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North To Alaska And Back Again

September 11, 2009

We have been back from Alaska for about two weeks now and although I have wanted to write about the trip, I find that each time I sit down to do so my mind wanders as the image of Sarah Palin pops into it. It happened while we were in Alaska too, so much so that at the Ted Steven’s International Airport in Anchorage while enduring our three hour layover en route to Codova, I kept imagining I was seeing her. Or more correctly, I half expected her to come sashaying through our concourse in one of her red suits and retro hairdo, accompanied by an entourage of eager young men all waiting for her to open her mouth if she felt so inclined.

I stared off into space so much that N asked me what I was thinking and when I told him he thought I was nuts. Well it had been more than three hours sitting on the same red, leather seat trying to pass the time, and trying to amuse N (the latter not being an easy task), enough time for one’s mind to start to rot. Earlier on I had wandered into the airport bookstore and purchased the only book I thought would get me through the many hours in Concourse C, David Sedaris’s, “When You Are Engulfed in Flames.”  I’m not sure Ms. Palin would have approved of our raucous behavior as I read aloud to N. She might have misunderstood the reason for us guffawing uncontrollably. As we waited for our flight, I seemed to be waiting for Sarah (me and Samuel Beckett both). 

The three hours turned into six, but I kept my cool, which is more than I can say for the man sitting to my immediate right. But then you must remember I had a lot going for me with my self created air of expectation, suspense and delusion. Thanks Sarah! But she never showed.

We were finally able to leave with our cramped legs, sore butts, and a giggle or two under our belts when our pilot and crew arrived only three plus hours late, but eager to fly us and the other twelve passengers on to Cordova.

Once in Cordova ensconced next to Prince William Sound,  the beauty of what was really in front of me took hold;  and although the weather was less than perfect, a full day of exploring the vast  wilderness with it’s numerous glaciers was a highlight for me. Our small group was accompanied by a guide and her wonderful shaggy dog – our resident bear deterrent – for a day’s driving and hiking.

Below is the Sheridan Glacier.

Prince William Sound belies the fact that its pristine beauty was once almost irrevocably tarnished. When the Exxon Valdez went aground and spilled its oily contents into the Sound, the town of Cordova lost its canning industry. The herring populations were wiped out and despite a tremendous, although not  complete,  comeback for many other species like salmon, the herring have never returned.     

 

The cannery has been turned into a lodge and it’s where we stayed. It’s a favorite for fisherman, fly and the regular kind, European and eco-tourists. 

 

A close up of the Child’s Glacier. While we were standing there large chunks of the glacier broke off with deafening roars, sounding like claps of thunder.

A glorious sunset across the Sound.

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