My trek to Ketchikan, Alaska was an unusual one. I’m from New Jersey and I was employed as an Account Executive for a finance company in midtown Manhattan. I had been in this position for almost a year, after originally being trained as a credit analyst and commercial lender in the banking industry. It was in February of that year that I realized this particular job was not turning out to be what I had hoped, and the three hour daily commute was beginning to wear on me. I decided it was time to move on from this job and began to circulate my resume to obtain a New Jersey based banking position.
The only snag in this plan was I had just gone on a cruise with my best friend Nancy, who had been working as a Driver/Guide in Ketchikan for the past three years. Nancy and my other good friend Jill told story after story of the people they met while guiding tours and of the fun side trips they took when they had time off. Additionally, they had just come back from a month long cruise to Australia! Needless to say, I became enamored with their lifestyle of working all summer in Alaska, and then traveling to exotic places in the off season!
After a few days of thinking it over I applied online for a Driver/Guide position in Ketchikan. Originally, my thinking was my stay in Ketchikan would be an extended “vacation” from my professional life back East. I even went as far as to let some of my banking colleagues know that I would be back in roughly six months and in the job market then. Little did I know then, how wrong I was!
I found Ketchikan to be nothing short of incredible when I first arrived. I can remember crossing the Tongass Narrows on the airport ferry taking in the mountain vistas on a clear sunny day in April. Only two weeks prior my view at work had been midtown Manhattan! What a change!
My first year as a Driver/Guide was nothing short of awesome! It was different adventures everyday with the people I met on the tours that I took out to Saxman Native Village or Totem Bight State Park. I met people from all over the world and had the satisfaction of knowing I had made a positive impact on their vacations. When September came, I did not want the season to end as my time in Ketchikan had become one of the most rewarding jobs I had ever had.
However, now that the season had ended, it was time to take a cruise! For the first time I didn’t have to hear about my friends’ experiences abroad…I was able to join them! The winter of 2005 I embarked on the Regal Princess for a 39 day cruise from Florida through the Caribbean all the way around South America, culminating with 8 days cruising through Antarctica! I had been to places in the world most people only read about in books! It was a great experience to share with my friends!
The following year I returned to Ketchikan and that season was extra special for me as I met my boyfriend Greg at work (he’s one of our mechanics) and I received the honor of being named Employee of the Month in September! I have found my time here to be a new challenge everyday as well as a lifetime of memories.