I recently went to Alaska on vacation with my good friend Pam. Pam and her husband, Henri had lived in Alaska for several years. Therefore Pam is an experienced “tour guide” and was the perfect person to tag along with for this Alaskan adventure. And since we couldn’t find a workshop to take at the weaving conference, we choose Alaska. My quilting friend Lori joined us as well as she had long wanted to visit here.
the salmon hurtling upstream seeks
the taste of the waters of its birth
but the seabird on its four-thousand-mile
trek follows charts mapped on its genes. (Marge Piercy)
Our first destination was Denali NP or Mt. McKinley. We took the park shuttle bus to Wonderlake which was a destination Pam had never been before. We caught the 5:15am shuttle (very early) but of course not dark outside as it’s summer and the land of the midnight sun. Off we went on this old green bus that reminded me of the school buses I used to ride back and forth on to school. Our driver, Mike had been driving for the park for 25 years. He said at one point that he used to be like all of us, so excited to see this animal or get that picture. But there were times when you could notice he got excited about something we stopped to see. Even the tree that he thought was something else.
A cloudy overcast day awaited us with lots of cold air blowing in from the windows. Thankfully I had brought along a pair of borrowed binoculars and was able to see of the animals up closer. Our first glimpse was a herd of caribou lounging around in the tall grass. Then we got to see a grizzly bear wandering around eating blueberries of bushes trying to get his fill before winter. The bull moose eating away in this huge bush was really something. You could see the light colored velvet from his antlers. We were also surrounded by tall mountains, glistening with snow and glaciers. But we didn’t see Denali at all as she was socked under the clouds.
We stayed in this motel outside Denali that had an old railroad car as it’s lobby plus 2 rooms that you could stay in that were also railroad cars. We were in the old fashion motel room with two small beds but it was clean and quiet. There however were not any moose wandering around the parking lot.
On the way back to Anchorage, we had blue skies and sunshine and Denali. The Mountain was out! We even had to pull of the side of the road to take pictures. For many people seeing Mt. McKinley never happens when in Alaska so I feel rather fortunate.
But there was more to come! After a morning hitting the resale shops in Anchorage, picking up some low costs Alaska tshirts and having a nice lunch, we joined Anchorage Knitting guild at our friend, Marty’s house. What a lovely bunch of women. And what great knitting projects. Socks, a lovely white bedspread, pretty baby blanket and a ribbon scarf. It was fun just sitting there knitting along and listening to discussions about local restaurants and more. One of the highlights. Made me want to stay in Anchorage just to be part of this great group!
Then after dinner at a mexican restaurant – with alfredo sauce as one of the options (really?!), we left early the next morning to head down to the Kenai and to take our 3 hour cruise. (No need to pack our evening gowns). The cruise on rough water, was fantastic. We got to see the sea otters wave us out to the bay. Sea birds, puffins, mountain goat and then the highlight – humpback whales leaping and waving at us. It was a sight I’ve never seen before.
And this was only halfway through my alaskan trip. I must admit that Alaska is a wonderful place to visit. So much to see and I hardly touched the tip of the iceberg. And after all this driving back and forth on the roads (all under construction) behind many many RVs and seeing lots of fishermen/women as it was the salmon spanning season. I still enjoyed it all.
We spent a lot of time visiting galleries around the Kenai and Anchorage and it was very inspirational. I got some alaskan inspired fabric from some of the fabric stores – lovely batiks, a few antler buttons, beads and charms, and even a knitting pattern to make some washcloths with moose on them.
It made me miss living by water and huge trees. Though I have the mountains in Tucson, there is something nice about that slight chill in the air and the smell of spruce trees.
After we dropped Lori off at the Anchorage airport, we picked up Pam’s husband Henri (who had been fishing for 2 weeks in the Kenai) and headed back to Soldatna for the final few days of vacation. The cute cabin we stayed in had two lovely St. Bernards living there as well. I slept under two lovely hand-stitched quilts and looked every morning and night for that moose to wander up to my window. Here I got to see an eagle fly over my head, bears fishing in the Russian River and relaxed with fishing friends and continued knitting on my shawl. Henri can spot eagles and bears while he’s driving along rather well.
Then we had a bbq at some of Pam and Henri’s friends. And while sitting at the table, the entire house and table started shaking. An earthquake! 6.3!
Once I can get my printer to talk to my computer, I will be printing out pictures and doing new artwork ideas. And knitting up moose dishcloths.
But I can at least say this about Alaska:
The glacier blue in the sunlight
Floated on the water
While the sheep stood on the ledge
Watching the mudflats holding fast to their lost souls
Puffins swam in the water and the
Whales waved as our boat passed
To Romeo and River who welcomed
me to the 49th state
as I was a traveler from the outside
Looking in amazement as the tallness
And sought reflections of my dad
Looking for a bit of peace
For the future of my life ahead
and the blessing
of my life behind
And yet seeking a glimpse of something
wild and untamed
in the wilderness
reflecting on the blessings
Until the next time that I head to Alaska
I bid her au revoir