Northern Lights

Let us live that when we come to die even the undertaker will be sorry-Mark Twain

Tuffs and Midnight Sun


Well I clearly am a horrible blogger. I can’t even remember the last time I have updated this. So I really don’t even know where to begin. Any way, the winter came and seemingly out of no where. Along with the winter came the darkness. There was a three week period where I barely saw any sunlight. Go to work in the dark, come home in the dark. It may sound odd but there is something adventurous about spending so much time in the dark. I felt like I took a step back in time which probably sounds crazy too.

Winter at Bean’s was non stop busy. From epic holiday donations to seeing numbers in the shelter rise day to day challenged me in ways I never thought. But every day I came home knowing I was part of something very important and that is a feeling that stays with you much longer than exhaustion after a long day of work.

The weather is starting to look somewhat promising in Anchorage. We are three inches away from breaking the snow record. We have gotten somewhere around 130 inches so far and I want desperately to break the record. However the snow should be melting soon and I am well equipped with a new pair of xtratuffs.

The sun now doesn’t set till about 8pm. It is amazing. Times like this is when I truly love Alaska. So much that I plan on staying here next year. Alaska is by no means a one and done for me. I need more Alaska and I need it now.




Sounds of Bean’s

Throughout my Day I hear a wide variety of sounds at bean’s. As soon as I walk into the kitchen in the morning I can instantly hear the noise that is coming from the cafe. 500 plus people talking all at once makes a certain type of sound that is nearly impossible to describe. Every morning on the van run (when we had a van) I could always count on hearing at least one Billy Joel or Elton John song on the radio. I don’t know why but the radio stations love these guys up here. When sorting the mail I instantly pop on my headphones and listen to either explosions in the sky or as of late fleet foxes and I always mix in a little Seger. During lunch the sounds of “servers to the line” echoe through the mail room as I eat. All day when talking to the beanies they constantly reply to what ever I say with a nice “right on”, which is something that always makes me smile. Walking through the kitchen I hear water spraying, food frying, classic rock on the radio and knives hitting the chopping board. But most importantly hearing the stories of the beanies lives is something that I truly look forward too and make me love what I do


Out The Window

Right now I am sitting the mail room at Bean’s eating a chicken thigh during my lunch break. One thing I know for certain is that everyday eating lunch I will see some interesting things going on outside. Today I see a snow and iced covered parking lot. There are about three people hand rolling cigarettes feverishly. There is a native man with a feather in this hat throwing a paper airplane into the strong wind. I see a man dressed in fatigues with a cane doing some kind of stretching/exercise routine. Five or so seperate groups of people are standing and talking. I always wonder what they are talking about. There is a man carving some type of native talisman. Cabs are lined up picking people up. There is a man combing his hair leaning against my window. He just turned a around and waved to me. One thing I know for certain is that all of these people will eventually come into bean’s and talk to Claire and I.  They all will certainly bring interesting stories or jokes that will most likely make us laugh which genuinely makes me love my job.

Settled In


I am officially starting to feel like an Alaskan. I have an Alaskan drivers license, registered to vote, frequently get complimented on my choice of flannel at work and this week I saw the northern lights, the namesake of my blog. They were amazing and something I have always wanted to experience.


My shoulder and collarbone are almost fully recovered and hopefully I am about to put this medical issue behind me.


Working at bean’s has proven to be an experience that is hard to describe on this blog. There is so much going on and I encounter so many people that it is hard to condense into a short paragraph. But what I do know is that I am so happy to have been placed at Bean’s and I feel like I am learning a set of truly unique skills and having daily encounters that would only happen here.


I have had the pleasure of going to two great camping trips recently. Last weekend I went backpacking with my roommates and a FJV. Other than the frigid cold and lack of tent stakes our 15+ miles journey was nothing short of amazing. We had a minor run in with a moose and saw some brown bears of in the distance. This weekend one of our community friends hosted a weekend of camping and great food for us 2 hours or so north of Anchorage. The food was amazing and spending time around a fire with my roommates is always a good way to spend the weekend.

