "Seven and Seven" is. I finally find out that it's as easy as pie: Whisky and Seven Up. Actually it's a certain type of whisky, a whisky we don't have on the train. I have to go back to the man and ask if he would prefer Jack Daniels, or Canadian Club. Of course, I'm doing this all as I try to act very confident in what I'm doing. He chooses the Canadian Club. I make the drink, and apparently I do well because he had four of them!

Reason 4: Bartending makes me hate people. It has also made me realize that when someone busts their butt for you, then you make sure you tip them, and tip them well! The reason bartending has made me hate people is because I work my butt off for these people trying to keep their glasses full; all I get in return is a buck here or there, or pretty much ZERO! How can these people be like this? I wait hand and foot for these people and in return I get nothing. What A's - trying to keep it clean!!! I have learned that after working in the service industry I will take care of anyone who takes care of me!

Question: How much do you tip after about $33.00 worth of drinks/food, and as I continually keep coming back to keep your glasses full, even though you have free refills on ice tea, and I throw in some really nice conversation from time to time? Oh I would say around five dollars and that is being really nice! Try - Zero, yep, the nice people that I thought they were gave me zero...and it's pretty obvious that they could've tipped because it has a place for tips on the credit card receipt!
Well, it looks like if I ever pick up any shifts for bartending I will go out with the mind set that I'm only working for the hourly pay - because you can forget making tips off these tightwad, complaining, "I don't tip from the country I'm from," train cruising people!

Birthday Fun! (28 and Look'n for a Mate!)

Friday was my big 28th birthday - I am now, as I tell my passengers - "28 and look'n for a MATE!" I had a wonderful birthday here in Alaska - my parents got to ride the train with me and I was able to be their tour guide for most of their train ride to Denali. Bless my mom's heart she made two different cars of passengers sing Happy Birthday to me. Ick! She said it would help with tips - it possibly did???

I got off work Thursday night, headed home and went to bed around midnight. I then woke up at 3:00 am to leave with the Wilson's to drive down to Seward to go fishing. We have had this trip planned for several months. Luckily why my family was here they were able to go fishing with us. Poor Jessie, the sea is not for her - she spent most of her time bent over the boat pucking. I was busy fishing and wasn't able to get any photos. Anyhow, our trip started at 6:00 am and took us about 2 1/2 hours to drive out to sea to a perfect fishing spot. I slept so good on the boat with all the rocking!!! We ended up being at sea for 12 hours!!!

We found our spot and began our fishing. It was so nice because the sun was actually out and shinning. I even got sunburned. I caught my first halibut, but then threw it back because I knew I could get a bigger one. On my second catch it was big enough to keep, (30lbs) at least big enough for me! My second catch was a silver salmon - pretty proud of that one! Then the rest of the day I continued to try to catch my trophy halibut. Sad to say it didn't happen! Finally twenty minutes before we left I was still throwing fish back. The captain said if I didn't keep the next one I would only walk away with one halibut. (Our limit is two a person.) The next one I caught and kept, it was a record setting size of about 15lbs. Worth the wait if you ask me???

After fishing we went to a fish and chip dive and ate dinner. I then had to head back to Anchorage because I had to be to work at 4:45 am Saturday morning (arriving home at sleep deprived?). My family stayed in Seward at a Bed and Breakfast then went on a wild life cruise the next day. Not me - I am a gluten for punishment and wanted to work. Work was grand though - I got to work and was setting up our car when Noel surprised me with a piece of Peanut Butter Pie from my favorite restaurant here in Anchorage. He was so sweet!!! He said he didn't know what to get me, I said the pie was perfect!!! The perfect ending to a great Birthday. Thanks everyone for the texts, phone messages, and emails - you're the best!!!
Our party (Tara, Jerri, Robert, Me, Jessie, Flint, Dad, and Jes) with all our catchings. My family took home about 90lbs of fish - they better save me some or I will be livid!!! Me and my best catch of the day - not a man, but a pretty good size silver salmon!!!Flint with one of his catches that he had to throw back - an ugly fish. It's a scape?
Poor Jessie - she did catch her two halibut, but this was the fun she had most of the day...

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Tea Vs. Hot Chocolate

I love, with every fiber of my being hot chocolate. I also have have found that hot chocolate does not love me back the way that I love it's smooth, creamy, chocolaty, flavor wrapped around my tongue, and warmness it sends down my throat! Hot chocolate could almost be compared to men in my life, but that is a whole other blog...

Recently I have been drinking a lot of hot chocolate. Around Christmas I drink quite a bit, (hot chocolate people - not beer...don't miss understand me here...) and when I do my stomach does not always react the best. I know that I should not drink milk, I have found that in my aging of life that I am, what is known as, "Lactose Intolerant." I think that I gained this horrible curse from my Granny, and have felt, for numerous years, not to accept it. I have now accepted it more and more, and am striving to live a dairy free diet. Let me just tell you that this is not a fun life for me! I realize that any time I want to eat dairy I am going to have to pay the consequences. The consequences are not fun for me, and I end up in the most horrible pain, discomfort, and sometimes embarrassing predicament. Much like Meg Ryan in her movie French Kiss - every time I see the scene of where she OD's on cheese I can relate with her to a T!

