Before I begin on the events of today, I have to take a moment to pick up where I left off last night, as I was about to head to the Greek café, The Apollo, for dinner. I ordered an appetizer of hummus, a Greek salad, and a glass of Pino Grigio – it wasn’t long after I sat down that I realized that the young couple sitting next to me just so happened to be on their first date. Now, for a people-watcher like myself, this is the jackpot. I hit the goldmine. An epic occurrence. And boy, was it fascinating. And holy cow, was it AWKWARD. The guy was talking about anything – ANYTHING – that would come into his mind, obviously just to avoid the extremely long and awkward silences that were brought on by the lack of interest from the girl. He talked about dirt bikes and campers specially made for dogs, while she ordered a salad with lots and lots of onions – which I’m pretty sure sealed the deal in her lack of interest. They began talking about her blog, which he had randomly stumbled upon before moving to Seward – she’s an office manager for a kayak tour company and talks about how depressed she is a lot. How do I know? Because as I was sitting five feet away from them, devouring a plate of hummus, I Googled her blog URL and read her life history. I promise I’m not creepy, although that sort of is – I know so much about this poor girl and she probably didn’t even notice me sitting there. I’d probably be put in jail for stalking if I were male.
The waitress either took a liking to me or felt sorry for me because I was eating alone, so she sat down for awhile and we struck up a conversation about life in Seward. She moved to Seward from Salt Lake City after her dog died – she said she needed a change and bought a ticket to Alaska with some friends on whim. I told her she was one brave soul. She got word that there was good, steady, seasonal work in Seward, and she’s been there for 5 years now. She lived in her car for a few months before finding a place to rent and hitchhiked most of the first 3 years she lived in Seward – she told me it was actually against the law to refuse a hitchhiker looking for help in extreme weather conditions in the state. I’m doubtful that there’s any truth to that, though. The waitress said a few interesting things that I think are worth noting. I was most fascinated by the overall mental stability of the permanent residents of Seward and the effect the weather has on them. It stays dark 24/7 during the winter and most places close up – the weather is gloomy and cold, the town is empty, and there’s a steady mixture of rain/snow/sleet. Most places stop serving alcohol because there’s a high rate of alcohol abuse during the colder months. They also have these devices that the locals call “happy lights” which are literally like tanning beds that give people exposure to the much-needed Vitamin D, since they rarely see the sun. This helps with skin conditions they can develop, but most of all, it lifts moods. She mentioned that most people are extremely social during the Summer, but become more reserved and antisocial once the winter months roll around. As she put it: “every winter, I witness a few people in the town have mental breakdowns. It’s sad, really.”
Another thing we discussed was the high population of criminals, but the low crime-rate. She said although Seward, and Alaska as a whole, were safe, there is a high population of runaway criminals seeking a hideaway. Murderers, rapists, and kidnappers run here as a refuge – thinking they’ll never get found.
Clearly, I’m fascinated by some pretty creepy stuff. Also, it’s beautiful, but who the heck would want to depend on a light bulb for happiness?
I’m writing from the two-story railcar headed slooowly (but scenic-ly) back to Anchorage, where we’ll stay the night before heading to Denali (MY FAVORITE!) in the morning. We were able to sleep in this morning until 7 a.m., which is 11:00 a.m. Georgia time, so it was glorious. We moseyed around until around 8 a.m., got ready, had a bagel or two for breakfast, and finally hitched a ride with a nice man with a van headed towards Exit Glacier. There, we learned extremely valuable information, like to fight back if a bear starts to eat you.
Now if there’s one thing I hate, it’s an uphill hike – or any hike for that matter – but we stuck with it for 2 miles until we reached the mid-point of the glacier and the end of the trail. Tom was busy showing out for my family, practically leaping up the side of the mountain, while back home, he’ll ride around the parking lot for 30 minutes to ensure a close-to-the-door space. Dad was keeping his mouth shut to make Tom think he was all rough n’ tough, but Mom, Bee, and I complained, grunted, huffed, and puffed the entire way. BeeBop even fell out at one point. Exit Glacier was beautiful, as was the view from the top.
Back in town, we ate lunch at Ray’s and once again, the food was incredible. We really haven’t eaten a bad meal yet. This must be where all the good chefs come to hide. The no-seafood-eating girl ordered fish tacos…maybe I’m coming out of my seafood-eating shell. Pun intended. After lunch, we went downtown and browsed through some of the stores where I finally broke down and bought a North Face jacket so I don’t die of frostbite. I also found a cute new outfit for Addy Kate Cooper, who isn’t even born yet, but is already being spoiled. We stopped for coffee, then for ice cream, making sure to get our calories and caffeine in before we departed for Anchorage at 6 p.m.
Also, another thing about Seward? Someone let their pet rabbits loose many, many years ago after they decided the rabbit business wasn’t for them. Now there’s tons of fat, domesticated, pet bunnies running around everywhere – in people’s yards, public parks, down by the pier…it’s basically a dream come true.
And so that leads me back to here – the top of the railcar, where I’m about to wake the rest of my family up from their naps (trains are great for sleeping) so we can grab a bite to eat.