Amanda Dorough | The Beautiful Journey


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Life Right Now: Bristol Bay

Well y’all it’s been a year since I last posted here.  When it comes down to it there wasn’t a lot to report on honestly.  I spent last fall in TX completing my final internship so that I could finish paramedic school.  By early December I had finished all the tests and details I needed to take me national exam, and I passed!  Oh it felt so good, because, I can’t lie the NREMT Paramedic exam is dang hard.

After that I worked most of the spring at a clinic in Soldotna before being offered (and accepting) a seasonal paramedic position with the Bristol Bay Borough Fire Department, which is where I’ve now been since late May.

Today I thought I’d go ahead and give you guys a little snapshot of my surroundings out here.

Bristol Bay…Bristol Bay… how do I describe Bristol Bay?  Picture Alaska in your head.  Whatever you think Alaska should looks like.  Got it?  Ya Naknek (the town I live in) looks  nothing like that.  If I squint real hard on a clear day with no haze I can see the mountains in Katmai about 50 miles away.  Naknek itself is tundra as far as you can see. Tundra meaning flat boggy low bush plant life with little to no trees.

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Tundra leading up to the bay.  You can see the Peterson Point Cannery in the distance to the right.

But people don’t come to Naknek to play tourist, they come here to fish.  With about a dozen canneries in town the population swells from less than 1,000 to over 10,000 for the Salmon fishing season, hence why they hire people like me to help out in the summer.

The Bristol Bay Borough Fire Department (henceforth referred to as BBBFD) actually only has one full-time year-round paid employee, my supervisor Deb, whose official title is EMS Coordinator, but she really does everything.  Everyone else with the department is a volunteer.

There are three fire stations.  One in Naknek, another in King Salmon, and another in South Naknek (which is only accessible by boat or plane), but almost everything is run out of the Naknek station.

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The Naknek Fire Station.  It isn’t big, but don’t be fooled, there can be 5 different apparatus squished in there.

The town doesn’t have a hospital but it does have a decent clinic, so if you’ve got a cold or cut your finger they can handle it, but anything worse and there’s a good chance you’ll get medevac’ed to Anchorage from the airport in King Salmon, and expensive event ($30,000+) if you don’t have medieval insurance.

While we actually have 4 ambulances in the area, our primary rig, Rescue 1 is kept in a “barn” next to the clinic and our bunkhouse, which is about a mile from the fire station.  This way we can have access when we’re on call (during the work day we just drive it to the station).  Currently we also have our Reserve Ambulance, and the oldest in our fleet, parked out front as well.  We typically only use it if we have two calls/patients come at the same time, which has happened twice since I got here.  I personally had to run one call in it just last week, and well, it was interesting.  A blast from the past.

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The ambulance barn with Rescue 1 inside.

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Our reserve ambulance parked outside.  That thing is at least as old as me.

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Our clinic, the Camai (pronounced Chuh-my) Medical Center, which is about the size of your average doctors office.

Behind the clinic is the Fire Departments bunkhouse, which me and my two coworkers stay at,  although right now we also have a seasonal police officer, a parks dept. intern, and the engineer working on the towns sewer project living with us as well.  All in all the bunkhouse is a pretty nice building.  There’s a guys wing and girls wing with 4 bedrooms each and a bathroom. Then in the middle there’s a living room, kitchen and laundry area.  There’s not a whole lot to do in our down time, especially since we’re on call 5 nights a week, so we’ve been watching a lot of movies and playing a lot of board games lately.

 

There’s also a lake right next to the bunkhouse which has some pretty killer sunsets over it.  I’d actually have a pretty awesome view of it too if I didn’t have that garish yellow  connex right out my window.  You win some you lose some.

Ill go ahead and leave you today by introducing you to my team this summer…

 

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L-R: John, a paramedic from Texas, Nate an EMT 2 that actually volunteers with me at the fire dept back in Soldotna, and then of course me!  I should also mention that this picture was taken by the Heart ‘o The Shire, a coffee shop/cafe (I guess you would call it that) here in town that has THE BEST cinnamon rolls.  Just sayin 😉

 

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Wrapping Up P-School

P-School aka Paramedic School aka the hardest year of my life thusfar, is officially over, well the school part at least.  I still have my internship to do, and my exit exam, and my national exam…. but that’s neither here no there.  The sense of freedom I feel now that class is over and there’s no more homework or clinicals is absolutely incredible. Incredible I tell you!

For those of you that are blissfully unaware of what this journey was like, well let me try to sum it up for you…

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Ok, maybe that’s being a little dramatic, but it was really, really hard.

