Wednesday, February 26, 2014

A Most Wonderful Life

I'm a little delayed in getting some posts out lately so let's see if I can cover a lot in one here. I'll work backwards.

We are currently in the midst of a board of trustees meeting here in Juneau for the Alaska Permanent Fund Corporation (my employer). I've been wanting to meet one of our investment advisors for a while who lives in Wayland, Massachusetts, but I didn't have the chance until today. All I did was introduce myself and tell him that I grew up in the town next to Wayland. It's always fun to make connections like that so far away. We had a wonderful but brief conversation. He asked me what I thought of my decision to move here from Boston. Without hesitation, I said it was the best decision of my life. I love Juneau and couldn't be happier.

That's the truth.

Our weather has been perfect lately. It snowed last week but then it cleared up with a dramatic temperature drop into the 0-20s. I-DEAL. The Mendenhall Ice Cave has been the place to be in the last year, and the current conditions mean that instead of a grueling and treacherous hike, you can access the cave via a leisurely stroll across Mendenhall Lake. It's still a 3-hour trip and 5+ miles, but it's still very easy. I saw someone in a foam neck brace in the cave the other day. Even Butters the Puppy made it no problem.

Here are a few pictures:

Simba/Rafiki Moment

The other day, we woke to 6 inches of fresh snow and sunshine. Everything in Juneau looked amazing. Even though I worked most of the day, I could not believe how beautiful Juneau looked that day. Around sunset, I thought that Juneau could not have a more perfect day.

Then the northern lights came out.

I will likely have another post soon about my crazy schedule lately. I'm just squeezing this one as it is though. I'm anticipating no life until April given my upcoming schedule.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Escape from AK!

I haven't left Juneau since I rolled off the ferry in October 2012- more than 15 months ago! If you wanted to nit-pick, I suppose you could count the ferry trip I took to Haines (60 miles away) to visit a friend for the weekend. That's not exactly what we would call getting out around here. In all honesty, I haven't much desired to leave our little temperate rainforest paradise since I got here. I'm absolutely IN LOVE with Juneau. I simply haven't felt like I needed to get out. That's not to say, however, that I don't miss plenty of things from Down South. Juneau is lacking in a lot of areas. I'm also not saying that I'm not looking forward to this trip because I definitely am.

My dear grandma Helen is 91 and lives in Sun City, California (in Riverside County, SoCal). We've had a family tradition of visiting her in January or February every year since I was a little kid. My parents brilliantly decided to fly me down for this years' winter visit - though lately it has just my folks that make the cross-country trip from Massachusetts and not my sisters.

Grandma, my sisters and I in California, 2010

Yes, I too was a baby once. Here I am with Grandma Helen
So yes, I am very excited to be going to see my parents, grandma, some aunts and uncles, and also to enjoy some warm sunny weather in Southern California - although we're having one hell of a warm, un-snowy winter. Someone switched our weather with the rest of the country this year apparently. 

After such a long stretch in Juneau, I'm curious to see how I react to things in California. I have some predictions, but I'm sure after the trip, I'll have a revelation or two. Some things I think I will be shocked by are traffic, crowds, weather, options and noise. I have a laundry list of shopping stops I must make. We're seriously lacking clothes shopping here so I have saved a bunch of money for Target, REI and a haul of fresh produce. I signed up for Alaska Airline's Club 49 - available to Alaska residents. One of them main perks of Club 49 is that if you're flying in/out of Alaska, you get TWO FREE CHECKED BAGS. TWO. So my plan is to pack a duffle bag into another bag on the way down, and to fill it with a haul of clothes and produce to bring back to Juneau. We can't get tomatoes worth a damn here. I hope to bring back lots of tomatoes and citrus. I told a friend about this and they replied, "Hahaha, you are a real Alaskan now... planning to drag back produce and clothes." 

We've also got a list of foodie stops... In n Out, Shabu Shabu, Mexican... We like food in my family for sure. We'll be spending some time in San Diego and Los Angeles, but we'll also be doing a lot to help Grandma. Of course, I'm quite excited to see my parents. They came to Juneau in June for a week so it hasn't been too too long, but still. I miss them terribly. 

I'll be sure to check back in with my revelations, if there are any. I'm pretty sure I'll have some culture shock. I can't wait to see what, in fact, surprises me. 

Saturday, January 18, 2014

A Puppy Mama at Last

So sorry for the lack of posts in the last month. I've been... pretty busy.

