Note from “Boss Lady” – I just got an email from Seth entitled “a little something I wrote”. This time of the year, it’s not unusual for Anvik Lodge staff members to start thinking about why they’re so excited to get back to the lodge. Cliff, Blair, Alyson and I all know what the feeling is and why this place is so special, but it’s really enlightening to hear from the crew members what their thoughts are. That’s why I asked Seth for permission to post this “little something” he wrote on our blog. Beyond creating an unforgettable experience for our guests, it’s nice to know that we inadvertently are doing it for the crew as well.
Anvik River Lodge – My Job
All my life I have battled trying to balance my desire to explore and my desire to make a living. My mind constantly wandering into the wild – yet stuck in an office space or pro shop talking the game of golf.
Don’t get me wrong, every job I’ve had has inspired me to do my best or to take on more as an employee. But when you find what you love as they say, well the time clock just disappears. You are overwhelmed with a sense of balance. It’s that zen moment that completes me and brings both worlds together. Alaska’s Anvik River Lodge is a place dreams come true. A place that many people chosen to have their ashes laid once they are no longer on this earth. Nothing can be more honoring than to know that there have been many great folks that have chosen this river to be their final resting place. I am just honored to be able to take in what they obviously found to be their home. That’s powerful stuff and speaks volumes about the affect this river and the experience has on people.
Standing on the waters edge feeling the pressure of the river up against me and knowing that somebody has had the opportunity to fall in love with this place as much as I have, gives me so much drive as a guide. Young, driven and focused I listen to the river and it teaches me new things each day.
But there is also something else that is great about this place I call paradise -a boss named Cliff Hickson. What knowledge I don’t get from the countless hours spent studying river bends and rocky shoals I am sure to learn from this great man. He has honestly been one of the most impacting people in my life and I was lucky enough a year ago to get the chance to meet him and become part of his guide crew. Tall and stern but with a smile that pretty much gives away what wonders he has hidden as you travel up the long river ride that you take to get to his lodge and first start your guide training. Upon first meeting him I thought to myself “well whatever I thought I knew before if I was mistaken, I wont be now”. He is confident and beyond belief and with every turn of the boat on our first drive up I suddenly knew I had found the right boss to have. Now in my mind I thought to myself it is time to work my ass off. I was right not only can Cliff teach me everything from extensive building construction and all forms of wood work but he can teach me to be as happy as possible while doing so and this is the blessing Anvik is to me. To look around and see each and every guide absolutely loving what they do day in and day out – as I said the time clock stops existing and the determination to complete each task at hand is what drives you forward. Not slacking on one step along the way and learning it right from a guy who has spent over 22 years in this remote region building a fishing lodge and over 40 years in bush Alaska – that is by far something beyond words.
Did I mention he has an amazing wife too? Cheryl Hickson my other boss- or as we know her “Boss Lady” – and wife to Cliff. A woman who is truly right by his side. Cheryl can teach life lessons while mixing and making many of meals from scratch with various ingredients. That in itself tells you so much about a person. Bare and minimal ingredients made into five star meals with lessons of life!
Without a doubt these two have found something special out here and have let it consume their lives. But the balance is what is key and I believe they have that scale calibrated. For they have raised an amazing family and have done it while running a lodge of this caliber. Their son Blair has easily become one of my closest friends and mentors in life. He is cunning and wise beyond his years. The knowledge he has been able to obtain from his father Cliff and his mother Cheryl shines through. Also the knowledge taught without words from this great land and remote area with nothing but vast wilderness has been the hidden factor. He has got his own kind of swagger too. That kind of person you just feel good to be around. I think because you know he is true to the core and that is important. Their daughter Alyson who possesses that kind, transparent love for life that you can just see in her eyes or maybe its in her smile too! She’s passionate beyond belief for her family and this you can tell is a trait that they all possess.
They’ve taught me how to pass this on and guide some of what I consider to be the greatest people I have ever met. As Cliff & Cheryl always say “They come to Alaska’s most remote lodge as guests but they leave as family” and I am just blessed to call this my job. For guiding on the Anvik River has become apart of me and will always push me forward!
Thanks for reading – Seth