Currently living/working: We spent the first half of November in Alaska, and the second half in Hawaii! We purposely stacked our work projects so that our time in Hawaii would be 90% blissfully free of any work. And when we hit the eject button from Alaska on 11/16, we stuffed away our puffies and long johns for the 100-degree bump in temps waiting for us in Hawaii. To say the least, it’s been a wild contrast of many things this month. (Be forewarned, there will be a number of Hawaii-related posts through December).
Current mood: The change in latitude definitely prompt a change in attitude! We are both just so relaxed and truly have been on vacation here in Hawaii.
Currently thankful for: We have been scheming a trip to Hawaii since 2011 … our non-traditional life less ordinary always afforded us slower winters. And every year, we would say, is this the year we should go to Hawaii? We knew it would be an expensive trip since we wanted to spend a few weeks in the state, so we always found excuses, or chose to work in the winter. When Justin’s mom said she wanted to celebrate her 70th birthday with family in Hawaii, there was no excuse. We’re so grateful we finally made it happen, and that our life allows for these extended vacations.
Currently amazed by: Obviously this post is very Hawaii-heavy. But we are wondering why we waited so long to come here!!! Between the biodiversity of the plants and animals (90% are ONLY found in Hawaii), the culture, the history, the weather, the food, and the LAVA, this outlier state is mind-blowing. We are already scheming multiple return trips.
Current guilty pleasure: Everything Hawaii. I dread seeing the grand total we spent. But happy 15th anniversary to us!!!! And, since it wasn’t a working vacation we typically take, we closed our laptops and hardly touched them whole time (actually, Justin didn’t even bring his). Everyone deserves to do that, and should.
Currently regretting: Hard lesson learned in Hawaii: Alaskan skin is more sensitive to the sun. I always apply sunscreen for any outdoor time, but I also remain more covered up in Alaska. So there are parts of my body that haven’t seen the sun since my ancestors left Italy. LOLSOB. It seems like anytime I go in the sun anymore, I sunburn. I guess when you remain as white as a fish belly for most of the year, you’re going to suffer. Note to self: apply sunscreen every hour and do not miss any spots. No one likes a handprint outline on their body.
Currently proud of: My second article in Alaska Magazine came out this month, and it a subject I hold near and dear to my heart: the Zero Landfill Initiative in Denali National Park, which Justin & I were very heavily involved in through Leave No Trace and Subaru. I love writing for Alaska Magazine. I did pitch a few articles for 2022, but none were accepted. So I’ll keep trying!
Currently not excited about: We leave Hawaii today and have oodles of work deadlines looming ahead. Boo to returning to reality!
Currently excited for: I am not returning to Alaska (Justin is briefly). I am heading to NJ for some QT with my mom & sister!!!
Currently worried about: Same as last month, we are still worried about our vacant cabin, as Alaska temps have not risen above 0 in all of November. Subzero temps create phenomena you can’t even imagine. Did you know tires on cars lose pressure, flatten slightly turning into a square and freeze to the ground? So we are very grateful to have a neighbor checking on our place (we did leave the heat on), but we also won’t be surprised if we come back to some inevitable problems, especially with our non-traditional plumbing situation we have installed (which I still have yet to fully explain). Everything in Alaska is a learning curve!
Currently reading: I read 2 books by my author friend, Mary Emerick. Mary & I “met” through the blog world, as she found my blog when we were managing RimRock in Eastern Oregon and she lived in the closest town! While we never met in person then, we met once years later and keep in touch regularly online. She has published 3 (maybe 4?) books, so she was a mentor for me through my writing/publishing process. I love Mary’s writing; it always reads like one long poem. And she has many interesting life experiences to share in her books.
In chronological order, Mary’s book Fire in the Heart: A Memoir of Friendship, Loss, and Wildfire is about the several years in the 1990s she spent as a wildlands firefighter. I learned that firefighting is just as life-threatening of a job as you can imagine, but to work as one is as mesmerizing as the fire itself. As Mary puts it, her relationship with fire is like a bad romance, almost addictive. From rookie to veteran, Mary tells anecdotes that will keep you on the edge of your seat, all of which has a profound impact on her life.
From the nomadic life of a wildland firefighter, Mary moved to Alaska in her 30s for a more secure job, this time in the water. The Last Layer of the Ocean: Kayaking Through Love and Loss on Alaska’s Wild Coast is about her time living and working in Sitka, Alaska. It’s hard for me not to love any book about Alaska. Plus, since she spent so much of her time out on the ocean patrolling the coastline, there are some unbelievable accounts from that, including one with a bear that gave me nightmares. But more than anything, watching Mary figure out where she belongs in life had me nodding my head time and time again, so I appreciated the unpacking of her emotional processing that took place through the pages of this book.
Currently watching on Netflix/Hulu/Apple TV/HBO Max: Our $1.99 deal for Hulu ended and of course they wooed us with another $0.99 deal … so I guess we are keeping it. Haven’t watched much here in Hawaii, but having lots of nightly streaming choices during our cold and dark months is a winter survival tip.