A Day in the Life of…
Bird’s-Eye Views Served Daily
By Morgan Smith
This feature article is a recurring series exploring interesting people, places and experiences in the Turnagain Arm region. Writers are encouraged to be creative and imaginative to go beyond traditional news reporting. Creative writing, photo essays and poetry are welcome.
For those of us who end up residence of Girdwood our stories of how we got here are unique like snowflakes. Some of us move here from far away, and some of us have dwelled in this great city for extensive periods of time. But with every story, the reason why we stay seems to be the same – our love of Girdwood. Benjamin Fletcher is amongst those of us who chose to stay. This is his story.
Waking up in his place, Ben starts his day off with something tasty to drink and a hot shower. Then off to work most days because he is the manager at the Bore Tide Bar. For Ben, working at 2,300 ft. in elevation presents him with new challenges and adventures daily. “No two days are the same,” Ben explains.
With so many stories to regale me with, some about weather, some involved wild animals, and some of hilarious humans, he chose one he thought would best paint the picture of his daily life. He starts off by explaining that if the wind gets above 35 miles per hour, the Tram has to shut down until the wind subsides. That means that in the summer months, you either hike down or wait for a ride off the mountain.
So one day when the winds were roaring and the tram got shut down, he weighed his options and decided to hike down Alyeska instead of waiting for a ride. He happened to cross paths with another person trying to get down. The other hiker had cancer and was not at full strength. So Ben stayed with the other person to insure that they made it down safe and sound.
Towards the bottom of the mountain, Ben was able to secure a ride for this person and got them down safely. I am sure that they were grateful Ben was there to help. In fact, while sitting at the Bore Tire Bar, Ben pointed out to me, that above the bar there is an entire little area dedicated to gear and equipment to help people get down safely during emergency situations. It’s reassuring that they have us covered
Now coming up on four years in Girdwood, Ben reflected about his journey here. Hailing from Florida, Ben moved to Alaska for work. Working as far away as the North Slope, he decided to live where he could snowboard. Now years later, he got more than he had dreamed of with one of the best views in town.
He described why the view is so unforgettable from where he stands during work. The bar seating is facing inward, so the bartender is facing the windows, thus giving them the best view. With the constantly shifting weather on the Turnagain Arm, the view everyday is like an ever changing painting. With two flat screens mounted on the top outside corners of the bar, Ben can have his own space catered to him while he works. With three staff members working under him, he is constantly on the move managing the bar.
At the end of his day, when Ben clocks out, he likes to take turns on his snowboard. Such a huge bonus to working and residing in Girdwood. The access to Alyeska. No better way to end the day, especially when the sun is setting and the colors play on the snow capped mountain peaks that surround us here in the Chugach Mountains.
Best part of it all, is that Ben’s job helps cater to not only his passion for snowboarding, but photography. Ben’s photo’s are rich in color and capture the true beauty of this valley. In fact, he has been published several times in The Glacier City Gazette on its special photo page, so keep your eye out for his work. It is worth the look. It all started because he tore his ACL and wanted to take photos of others doing cool stuff when he wasn’t able to himself.
When work is done, Ben likes to go participate in local shenanigans. Whether it’s trivia night at the Sitzmark Bar and Grill, listening to local musicians at open mic night or playing around at Portage Lake, Ben is always staying active in our community. I can’t wait to see more of his photography and watch us embrace it in this art enthusiastic community. I can safely say that Girdwood is proud that such a kind wonderful person not only resides here but calls it his home.