We are going to Barrow, Alaska

The northernmost point in the Americas.

The population is 90% native, and we will be helping to build a tundra garden at the local two year native college.

We’ll take four flights to get up there, travel 2,576 miles.

Local population: 4,000

Only two or three sunsets while we’re there.

Right on the Arctic Ocean coast.

Can’t even believe it.

Be leaving in a month.

Living in Barrow, Alaska for a month and a half.

Heather has a video of the whole thing. But I’m going to try and write it out.

So last Wednesday, the day we were found out about Alaska, we had a feeling we were going to figure out where we were going that night.

And then when Heather was late coming home, we were sure.

So when she finally got home, we asked her if she knew where we were headed. And she said yes, in a meek voice. Looked a little pissed off and serious.

And we’re like, when do we get to know, then??!

And she said she had 24 hours to tell us.

But kept trying to squeeze out of her when she would tell us, and finally she said, okay. We’re leaving for laundry at six. It will be before that.

So from 5:30-6 we all sat around in a circle in the lodge. Just waiting for her. We couldn’t do anything else besides sit in anticipation. Half from excitement, half from nervousness as it was our last project as a team.

And then she came in.

And she handed out big chocolate bars to all of us.

And she turned on the Willy Wanka soundtrack. “I’ve got a golden ticket…”

Except I didn’t even put two and two together at that point. None of us did.

But we opened our chocolate to eat, and found yellow sticky notes inside. Our golden tickets.

Each sticky note had a little clue on it– details about the project. We all stood up around the table, placed our sticky notes on the table in excitement. Buzzing over the clues, huddled together. Heather got out her video camera.

And then, Heather said, Carinne, did you not get a chocolate? And she pulled one out from behind her back. And Carinne almost started crying. “This is my favorite chocolate.”

And then she opened it, and started screaming. None of us could even understand what she was saying, but then she managed to articulate, “ALASKA!”

And we all started screaming in disbelief. Hugging. We all went around the circle, screaming and grabbing everyone in big, sportsmanlike hugs.

Sydney was crying so hard. I kept hugging her because she looked so upset. But she was just so fucking happy. We finally got something that we wanted. We didn’t even know what to do.

Heather confirmed Alaska, and she was almost crying, too. She gave us a few more facts, 4 flights and all. And then we looked it up online and almost lost it. We were going way out there.

Then we all ran outside and got on our cellphones. Everyone calling their families and crying.

It was beautiful and surreal.

And now all the other teams are super jealous of us, and we don’t really know what ot say. We never got to live in Seattle, LA, Yosemite, Portland, Salt Lake City.

We lived off the grid the whole year. And now we are officially off the grid.

We did it.

I want to talk to all the people in that 4,000 person town and learn their stories.

Might have to adjust my vegetarian diet for dinners with new friends and community. I want to eat whale, and seal, and all the meat they eat up there. At least once. I want to go over to people’s houses, and learn about their culture, eat their meals. We think our team was picked for this project because of the way we are a family, and we create family wherever we are thrown.

Everything that they ship up there costs two to three times as much as in the lower 48 states, so we’ll have to shop local. Everything that they eat.

We’ll be in a different time zone, three hours from Kansas.

And we’ll be a swim over from Russia. George and Jess are trying to book a cheap flight over and want me to join…

But first, Alaska.

Time to explore.

After a seven months of community service in California and Oregon, my team is heading to Barrow Alaska in three weeks to finish out our ten month commitment.

Coming from Kansas, this West Coast experience has been a great learning experience for me. More so, it’s been a year of growing while living and working with the ten other people on my team from all over the US who will be flying to Barrow with me.

We are currently camping in Sacramento, California at an urban campsite along the American River. Before that we were living with the Golden Rule intentional community outside of Willits, California. And to begin our service back in the fall we lived in the middle of Silver Falls state park in Oregon.

That’s a whole other story.

This blog is dedicated to Barrow, Alaska, and the people that I will meet there. And what happens when you take eleven twenty-somethings from all over America and fly them up to the highest point in America to live and work for a summer.

The team:

A psychology major and a uninhibited rapper and comedian who always finds time to meditate under the trees- Jess is from New Jersey.

The quietest member with a heart of gold and a life’s story to tell, he can always be caught with a book and cup of tea in hand- Dre is from Virgina.

A performance singer and genie pants wearing charmer, this girl has a wicked sense of humor to boot- Alyssa is from New York.

A lifetime of cooking jobs through college, he can now be found on a street corner chatting with anyone who looks like they might want someone to talk to- Tony is from Minnesota.

A few years spent in Germany has given her Deutsche fluency, and a wanderlust drive to be it and see it and meet it all- Carinne is a wildflower from Texas.

A hard worker who is always ready to make someone smile and is sure to win you over with his great southern drawl- Ricky is from North Carolina.

A horse riding fanatic and super strong lady, I’ve only seen her cry once. When we found out we were headed to Alaska- Sydney is from New Hampshire.

The little brother of the group from Massachusetts, this guy has the most unique laugh in the world, and is always ready to use with the goal of making everyone around him feel good- George is from Massachusetts.

An organizational inspiration, she’s got a no nonsense attitude and a love of puns- Heather is from Wisconsin.

A aspiring dramatist and always ready to lend a helping hand in his own way, he’s got a love for movies, theatre and people- Ryan is from California.

And finally, an International and Global studies major from Kansas, my name is Annie. I’ve had the travel bug since the day I was born, fostered by my almost nomadic parents. A compulsive writer who is always scribbling notes down and concerned when I don’t have at least a few pens and paper in my pockets, I’m here to tell you our story.

Grandma. Guess where I’m going?”

“Alaska.”

“How did you know??!”

“I could feel it in my bones.

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