I will also take this moment for a public education moment.  See ladies and gentlemen, there is a difference between an EMT and a Paramedic (I know, most of you are probably thinking mind blown right now).  I’ll forgive you for not knowing this fact considering most of the population as NO CLUE and I myself didn’t know there was a difference 5 years ago.  Yes they both work in an ambulance but the real difference comes in skill-level and training.  It took me exactly 1 semester (approx 150 hrs) to become an EMT (in Alaska EMT 1 in the entire country they’re called EMT-Basic).  As an EMT you can do basic life saving stuff and it’s all fine and dandy in many cases.  Paramedic’s on the other hand possess a scary amount of medical knowledge, can do some pretty insane procedures (surgical cricothyroidotomy anyone?), and deal with a ton of medications.  Also, when all is said and done a Paramedic degree is like 2000 hrs or something, and that’s on top of the EMT- Basic hours since you have to have that cert before even thinking of applying to Paramedic School.  So ya, there you have it in a nutshell, EMTs and Paramedics are different.

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Top: My EMT 1 Class, Fall Semester 2014; Bottom: My EMT 2 Class Spring Semester 2015. Alaska has 3 levels of EMTs before you get to Paramedic.

Ok, back to the topic at hand.  I can still remember the first day of Paramedic school last August vividly.  My class of 11 all showed up with our crisp new uniforms and blank notebooks ready to learn.  Fast forward 11 months later and our uniforms are tattered (I seriously have holes in my job skirt aka sweatshirt) and faded, we have dark circles under our eyes, and there are coffee stains on pretty much every piece of paper we deal with.

Paramedic school literally wrecks you.  But at the same time my medical knowledge base now compared to a year ago is insane.  It’s a pretty cool feeling when all of the cogs in your brain click and you suddenly understand why your body does the things it does.

While classroom time was like at least 75% of the program, those hours of lectures were also supplemented with clinicals.  During fall and spring semester we were in class 4 hrs a day M-Th then in the summer semester that changed to 8hr days M-W, leaving weekends, aka what everyone else calls break-time and uses to do fun things, like sleep for example, for us to get a crap-load of clinicals done, and by crapload I mean somewhere around 15 a semester.  I spent countless days riding around with different fire departments, but even more than that I spent what felt like endless hours in places like the Emergency Room, ICU, Cath Lab, OR, Pediatrics and my personal favorite (or not) OB.  Ya that’s right, if I could go through my entire career as a Paramedic and not have to birth any babies I would be OK with it.

Beyond that I think pictures speak the most words for me, so I’ll let some photos from this past year do the talking…

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The UAA Paramedic Program is split onto two campuses, Matsu, which is North of Anchorage, and Kenai, which is where I went. In September we all came together in Anchorage to get clinical orientations at the sites there. This picture was taken outside of a Anchorage Fire Department Station.

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In the fall we spent a lot of time going over airway skills. These pictures are from our “Airway Races” where each of our platoons (our class was broken into 3) completed against eachother.

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In the Fall we got custom shirts made for Breast Cancer Awareness month. I designed the graphic on the back so it was a pretty proud moment.

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In February the Matsu campus came down to work on Cardiac Mega Codes and ACLS with us.

Then summer semester is when things started to get really fun.  We’d been working on medical issues/treatment all year so we finally got to do some Trauma scenarios…

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Working some trauma scenarios in our vehicle simulator outside of the school.

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Learning some high angle rescue skills with the Nikiski Fire Department. This was before we were belayed to 60 ft in the air…

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While we are NOT “Ambulance Drivers” learning to drive the ambulance and get CEVO certified is still a necessary skill.

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Extrication training with Central Emergency Services.  Nothing like using the jaws of life to make you feel like a bada**.  In this pic we’re all sitting in a van we cut the roof off.

So there you have it, like 10 of at least 1000 photos from the year, but I did say summary right?  If not we would be here all night!

Now that we’ve gotten all that out of the way, as I mentioned before I still have my internship left to do, so I’ll be spending 2 months this fall just outside of Houston, TX, putting all my paramedic skills to work and probably dying of heatstroke considering Alaska has ruined me forever.  Then afterwards I’ll come back to Soldotna, take all my final tests and hopefully find a job and actually have money again.  Hooray!

So there you have it, P-school in a very small nutshell.  Thanks for coming along for the ride with me everyone!


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That Time I Ran With the Reindeer

I’ve often spoken about how my love for history and all things travel was sparked and fueled by my fathers (and grandfathers) extensive collection of National Geographics.  The sites, the cultures, the experiences, all so different from my little corner of the world.  I was completely captivated.

One of the events that has always captivated me was the Running of the Bulls in Pamplona.  While I never actually had any spark of desire within me to run with the bulls myself, the concept was just so interesting.

Enter Alaska.

