A Midnight Sun Memory

*In January of 2006 I was offered a job as a Front Desk Associate at a hotel in Denali, Alaska. Four months later, in May, I was on a plane on my way to Anchorage. It was a scary yet unbelievable experience*

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 ~a midnight sunset~

 

It was eleven o’ clock in the morning and I had the day off. I was still in the process of learning to run for extended periods of time and relied heavily on my iPod to pick me up when I was lagging. I laced up my sneakers, crossed the deserted George Parks highway and began my run to the tune from Les Mis, “at the end of the day, you’re another day colder and the shirt on your back doesn’t keep out the chill.” Yes, I’ll admit it was a weird song to be running to but it was so intense that it was perfect.

The sky was overcast with a dampness in the air. I was in an old sorority tee-shirt and my favorite workout capris. The music continued, loud in my ear buds, drowning out the sound of my Nikes on the gravely road. As my run progressed, I began to feel tired. I got my iPod out of my armband to look for a song that would reenergize the second half of my run. Have you ever tried to find a song while running? It’s no easy feat. As I was searching through my library of music, I heard the screeching and skidding of tires. I was shocked to have heard something so loud above my headphones, adrenaline coursed through my body. I immediately stopped (thinking I was about to get struck by a vehicle). When my eyes rose to the road I was face to face with a fifteen passenger van – only ten feet separating us. That, and a momma moose.

I had heard of this moose. She was famous around our housing district. Every other summer she had twins and they paraded around in the early mornings. Having been in Alaska for four weeks I was more than ready to see a moose. It seemed like every single staff member had seen her and I was the only one who hadn’t been blessed with her presence. I was terrified. I did a quick scan to make sure her babies were nowhere near me because the last thing I wanted was to come between a momma moose and her kids. I avoided eye contact and backed away slowly. She paused for a brief moment in the middle of the road and then continued to saunter, on her spindly legs, the rest of the way and disappeared into the woods. It was as though time froze. The dust particles even seemed to be suspended in the air.

As I slowly thawed and came back into real-time, I looked up at the van. The driver was slowly coming back to life as well. We made eye contact and she rolled down her window. She asked me if I was ok and I asked her the same.

She said, “I almost hit a moose.” And I said, “me too.”

She offered me a ride back to the North Star, our motel converted into dormitory housing and I gladly accepted. I was thrilled to have seen my first moose but not sure I wanted to try to out run one if it came to that.

I was so frustrated on my third week and sixth day because every day employees would happily trade stories about moose sightings and I felt left out. I so badly wanted to see a moose. But my experience was so unlike every other and I can say without a doubt that it was worth the wait.

~a momma moose and her baby taking a twilight swim at horseshoe lake~

~This was not the moose I saw on my run – but a small little family I saw on a different day (before I had my megazoom camera)~

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Categories: alaska, travel | Leave a comment

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