Saturday, May 22, 2010

Goodbye, Farewell, See you Later!






I have really enjoyed being Mrs. Alaska-America 2009! The last few days of my rein included a heartfelt and thoughtful bouquet of "farewell" flowers from my National Pageant roommate, Anji (thanks again Lady); a limousine ride to a contestant's dinner and a fun-filled (and stress free) pageant where a truly deserving and down-to-earth lady (Congratulations Tracy!) was chosen for the 2010 year. I'm happy to pass the torch on so-to-speak and will be ready and willing to help from the sidelines if my "expertise" is ever needed. I'm thrilled to become a part of a group of "former" Mrs. Alaskas, one of which includes my very own mother.

For more information about the Mrs. Alaska-America pageant, contact www.mrsalaskapageant.com.

This will be my last blog, I hope you have enjoyed my journey and that I've lived up to my Bush Pilot to Beauty Queen legacy... I've had fun sharing "my crazy life" with you!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Down to the Wire

I'm in the last month of my rein as Mrs. Alaska America. I wasn't sure how I'd feel at this point about passing the title along, but I realize that my time is over and it's someone else's turn. I am having a great time meeting the participants this year, the 2010 pageant has more than 23 entrants and each one of them comes with a unique background and wonderful story.
I also was honored to help out with pageant sponsor events, especially over Mother's Day. I helped bring a smile to ladies' faces by handing them complimentary crystal ring holders at a local furniture store... That's why I'm standing next to a REALLY BIG CHAIR!
I helped choose the winner of a "Mommy and Me" essay contest for a local mall and awarded more than $250 in prizes to very deserving mother/daughter teams. The daughters had to write why they thought their mothers were the best and include a photo of them together. Reading the entries made my eyes tear up and think of my own awesome mom...
I spread a little bit of cheer in the mall as well by handing roses out to mothers as they shopped. It was fun chasing after unsuspecting ladies and telling them happy Mother's Day with a flower!
The last fashion show I participated in was, of all things, a swimwear show at the annual Alaska's Women Show. I had hoped the bathing suit stuff was done after National Pageant week was over, but at least I felt like I could participate and not embarrass myself. I was the oldest model and was a teeny bit intimidated until I met the other ladies and realized it was going to be almost as fun as prancing around with my pageant sisters back in Tucson.

I am excited for whomever wins the title of Mrs. Alaska America 2010, but more than that I am happy to meet and become friends with another great bunch of ladies.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Have a Heart

Anchorage, Alaska is a small city with a really big heart. The businesses in the downtown area are quite dedicated to keeping the city fresh, clean, beautiful and upbeat.Last month, the businesses and their owners who have contributed the most towards these ideals were honored at the "Heart of Anchorage" award ceremony and banquet. I was on hand to help out with the auction items as well as raise money to help purchase the thousands of flowers planted yearly in the Anchorage area. I really have fun playing a "Bob Barker Beauty" with auction items on stage.
If you want to live in a well-appointed city, but still want a small-town feel, then Anchorage is your best bet!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Ahhhh, The Perks


I didn't enter the Mrs. Alaska Pageant for the prize package, but I must admit I am truly enjoying some of the perks that came with the title! My husband, daughter and I just got back from a very relaxing three days at a nearby resort called Sunset View in Big Lake, Alaska. We enjoyed hot steam showers, a get-together with friends and a long walk out on the frozen lake where I taught my daughter how to make snow angels.







Monday, March 22, 2010

The Last Great Race

Dog mushing is Alaska's state sport and I love to support it wholeheartedly when I can.
The Iditarod, known as "The Last Great Race", is a 1,100 mile sled dog race through the wilds of Alaska from Anchorage to Nome. It retraces the steps of an historic relay by dog sled in the 1920s of lifesaving diphtheria serum to an outbreak of the disease in a tiny isolated village on the northwest coast of Alaska.
The dogs are the true athletes in this race, while the mushers are one tough bunch , too. This year's race was a real event to watch unfold through race updates and news reports from along the trail. The winning team reached Nome in less than 9 days, one of the quickest runs in the 38 year history of the race. If you've ever followed a long distance sled dog race, you know that it's like a slow-motion NASCAR event, with fans cheering on their favorite musher and team. The difference is that the fans of this race can actually meet the mushers and their dogs, everyone is quite accessible and it's like being in "pit row".
If you ever get the chance, come to Alaska during the first weekend in March and enjoy the start of the race (held over two days)... and if you're REALLY adventurous, fly to Nome and watch the finish!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Brrrr, It's Cold Out There!