Every spring, around the start of the famous Ititarod, Anchorage celebrates Fur Rendezvous aka Fur Rondy.  Being as this is Alaska and we have a lot of great nature things to do but not many non-nature activities, I always keep my eye out for new and exciting opportunities. So, when I took a look at this years Fur Rondy schedule and noticed an event called “The Running of the Reindeer” I was immediately intrigued.  I did a little research and immediately knew I had to do it.  I mean, a three block dash, in the snow, being chased by reindeer, while wearing costumes, what could be better?!

I immediately recruited a couple friends to do it with me and then we officially faced our first challenge.  What would we wear?  We considered many different options.  Mario characters, animals, minions…. Eventually we decided on Where’s Waldo.  A fun, cheap, and easy option.

Now lets fast forward to race day.  It’s no secret that our winter here in Alaska has been less than steller.  It’s been warmer that normal and slightly dry.  They actually had to bring in snow to cover 4th Ave for the race and other events there (Including the most important event of them all, the Ititarod, which had it’s ceremonial start that same morning).

Although our winter had been warmer than usual, the race day was still fairly cold.  I’m actually pretty impressed that I managed to fit three layers of clothes underneath my striped Waldo shirt.  Thank goodness for stretchy fabric!

About 30 minutes before the dash was about to start everyone began congregating in the middle of the street and it became such a fun atmosphere.  People were dressed in all sorts of costumes and it became one big photo-op with all the different groups wanting to get pictures with eachother, whether they were people you knew or not.  I can’t even begin to tell you how many photos we were in that day.

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The dash itself happened in 4 heats: Men, Women, Groups, and Tourists.  We signed up for the group heat because we were originally going to have our guy-friend Skylar join us, but afterwards we were definitely wishing we had done the womens heat. Why? Because the group heat was HUGE.  Definitely the biggest of them all.

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We found more waldos!

When our time finally came to run we were pretty frozen from standing so long so we were ready to go.  Finally the announcer called for us to get ready, Hobo Jim started playing and song, and we were off.

Everything was great at first, but let me tell you, y’all, running in the snow is dang hard!  I probably made it 100 ft before I had to slow to a trot, but that’s ok because the reindeer were still nowhere in site (since our heat was soooooo large).  It actually got to the point where I thought I would finish the track before I even saw a reindeer so I slowed to a walk, and finally, about 2 blocks in the first reindeer came whizzing by, wedging itself quickly between me and my friend Leslie.  Soon there were reindeer all around.

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*I got these pictures off of Instagram.  I was obviously a little preoccupied during the dash

And then there was the last reindeer.  My empathetic side came out and I felt so bad for it.  It seemed scared and confused.  It would stop, turn around, run in circles.  By this point I had started jogging again and before I knew it this little scared reindeer was right in front of me… and then it stopped, and I bet you can guess what happened next.

Yep, I ran into a reindeer.

That’s right, the reindeer didn’t run into me, I ran into it.  Poor little thing.  Fortunately neither of us were knocked over.  Also fortunately it was one of the reindeer without a rack.

By the time we reached the end of the track my lungs were on fire and I was seeing stars.  Of course the paramedic in me started to diagnose myself.  It was like everything I had learned in class about perfusion and ventilation was coming to life, and I didn’t want it to.

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After the dash.  Completely real emotions.  Feeling death.

In the end we all had a lot of fun. Would I do it again?  Possibly.  If I had a good group and good costumes to go along with it.  I will say it’s definitely a must-do at least once in your life.  You just can’t beat the experience!

 


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Eye Candy: Homer, AK

Hello my name is Amanda and I’m a tired Paramedic student.

Ok, now that I’ve gotten that out of the way… Recently I’ve been thinking more and more about how blessed I am to live in not only in Alaska, but on the Kenai Peninsula.  Guys, this place is really gorgeous!  Mountains, oceans, lakes, it’s never ending!  So, I thought I’d share some pictures today from my last trip to Homer, one of my favorite spots on the Peninsula, from when I visited at the end of last year.  It’s a small town without much to it, but it’s oh so beautiful.  While it’s fun to visit during the tourist season (the end of May to Labor Day Weekend) while everything on the Spit it open, there’s a certain magical quality of visiting Homer during it’s winter abandonment.

Homer Spit

Look across the Spit and Kachemak Bay.  The day, while freezing, couldn’t have been more perfect.

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The beach felt absolutely abandoned.  It’s such a unreal feeling to have a place like this all to yourself.

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The iconic Salty Dawg Saloons’ lighthouse rising up from the Spit.

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So, in the afternoon, as we were leaving the Spit in search of food we looked to the left and saw a bunch of creatures floating in the slushy bay.  Upon closer look we found at least 50 sea otters relaxing and playing in the surf.  I’d never seen so many otters (my favorite animal) in one place!

Homer Spit

Summer, Spring, Winter, Fall, no matter the season eagles can always be found hanging around.

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So there’s this spot, up on the hill behind Homer, where you can get a great vantage point over the city and the bay.  The absolute best place to watch the sunset.

