Today marks our one week anniversary in Girdwood, Alaska. And after the 24-day drumroll, I’m happy to report things here are just as we hoped. This tiny town of 2,000 is encircled by snow-covered peaks, situated along the Turnagain Arm of the Pacific Ocean. Everywhere you look is a postcard. Rustic cabins sit quietly under the evergreen canopy. Moose graze in undeveloped wild spaces within the town limits. People here are laid back, favoring rest and relaxation over moving and shaking. But that’s not to say lazy — in every driveway sits a woodpile for a remodeling project or a snow machine getting a tune-up. The pow pow of nail guns can be heart like bottle rockets on the fourth of July.
Girdwood, comprised entirely of independent businesses, seems to have very few “safe” jobs, invoking a sort of entrepreneurial spirit. Adventure tourism is the main industry with more companies offering glacier kayaking adventures than those selling shoes. People here personify the outdoors lifestyle, and I’ve yet to even see one person on a cellphone! The town is wild cool can-do, or so it seems after a week.
Friday upon arrival we popped into Silvertip Grill for a celebratory beer. Since the house we planned to rent would not be available until the following day, we once again embarked on the familiar task of finding a place to stay. With few options I contacted Mark Ryan, owner of Alyeska Adventures, who I had spoken with a few months back about a summer job. In typical Girdwood fashion, he opted for face time over phone time and invited us over to discuss.
Mark and his wife Shoman turned out to be intriguing and gracious hosts. They invited us to stay in their asian motif rental unit in exchange for some help around the house. While we ate dinner Mark drew us a bath in the Japanese cedar tub. We arose the next morning to a healthy breakfast with fresh-squeezed juice.
The next day after helping with some projects, Mark offered me an hourly wage to return, a proposition I gratefully accepted. Not exactly the adventure job I came here for, but a good way to get some exercise and make a few bucks in the meantime. In the past week I’ve helped fix a camper, side an art studio, move tires, wash decks, cut lumber and perform a thousand other machine gun tasks. Working for Mark can be entertaining at times as he has the brain of a successful-genius type with a spacey, impulsive personality fueled by nonstop caffeine. Dude’s all over the map but cool as a cucumber.
On Saturday we got to see the house. The owner and her family live in Wasilla and this year decided to rent their house in Girdwood, which was recently renovated to include heated hardwoods, new appliances, granite, stonework and various other modern charms. After a quick tour and a reassuring conversation in which we promised to not trash the place too bad, we signed a month-to-month lease. The house is located on a paved bike path and features mountain views in every window. See that loft upstairs? That’s yours if you want to come visit this summer. Girdwood is only 40 miles from the Anchorage airport, a scenic ride that’ll cost you only a beer and a high-five at the terminal. If you wanna come hang for a long weekend, leave a comment and we’ll figure something out.
Here’s a little video of the place if you’re interested…