Speaking of "T", Not Mr. T - I have now discovered that there is a fabulous hot drink similar to hot chocolate out there. It is known as tea! It does not have the same sensual affect that hot chocolate has on me, but when ever I drink it I feel incredibly fine and do not have the pains that hot chocolate has on me! I recently discovered tea when I was trying to regain my voice back from a recent loss (by the way it came back after three long, I MEAN LONG days...after some prayers, and of course a priesthood blessing that I never asked for, it came back - wonderful priesthood). At first I was very reluctant to drinking tea, but have found that as I am living here in Alaska where it is cold ALL THE FREAKING time that tea warms not only my throat, my body, and my heart, but it is also very tasty. Especially with a spoon full of sugar - actually honey, which is natural, and better for you! Not only am I going to help my stomach problems by cutting out dairy, aka hot chocolate, (milk is about the last thing I have held on to in the dairy department...other than milk I have cut most everything out...sad day for me!) but tea is so much more healthier for me and LESS fattening than hot chocolate! Yes, I am obeying the word of wisdom and am only drinking caffeine free tea, and all herbal tea. There are some great flavors of tea out there - look into it! Maybe you'll be the next tea drinker, just like me and my new love for tea - not Mr. T! "I pitty the fool, pitty the fool, who can't drink hot chocolate!!!" Thanks Mr. T, or Mr. Tea...

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Got to Blow it's Horn

The Conductors just love me on the train! Noel, Nerissa, and I got to go up front why the train was moving, and I GOT TO BLOW IT'S HORN!!! I was so excited, they let me blow the horn several times. I did the "toot toot" over and over, such an adrenalin rush. I was very nervous walking up front with not much of a railing to hold me in, but we safely made it. Plus, to top it off Nerissa even got a phone number from one of the engineers, so that was fun for her! If they ever need someone to blow the horn they can ask me and I will be up there in a heartbeat!

Humping the Pipeline (my second time...)

The Alyeska Pipeline runs all the way from Barrow Alaska to Valdez Alaska. The first time I saw it in 2000 I wanted to get on top of it. Well it turns out this pipeline is pretty big stuff. However, I found a way to somehow wrap myself around it, oddly??? Well, I have once again got to see the pipeline...and if I must say, got to "hump" it once again. You have to either go to Fairbanks or to the eastern side of Alaska to see it. They have a visitor center in Fairbanks so we stopped to check it out once again.

As before I chose to climb up on the pipeline and strike a pose or two. For as lame as this may all sound we had a blast walking around the pipe and checking it all out!

Chill'n at Chchchchena Hot Springs

We spent the day at Chena Hot Springs - so awesome! Different, but awesome?!?!? First off it's a natural hot springs, so everyone there is pretty natural if you know what I mean...Although, you do have to wear swim suits in the springs - THANK GOODNESS! I saw enough naked women in the dressing room - it was out of control!

The springs were around 104 degrees and full of people. It was so fun to sit in them and realize that this was all natural. Here we soaked, just chill'n at the Chena in Alaska when our surrounding temperature was around 60 degrees. By the way this is not the farthest north hot springs in the world...

Story of Chena: Every year in February the Asian Culture flocks to Chchchchena Hot Springs and will conceive here - specifically under the Northern Lights. Apparently if they conceive their children here they will be smart, and have a high IQ. Here is my goal in life: If I ever get married I am going to come to Chena Hot Springs in the winter and conceive under the pretty Northern Lights. With much luck I will hope that my children will come out pretty smart!

Farthest North Denny's in THE WORLD

Who goes to Fairbanks to eat at the nasty restaurant known as Denny's, uh, I DO! If you go to Fairbanks you have to add the farthest north Denny's to your list of things to do there. I tell my train passengers all the time that if you're in Fairbanks you HAVE to eat at Denny's. Of course the majority of the passengers look at me like I'm an idiot...but I guarantee that about 90% of them take me up on my recommendation. You just have to eat there, at least for the chance to buy a shirt. That's basically why we ate there. I am such a dear sister because the only reason we ate there this evening was because I wanted to get my sister Miss Jessie a shirt from there. I don't know why I am so kind to her, but bless my heart, that is what I did, I bought her a shirt! Yes, yes I know I am so sweet - who wouldn't want a sister like me??? Jessie, you better watch your mouth or that shirt is MINE!

Fantastically Fun Times in Fairbanks

For the last month we have been planning a trip to Fairbanks for a weekend. We were able to stay at the Fairbanks Princess lodge for next to nothing, so what the heck - let's explore Fairbanks to the fullest!

Before arriving in Fairbanks Laura (my roommate) and I hung out in Denali National Park why we waited for Audra to get off work and then we hit the open road for Fairbanks.

There is really nothing very exciting in this town, but we made it fun! The night we arrived we went to the farthest north Denny's in the world - basically anything in this town is the farthest north???

The next day we went to the Fairbanks Museum at UAF and spent a few hours there, went and looked at some Musk Ox. We then headed further north to Chena Hot Springs which is the "must do thing" here in Fairbanks. I was so grateful the weather was bad - it made the springs much more enjoyable!

After a soak in the hot chchchchena springs we went and ate at this "to die for" restaurant/brewery (farthest north) Silver Gulch. After that we checked out the Pipeline and called it a day!
Sunday we got up and went to church (yes, Fairbanks has a singles ward), and then started are long trek back to Denali to drop Audra off and then continued south to Anchorage. Of course stopping at Skinny Dicks Halfway Inn on our way home. It was a great time in Fairbanks - heck I would do it again!