And finally, just a quick shot of us and our freezing selves.  The air temp was in the teens so with the wind and Lands End (at the far tip of the Spit) it had to have been close to 0 degrees!

Homer Spit

So there’s some eye candy and travel inspiration for the day.  If anyone wants to come visit let me know!

 


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Currently

Well hello there, it’s been awhile.  Looking at the blog, the last time I wrote was in April, not because there hasn’t been anything to write about, but because writing takes energy and unfortunately that’s something I’m running a little short on these days.

To catch you up a bit, the school year ended at the end of April and instead of going back to Washington for the summer to visit family and friends I opted to stay in Alaska to work and save money.  While it was difficult to not go home, even for a visit, staying in Alaska really was the best decision.  I was able to work full time at the front desk and doing media work for the Residence Hall here at KPC and I was able to enjoy an Alaskan summer, which I must say really agrees with me.  It’s not to hot and not to cold and a whole bunch of beautiful.

The first week of May I finished my basic firefighter training with our local fire department and officially started pulling shifts as a volunteer in July.  While call volumes are usually light I feel like the experience I’ve gained these last couple months truly is invaluable, and it gets me even more excited for my future in EMS.

July held many adventures.  My parents came up for a visit and I spent the week showing them around the Kenai Peninsula.  They both loved it and I’m pretty sure my dad would have stayed if my mom would have let him.  I also splurged a bit and went whitewater rafting on 6 Mile Creek with friends.  It was frigid and exhilarating.  We tackled class III, IV and V rapids and only fell out once!

In July I also officially entered a new decade, 30.  It’s hard to believe my 20’s are behind me, and I’m sometimes sad to see the things I wanted but didn’t accomplish, but then I remember the incredible things I did do (graduate from college, move overseas, travel the world…) and I realize life isn’t so bad.  Now I can’t wait to see what my 30’s will hold.

Summer 2015

(Some pictures from summer.  Clockwise from left: Caines Head Hike, Seward; Fire Training;
Brown bear near Cooper Landing; In Seward with Mom & Dad; Misty day in Cooper Landing;
White water rafting; The View from Fort McGilvray on Caines Head; The 4 summer RA’s ready
to escape to Seward for Labor Day weekend; Fish & Chips with Mom and Dad in Homer;
We finished the Color Run!; Residence Hall hike to Juneau Falls)

 

That brings me to CURRENTLY…

Currently I am in my 5th week of the UAA Paramedic Program.  This week we are reviewing how to do IV’s and administer medications.  Tomorrow I leave bright and early for Anchorage to spend the day with our sister campus out of Mat-Su to do orientations for clinical sites in the city.  Then, come October, clinical season officially begins and the little sliver of life I have now officially disappears.

Currently I am also working 20 hours a week for the school (in IT again & also doing media work for the ResHall) as well as pulling RA duties at the Residence Hall + training and the occasional shift with the fire department.  I’ve never been so glued to my planner in my life, but without it I would be totally lost.  I am busy, very, very busy.  Busier than I’ve ever been in my life, but thankfully I’ve staked out a few days in October, between clinicals where I have nothing planned.  I call these my “vacation from life”days and I am protecting them like a mama bear protects her cubs.  I’m going to sleep in, maybe watch some Netflix, or gasp, read a book for fun!  I guess we’ll see.  They’re still a few weeks away haha.

But, as busy as life is I’m incredible thankful for everything I have.  Right now it is a lot of work but I know in the end it will be so worth it.  I can’t say when the next time I’ll update the blog is, it may be to say “Horray! I’ve finished the paramedic program!” or it could be a lot sooner.  I guess we’ll see, but in the mean time any prayers for strength and the endurance to make it through this semester and the year are greatly appreciated!
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RAs

Our 2015/2016 RA Team
(P.S. Part of my job this summer was to design these shirts.  What do you think?)


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Catching Up

Hi all, how’s it going?  Long time no blog.  2015 thus far has been by far the busiest year of my life, it doesn’t look like things will slow down anytime soon and you know what?  I’m OK with that.

So let’s do a little catching up shall we?

Let me start with work, or what I refer to as my 3 jobs, yes you read that right 3 jobs and no that doesn’t include being a student.  As many of you know I was offered an RA (Resident Advisor) position in the KPC Residence Hall for the spring semester.  It is SO much work, more than I ever imagined but I wouldn’t trade it for the world.  We have a total of 6 RA’s right now and we rotate duty days every week.  If my duty night falls on I week day I’m only on for 12 hours (8pm to 8am) but if it falls on a weekend that shift turns into 24 hours, and those 24 hours usually drag on.  Not being allowed to leave the ResHall during a shift can be both a blessing and a curse.  For some reason I always run out of something I need right at the moment I can’t go to the store, go figure.  But at the same time, not having the opportunity to run away, in theory should give me more time to get things done, although instead of doing homework I usually find myself on Netflix like your average 20 something… oops.

