Alaskan Postcard No. 1: What
I have gotten myself into?
Editor's note: USU student Ginger Warburton writes
of an outsider's experience in Alaska exclusively for
the Hard News Cafe. This is the first in a series.
By Ginger Warburton
July 3, 2006 | This spring I realized I had no clue
what I was going to do this summer.
My cousin Missy worked in Alaska last summer, so I
gave her a call.
Two weeks later I was in a car being chauffeured to
Seattle by John and Paul -- not the apostles, just some
friends of mine.
After an interesting (to say the least) one-and-a-half
day road trip, we parted ways at the security checkpoint
line of the Seattle airport. John and Paul continued
on their way to Canada, and I like many gold rushers
before me was traveling"North to the future."
I boarded the plane for what I thought would be an
hour flight. As it turned out it was two hours. As the
plane descended I looked out the window at the drizzly,
groggy world before me. Or maybe I was the groggy one.
Either way that was my first impression of Ketchikan,
I dutifully followed my fellow passengers off the plane.
I openly stared at the one giant man dressed in navy
blue, the only security guard in sight. I realized that
up until this point I had no realistic idea of what
to expect in Alaska. I had imagined a little village
in the woods bustling with hippies and lumber jacks.
Men clad in plaid flannel and carharrts, college-age
students in Chacos, Patagonia attire and dreadlocks.
The only information I had gathered was that men outnumbered
women 4 to 1, which I hoped was an exaggeration.
Still following everyone, I walked down a flight of
stairs and came around a corner. As I surveyed the baggage
claim area my eyes fell on a fluorescent pink Post-it
note with GINGER written in large letters. The note
was in the fingers of not a bearded man or a hippie
but held by a 20-something woman with hair pulled tight
off her face, glasses, a large coat, jeans and white
running shoes. She was hurriedly chatting with someone
next to her -- I was so focused on the pink Post-it
I didn't really notice if it was a man or a woman. I
must have walked toward her, because she saw me and
drew in her breath either in a gasp at me or to get
some air from the unpunctuated story she had just been
Lisa was her name. She would be my roommate and would
also help me with my bags. How nice. She was amazed
at how little I had packed. We walked into the groggy
world, and oh the rain was not just a drizzle I realized,
we were greeted by a white mini van smelling of McDonald's.
I stepped out from under the doorway into the wet world
on my tip toes, noticing how ridiculous my small, soft
leather heels now seemed.
Actually all my clothes seemed somehow inappropriate.
The sky was gray, everything was wet, and the mini van
didn't produce heat. We drove onto a ferry and crossed
some form of water. We continued to drive by fluorescent
orange after fluorescent orange cone. There were no
mountains, not really that many trees and certainly
not a hippie or lumber-jack man in sight. Dilapidated
buildings and houses surrounded me, with unkempt yards.
We pulled into a small gravel parking lot for three
apartment buildings. although they actually looked more
like large wooden shacks, we climbed two flights of
stairs and came to a door marked "5." This
must be ours. Lisa fumbled and jingled trying to find
the right key from the overloaded key chain. The door
swung open, and my nose was immediately overwhelmed
by a strange mixture of curry, mold, must and old cigarettes.
I wandered around in a daze, just asking myself, "What
the hell did I get myself into?"
For more on my summer adventures in Alaska read next