Wednesday, October 01, 2014

Like Riding a Bike!

Apparently, getting back onto my blog is like riding a bike. You never really forget, do you?

Sooo... Three big things to report about since my birthday. Probably the easiest way to do this is chronologically.

In the midst of a whirlwind weekend in mid-June, I found myself considering applying for a new job. The short story--I interviewed and was offered a position with the Symphony as Director of Patron Services. Three main areas of responsibility--managing the box office, coordinating our volunteer corps, and running the actual symphony office. In other words, I'm the top person on the administrative side of the Symphony. With the exception of financial decisions or actions. Thank God. I find that I'm busier than I've ever been. Primarily trying to figure out what the hell my predecessors did/didn't do. It's a long process that will be a learning exercise for most of this season. Hopefully, it'll get to the point where things become sort of automatic from year to year. The best thing I can offer this position is a sense of continuity and commitment. And getting a paycheck over double what I was making before isn't a bad thing either.  :-)

I officially started this new position on the first of July. Just three weeks before the big summer concert. Oy. One of the main things that was discussed with the new position is that they wanted me to continue on as Operations Manager, and as Project Manager of the summer concert. And I get to throw in the fact that I play my horn once in awhile! So I get paid for four different positions. Not a bad gig.

Back to the summer concert. Without question, this year's was the largest we've ever had. Estimates between 18-20,000 people came out to hear the music of Disney. Truly a family event. But we've become a victim of our own success. There were at least 2,000 people who came late (in our case, if you don't put a blanket down 24 hours early, you're not going to get a good place to watch the concert from!). In their case, they ended up to the side of the stage, behind the speakers. So they basically had no sound. And weren't shy about bitching about it. Unfortunately, there's no fix for it either. Ah, well. They'll learn to get there earlier! For the third year, I had my lovely kickass assistant helping me, and she came through with flying colors.  As usual.  I wish I could clone her.  The girl is going to go far in life.

These are some pics from the event. Taken from a bunch of different people.  Be sure to click 'em to big 'em!

The last big thing to talk about is my trip to Alaska! Back in February, Moose (remember her?!?) asked if I wanted to road trip with her to Fairbanks. The back story...her dad died this winter, and she needed to move furniture and heirlooms back to Alaska. Since I didn't get to make the trip up when she first moved up there, I jumped at the opportunity! In a 14' U-Haul towing a car! A general comment before I go into details--the Canadian Rockies is (are?) some of the most beautiful country ever invented! I always thought NW Montana was beautiful, but it pales in comparison. Even, I dare say, the mountains of Glacier Park. If you ever have a chance to drive from Calgary to Jasper, take it!!!

After Moose picked up her load, and her dad's car, she drove to Helena to pick me up in the last week of August. Once we got on the road, we headed to Kalispell and had lunch with Rachel (remember her, too?). Yeah, I know these people haven't blogged in forever. This might help you remember though.

We drove as far as Banff, AB that first day to spend two nights. It's too pretty of a place to just leave the next morning. The next morning we rented a car and drove in to Calgary (my only request of this whole trip) to meet up with Jan (formerly known by a variety of names--Firefly, Kaneki, Phynix Bell).  She was part of the crop of HNTers that really got things off the ground.  We've been FB friends for years, so I insisted that we meet.  Our timing was perfect, because two days later she was moving west into British Columbia!  But first, we drove around the Olympic Park (site of the '88 Winter Olympics).  It was wonderful to meet her and her almost 3 y.o. son.  And she introduced Moose to poutine (who knew that they offered poutine at McDonald's?).  Anyhoo...she became #63 over there in my "Sat With Me In the Back Row" list!

After we got back to Banff, we took a quick nap, followed by a gondola ride to the mountain just south of Banff. It had been rainy all day, but it looked like the clouds were below the level of the summit. This is the only place where I used my point and shoot camera, which turned out well, since it appears to have a scratched lens when zooming. This is what we saw from up there...

The next day, we headed north.  This day was intended to be the touristy, check-out-all-the-beauty day.  And boy, there was plenty of it!  Danielle, our waitress from the night before, suggested that we go to Moraine Lake, which is just south of Lake Louise.  She said it was much more impressive, and she wasn't kidding!  It was here where I took what is probably the finest photograph of my life.  Click it for its full glory!

And what it looked like just a minute or two later...


It was here that Moose completed her Ice Bucket Challenge.  No ice, but crystal clear glacier water.  She might have had to do it twice, since her cinematographer didn't get it the first time.  Oops...  We then headed to Lake Louise, which is internationally known for its hotel, its lake, and the glacial mountains.

Perhaps the most amazing thing about virtually every lake and river in this area is the color of the water.  The most stunning turquoise you've ever seen.  Even more so than Caribbean waters.  And every single body of water had the same color.

As we continued north, we stopped at the Columbia Icefield, between Banff and Jasper National Parks.  We stopped at the new skywalk (opened this spring), and got that really uncomfortable feeling of standing on plexiglass over nothing.  With hundreds of feet to fall when that glass breaks.  And the whole thing bounced out at the point.  But it was pretty, and I could probably be talked into doing it again!

From this point on, I can't really describe all the beauty.  There got to be so much of it, that it almost got boring.  There's lots that neither of us took pictures of, but were blown away by.  The best I can do is just post a bunch of pics to show it all, with some added thoughts.  Autumn was definitely in season, in spite of being almost 4 weeks early.  The mountains near the southeastern border of Alaska are a totally different breed of monster than the B.C. Rockies.  The original Signpost Forest was far cooler than you might imagine.  Some of the Alaskan Highway is still nothing more than a chip-sealed road, since the geology doesn't allow for much more.  Moose's poutine.  Moose's dinner at Buckshot Bettie's - hamburger, relish, mayo, onion, lettuce, tomato, fried egg, bacon, ham, and cheese on a homemade bun.  The laser-straight line that marks the international border between AK and Canada--embiggen the picture with the obelisk, and look how straight it is, even at the horizon!

Once we got to Fairbanks, we had about 10 hours before having to head to the airport (for that lovely 1:30 AM flight to Seattle...).  Didn't give us a great deal of time to do much, other than unload most of the U-Haul, check out the Alaska Pipeline, and hit the Hoo Doo Brewing Co. for one last beer.  All in all, a wonderfully successful trip!  We came out the other side still talking, still breathing, and really tired. was over 2600 miles from Helena!  Plus she had to do another 600+ to get from South Dakota to Helena before that!

There's so much more to be said, but this gives you the general idea.  A great time with a great friend, and great memories.  The only damper on the whole trip was learning about the death of Shumpy.  A man loved by one and all, OsShirt handler (two different versions!), fantastic party host, and all around good guy.  R.I.P., Shumpy!

So what have YOU guys been doing all summer?