Aside from all the RA-ing I find myself doing, I also work at the helpdesk in my schools IT department (the same job I had last semester) aka job #2, as well as spending several hours a week doing media work for the ResHall (updating the website, taking pictures, making flyers, posting to facebook) aka job #3.  When you do the math all of this essentially equals up to a full-time job, which yes, after many years of being in the workforce and working full-time I am used to, but tack that on to being a full-time student and things start to get tricky.

Which brings me to that whole student thing.  I’m taking 13 credits this semester, nothing compared to the 18 credits I usually took a semester in college the first time around, but when you’re used to not having homework, like ever, it feels like a whole, whole lot.  My EMT 2 class officially starts tomorrow, meaning Monday-Friday I now have no downtime, but wait it gets even more complicated!  More one that in a minute but first let me make a quick caveat because…

I’m now not only a certified EMT in Alaska, I’m a Nationally Certified EMT (NREMT)!  Most of my classmates took the test back in December right after we finished EMT-I but, because I went back to WA for Christmas I had to delay my test a little bit.  I originally was going to take it in January right after I got back but I put it off and put it off and put it off.  You know how that goes.  I finally scheduled the test and took it in my schools learning center last Monday.  To be honest when I finished I was convinced I had failed.  It’s the type of test that can have more than one right answer and you have to choose which one is the best.  It was stinking hard to say the least but the next day I got my results back and I had passed!  That was a huge load off of my shoulders and I couldn’t be more excited.

Ok now back to why life is getting even more complicated.  When I first got back to school in January I saw signs posted around the ResHall that Central Emergency Services (CES) our local fire and rescue department was looking for volunteers.  I went back and forth on whether I wanted to apply for it because with everything else going on I didn’t know if I would be able to handle it too.  I decided to go to the informational meeting they held at the beginning of February just to check it out and I left that meeting wanting to be a volunteer more than anything.  I put in my application and last Thursday had my physical agility test and interview.  I found out Monday that I got a position and start fire training sometime next month!  If I wasn’t already busy enough right?  But gosh, to be able to start working now in a position I want to be my career will be amazing.  I can’t wait!

So there we are, all caught up.  This coming week is spring break, and while I wish I was going somewhere fun and exotic, I’ll instead be working full-time.  My friend Kirsten and I have a couple of day trips planned around the area, but with an arctic blast heading our way it’s looking like spring break will be chilly indeed!EMT

 Horray! I’m an EMT!

Met. Redoubt

A view of Mt. Redoubt from the school.  It was tough leaving Mt. Rainier behind but Redoubt is pretty stinking beautiful.  You would never guess there’s the whole Cook Inlet between us.

Extras

They’re going to be filming a big budget Hollywood movie in Whittier over the next couple months so we headed up to Anchorage a couple Sunday’s ago in the ResHall van to try our luck at becoming extras for the movie.  Fingers crossed!

Moulage

Kirsten and I got a chance to volunteer to be victims in the final drill for a recent CERT class last weekend.  The moulage person didn’t show up so we got to do our own.  Considering the tools we had were very limited I was pretty proud of what I did.  I even got a piece of “shrapnel” to stick out of my forehead.  So much fun!

RA board

Every month the RA’s have to make a new educational bulletin board in our quad.  This was my board for February.  I think it turned out fairly well 🙂


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Here’s to 2014, Looking Back At This Last Year

Oh what the difference a year can make.  2013 was not a good year and by the end I was feeling terribly discouraged.  As I looked ahead to 2014 I had hope, hope that good things would happen and determination to make them so.  Now, as I reflect upon this last year I can confidently say it was everything I wanted and so much more.  I would even go so far as to say it was one of the best years of my life.

That’s funny for me to say considering the year contained one of the worst months of my life.  You see, March was not good to me.  It started out with terrible cement burns on my legs that made just moving a horrible chore and ended with a highly publisized controversy in relation to the organization I worked for that caused immense heartbreak for me and my co-workers.  Thankfully, when you hit the bottom there is nowhere you can go but up and give each blessing, big or small, that much more significance, and let me say, the rest of 2014 was full of them.

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In May after months of prayer and research I made the decision to apply to go back to school to finally become a paramedic.  It was a scary move for me and one I didn’t fully trust for another 2 months, but it ended up being one of the best decisions of my life.

At the end of June I once again headed to Tijuana, Mexico with my church to build homes for those in need and once I got home I was in full planning mode for the transition from full time employee to full time student.  At the end of July I officially gave my two weeks notice at World Vision and leaving was definitely bittersweet.  While working in a call center is not my calling in life (I actually hate talking on the phone) I couldn’t have worked for a better organization and my co-workers made each day so special.

