I never thought that I would go to the Yukon Territory. I never thought that I would drive a bus. I never thought that I would work in the field I graduated in! Yet, in the fall of 2003 my good friend arrived home from Skagway Alaska insisting that driving a bus in the tiny town was the best experience of her life. I was intrigued. It still took landing in the Skagway International Airport (two landing strips with no radio control tower) for the reality of it to hit me. I had arrived in Alaska and from the moment I met my management and co-workers I was convinced that this experience would become an important chapter in my life.
I began driving buses and giving tours and honestly, it was quite challenging. I am quite an extrovert when the situation demands but it was taxing being “on” day in and day out. What kept me going were those truly kind and truly excited passengers. I also enjoyed my new group of 30 friends who I could always sit in the front yard or down on the dock with and recount the day’s adventures. And then there is the history and natural beauty of the Skagway area up the Klondike Highway and into the Yukon.
At the end of my first summer, I felt that although it had been a life changing experience, being a tour guide was a one season deal. I tend to be a bit hard on myself and needed time to process how I had grown during the summer of 2004. What I found was that it had been a lot! More than I ever expected and I started to think that continuing the challenge could only be more beneficial. I had been finishing up my degree in community recreation and every opportunity in Skagway had built up my leadership and reinforced the importance of travel in people’s lives. Why wouldn’t I go back?!
I called my division manager and told her (at quite the last minute) that I would be interested in doing the scheduling and occasionally driving for the upcoming season. She welcomed me back and now it is 2007 and I am the Transportation Services Manager. Each season has been different and each has brought new challenges and joys. I have never been so busy. I have never laughed so much. I have never made better friends. In the words of one of our returning drivers, “I love my job!”
To end, I would like to say that tour guiding or working with tourists is probably not everyone’s dream job. Still, I have been so surprised by how much I have grown and learned.
(P.S. Traveling is one of the great loves of my life and this fall I will be taking a “friends and family” discount Princess cruise through Rome, Naples, Athens, Ephesus, Istanbul, Mykonos, Cairo, Alexandria and back to Rome! Another great thing about working for Princess!)