Student Leaves Her Alaska Experience Open for Anything
"The second I saw this place I knew I was going to live here one day. And it was just a means of getting up here."
By: Randi Spray
Richardson, a 21-year-old English major who had previously been attending Western State College in Gunnison, Colo., first visited Juneau on a cruise ship. "The second I saw this place I knew I was going to live here one day. And it was just a means of getting up here."
When asked why now, Richardson replied, "I was sick of talking about. I was ready for a change. I try to live my life in the now and at that time it was like I needed to be up here."
Everyone back home in Colorado was very supportive of Richardson’s decision, especially Richardson’s father, whom she described as jealous. “Everybody who I told that to, while they thought I was crazy, they were still supportive because that's what I wanted," Richardson said.
Richardson traveled to Alaska with "the mindset of no expectations, just gonna take it as it comes at me, and I think that really helped me. I just accepted things as they came. Everything's been like such a blast and so awesome."
Richardson is an avid fly-fisherman, outdoor extraordinaire. A member of the fly fishing club here at UAS, Richardson stated, "I like the detachment from reality. I feel like it’s my reality at that moment. It gets me out of my head. Any problems or drama or issues I have going on in my life is totally insignificant whenever fly fishing. It's just like me, and the fish, and the water and my fly rod."
She's certainly been making the best of her time in Alaska. So far Richardson has backpacked to Windfall Lake Cabin, gone sea kayaking and visited the glacier, had the opportunity to ski the terrain at Eaglecrest, gone salsa dancing and attended a dinner as a guest of a republican representative where she got to see Sarah Palin.
"The hike in there [on the trail to Windfall Lake] was pretty intense. The snow was really deep, and we hiked halfway in the dark. It was pretty epic. It was really cool because that next morning, I was the first one up. The skies were blue and the sun came over that huge valley with the lake in front of it, and I literally could not go inside. I just sat outside thinking: ‘I cannot believe I'm here. I can't believe I'm seeing this.’"
On Richardson’s sea kayaking adventure, she visited several islands; she was scared by sea lions, awed by the scenery and fell in love with some new cuisine. "My buddy strapped carrots to our kayaks and while we were kayaking the water would come up and wash the carrots and then when you ate them they were like salty carrots. I can't have a regular carrot now because I'm obsessed with sea carrots."
One of Richardson’s favorite experiences thus far was her visit to the Mendenhall Glacier. "Oh god," Richardson recalled, "I've never seen ice that blue. Or ice that big. My favorite part personally was the big waterfall right next to the Mendenhall glacier. We got up real close to it and all that wind, that freezing cold wind, that was rushing off of that was just so exhilarating. That feeling, I don't know what the word would be, freedom or being wild."
Richardson, originally an elementary education major, decided to switch to English after 2005.
"I broke my back in a really bad car accident. I had always loved to write ever since I can remember. But I really got into literature because I was pretty much laid up for two or three months. I had nothing to do but read."
Richardson has also set to work reviving the English club with Kaylee Lambert. Her efforts have received great support and Richardson is modeling it a little after the “Word Hoard” group organized back at her home campus in Gunnison. Richardson said that the “Word Hoard” would organize regular Open Mic Nights.
The fledgling English Club’s first Open Mic Night is scheduled for Feb. 20, a Friday. It is open to anybody and everybody. The purpose of it is to promote the English department, encourage student-teacher interaction, to have fun, and to “share what we have to say. Why else do we write poetry? Why else do we do anything other than for other people to read it?" Richardson stated.
Richardson has little idea about what she will do after she gets her English major; "I like to write. My emphasis is in creative writing, and I'd love to just write but unfortunately that's not a very easy way of making money and living
If she does continue with writing, Richardson said she would like to write short stories, maybe even become a novelist.
“I dig thinking of an idea and then going in the complete opposite direction with it,” Richardson said. “Like something that would be totally acceptable to something totally unacceptable. I love pushing the boundaries and making people uncomfortable, writing things that are a little odd. I like to make people question larger subjects within the contexts of imagery and metaphor."
Richardson has gotten a good impression of Alaska during her time here. "I like that everyday is a little different as far as weather or people I meet or things that I do. The scenery up here is breathtaking. I mean Colorado's beautiful but this is sublime.”