For the first few weeks I felt that I wasnt back home yet... it was almost like the home-sick feeling I got when I was first left on the hostel courtyard watching my Mom and Aunt walk away on the first dayof college.(That feeling was fleeting as I met them in a few hours, since my Aunt lived a few miles away!) But Seattle did not feel like my home anymore, it felt like I'd left my REAL home behind in Alaska.
I'm not even going to TRY to describe the landscape of the state.Whatever you have heard, read, seen in documentaries, book and pictures can not do it justice. When you climb upto and onto a glacier ice field, time does stand still. (Or maybe that was my watch battery running out...! Eitherways, it was deathly quiet until I decided that I would wear my sandals instead of hiking boots (since it looked sunny) and jump across 2 ft deep pools of melting glacial water! Going into the cavernous ice caves and whispering so as "not-to" cause the razor sharp icicles to pin us down took some effort on my part... the ice blue color is still vivid in my mind (and my digital camera memory stick)
I loved the idea of the 22+ daylight hours Alaska enjoys. The boundless energy it gave me compared to the no-effect-on-sleep it had on hubby! I was more restless than usual in the evenings. Hubby had to force me to relax by the fires we built, after scavenging for firewood along the Teklanika river. (He literally had to drag me bythe waist once when I caught sight of a campers stack of firewood!)Sweet corn never tasted so sweet until it was blackened by soot from the fire and spiced with cayenne from the pepper spray we'd bought to ward of bears! (Testing it caused my eyes to sting for hours... We'd forgotten to factor in the fact about wind-direction!)
And I thought I lived a simple life! The family in Joy, Alaska have a whole new definition for the word 'simple'. They moved to Alaska inthe 50's when they thought their children were troubled by 'normal' lifestyles. They couldn't have picked a better place.... You could get lost searching for trouble here! We spent some time with them on our way to the North Pole, they told me I looked like their adopted-Indian daughter. (I wondered if they could really pick out their kids from acrowd since they'd adopted 45 of them in a span of 30 years!)
That trip was a learning experience! Though hubby was visibly shocked to see the lack of 'the white stuff' at the North Pole, it thrilled us beyond measure when we felt the solid ice below the 6 inches of top-soil we were standing on. (Little wonder it was so spongy to walk on!) The Transatlantic Pipeline brought a whole new wave of people to Alaska and it was built with the outmost care so as not to disturb the delicate ecosystem of the place. I think they did a good job! At times it is difficult to spot the pipline from a mile or so away, as it blends into the brush and vivid fireweed of the tundra.
"Beary good bears!", is what I expected the Punjabi couple in our group to say when they ooh-ed and aah-ed over the mother bear and her 3 cubs. Boy! Did we waste a whole lotta time reading up on 'What to do if a bear ...?" They seemed almost unaware that humans existed!(Though I bet this was just after a feast of those huge salmon in theYukon river followed by luscious berry's for desert! Produce is abundant in every sense of the word here!) Oh and picture of the bears here isnt mine. (I was staring too intently at em to take a picture!)
My constant, "I hope we spot some bears" was soon replaced by, "Ok, so what else is new" afterthe 15th bear sighting in 3 days! Add Dall Sheep (not Daal), Moose(Yes, they ARE dangerous and huge!), Numerous kinds of animal which I can only define as "Deer", Artic Squirrels (not white please, if you thought along the lines I did!), humongous crows (I think they were called Ravens), Wolves and oh, did I mention bears, it was a veritable safari trip hiking in Denali.
Oh and we were'nt fortunate to see Denali in all its splendor, though we could see what the hype was about. (I refuse to refer to it as Mt McKinley, turns out this McKinley dude went ahead and named it after himself for no apparent reason! He hadn't even scaled it once!)
So what made me write all this now? I figured I'd better do it before I forget the details that made the trip so memorable. Like how it was hubby's chore to first figure out how to and then empty the 'waste' at the hookup stations for the RV each time! I ought not to talk bad about good ol' Winne (yeah, a not-so-original nickname for a Winnebago!) since she afforded us the luxury of choosing our picnic and rest stops with ease- On the banks of the Kenai River one day, the Alaskan Range the next and waking up to the sounds of the seagulls gliding along the waters of Portage bay.
I don't know whether to feel happy that there is still such a place,with its amazing landscape, rich culture and simple people so untouched, or sad that theres so few like it left ... If you haven't been to Alaska yet, I envy the journey that you have yet to seek ...
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