PS, Photos coming soon

A day at the Bean

6:15AM: Alarm sounds, I turn it off

6:30: Alarm sounds, hop in shower

7:00: Wait at bus stop while  watching loaves of bread come off the line through the wonder bread factory window

7:10: Get off at transit center with Claire and begin walking to bean’s

7:35: Arrive at beans, great kitchen staff and open social service office, eat breakfast usually some type of meat product, fruit and potatoes prepared in various ways. Hope that chaos does not break out in the café as you try to enjoy my breakfast

8:00: Open office, pass out advil, vitamins, basic toiletries, mail, drink black coffee

9:00: Hop in the beans van, put on 92.1, hear “turn it up” shouted from the back and promptly blast the music, drop people off all over the city, have conversations with the beanies about Alaska and how unprepared I am for the winter

10:30: Arrive at post office and collect the day’s mail

10:45: Arrive back at bean’s, high five people heading in, begin sorting the mail, pop on Pandora

12:00: Lunch break, marvel at whatever game meat creation beans has made for luch, laugh with Claire about the days events

1:00: reopen office, pass out everything described above, meat cutter from kitchen comes into out office and describes to us what he has been chopping all afternoon, always await to respond to a seizure, fight, drunk people or sick people, talk to various beanies about their lives and native culture

4:15: Leave office, exit to find multiple beanies sending us off for the night with “thank you’s” and “see you tomorrows”. Walk to transit center with Claire laughing about the day and talking about how awesome our job is

*Much more goes on at a day at beans than this, but my writing skills would not to most of them justice

High Tens Prohibited

Photo Cred: Whitney Mour

Unfortunately my collarbone saga continues. I went to see my orthopedist on Friday with dreams of being able take my arm out of my sling. I imaged a weekend full of amazing two arm activities; high tens, push ups, using a fork and knife at the same time, showering and getting dressed in under a half hour were just in my reach. However the doctor told me I re-broke my collarbone resulting in a two inch shift my left shoulder area. Although I do disagree with him because I don’t think I re-broke my collarbone, I like to think that it merely moved on its own. Anyways I have to decide by Friday to get surgery to repair my shoulder area or to let the bone fuse back together crookedly and lopsided the way it is.

However despite this setback in my recovery everything else about my life in Alaska is amazing. I Feel like I have been here for much longer than two weeks and I feel like I have know my roommates for much longer as well. I feel like I belong here and that is a feeling that a broken collarbone and pending surgery could never damper. Not to mention last Saturday I saw my first moose. It was just hanging out in our front yard. I still don’t believe how big it was, much taller than the SUV in our driveway.

I have worked at Bean’s Café full time for the last week and half and coming to realize how perfect of a work environment it is for me. Once again I feel like I belong there and am needed there. Without a doubt there are going to be some crazy things happening there however I feel I will not grow old of this job like every other I have worked before. Also I am starting to get to know some of the beanies (people who use the facility) already. I look forward to hearing their stories as the year goes on. I will have much more to post about work in the next couple of weeks or so seeing as I am still taking in all that goes on at Bean’s.

That’s all I got for now, posts will be more frequent in the future as I begin settle in

“Curb” your Enthusiasm

Well I can’t say that I got off to the best start with my move to the Northwest. As I am sure most of you know I badly broke my collarbone in a less than graceful way two days before a cross- country flight to Oregon. Flying with a broken collar, especially with multiple transfers is a pretty rough way to make it across the country.

6/8th's of my house (I couldn't make it up the rock scramble with a sling)

However I was treated with much kindness during the whole trip, even the TSA agents showed some unusual compassion. Upon arrival in Portland I was instantly greeted by name by JVC Northwest staff. I think my sling and glazed over eyes may have given them some clues, however I was still impressed. JVC and all the new volunteers were nothing but kind and helpful through a whole week of orientation. For this I am extremely thankful, I would have missed out on a great week in Oregon without their help.
On Saturday I arrived in Anchorage, Alaska. After a short ride from the airport I arrived at my new house. Our has was packed with former Jesuit volunteers (FJV)’s  who stuffed our stomach with reindeer sausages, fish head soup and a litany of desserts. All were delicious and it is great to have support from the local community.
My first hiking experience was quite the experience. I think I may have underestimated how intense hiking in Alaska is, especially with one usable arm. I climbed halfway up some mountain/hill and the view was amazing. I can’t wait for my arm to heal so I can go all the way to the top.
I start work tomorrow at Bean’s Café. I really don’t know what to expect but it should be a whirlwind day filled with many firsts. I visited the organization yesterday and it seems that things will get overwhelming at times but I know it will be an experience that will never be forgotten
That is all for now, I hope to get more pictures up soon.  Having one arm in a sling really handicaps my photographic ability.