2014

Mid- August brought the big move.  I loaded up my new car (Praise the Lord!  One of those blessings I was talking about earlier) and began the journey north to Alaska.

I got the incredible chance to spend the first half of the trip on the Alaska ferry traveling from Bellingham, WA to Haines, AK.  I saw sights I never imagined I would lay eyes on.  The inside passage is so gorgeous (when it’s sunny) and met so many great people.  The remaining drive to Soldotna was long and lonely but provided perfect time to think and reflect. In case you were wondering, Yukon territory really is as empty as you would imagine, go figure, but as soon as I pulled into the school after 3 days driving I knew I was home.

2014

This last semester I was given best friends, got to go on incredible adventures and laughed more than I had in 28 years.  I couldn’t feel more blessed.

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Now, as the year wraps up and I’ve officially got the first step in my pursuance of becoming a paramedic finished (EMT 1, hooray!) I eagerly look forward to what this next year will bring, and I remember that no matter what happens that God is good!

Happy New Year Everyone!  Here’s to 2015!


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One Semester Down, 4 To Go

Freedom feels so, so good.  I feel like the fall semester literally flew by.  I mean, wasn’t I just sailing away from Washington on the Alaska Ferry like last week not 4 months ago?  Goodness.

My life in Alaska really has been a blessing and only more of a confirmation with each day that it’s where I’m supposed to be.  As of a week ago I’m officially an EMT 1, hooray!  I still have to take my National EMT exam in January but according to the state of Alaska I am now official, hooray!  Next up?  EMT 2 then the plan is for Paramedic school in the fall, it won’t be a cake walk, but I couldn’t be more excited.

EMT Class

My EMT 1 Class along with our teacher, Tiffani, after our practical exam on the 13th.

So what else is new? Well, some of you may have seen on Facebook but I was offered an RA (Resident Assistant/Resident Advisor depending on the school you go to) for the spring.  I had my interview the Monday after Thanksgiving and hardly ate for the next few days as I waited to find out the results.  I knew that a few other girls had applied for the position and wasn’t sure where I stood, but in the end it worked out for me.  It’s definitely a position with a lot responsibility but it should be so good.  As an added bonus I get free housing in return which is definitely going to take off some of my financial burden.

Speaking of financial aid I found out the other day I received a scholarship from the school that covers 12 credits!  Another huge blessing for sure.  However it looks like the credits I transferred in from my bachelors are causing some trouble/confusion and making me technically ineligible for financial aid since I’m now going for an associate degree and have more than 150% of the credits needed (not the specific classes just the credits in general).  I can’t talk to anyone at the school about it until after new years so it’s definitely a weight.  I’m considering double majoring and entering a bachelors program if that will make things easier.  This is a definite prayer request for me.  My entire life is in Alaska right now and if I don’t have financial aid then I can’t afford to go to school and if I don’t go to school I will lose my housing and my job on top of the academic issues it will cause.  In other words I REALLY need this to get sorted out!  I know that God has paved the way and provided everything thus far so I have no reason to think it won’t work out, but until I have some certainty I can’t help but worry a little, you know?

In other news, as for life right now, I’m currently enjoying my Christmas break in Washington, spending time at my parents house, catching up on Redbox movies (we don’t have Redbox in Soldotna although we ironically have Blockbuster) and enjoying time with my 3 month old nephew Ezekiel.  Gosh they grow so fast!  I’m so thankful to have this month where I can just rest, relax and enjoy the “temperate” weather.  I mean, I can leave the house only wearing a sweatshirt!  I haven’t been able to do that in months!  I’m also enjoying all the shopping options we have here compared to Soldotna although I could leave all the traffic.  Definitely not something I missed!

Well, I guess that’s it for now, except to wish you all a

Merry Christmas!


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Savoring My Season

Hi y’all it’s been awhile, I know, but I’m alive, yay!

Things have quickly changed up here.  The leaves turned and were on the ground within a week and since then it’s just gotten progressively colder each day.  Like bitterly cold.  It was 14 degrees last week y’all, brrr.  It’s going to be a long winter.

Being back in college is hard, I can’t lie.  Tests and homework and roommates….  There were times in the last 7 years when I really, really missed school.  I know crazy right?  I mean, as my senior year of college wrapped up I absolutely couldn’t wait to be done with school, FOREVER.  This is something I distinctly remember, but still, as the longs days of class and nights filled with homework became distant memories I thought “hmmm, maybe I should go back to school again.”  Obviously, as I’ve stated before becoming a paramedic is something I’ve wanted for years but I actually considered going back to school several times to pursue several different avenues, studying Egyptology in Egypt is still one of my favorites.

