Hello! I would like to start off by congratulating all of you for making it to 2018 because I know some of you had your doubts that 2017 would ever end. Look at us thriving here in the new year. Pat yourself on the back today, if for nothing else, but making it through another year. You go Glenn Coco.
This week I would like to address something that I have been asked about a lot and I think I am ready to process it all: What is the move to Craig, Alaska really like? And I must say when moving here, there was not a whole lot of information on the subject, so maybe this will help someone out in the future.
First of all, I want to say that my move is unique to my own situation and I have heard some horror stories about moving here and I have heard of some really lovely alternative ways to get here, so please keep this in mind. Moving here for me was probably a bit simpler because A: I am as single as a single person can be. Meaning, I have no pets, no children, no plants. The only thing I had to keep alive was me. That makes moving a whole heck of a lot easier. B: I was moving out of my parents house, where virtually nothing belonged to me. Therefore, I didn’t have to travel with furniture. These two things are crucial to my story.
Now, with all that being said… I also want to point out that I am a planner. I am impulsive, yes, but an impulsive planner. I know that sounds like an oxymoron, but I swear it makes sense to me and to everyone that knows me. When it came to my move to Alaska, I had hotels booked, my route mapped out, and my schedule on point. Now, the thing about being an impulsive planner is that the plan often goes to shit, because I am typically planning like 4 hours before I have to leave. Oddly enough, it worked this time.
If I had to recommend one thing to people moving here, it is that the less you own the better. Especially if you are moving from a place where you have to drive more than 3 hours to the ferry. PURGE EARLY AND PURGE OFTEN. Of course, this is just my motto for any move, but most important for a move where you have to take multiple modes of transportation. Moving to an island is a whole new ball game, my friends. Let me just lay this out for you.
As most moves go, there is a lot to do before you even leave. For instance, finding a place to live. Now, typically this is a bit easier with sites like apartmentfinder.com, but that does not exist on the island of Prince of Wales. Apartment finding is done by WOM aka word of mouth aka my high school advertising professor’s favorite word. WOM is really hard when you don’t live in the place to even speak to anyone. Luckily the place that hired me was all over it. They sent me some options and low and behold I am in one of my favorite apartments I have ever rented. Now, this sounds like it was a nice simple choice for me, but if you ask my family and friends I struggled for a way too long before I chose this place. See, the other thing about Prince of Wales is that because it is a tourist area there are actually a lot of places that are furnished. The idea of furnished apartment scared the shit out of me. I don’t know why, but it really did. Like what if I hate the furniture? Except, it was the greatest decision I had ever made. How the hell I thought I was going to get furniture to this island is beyond me. That was definitely my pre-move struggle. Now, I highly recommend furnished apartments to everyone. It makes moving so, so much easier. Once that was settled, I was on my way to a new life.
I started my journey with a 16 hour drive from Grafton, WI to Miles City, MO. At 2am I woke up wide-eyed and bushy-tailed for my journey to my new home. The car was pre-loaded the evening prior thanks to my fam. Of course, copious amounts of coffee and Swedish fish were in tow as well. Which reminds me, if you are moving to an island in Alaska, I beg of you to actually just forget everything you own and stack your car with dry goods and toiletries. A BOX OF CEREAL IS $7. This is important, v. important. I, however, felt stupid sentimental ties to things like my clothes and pictures of my loved ones, like a goddamn idiot. I was a fool. Obvi, I am slightly joking, but really I wish I would have brought like 10x’s the amount of dangerously cheap things from Wisconsin. Mistakes were made, and now I am literally paying for it. I digress, my drive to Montana was oddly okay. I hit one traffic jam in Minnesota and then it was smooth sailing from there. So, to recap day one was Wisco, to Minnesota, to North Dakota, to Montana. I am getting tired just writing it. My other piece of advice is to bring a buddy. I traveled alone and when I saw cool things, I only had my Swedish fish to tell. They appreciated it though, I could tell from their smiles. As day 1 came to a close, I feasted on McDonalds, as one traveling does, and then went swimming. Another important piece of advice! Always pick a hotel with a pool. I felt like a new woman after that swim.
I planned my trip with the notion that each day I would lose more and more energy, so I made day 1 the longest trip with day 2 shortening to a 10 hour drive and day 3 to a 6 hour drive. Bless my smart little heart because that was the best darn planning I have ever done. Day 2 and 3 now feel like a blur. There was Montana to Idaho to Washington. I remember driving through some mountains and seeing some bison. I also remember more swimming, but that is about it. My head was just racing because I knew the next leg of the trip involved a ferry. And not just any old ferry, but a three day ferry from Bellingham, WA to Ketchikan, AK. Yes, you read that correctly. This three day ferry didn’t even bring me to my final destination. To my surprise though, the ferry was SO cool though. I just drove my car onto the boat and didn’t really have to worry about much else for three days. I will say that there is zero reception on this ferry, so pre-downloading episodes on Netflix will save a life. Pass it on.
After arriving to Ketchikan, I then had to take another ferry! Luckily, this one was only three hours. Unfortunately, I arrived at 7am and my next ferry didn’t leave until 2pm. So, I did what any sane person would do… I shopped at Wal-Mart for several hours and bought shit I definitely didn’t need out of pure boredom and exhaustion. Then I finally got onto my next ferry, which seemed surprisingly fast and made it the island! Now, at this point it is pitch black on an island I am not familiar with and it is raining. I thought my guts were going to fall out of my butt. That was when it truly hit me… I moved to fucking Alaska. That’s right, my move did not hit me until I was actually off the ferry. Everything before that felt like some odd vacation I was taking alone.
Now that I have been here for a whole month, that whole journey seems like a distant dream. Adjusting to life in Craig has been fairly easy. Don’t get me wrong, I have cried and questioned my impulsive decision at times, but not nearly as much as I anticipated. Maybe it is the island pace or the kind souls I work with or the fact that the view out of my window looks like a landscape artist drew it? Whatever the reason, I am grateful for it.
Onto the real dirt though because I know y’all just want to know about what I hate about being here. I hate the time difference because calling people is a scheduling nightmare. My east coast friends are a 4 hour difference and with my work schedule it doesn’t leave much room to chat. The vegetarian imitation meats are sub-par, but I was spoiled in NYC. I could order vegetarian chicken from pretty much anywhere and expect it to be good. It rains a lot here, which some people might hate, but I actually quite enjoy. There are also like a very limited amount of restaurants, and by that I mean like two pizza places and a diner. For that, however, I am grateful. I’m pretty sure half of my student loans went to GrubHub in NYC. I also am still terrified of the potential to run into bears regardless of what everyone keeps telling me. Finally, I hate living alone. I know I am freak, but I like having a roommate. I like someone to be all up in my business.
So, there you have it! My journey to and my life in Craig. Of course, it has only been a month and I am sure many more discoveries about the island are to come. I’ve barely begun to explore this beautiful place I currently call home. If you would like to follow this journey further find me on insta: sarahlorrainerobinson Now that I think about it, it’s like a picture book version of my blog. Excellent.