On December 13th, Butters the Border Collie puppy arrives in Juneau via Alaska Airlines Flight 62. I'll keep the text portion of this post short because the pictures will mostly speak for themselves. She's an amazing puppy, and I feel very lucky to have her. She is definitely challenging at times - mostly when she doesn't want to be asleep in her kennel late at night. We had a dog when I was kid, but my dad was the one who really did the training and hard work with him. Being responsible for Butters is a new experience.

While I'm lucky to have her as a puppy, I like to think that she's lucky to have me as a mom and also to be here in Juneau. She gets a nice run on Sandy Beach every day on my lunch break, and I get to take her to even more adventures on my off days. She turns 3 months old tomorrow. Hopefully we can celebrate with wins by the Seattle Seahawks AND New England Patriots!! That will be a subject for a whole other post, I'm sure.

Meanwhile, meet Butters. She came from Midnight Border Collies in Washington.

Our first selfie - 10 minutes after being introduced

First day home - toys: acceptable

Riding a Musk Ox

Paying our respects to Romeo the Wolf

Kameko is *okay*

Wiped out

At the coffee Drive-thru

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Ice Caves and the Joys of Winter

Winter is definitely here. Snow has covered Juneau and will remain until April. There's lot of annoying aspects of winter here, but today I discovered one of the advantages. I joined a group of people from the Juneau Photo Group for a trek out to the ice cave at Mendenhall Glacier- a place I've been three times before this year but in the summer. Today was different because instead of a long hike along the lake and over the glacier, we could cross the lake itself since it has long since frozen! Instead of a few hours, we walked the ~2 miles across the lake in about 45 minutes. Then it was an easy climb up and over the glacier to the cave. Inside the cave, there was still some flowing water, but it was mostly frozen up and much drier because it wasn't melting so much. Roundtrip, including lots of photo op stops and a good chunk of time in the cave itself, it was only a three hour event. In the summer it took at least twice as long. I have designs to go back there again soon... but with props and other fun things. Stay posted!

There was an article on Huffington Post the other day about this ice cave. I scrolled down through the pictures and came upon the video that they included. Huh. I wonder who's video? I clicked on it... Katy Giorgio. HA! I'm now Huffington Post famous. Moving up in the world!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Weather Predictions

We've got a snow storm coming in... so they tell me. In Juneau, the weather is much less predictable than in my last two homes of Boston and Houston. The collision of the Pacific Ocean and Canadian-Alaskan Rocky mountains keep the forecasters on their toes. They can't give us any detailed information of when or what weather will come through with any great deal of accuracy. I am not accustomed to this.

Here is was weather forecast maps looked like in Boston and Massachusetts:

Clearly Fitchburg is fine but Cambridge is in for a blow!

Definitely know how much snow I'm getting

Yup, tornado skipping my house for sure

No escape in the Houston Metropolitan Area

?????????? ... it's snowing heavily in Juneau right now... 
... and this. 

It's better just to look out the window and make your own forecast:


Party Cloudy


Monday, October 28, 2013

Puppy Pregnant

There are some things that seem like they should be issued to every newcomer to Juneau. First and foremost: a pair of XtraTufs. I got a hold of some of those boots shortly after I arrived last year.

They're pretty great, and they are popular footwear here for a reason!

Once "Dent the Car" went to the farm in June, it was replaced with a Suburu Forester- another standard Juneau vehicle. We're just getting into the winter months now, and I look forward to see how well it does in the snow and ice in these steep streets we have around town.

So here I am a year in with one last item to check off on my list. A dog. We had a yellow lab, Max, growing up, but I've only had cats as an adult. A dog was never possible in my various living situations- especially not in Boston. Well it seems that the time has finally come for me to take the puppy plunge! I deposited with a Border Collie breeder in Washington State earlier this summer, and a litter was born on October 19th. I have picked out one of the puppies, and she should arrive around Christmas. Midnight Border Collies Website

Meet Butters!

1 Day Old Butters

River and her six puppies

So I'm quite nervous, but I can't wait to spend the winter training my little lady. I chose to go with a border collie because of their extreme intellect. I wanted a dog that I could really engage with and train. I'll be getting Butters right around the winter solstice so our first few months together will include a lot of walks in the dark. I think the overall timing should be great- I'll have an energetic dog in time for next summer. She should be more than ready to hit the trails with me. I imagine a tough road ahead, though. It is especially challenging to find pet-friendly rentals in Juneau. I think I have enough flexibility with my current situation that I'll be okay when the time comes to find another living situation.