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WOD Northwest Regional in Alaska: An Event Inside An Event

Whew, what a whirlwind of an adventure my trip to Anchorage, Alaska, was for Northern Exposure who hosted our Women of Drummer 2021 Northwest Regional. This was the largest of the regional gatherings to date, but to be fair, we were being hosted by Northern Exposure (NE), which definitely assisted with our numbers and, pardon the pun, exposure.

Traveling to and from Alaska was quite a long trip! We stopped and changed planes along the way but it was well worth it! When I finally got into Anchorage at 3:00 am, we were greeted by members of the Northern Exposure Transportation Team with big handmade signs. Mine said “Welcome to Alaska, Sara” with a drawing of a Muir Cap, boots, and blue, black, and red hearts. There was another sign that said “WOD” with blue, black, and red lines all around. It was definitely a statement, and one that suggested the warm welcome that we would receive by everyone throughout the entire event.

When we finally got to the Airbnb, there were about 15 of us out-of-staters staying there! I found my room, tucked in, and tried to get a few hours of sleep. A few hours later, I awoke to a hub-bub of familiar voices and then came the onslaught of big hugs and loves from those that I already knew and the meeting and greeting of those I did not. With a hearty breakfast being made in the kitchen, it did not take long for play to start happening in the living room of the big house. During the course of our stay, there was never a shortage of play, conversation, and comradery. We ended up nicknaming our stay, Real World: Northern Exposure.

The first day of the event, Thursday, was pretty low-key with a day of just hanging out, going to the grocery store to get supplies, and figuring out what all we were supposed to do and what all we wanted to try to do. The formal events started when I hosted our Women of Drummer Meet and Greet at another Airbnb which was VERY well attended. We had many local women come out to meet us, hang out, and see what we were about. I gotta say, there are quite a lot Women of Drummer in Alaska. Right after that we rushed over to the opening night of Northern Exposure.

Northern Exposure began with the customary Potlatch (yes, it’s “potlatch”, not “potluck”). The event took place at Chilkoot Charlie’s, an amazing amalgamation of bars and spaces. This was our first time to really meet and interact with the broader collections of locals and attendees of NE. They were all awesome, eager to meet us, hear who we were, and where we were all from. This was also the first evening that I noticed that the sun never fully went down and it stayed light outside well into the midnight hour. It freaked me out a bit and I never really got used to it. However, it also amazed me, reminded me of just how far north I had actually traveled, and that I had actually made it to Alaska (which had always been on my bucket list, so “checkmark”). That evening I helped load-in and start setting up the dungeon at the hotel in downtown Anchorage.

The next day, Friday, was the first full day of Northern Exposure with a full schedule of food, opening ceremonies, the keynotespeech, panels, classes, workshops, and the start of the Alaska Bootblack contest. I got to teach my “The Science of Bootblacking” class, which was well attended. After the classes were all over, we hosted our Cocktail Social on the outdoor patio of the bar where we did some more mingling. There I sat for the bootblack contestant while he was working the stand.

Afterwards, a couple of us went out to dinner with a couple of the locals to a local restaurant. The food was great and the view of Alaskan landscape from the rooftop dining area was amazing. We ended the night at the Northern Exposure play party which had been all set up by that point. The space was great with so many options of furniture to choose from. With so many people at the party and so many options to choose from, it was a bit overwhelming at first, but we all quickly got used to it. I played with several people from Alaska and a couple of us out-of-staters throughout the course of the weekend. It was a lovely combination of heavy impact and fisting. There were scenes of all types happening all around from blood play in the form of cuttings and needles, to impact and whips, to fisting. It was some amazing energy and we all went back to the Airbnb full.

Saturday morning came quickly which began with an amazing breakfast buffet and followed with the start of the day’s classes and workshops. That afternoon I hosted the Women of Drummer’s Leather Women’s Roundtable. Attendance was amazing, with obviously the biggest attendance I ever had at once. It was great to also have such an eclectic collection of views and experiences and associations. We spent the whole hour-and-a-half sharing and caring and it was lovely to see people’s leather hearts grow.

