I am starting my 8th summer season working for Princess and Holland America in Skagway, Alaska. The snow is still four feet thick at the top of the White Pass Summit, made famous by the Klondike Gold Rush of 1898. Within a few weeks, the trees and flowers will be blooming, the lakes unfreezing, the bears emerging from their winter nap, and the town will be filled each day with excited visitors off the cruise ships. That is one of the things I love most about Skagway-each day the scenery, the people, and the wildlife changes and surprises me. I first arrived in Skagway, scared and excited. I had been hired and trained to be a Driver Guide…which meant learning to drive a 40 ft bus!
I learned and grew a lot that first summer. I drove a bus with 44 passengers up into the Yukon Territory of Canada. I met interesting people from all over the world and entertained guests with stories, jokes, and tales of my adventures in Alaska during my free time: Kayaking Glacier Bay -seeing orcas, humpbacks, seals, and otters so close that I could touch them (but didn’t); driving up the Dempster Highway thru the fall colors of the alpine tundra all the way to the Artic Ocean and; hiking the Chilkoot Trail with four of my best girl friends.
I also enjoyed living in company housing, where I became fast friends with the 20 other drivers on the same adventure…many of whom I am still friends with today. In fact, one of those drivers is now my husband. We met our first summer, got engaged at Jewell Gardens in Skagway four years later, and have been returning ever since. Now I am the Division Manager and he is a Brakeman on the White Pass Scenic Railway…I never would have thought that first summer that one day I would be managing the division. Over the years, I have worked in several different positions with the company- Dispatcher, Driver Instructor, and Transportation Services Manager. I enjoy the incredible people that I work with and the opportunity to travel that working for a leader in the hospitality industry provides. Now as the Division Manager, I enjoy encouraging all the new arrivals as they start out on what I hope will be as memorable and life-changing experience as my own.