Surprisingly I don’t hate tests and homework this time around, maybe it’s because I finally know what I want to do with my life?  Or maybe it’s because I’m not bogged down with 18 credits, not sure, but it really isn’t so bad.  That said I am still counting down the days until Christmas Break (37 days!) although it kinda terrifies me at the same time considering I have my EMT certification tests right before I fly home.  I mean, I’m sure I’ll do fine, but its scary none the less.

Moving away from class and homework and all things academic, I really am liking living here in Alaska.  While my specific living situation is less than ideal many days (long story, not for a blog), I do really like living in the KPC Residence Hall and have managed to find myself a small group of great friends.  We’re together so often others have come to call us “the elite 4” but we prefer to call ourselves “The Pevensies” (ala “The Chronicles of Narnia”) since no, we are not elitists.   Nights are usually filled with card games, late night runs to the store for ice cream, playing Wallyball or watching shows on the big TV out in our common area.  So far we’ve polished off “Sherlock” (and I’m tearing out my hair at the thought of having to wait another year for a new episode!) and now we’re working on “Warehouse 13” via Netflix.  If you haven’t seen it you totally should!  The pilot was absolute garbage but it’s gotten really good I must admit, and we can’t just sit an watch one episode at a time, we need to do at least 2 preferably 3.

We also try to have adventures as best as we can.  Things really close down/seal up around here after the tourist season ends but we manage to have a good time.  Recent adventures have included a bonfire at Kirsten’s moms house to roast hot dogs/marshmallows and burn Keevens disgusting shoes (they were real bad, trust me), a road trip to explore the beach up at Captain Cook Park, swimming at the Nikiski pool and a short jaunt to Girdwood for dinner (ya, Girdwood is a  2 hour drive…).  To be fair, after getting dinner we did run up to Alyeska to play in the snow and get a bit of our Narnia fix.  Totally worth it.

So there you have it, life thus far.  Not terribly exiting and not a lot to report on but so good none the less.  A year ago I would have never guessed I’d be here, and while each season has it’s challenges this one has been pretty sweet thus far and I’ve been happy to take a step back and really try to enjoy it.

Now if only it would snow, because lets be honest, the bitter cold and ice is getting old, and this Washington girl wants to go sledding!

And of course, what would a post be without pictures?  Keeven is a bit a of a selfie maniac so I have plenty to choose from like…

Lake night Ice Cream escapades to Safeway for Moosetracks!

Ice cream with friendsRoad tripping to Girdwood (R-L: Keeven, Kirsten, Me and Tobin)

Roadtrip to Girdwood

Building a mini snowman at Alyeska on our road trip adventure.

Roadtrip to Girdwood

Before I came up I found these fun photobooth props on clearance at Target so of course we had to play with the whilst singing “What does the Fox Say?”

friends

Oh and a picture from the Halloween dance at the Residence Hall last week.  I don’t have many pictures since I was the one behind the camera most of the time, but here’s Keeven and I, we were both Unicorns…

Halloween

And finally, a picture of a moose, because I feel like this is very Alaskan and I took this picture from my bedroom window.  There are so many moose y’all, it’s crazy!

moose

Fin


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The Alaska State Fair, Hiking Flattop & an Update on Life

It’s officially been a month.  To an extent that is so hard for me to believe but on the other hand so much has happened in these last 30 days that it’s felt like an eternity.  That and the fact that I pretty much waved goodbye to summer when I waved goodbye to Washington.  See, next week the rest of the country celebrates the official first day of fall, meanwhile, in Alaska Weather Underground tells me we’re going to have low temperatures in the 30’s, the 30’s people!  Where I come from that’s winter.  What am I going to do when it gets down to 0…. or lower?!

I’m in for it, I know it.

On a happier note I have great news, I got a job!  Yay! Praise the Lord!  I’ll now be working at the help desk for the IT department at my school.  I was getting to a point where financial stress was starting to get the best of me but God definitely provided.  Now I can pay my bills and I don’t even have to leave campus, which means I’ll be saving on gas too.  Woohoo!

Ok, onward to stories.

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Recently my Facebook feed has been flooded with pictures of friends back home enjoying the Washington State Fair (although it will always be the Puyallup fair in my heart and mind).  It’s made me a bit nostalgic.  The rides, the Hobby Hall, the Fischer Scones…

Over Labor Day weekend a friend of mine from my Liberty U days who lives in Anchorage with her family invited me to come spend the weekend with them and go to the Alaska State Fair in Palmer, and it was…. interesting.  Alaska may be the biggest state in the US but their state fair is not.  For you Washingtonians I would put it more on a level size-wise with the Western Washington Fair or even the King County fair.  But what the fair lacked size-wise it definitely made up for in character.

Alaska State Fair

Alaska State Fair

I can pretty much sum up the fair in two words: Fair Hair

Fair hair is face painting taken to an extreme level and at the Alaska State Fair apparently it’s the thing to do.  However, I do have one word of advice, on a 5 year old fair hair is adorable, but on a 15+ year old?  Not so much.