This last week I've been working as a pilot for an oil company in the extreme northern region of Alaska known as the "North Slope", out of the town of Deadhorse (go to a map of Alaska, look at the top of the state above the Arctic Circle, next to the Arctic Ocean and that's where you'll find it). It gets very cold here.
When the airplanes are parked outside a hangar for any amount of time, they get an external heater attached to them to make sure they'll stay warm enough for the next passengers and to start. The pilots appreciate it too.
It was -25f with a wind of 25mph this day... a wind chill factor of 50 below zero. I did not stay outside very long because the camera was freezing and so was I! Flying in such extreme environments makes you appreciate a cup of hot coffee and wool socks like you never have before. Even wrapped in a arctic down coat and a fur hat I could feel the icy cold creeping in every little crevice - mighty uncomfortable.

I'm very lucky that my career affords me an up-close and personal view of the entire state of Alaska. I feel that because of my knowledge of the ENTIRE state it makes me a better Mrs. Alaska. When one thinks of Alaska, you need to keep in mind that while it may be -50f in the northern regions, it could easily be 40f or warmer in the southern part of the state... it's not uncommon to have a 100 degree split between the high and low temperatures in state for the day during the winter.

Although I prefer flying in warmer temperatures, I wouldn't trade my job for anything else in the world... beats 'working' for a living!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Alaska to Africa

I think many people would be surprised at the number of pageant ladies who are active hunters. I myself try to get out with my husband as often as possible to enjoy the wilderness and try to fill the freezer too. Some hunts are more successful than others (see October 2009 posts).

I got the chance to volunteer for an organization I believe in and that supported me in my bid for Mrs. Alaska. The Safari Club International had their annual fundraiser in Anchorage, and boy it was a great one! The SCI promotes wildlife conservation, fair-chase hunting, hunter education and the "Becoming an Outdoors Woman" (BOW) program.Throughout the evening, hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of donated hunts were auctioned off to the crowd.
An amazing display of wildlife taxidermy was available to admire as well. Here (above) you see an African Lion in front of a Kodiak Brown Bear, a most interesting mix.
A truly mind-blowing event which happened that evening was that I was awarded a free African safari! My husband and I have been wanting to see Africa for years and now we have the opportunity to hunt out of an exclusive lodge in South Africa for 7 days, WOW. Talk about generosity, thank you Kuvhima Safaris, we will see you next spring!
This last photo is probably the ONLY time you'll ever see a Moose, Leopard and an Elan side-by-side, unless you attend next year's SCI fundraiser.


Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Pomp and Circumstance


I don't think anyone can be a true beauty queen without riding in a parade or two during her reign. I'm no different, and had a really fun time sitting on top of a ridiculously expensive Porsche waving to the crowds during the annual Fur Rendezvous festival in Anchorage. I swear more people ogled the CAR... I know I would have.
A word to those entering floats in a parade. Keep in mind the people who will be on either side of you, you'll basically be hanging out with them for an hour or so. I got really lucky and sat behind a colorful, vibrant and very musical float. I "danced" to the music on top of my car to keep warm, a very good setup.
After the parade, I went to a local restaurant which sponsors my pageant and enjoyed a yummy meal and a hot toddy, after which a fellow patron loaned me his Moose Hat for a little Alaskan fun.
Note to readers: Wearing crowns and banners in public restaurants (as well as moose hats) is really not typical fare in Alaska, we're just a little loopy from coming out of hibernation.



Monday, February 22, 2010

The Future of Pageants

I have a lot of friends and acquaintances who do a double-take when I explain that I am Mrs. Alaska-America 2009 and that I won a beauty pageant to earn the title. Most say "you don't seem like the pageant type". Well.... I think they thought they were complementing me, at least I take it that way. I may be a "rough around the edges" backcountry woman to a lot of people, but I also have a very feminine and glamourous side, too. I am happy that there are venues out there that foster female strengths and beauty and empower women to be the best at whatever they wish.
I had the chance to attend a teen pageant the other night and was really happy at witnessing the "next generation" of women who will be influencing our world. Also included in the pageant were young girls who had been "adopted" by the titleholders to mentor them and be "big sisters" for the year. They are called Alaska's Gold Nuggets.

Congratulations to this year's Miss Forget-Me-Not (Alaska's State Flower) and all those young women who decide to use pageants as a way to become stronger, more articulate and versatile. Because of these ladies, there is a great future for pageants and all they offer.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Alaska Showcase of Talent

On Valentine's Day evening I was asked to be a part of a panel of judges for a new program called "Alaska Showcase of Talent". Apparently my background in film and television production qualified me for this position. Being a (very) minor celebrity may have as well.
I wasn't sure at all what to expect, let alone to say to the young up-and-coming artists performing before me, but I was truly encouraged by the tenacity it took many of the participants to get up there and "bare it all", so-to-speak. Heaven forbid I ever forget what it was like to participate in a beauty pageant!

