June 21, 2016
Today the long-awaited day arrived for my departure to Anchorage, Alaska. We departed for Newark airport around 5:30 a.m. so I could catch my first flight to Houston, Texas at 9:25 a.m. I spent my time playing killer Sudoku and eagerly awaiting another soft blue t-shirt to join me at my gate; however, when it came time to board I was still on my own. The first portion of the flight I do not remember much of as I was asleep in my window seat. Next to me sat an older man with a kind face who I could not help but notice was also social media savvy- checking both his Facebook and Instagram before we departed. The rest of the flight was marked with writing, reading Tuesdays with Morrie (trying desperately not to fly through the book, but nevertheless finding myself sucked into Mitch Albom’s pages as I had recently done with his Five People You Meet in Heaven), and occasionally getting lost in my own thoughts because planes typically give individuals a unique opportunity to do just that.
Flight two from Houston to my final destination of Anchorage was going to to be the killer- seven hours. I still had not met any other rustic students and had a momentary freakout that when I showed up everyone else was going to be best friends and I was going to be the “new kid” who was going to get bullied out of the state of Alaska. Clearly my freakout was entirely illogical. I finished reading Tuesdays With Morrie (STRONGLY recommend) and was trying to hold off from starting my next (and last!) book until at least hour five.
The first three hours of flight two were uneventful as I watched Star Wars: Episode IV (because the proper order is (IV, V, VI, I, II, III, and now VII) until I decided it would be fun to spill water down the front of myself. I popped open my brand new water bottle and all the water began spraying out the top because the straw got suction-cupped to the bottom. Thank goodness that my quick-dry jacket was actually quick to dry and water-resistant! It was a struggle to get napkins though because the flight attendant was too busy fawning over the “unaccompanied minors” sitting next to me and bringing them free food. I was staying positive though because of the beautiful mountain views outside my window.
With two and a half hours to go I would say we’re in the final stretch, but that’s kind of idealistic because that’s a pretty long stretch. My quick-dry shirt did in fact dry quickly and now is ready to once again be worn. While it was drying I started watching Dead Pool because Matt recommended it awhile back. Thoughts- it’s really good but also makes me want to vomit and pass-out at the same time.
Around seven o’clock we finally landed in Anchorage and I went to try to find both my bag and the other Rustic staff. At first I couldn’t find either and I began to panic until I finally caught a glimpse of the purple rustic shirts I had seen on SnapChat. The staff member came over to me and introduced himself as RJ from New York. He said we were waiting for one other girl- Julia, who I later found out liked to go by Breezy- and then Josh (another staff member) would pick up RJ, Breezy, Leah, and myself.
When we reached the hostel we’d be in for the night we met the third staff-member, Kristen, and another student named Logan. Breezy, Leah, and I went up to the girls’ room, but everyone was asleep and no one was very welcoming. We went back downstairs and got to know Josh and Logan over some not great, but very welcome pasta. Soon after, I showered and got ready for bed. It was around 10:00 PM in Anchorage and 2:00 AM at home in Lawrenceville. I had already fallen in love with the state, the city’s fresh air and the spectacular landscapes.
June 22, 2016
Today I lost my favorite pen, but I guess that’s okay because I’m in Alaska and it’s completely and utterly beautiful.
Since it’s bright all the time here and there’s a four hour time difference, I woke up relatively early this morning. Leah, Breezy, and I were ironically the first ones downstairs at the hostel so we hung out, talked, and played a bit of chess before the rest of the group came down and breakfast began.
Today we journeyed to Denali National Park and it was about a eight hour ride total, but that included a break at a convenience store similar to Wal-Mart as well as a lunch break and some other scenic spot and gas breaks. The most exciting part of the trip was my idea to purchase a group mascot that took the form of a ram named Randolph Jr. Laura and I were incredibly happy with our purchase and so was the rest of our group.
When we arrived at camp in Denali National Park we set up tents and began unloading bags and making dinner. Our dinner was rice, chicken, and veggies which was delicious and once again very much needed. After a quick orientation we began packing the van with “smelly stuff” to avoid bears and other scary animals. Overall the day was a good start to my adventure in Alaska and I have high hopes for the rest of my trip.