Alaska State FairMy friends sweet little daughter Isabelle.  She definitely had the best Fair Hair of the day.

We spent literally all day at the fair, from 10 am to 9-ish pm.  Definitely the longest I’ve ever spent at a fair ever.  It was ridiculously exhausting, but the day was packed with everything from lumberjack shows to acrobats to giant vegetables and of course fair food.  Just FYI, the corn fritters with honey butter are to DIE FOR.

…Now I want corn fritters and honey butter, bummer…

Alaska State Fair

Clockwise from left:  Fair games and prizes that are always near impossible to win; The obligatory elephant ear which was about half the size of the elephant ears I get at the WA state fair, just saying; Epic beard contest; Acrobat show

Alaska State Fair

Alaska State Fair

The real reason we were at the fair that day (and stayed so long) was to see the Robertsons from Duck Dynasty.  It was set up like a concert but it obviously didn’t include any singing.  It was more of a Q&A and just super fun and entertaining.  Not everyone from the family was there but we did have Phil and Kay of course, then Alan, Jep and good ‘ole Uncle Si.  I really, really enjoyed myself and I really appreciated their hearts.  Their faith is so evident in everything they say and do, it was so refreshing to see.

Some of my favorite quotes of the night? (there were many but I only had the mind to write down a few):
When asked what he thought of Alaskans-
Phil:”Alaskans are the best people because they kill and eat stuff.”
to which Si chimes in “Well that’s because they have things that kill and eat you.”

True Si, very, very true.

And later when Si was asked to describe himself he says “I see myself as an uncureable disease and they haven’t found a cure yet… I’m also like space, I go on and on and on.”

Also very true, haha.

Oh I’m so glad I went!  The tickets were $40 so I debated for awhile whether or not to go but it was so so worth it.  Just as entertaining in real life as on TV, even without Willie and Jase.

Alaska State FairThey wouldn’t let us take pictures using cameras and this is the best my little phone could do sadly.  I love that the venue was so small you could easily see everyone on stage.

After all of the excitement that occurred at the fair on Saturday we took Sunday to just hang around, go to church, relax, and in my case hit up the Apple Store in Anchorage since my Macbook Pro decided to stop working when I crossed the Alaska border (nothing that a new $80 power cord couldn’t fix, ouch!).

Then monday, before I started the long drive back to Soldotna we had one last adventure, climbing Flat Top.  I was told it’s an “easy” hike and one of the most popular hikes in Alaska since it’s so easily accessible from Anchorage, only a 15 minute drive.  Now for those of you that have no idea what Flat Top is (which, lets face it, is probably most of you) it’s simply a mountain, just east of the city that appears to be flat on top.  Yep, they got real creative with it’s name.

 It’s definitely a popular hike, the parking lot was packed by the time we got there around 11am, but an easy hike?  In my opinion no, but I’ll never say that any hike we’re you’re basically climbing up, up, up only to come down when you’re done is easy.

Flat Top HikeIt took us a good hour and a half to get to the top.  The first 3/4 of the hike is just a lot of walking up + stairs, but then the last quarter is brutal.  You’re basically rock climbing.  I mean, no gear was required or anything, but it would have been easy to slip and go tumbling down and get very, very injured if you’re not careful.  The difficulty of the hike however made the feeling when we reached the top that much sweeter.  There’s a big pole at the summit that serves as a “you officially made it, congratulations!” point, so of course we needed to take as many pictures as possible with it.

Flat Top Hike

Really it’s the view from the top that makes it worth it.  When you look west you can see Anchorage and the Cook Inlet.  We definitely got blessed with a gorgeous Labor Day to do the hike on.

Flat Top Hike

And then peaking around the next corner you can just catch a glimpse of the start of the Turnigan Arm which separates the Kenai Peninsula (where I live) from Anchorage.

Flat Top Hike

Flat Top Hike

Don’t those colors steal the show?  So beautiful.  You don’t just see colors like that naturally everywhere.  I didn’t even edit these photos, the colors are just that great.

After another hour or so of hiking down (hiking down that last quarter was almost harder than going up) we were officially pooped and starving so we hit up Mc D’s for lunch and then I started the long 2.5 hour trek home.  Thankfully I was going the opposite way of all the traffic and as you can see it was a sunny day, so it was a pretty nice drive. Not a drop of rain, even through Turnigan pass where there’s almost always clouds.

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The last few weeks have been filled with a number of adventures, big and small.  All of which I’m excited to share with you.  I have a feeling the bigger adventures will start to slow down as the weather gradually deteriorates and the days get shorter, but we’ll see.  Alaska is one big ball of unknowns to me right now and I find that the greatest adventure of all!