I found that taking the "Paula Abdul"(ie. American Idol) approach to giving out constructive criticism was a pretty safe direction to take. Who knows, maybe I witnessed the next generation of artists to wow America that night? You never can tell.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Ski For Women

One of my passions is getting outdoors and enjoying it while also getting a workout in at the same time. I call it disguising exercise as fun. Although, just for the record, I don't usually go skiing in a crown and banner.
Well, I was lucky enough to combine my outdoor enthusiasm with a workout AND giving to the community at the annual Ski For Women, at Kincaid Park in Anchorage, Alaska. The event raises money and awareness for women's issues and charities. The several hundred participants were encouraged to dress in costumes and have fun while racing the 5km course.
I can only hope that my daughter will enjoy the outdoors and giving back to the community as much as I do... as you can see, she has no choice but to participate right now! I figure in another twenty or thirty years SHE can carry ME.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Dare to Care, A Night in Hollywood

Whenever Hollywood gets behind a cause, there is usually going to be a good turnout and a great party. The "Dare to Care" after school lunch program had just such a gala event, with the venue being Anchorage, Alaska instead of California.


Dare to Care is a "fill the gap" program that feeds children in schools who either don't qualify for the federal meal program or who are possibly neglected and don't get adequate nutrition during the school day. It helps those kids focus on their school work instead of their stomachs.
To raise funds a brand-new BMW was raffled off, there were live and silent auctions as well as charity gambling tables.

I truly enjoy helping organizations like 'Dare to Care' fill their coffers with donations. It is always a good feeling being privy to the generosity that is evident at these functions and I'm proud of the Alaskans who helped make sure "No Child Goes Hungry".


Monday, February 1, 2010

Definitions

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Just what the heck is a bush pilot anyway? There are as many definitions as there are personalities and opinions in the world of aviation. I don't think there are very many "Bush Pilots" left in the world these days, mainly because my definition stems from the roots of aviation in Alaska.

A Bush Pilot to me is someone who takes an airplane and pioneers new roads through the sky and new landing areas on the ground, working with whatever Mother Nature gives them at the time and hoping that the airplane can take the abuse. There aren't too many areas in Alaska that haven't been explored by airplane by now, so I feel that the good old days of taking off into the great unknown are part of aviation history now.

Another definition of bush pilot is anyone who regularly flies in "Bush" Alaska, which is characterized by any of the hundreds of villages off the road system in Alaska, but which have a State maintained runway. That's where I got my start, flying freight and mail to remote villages for a cargo airline. Most of what I use to keep me alive in an airplane today I learned out there.

Some would call my husband and me bush pilots. We disagree. Just because we use our airplanes as the ultimate RV/SUV for hunting, fishing, clam digging (or whatever else you can think of that's "off airport" in Alaska) doesn't mean we didn't know where we were going when we took off or if there was a reasonable area to try to land in when we got there.

Some call us crazy for using our airplanes the way we do because of the "risk" involved, but I say we're all crazy just for getting in our cars and driving on the highways every day. At least when we land and take off in the backcountry the only real variable is us and our judgement.


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Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The Alaska Bash!


My husband and I had a really fun time attending a gala known as the "Alaska Bash" this month. It was hosted by a former employer of mine to recognize some of the "toughest people on Earth". Namely, a lot of the pioneering Native Alaskans who set the foundation for the air carriers, newspapers and politicians of Alaska today.

I was lucky to be hired by the company, they gave me my first flying job. I learned a lot about working hard in very tough conditions. I'd regularly fly in minus 40 degree weather, hauling freight out to remote villages in the winter, doing all of the loading and unloading myself. It was definitely a job that kept me in shape and taught me to dress against the elements. (I certainly never was found in an evening gown and high heels when I was working in Alaska's remote villages!)
Here's to all of the tough Alaskans out there who brave the harsh elements to get the job done!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

New Year, New You?


I just came home from a luncheon hosted by my state pageant director for prospective contestants interested in this year's Mrs. Alaska-America pageant. There was a good turnout and I'm impressed at the diverse group of ladies my director always seems to attract to the pageant.

I'm a bit melancholy that I only have 5 months left as the reigning Mrs. Alaska-America (there's still so much I want to do!), but I'm equally excited to pass the torch on to the next lady, whomever she may be.

The most prevalent reasons I've heard for entering this pageant have been to "give me some 'me' time", "to get back in touch with my glamourous side", "to do something I've never done before" and "to make me a better person." Whatever the reasons for entering, this pageant does change a person. It's different for every participant and some more profound than others.

I applaud the brave and confident ladies who have decided to enter this year's pageant and embark on a personal journey of self-improvement and development. This could be the year you find a whole new you.