After the very successful roundtable, was a cigar play class that I attended (because I love cigars) and was able to contribute my experience to, which is always nice to be able to do. The cigar class then transitioned into a cigar social and the close of the classes for the day. Dinner was had and then it was time to get ready for the night’s play party. The party was great and I got to play with some more of our out-of-staters, a few more locals, and I even started teaching a few how to flog. At one point, I again was tagged in as part of a fisting gang bang, which is always fun. I closed the dungeon and helped with the load out and was happy to give back to our gracious hosts.

Again, Sunday morning come too soon but it promised to be another great day of classes, workshops, and panels so it wasn’t to hard to get up and moving. During the event luncheon, we had the honor of attending a “fireside chat” (there was no fire) with one of the local matriarchs. I love herstory.

In the afternoon, I presented my Pet Play 101 class. It was again well attended and lots of good questions were asked. All of the sessions that I attended throughout the three days were amazing and a huge shout out to all the presenters delivering such a wide array of topics with knowledge and confidence.

That evening was the wrap-up dinner and award show. Oh my goodness the food at dinner was amazing! We got to partake of the local fauna, which was graciously provided by our hosts. It was dinner and a show. We were entertained by local dancers, performers, poets, and storytellers. After dinner, the new Alaska State Bootblack was announced. I hope he has an amazing title year! Back at the Airbnb, we all just hung out in the living room and enjoyed each others’ company into the wee hours of the morning.

Monday, our last official day in Alaska, started with a survivor’s brunch at the local Denny’s (a classic kink munch spot in my neck-of-woods). Afterwards, I went with one of my fellow out-of-staters and a couple of locals for an adventure! We went to a nearby animal conservation center where we saw wolves, moose, bison, elk, and bears. It was really cool, but our ultimate goal was to see and touch a glacier. On our way, we made a quick stop at Beluga Point. There were no Beluga Whales to be seen, but it was really cool to walk out to regardless. It was then full speed ahead to get to the glacier. The drive along the highway was even beautiful with spectacular rock formations, amazing waterfalls, and gorgeous flora. We finally made it to the Byron Glacier trail head where we ran into a few of the other Northern Exposure contingent and proceeded to walk the trail up to the Byron Glacier. The path was absolutely picturesque. It was so green and lush with the mist coming in off the glacier. At several points along the way, there were spots off the path that took you to a stream’s edge that was flowing with ice cold glacier water. When we finally made it up to the glacier, the view was breath-taking. Along the path, I noticed a small crevasse and decided to explore it. It went into the glacier and so did I, though I did not go very far in. We could only stay for a little bit, but it was beautiful and awe-inspiring.

When we finally made it back through the glorious landscape and to the cars, we all loaded up and made our way to our fabulous hosts’ property for the wind down cookout, arrow break, hook pull, and our Women of Drummer play party. What a fantastic way to end a fantastic event. I took part in the arrow break where you hold an arrow to your throat and walk through it and break it with your intent of getting past or through something. I broke mine and it was a release of something I had been holding on to for a long time. It felt good to finally let it go. The energy shared was palpable and moving with everyone holding space. At the same time, others were experiencing the hook pull. Everyone as we all held the space for one another. Eventually people started making their way downstairs to the play space. Play started and we got our WOD bedroom photo where we broke the record for the most naked women in a bed/space!

My flight out was early early the next morning and I left from the play party to get to the airport. On the way, I again noticed that it hadn’t gotten dark so I was able to see the silhouette of the landscape as we drove through the twilight. I didn’t want to leave. I wanted to stay and continue to experience the place and the people. This regional was definitely a highlight of my title year and being in Alaska was definitely a highlight of my life. I will definitely be going back.

In Love and Leather,

Sara – Woman of Drummer 2021

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