Monthly Archives: September 2015

Lesson #21 – The Bucket List…Alaska √

Relaxing On A Log
Most of us have one.  I certainly do and I want to check off everything on it before I get “too old” …. whatever that means.  Being retired means that we get to have adventures.  Yours may be just to travel to the next State over or see what your own town offers!  I have much of ‘these here’ United States to see and Alaska has been on the top of my bucket list for years.

Woo Hoo!!  Opportunity knocked.  Off we went to Alaska.  I have never heard a negative comment about trips to Alaska.  I was thrilled we were finally going.

Alaska is just an amazing place.  It’s a step back in time.  The beautiful mountains and the wildlife are just breathtaking.   But I just can’t stop thinking about the Alaskans themselves.  How do they live in the towns and what are the days like for those that live ‘off the grid’.  These are the Alaskans that are truly of pioneer spirit.

Outhouses, no running water, fires to keep them warm.  Hunting for meat for the winter, fishing for the outdoor freezer, gardens that grow the vegetables.  They live a hard life yet make the most of every day especially during the warmer summer months.  There is no grocery store down the street.  All necessities come in by boat or plane.  Everything is expensive.

Tourism and the money that flows is crucial during the summer months before tourism slows up and stops from the cruise ships.  The summers are short and the cold moves in and temperatures dramatically drop.  Fishing ends and for the homesteader they must have the fish and meat ready for the winter months until the Spring thaw when the cycle repeats itself.

A good majority of the Alaskan men have beards.  Do you suppose they actually keep their faces warmer during the long winter days?  I doubt it but it definitely looks………er………..Alaskan!  Mountain men!  Long beards, long hair and hats.

Friendly!  So very very friendly.  Every Alaskan we met was all about friendly.  This friendliness was natural for there was no attempt to outdo others with possessions nor knowledge.  Simple living.  Alaskans help each other with everything.  No hesitation.  They need each other during the harsh winters especially.

I wanted to see this Alaska and not just the one seen through the eyes of a cruise ship.  We flew into Fairbanks, travelled into Denali Park, took the domed train from Denali to Anchorage passing through small towns along the way.  Couldn’t get enough of it all.  Followed a grey wolf trotting along the road in the Park for miles until he decided to go off-road.  Saw the beauty of the wildlife all around and when you least expected a sighting.  Magnificent creatures.  Whales, sea lions, bald eagles, bear, moose, caribou, wolves, Dall sheep, mountain goats….I wondered how an Alaskan could shoot something like a bear, moose or caribou.  I cringe at the thought.  No choice.

North of normal, skinny sticks, lower 48, sourdough, suffix ‘na’ water, permafrost, black pine roots growing sideways, beluga whales, silt, surging in river, changing river beds every 6 hours, no billboards(!), earthquakes, only 300 state troopers in AK, many glaciers between Anchorage and Seward, Resurrection Bay and roadhouse,  Natives of Alaska, Riverboat Discovery, the Iditarod and Susan Butcher,  Salmon Bake, Alaskan pipeline, gold rush, Salmon rushing upstream, Jerry Johnson (bus driver) whose grandfather is in ‘Pioneer Days in AK’.  750,000 Alaskans total, dog races, ice sculpting, KNIK ‘River of Fire’, “If it needs to be done let it start with me”.  I am happy I made this list.  So many things to remember.

When we had young children to raise, we would never have taken a helicopter up to a glacier nor take a float plan through the mountains to land on a small lake especially since we knew of a plane going down with tourists aboard.  We can have these adventures now and take more chances I think doing things we may have been nervous doing twenty years ago.  I have decided to ‘go for it’ and not let my nervousness stop me.  Let me say, however, I will not be jumping out of a plane anytime soon.  No skydiving for me I’m afraid.  Also, I won’t be swimming with the sharks.

If I can talk my husband into living in Alaska ‘off the grid’ we just may take another trip.  Maybe a B&B off the grid?!!  He has only agreed to a week or two in Fairbanks.  I’ll have to work on him a bit more.  Although we did see the Northern Lights at about 10:00 p.m. before our ship arrived in Juneau, I must return to see the Aurora in full display.  We will be returning and in the meantime Bob should start growing that beard.


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